Category Archives: Animal Rights

What you are doing now and what to do instead if you are terrified of dogs

Are you, or is someone you know terrified of dogs? Do dogs single you out and bark at you? Lunge at you? Do you have kids that are afraid of dogs and want to help them know how to behave around dogs to be safer? People often say that dogs can smell fear. I don’t know about that. But, I do know that there are common things that people afraid of dogs do when approached by a dog that I can spot every time. These fearful movements trigger barking and lunging in many dogs.

I live in a crowded area that is very dog friendly. Even so, not every neighbor loves dogs. Some are visibly terrified of dogs. This body language is very clear to me and startling as well. I can only imagine how it seems to a dog that is much more attuned to pay attention to body language. This behavior scares many dogs. . Many children are also very fearful of dogs. Being aware of your own body language can really help improve how dogs react to you and your kids if you are afraid of dogs.

  1. When you see a dog on a leash, do you stop suddenly with a terrified look often accompanied by a sudden gasp for air and throwing your hands up while staring at the dog. People actually do this. Don’t. Instead, when you see a dog and you are startled or overcome with fear, turn around and go the other direction if the dog is leashed and walking with it’s owner. Or, if you have enough room to pass without the dog lunging at you, keep walking normally.
  2. If the dog is off-leash, back away without turning your back on the dog. If the dog approaches you off-leash, yell “no”, do not run. Do not turn your back on the dog. Teach your children to be a tree and to yell “no” to the dog. Breathe normally. Do not stare at the dog. Look away. Staring at a dog is aggressive as far as the dog is concerned. Create some distance from the dog if you can.
  3. Do not run or cycle closely by a dog from behind. You do not want to startle a dog. If you must pass a dog and dog owner, call out and let them know that you are passing (on the left is the standard side to pass). Give them as much room as possible. If you cannot pass at a safe distance, wait until you have enough distance to pass comfortably. Teach your children to not dart past dogs and teach them to give a safe distance.
  4. When you pass someone walking a dog, do you pass tentatively while staring? Tentative, abnormally slow walking while staring gets a dog’s attention. It is aggressive body language to dogs. Don’t move like you are stalking a dog. Keep moving normally. Don’t stare. Keep a safe distance. This happened to me during my morning walk this morning. A young boy came running around a corner and practically ran into us. I kept my dog calm. That was our first “win”. Then there boy jumped up the nearby stairs, stopped abruptly and leaned over the rails to stare at us. My dog tensed up immediately in response to his unusual movements. Don’t do this. Teach your kids how to be safe around dogs.
  5. Do you or your kids shriek when you see a dog? If you think about it, that is pretty scary to a dog. Please don’t shriek. I have been walking my dog minding my own business with a calm dog as someone saw us, got startled and started shrieking. Of course, my dog reacts to this with barking and lunging. If you or your kids are so scared that you want to scream, please cross the street or go far around us.
  6. Do you take small fearful children to the dog park? I see this happen. Don’t do it. Dog parks are for dogs. They are not for small children or people that are obviously afraid of dogs.
  7. If you see someone walking their dog on a retractable leash while texting, do not pass closely. Retractable leashes break and give a dog too much room. It can take too long to regain control of the dog. The owner may not have enough time to pull their dog back in if they are oblivious to their surroundings. This is common behavior with retractable leashes. About 1% of the people using them are safely doing so.

I believe that dog owners are responsible to keep their dogs under control and as well behaved as possible. Dogs should be leashed in public for their safety and the safety of others unless they are at an off-leash park, private property, or are a highly trained service dog that is working. But, dogs sometimes escape their yards or owners. They shouldn’t — but it does happen. If you are afraid and can be aware of the message that you send to dogs through your body language, you can help reduce the risk of being attacked with these tips.
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Originally published at mrycpetcare.weebly.com.

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Dear oblivious dog owner with the retractable leash…

I am a normal dog owner that also does pet sitting and dog walking for a living. I am doing the best I can with my dog. I am usually pretty good with dogs too. It seems like as soon as we get one thing under control, another issue pops up. I work with my dog every single day and often wish she gave me less to tackle. She is a smart, active, sensitive dog that I love. Some of my neighbors are making it really tough on us right now though and I am pretty frustrated.

Before I rant about my neighbors, let me share a little about my dog, Betty. When I first adopted Betty almost two years ago, she had no training except crate training and potty training from the rescue group. She was a digger, a nuisance barker, and a chaser of anything that ran or moved quickly. She has made huge progress. She doesn’t dig anymore. She is quiet most of the time. She is great with kids. She is wonderful with elderly people. She has always been good around other dogs. She is a sweetheart of a dog. We have completed group obedience classes and are at an intermediate level currently. We have had private sessions with a trainer as well. Two things happened at the same time that I think contributed to her current leash reactivity: she matured (maturation can sometimes have an effect on reactivity), and we moved from a quiet suburban neighborhood with lots of space to the city with crowds of people walking dogs everywhere at all hours. I am just going to say it. I hate retractable leashes. Hate them! They are a lazy way to walk your dog and give your dog too much room to get into trouble- which happens very quickly when you are not paying attention. They break. The locking mechanisms often fail. I can’t tell you how many times I have walked a dog and the retractable leash was broken. They make it hard to control your pet. They wrap around ankles and fingers and can cause injury and even amputation of fingers.

So, as I have already mentioned, right now I am working on leash reactivity that has gotten worse after moving to a crowded city. I have to walk my dog several times per day and neighbors with their dogs and retractable leashes seem to be oblivious to their effect on other people and other people’s dogs. Here is an example of what happens regularly here. Just this morning, I was walking out to my car to get something. Took my dog with me because I just woke up and she needed to go potty. Figured I would get both done at the same time. I’m working on loose leash walking and she is doing well. It is quiet. I am approaching the stairs to get to the parking area when I see a neighbor with a little dog. No problem, I will take Betty over in to the dirt area right before the stairs and this will give us about 10′ away from the passing dog on leash. I have been practicing with her daily so I know how much space we need before reaching her normal threshold of excitability. There is no exit from here -which was a big mistake on my part in retrospect. I am just trying to create some space while they pass. I have my treat pouch. I start to give Betty treats. She is staying quiet but is noticing the other dog. Then the other owner starts RUNNING straight for us. Uh oh. I wasn’t expecting that.. Now I don’t have time to turn around and go the other direction and my dog is definitely excited — but still quiet. I am loading her up with treats as I have no exit plan. The other owner and her dog on a retractable leash reach us and STOP. They don’t pass and continue with their business. THEY JUST STOP AND WATCH US! WTH??? Now, my dog cannot control her excitement anymore and she starts barking and lunging and acting nuts..I was as far away as I could get from this lunatic. Why? Would you run to a stranger with a strange larger dog and just stop and stare?? I really don’t get it. My 5 year old grand daughter knows you don’t run up to strange dogs and or people! This is typical behavior around here. It has been very hard to play engage/disengage here because they let their kids run up to us and kick dogs too. That happened to my mom and her chihuahua. The parent then told the girl to leave the “bad” dog alone. Bad dog? Seriously? If you run up to me and kick me, I would defend myself too!

Anyway, I am digressing. I have read everything that I can find to work on leash reactivity around other dogs. My dog is not aggressive. She regularly socializes with other dogs and never has a problem when off leash. Our problems occur on leash. She started out being reactive to everything while on leash (bicycles, cars, joggers, kids, cats, squirrels, bunnies, other people and other dogs). She is a border collie and her herding instincts are strong. Now, we are working on this last thing that she is reactive to: other dogs on leash. She can walk past many dogs when we are in a crowded setting. If a dog barks at her while on leash, she will bark and lunge. It is the most important issue that we are tackling now. Whenever I walk her and leash her up, I have treats on hand. We practice the engage/disengage game every single day. We create distance when we see other dogs. We turn around if we cannot create distance. Sometimes we turn around and their is another dog right behind us. So, we cross the street or look for a way to create distance. I sit out front with her and load her up with treats when she lets people walk by and is calm. She is improving slowly in spite of my neighbors. I don’t want to use punishment or e-collars in this case because she acts out of excitement. The current protocol for animal training according to the latest science on the subject discourages punishment except as a last resort because it can contribute to aggression. I don’t think I am there yet.

If you have a dog that will walk with you and mind it’s own business, that is wonderful and I am jealous. Please, please, please do not assume that all dogs can do that. I hope that mine will be like that very soon. But, she is not there yet. I walk dogs for a living and I will share that many dogs are not calm around other dogs or people on leash. It is a common issue. If you see someone turn around, cross the street, or walk off the path to give you space, please just walk past them calmly without causing any extra excitement They probably don’t want to meet you at that moment or have their dog petted. We will add polite greetings to our training once she can handle proximity on leash. It is a process. She is not a bad dog. She needs a little space.


Originally published at mrycpetcare.weebly.com.

BASIC POTTY TRAINING FOR ANY AGE DOG

Do you have a dog that is potty trained “most” of the time? Maybe it “hides” accidents sometimes? Thinking about rescuing an older dog? Or do you have a new puppy and you want to potty train them correctly from the start?

Let me tell you a story about a relative of mine. She loves her dog. She takes care of him the best way that she know how to care for him. She would never do anything to intentionally harm him. She has sort of potty trained him to go on pee pads sometimes. He has some accidents — a lot of accidents. Sometimes she says it is because his stomach is upset. Or “he hardly ever does that. I just don’t know what got into him.” I do! HE ISN’T POTTY TRAINED. She has never had a dog that was completely potty trained and she doesn’t really know how or why. You can’t train a dog if you don’t know how. If you have a dog that is not quite trustworthy or even a dog that is not trained at all, the process of getting them trained is the same:

  1. Decide whether you want your dog to pee/poop inside the house or outside. If you want your dog to think it is okay to go potty inside the house, you can go ahead with pee pads. If you want your dog to go potty outside, DO NOT USE PEE PADS AT ALL. Pee pads teach a dog that it is okay to go potty indoors. Do not use pee pads as a drop cloth and hope you will figure out where the next mistake is going to occur. You can put down pee pads in every room and the dog will go somewhere else anyway. The dog I mentioned did just that. She had pee pads in every bedroom and the dog went poo SIX times in the dining room without letting anybody know that he even wanted out. It was normal poo. He was not sick. She cleaned it up and took him on a long walk. Then once they were home, he went in the dining room and did it again! Not once did he use a pee pad. I do not want my dog using any part of my house as a toilet so I will only include how to teach your dog how to go outside. This is not a judgement. It is your dog. You can teach it whichever way suits your lifestyle best. If you don’t mind having your dog poo and pee wherever and whenever he/she wants, then by all means, don’t bother potty training them. In the interest of full disclosure, I prefer dogs peeing and pooping outside so that is what I can share and help to teach. I have never taught a dog to go potty indoors. I feel that using pee pads some of the time is confusing to dogs if you want them to go potty outdoors most of the time. Don’t confuse your dog.
  2. Whenever you cannot monitor your dog, they need to be crated. Crate training will speed up the potty training process. I have covered crate training in a previous article.
  3. Tethering your dog to you will also speed up the process. You can easily tether your dog to you by fastening their leash to your waist or a belt loop. This is especially effective for dogs that seem to go unexpectedly or “right in front of you”. If your dog starts sniffing around, it is easier to notice if they are tethered to you. If your dog starts to sniff around, scoop it up and take it outside. If it starts to go potty, scoop it up and take it outside. Yes, this can be messy. Don’t wait for them to finish. Do not scold, yell, swat, or smack them. DO NOT RUB THEIR NOSE IN IT. NO ROLLED UP NEWSPAPER. Those old methods that our parents used have been proven to not be the most effective. You will end up with a dog that is frightened to go potty around you and they will be more likely to hide going potty under tables or they won’t want to go potty while with you on a walk. Don’t shame your dog. This is not their fault. It is your responsibility to train your dog to know how to behave. If you don’t know how, here is some help. Here is an article from UC Davis that talks about the negative effects of punishment on dogs and why positive methods yield better results.
  4. Clean up accidents with a good enzyme cleaner like Nature’s Miracle that removes the scent completely. Masking the scent is not enough. Do not make a big fuss when you are cleaning it up. Try to clean it up when the dog is not looking if possible. Ammonia based cleaners will attract more accidents. Vinegar is often recommended but I have had mixed results with using vinegar. Use a good enzyme cleaner for best results. Nature’s Miracle is a favorite of pet sitters and it is easy to find.
  5. Take your dog out frequently (every couple of hours at first) and take them where you want them to go potty. Praise them and give them treats when they go. Walk them long enough. Many people do everything right except they shorten the duration of the walks. Huge mistake. An extra 5 or 10 minutes can make all the difference.
  6. If you are going to just let your dog out in the backyard, will have to watch them carefully to make sure that they have gone potty and not just played around in the yard. I like to take mine out on a leash to the potty area first. I unleash them for play after I know they have gone potty when I am training them to go potty outside. That way I know that they have done their business.
  7. If your dog is trying to get your attention, do not assume that they want to play or are just restless. They may be trying to let you know that they need to use the toilet. I have made this mistake with my own dog. She often seems overly friendly when she has to go potty.
  8. If you want your dog to let you know that they need to go potty in a more obvious way, you can teach them toring a bell to go out.
  9. Be consistent and patient. Your dog’s success will be directly related to your willingness to be consistent.
  10. Don’t make excuses and live in denial. Either your dog is potty trained or they aren’t. If a dog is sick and can’t hold it, that is something that needs to be addressed. UTIs, parasites and upset stomachs happen. Always rule out medical conditions first.

If you have a puppy and are starting from scratch, this is not going to take very long. I have potty trained puppies in a few days. Older dogs that have been allowed to have accidents, have used pee pads, or have not been trained will take longer because they will have bad habits to overcome. The longer you wait and the more you let it slide, the longer it will take for your dog to learn the correct way to go potty. As long as the dog is healthy and has no medical or psychological conditions that cause incontinence, they can and will learn. They are not bad dogs. They just need proper effective training. Eddy, I am talking to you!!


Originally published at mrycpetcare.weebly.com.

In case of fire, do this for yourself and your pets…

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Do you ever worry about your pets being caught in a house fire? Here are a few ways to be more prepared in case a home fire:

  •  Have leashes by the door and spares by crates. Many people are afraid to leave pets in a crate while they are away from home because they worry about a pet being trapped during a fire. During a fire, animals often hide under beds and are too terrified to try to escape. Their chances of being rescued are actually greatly improved by being crated when you are not home. Place crates near windows or doors to make rescuing pets faster and easier. Let your neighbors know that you have pets.
  • Also put a sticker on your doors and on the window nearest the crates location stating that you have pets that need saving in case of fire. It will be much quicker if the animals are easy to find. Sometimes there is not a lot of time.
  • Always have your pet wear a tag with your information clearly stated and also micro-chip your pets in case they lose their collars during the disaster.
  • Desensitize your pets to noise, other people and other dogs. This is especially true when you are dealing with rushing crowds of frightened people, sirens, flashing lights, and other pets.
  • Have first-aid kit, bowls, dog and people food and a few gallons of water for both you and your pet near the door and in your car. In the summertime, the car can get really hot and heat up plastic  to levels that will leach into water so make sure the bottles are BPA free.
  • Keep a copy of important personal documents handy near exits in a grab and go  folder with originals in a  fire-proof box in addition to veterinary records for pets.
  • Make sure to have flashlights with good batteries in your car.
  • Teach dogs that the car is a safe place to relax. It provides separation from crowds and emergency vehicles if the commotion is just too overwhelming for your pet.
  • Teach a good heel. You don’t want to worry about losing your pet during a disaster. Teaching a good heel and recall can save your pet’s life.
  • I also keep a small sleeping bag, tent, and camp axe in my trunk. I also always have a gym bag with spare clothes in my trunk.
  • Keep you cellphone charged and keep a charger in your car.
  • Never let your gas tank go below half empty in case of emergency evacuation.
  • Always have some cash on hand hidden away.
  • Oh and I almost forgot, keep some decent clothes nearby if you sleep in the buff.  Have some shoes near your bed too.  You don’t want to run out of a burning house with little or  nothing on!

Home fires are devastating.  Being prepared will not undo the loss of a home or personal belongings.  Hopefully, it can help save lives.

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What to do when you want a dog or cat, -but can’t keep a pet long-term (that will save more lives)…

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  • Do you want a dog or cat — but it isn’t the right time because you’re housing is temporary? Maybe you are a military family and you move every few years? –
  • Perhaps, you want a pet and you have the time to spend with them — but you aren’t really sure you can afford the pet (food, vet bills etc)?
  • Not sure how to pick a dog? You don’t really know what breed will be best for your family?
  • Maybe you have small children or a spouse and you are not sure how they will react and adjust around a pet and you don’t want to make a long-term commitment yet?

There is something that you can do. It is usually completely free and there is no long-term commitment…

Both of these dogs are purebred and rescue animals

You can foster dogs and cats. Pet rescue centers always need foster homes to save more animals. All ages, breeds and sizes end up in shelters and rescue centers. If you are not sure about breeds, you can foster different breeds to get a better idea about what different breeds are like. While breed plays a role in how a dog behaves, temperament and personalities will all be different. Training is extremely important in how well behaved a dog will ultimately be. Fostering a great way to get an idea of what it is like to bring a pet home without the commitment. As with anything related to live animals, there are always risks. Here are a few things to consider before signing up:

  • Animals that have been surrendered to shelters are often fearful because they do not understand why they just lost their families There is an adjustment period of days or weeks before you will see the animals true relaxed nature. Some have been abused or neglected and they will need extra care.
  • Many have received little to no training. Some may not be house-trained. You will probably want to do a little training to be able to enjoy having the dog in the house or go on a nice walk. You don’t have to be a trainer or have a lot of experience. When I adopted Betty, she was crate-trained and house-trained. She had a very sweet temperament but had not been exposed to many common things like bicycles, joggers, or ceiling fans. These things scared her at first. If you h ave trained pets previously, the training that you do with them can make them more adoptable and save them.
  • Most rescue organizations will provide food and medical care for the animals. Most will spay or neuter the animals. They usually also micro-chip the pets. These costs are usually covered by donations and the adoption fees of the people that adopt the animals.
  • The rescue group will have an idea regarding the pet’s temperament. If you are inexperienced, you can start with an “easy” foster pet. There are pets of all sizes and ages that need a safe place to stay while they are waiting for their forever people.
  • There are breed-specific rescue groups. If you have always wanted a certain breed — but have no experience with the breed, this is a wonderful way to get to know the breed while helping to save a life. I adopted my dog from a Border Collie Rescue group. Most breeds have similar groups nationwide within the United States.
  • Fostering may lead to adopting. You may foster an animal that captures your heart. This is your greatest risk. You may find one that you simply cannot give to someone else.

Fostering is a great way to have a pet temporarily. The more foster homes for animals in need, the more animals are saved.


Originally published at mrycpetcare.weebly.com.

The Routine Thing That Your Dog Does Every Day That Could Be Fatal

It was a day like any other in the summer of 2007. I got home early (around 7;30) and was greeted by my dog with her same happy attitude that she always had. I loved coming home to her. I poured her dinner from the kibble bag and went to check the mailbox. Something odd caught my attention when I looked at my dog. She seemed uncomfortable and really BIG.

When did that happen? HOW did that happen. I was stunned for a second. Then, after shaking the confusion out of my head, I realized that she was in real trouble. I just didn’t know what had happened. I called the Vet. They were closed. I called the emergency dog clinic and described the very strange symptoms: Huge belly (like watermelon size), panting, whale eyes, obvious discomfort, pacing, and reddish gums. I was instructed to hang up and rush her to the clinic. She was 90 lbs and I was home alone with her. I hoped she could walk. She could — but barely. When I arrived, we we taken to the back immediately and I was asked to wait outside. I was told that she had Gastric-Dilatation-Volvulus (GDV)-more commonly known as bloat. What was this? I had never heard of this before. Basically, it is when the stomach twists and can cut off circulation and kill the animal very painfully.They tubed her and were hoping for the best. Surgery during the night might be needed if the tubing didn’t work. They told me that the bill could be $3500 and she might not survive. Did I still want to proceed? I had a commission check in my purse for that exact amount. Yup. I wanted to take a chance and try to save her. So, I went home with a lot of anxiety and questions. I started trying to figure out what I did wrong. Here is what I discovered are the things that put your dog at risk for bloat:

  1. While bloat can occur in any dog, large deep chested dogs are more at risk for bloat. (Nikki was large and had a deep chest)
  2. Rapid eating or drinking. Have you ever had a Labrador that didn’t eat as fast as they could? They make puzzle bowls to slow them down. (Nikki always ate too fast)
  3. Eating one large meal per day. This was the accepted feeding recommendation for adult animals when I had Nikki. Most recommend twice per day feedings nowadays.
  4. A dry food only diet. (Her food was dry)
  5. Heavy exercise after a meal (she didn’t have time to run around after that meal)
  6. Anxious or stressed-out personality. (yup for Nikki)
  7. Abnormal gastric motility (genetics)
  8. Hormone secretions (genetics again)
  9. Male gender (My dog was a female and it still happened)
  10. Being underweight (My dog was not underweight)
  11. Advanced age (not in our case)

Nikki did not have all of these. She did have #1, 2, 3, 4, and 6. She could have had #7 and 8 without my knowledge.

I was lucky. The tube that they used to untwist her stomach worked. They did not need to do surgery. They warned me that once a dog has bloat, they are prone to have a repeat episode. Nikki never had another episode of bloat. We were very fortunate. I could afford her care at the time and she recovered. Many people cannot afford the vet bill and dogs die from this. I hope you never see what this looks like first-hand. Know the symptoms though. Take precautions where possible. Taking quick action can mean the difference between life and death to your dog. All of the pictures in this article were taken after Nikki recovered.


Originally published at mrycpetcare.weebly.com.

The Dark Side Of Being Buried With Your Pets

I wrote about estate planning yesterday. It started a conversation that I was not expecting. I did not realize that a growing trend is to be buried with your pet. In the last few years, laws have been changed in the UK and New York (among others) to allow the burial of cremated pet remains with human remains. Several articles have been written about this lately. On the surface, it seems like a sentimental notion. What is not mentioned is very dark in my opinion and was shared by friends that work in veterinarian offices across the country.

Do you know that people are putting directives in place to euthanize their healthy pets to be buried with them? Yes. You read that right. They are putting in their wills that when they die, to euthanize their pets so that they may be buried with their owners. Some of these people have older pets and believe that their animals are better off dead that with someone new. In fact, convenience euthanasia is common. Thankfully, not all veterinarians perform euthanasia on healthy pets. But, unfortunately, many do. The thinking is that if the owner wants their pets to die, at least they can die in peace rather than be possibly tortured and neglected by owners that are “stuck” with them. Animals are property by law in most areas. But, these stories are animal cruelty in my opinion. I have heard stories where a woman brought a cat to the office and was embarrassed that the cat had fleas so she requested euthanasia for the cat. Another had a puppy with a broken leg and couldn’t afford the medical bill so they requested euthanasia. It is no wonder that veterinarians have higher than average suicide rates.

Some veterinarians work with rescue groups and have the owners sign the pet over to them so they can coordinate with a rescue group to save the pet and place it with an adoptive family that can afford medical care. Many people refuse to place their pets up for adoption though. They would rather euthanize their pets than have them re-homed. I don’t understand this kind of “love”. I don’t want my pet killed so it can be buried with me. If I was unable to care for my pet and had no family or friends that could care for my pet, I would stipulate in my will that my pet be put up for adoption. Many seniors do not want a young active dog but would like to have a senior pet. I know when I get much older, I will not be able to handle a large active dog like I have now. I plan to have a dog in my family for as long as I can care for it properly. If the time ever comes that I cannot care for a dog in my home, I will find it another home. Things happen that are out of our control. We may have a dog that is aggressive or has behavior challenges that are beyond what we can handle. Thank goodness we have other options. There are trainers and rescue groups that are devoted to saving as many pet lives as possible. At some point, a pet may be too sick or injured to recover and euthanasia may be kinder and more merciful. If you can’t manage your pet or care for it, please try a rescue group before euthanasia if the pet is healthy. My birthday is this month. I am donating my birthday to Best Friend Animal Society. They are a group dedicated to saving the lives of as many animals as possible.

I don’t think that anyone gets a pet with the mindset of not being able to take care of the pet. Sometimes a pet turns out to be more than you can handle or dangerous. You can lose a job or home unexpectedly, get divorced, get sick or injured. Whatever the reason and in spite of good intentions, you may need to re-home a beloved pet. I don’t understand how you could have a healthy and balanced pet killed because you don’t want it to live with someone else though.


Originally published at mrycpetcare.weebly.com.

WHO WILL LOVE THEM WHEN YOU’RE GONE?

I met a new client this week that has had two strokes in the last six months. She wants someone to help guide her as she walks her dogs. Since her stroke, she has become blind and uses a walker. She didn’t want me to walk her dogs for her. She wanted someone to help her walk her dogs. But then she got sick again. She cancelled the walks. She was worried about what would happen to her dogs if she had to be hospitalized again. She is 60 years old and had been a nurse and was considered healthy prior to her strokes — not overweight, no diabetes, no diagnosed health issues. It got me thinking. How many people are ready to get sick? What happens to your pets?

My daughter wants my dog. She would take Betty from me now if I let her. She jokes about getting Betty in my will. I have always talked about the importance of making arrangements earlier rather than later so my kids are not afraid to speak of these things with me. I have recently moved and a few other things have changed so I need to update my will. I am not sick. I am healthy and have no reason to think that anything is going to happen to me. I think this is the perfect time to put my wishes down on paper and let my kids know what I want to happen “someday”. I also have a mother and grandmother alive that do not have wills. I am not looking forward to dealing with either of their estates eventually — so I understand that most people simply do not want to face their immortality. Here are a few of the reasons that I hear from family and friends that don’t have a will and what I say to them…

  • I don’t have anything. Maybe you don’t have much cash. But do you own a home, have kids, or pets? Do you want the state to decide in time what will happen to any of these? Do you want your kids to end up in foster care or with a relative that is not your choice to raise your children? What about your pets? Do you want them to end up in a shelter? Many older pets do not get adopted. I see pets posted regularly for adoption from owners that have become ill or deceased. Post stickers on your front door alerting first responders that you have pets. Keep a card in your wallet that says that you have pets at home alone. Have emergency numbers on this card. Give them a key so they can get into your home and feed, water, and let your pets out if you become hospitalized or worse. Please talk to your friends and relatives and figure out who wants to make your pets part of their family.
  • I can’t afford a lawyer. Maybe you don’t have hundreds or thousands of dollars to spend on something that you don’t really want to do. Do you have $39? There are online forms that are state specific that can write a basic will for you. You can take the forms and get them notarized for about $10. For most people, a cheap will is still much better than no will.
  • I’m too busy. I’ll do it later. I’m healthy. This is a bad idea for most things. You know that this is a huge risk to put something so important off for another day. We never know when we will be too sick to handle this. My Grama cannot execute a will because she has dementia. We talked to her about it for years and she waited too long to get her affairs in order. The idea scared her and she never wanted to think about it. So, now, she is 94 years old, sick and we will have to deal with her estate without a will.
  • It won’t matter to me, I’ll be gone. Seriously? Thanks! You are getting socks for Christmas.

I know nobody wants to think about being gone or hurt. It isn’t a fun topic. I also know that if you get it handled, you don’t have to worry about it anymore. That is the great thing about handling it. You can just enjoy your day doing something else and know that if the worst happens, your family and friends know what you want.


Originally published at mrycpetcare.weebly.com.

HELPING DOGS HAVE GREATER PUBLIC ACCESS

Therapy dogs, Emotional Support Animals (ESAs) Service Dogs, or family pets… Life is better with dogs. I think everyone should be allowed to have a dog live with them. If it was up to me, they would be allowed in all housing without an additional pet fee or pet rent. I don’t think you should have to have a mental health diagnosis to have an emotional support animal. I think we all benefit with dogs in our lives. I know some people have pet allergies or fears. This article is not about people that do not want a dog. I am talking about people that do want dogs. While, I am making my wish list, I would love to see affordable dog obedience classes offered at community centers and senior centers. For those that are confused about the different classifications, click here for definitions. It is important to know the legal difference between the classifications covered by the ADA (Americans With Disabilities Act). As a pet sitter, I meet all kinds of people. I know a stroke patient that can no longer walk her dogs. People with PTSD benefit greatly from the company of dogs. I have helped all sorts of people that travel frequently for work. I know firsthand how much dogs enrich the lives of their owners. We know that dogs are loyal and faithful.

I am blessed to have five generations of women living at the same time (shown in the photo below). I can see in my family how much a good dog can add to life at any age. My grand-daughters love to learn about dogs, my daughter loves to play with them, my mother loves the companionship, my grandmother still enjoys the comfort. Dogs are happy to be part of the family. In my family, most of us have dogs that we think of as family. We all love our dogs. How many of you have felt like your dog or cat is your only friend at least once in your life?

I live in Los Angeles and it is a very dog-friendly place. But, I have lived many places that were not dog-friendly at all. So, what can we do to help our animals be more welcome in even more public places (and at homes)?

  • Obedience train your dog. A well behaved dog is more pleasant to be around. This is true regardless of the size of your dog. Larger dogs are scarier to a lot of people so people tend to take training them more seriously. Small dogs need obedience training too. If your dog is reactive or aggressive, work with a trainer to minimize this behavior before you bring them around other dogs and people — especially dog parks.
  • Train your kids how to behave around dogs. Kids need to learn how to treat animals for their own protection as well as the animal’s safety.
  • Follow local animal laws. Leash your pet. Scoop the poop. People that believe these laws are for other people are the problem — not their pets. Even if your dog is friendly — follow the leash laws.
  • Avoid the scams. There are many scams out there to “register” ESAs. There is NO legal registration for ESAs. Scammers out there are taking your cash to “register” these animals.
  • Don’t lie about it. It makes it so much harder for people with genuine Service Dogs to travel when people try to pass off family pets as service dogs. Don’t be part of the problem. If you don’t legally need an animal to perform tasks for you, don’t pretend that you do. It is illegal and it is really wrong.

These few things can make living with pets easier and more pleasant for everyone. We owe it to our pets to do our part. They do so much for us.


Originally published at mrycpetcare.weebly.com.

Keeping Your Dog Safe During Fireworks and Thunderstorms

More dogs run away on the Fourth of July than any other day of the year. Fireworks, thunderstorms, and other loud explosive noises are terrifying to many dogs. About ten years ago, I had a golden Lab named Nikki. She was a great, easy-going dog most of the time.

The Fourth of July is my favorite holiday. I love fireworks, summertime, picnics, and barbeques. I decided with my family to go see fireworks out on the Arkansas river from our fishing boat to celebrate the holiday. We loved taking Nikki with us on the boat and she always enjoyed a nice boat trip too. We spent the day fishing and swimming. It was perfect until the sun went down and the fireworks started. My poor normally calm dog, panicked. She desperately wanted to escape the boat and the exploding fiery sky. She tried to crawl into any hiding space that she could find. She tried to create hiding spaces. She was panting heavily and trembling. We had made a huge mistake subjecting her to fireworks. We had no idea that she would react so badly. We probably should have thought it through better — but we didn’t. She was fine around shooting, thunder and lightning so we thought it would be okay. We were wrong. If we had not been on a boat, she would have bolted. I hated seeing her so frantic while knowing that it was completely my fault and could have been easily prevented. I should have left her at home where there were no fireworks going off in our neighborhood.

I have a border collie now named Betty that is afraid of thunderstorms. I rescued her when I lived in Arkansas where there are frequent storms. She trembles and hides under the bed or in her coveredcrate until the storm has passed. Her fear is not nearly to the same level of panic that Nikki had during fireworks. Still, this is not a dog that I would take out in public on the Fourth of July. Because fear of fireworks and thunder is so common among dogs, I would not recommend taking any dog out to enjoy fireworks. As much as we may love fireworks, we have learned to love them. Fire in the sky is what dogs see. It is unreasonable and unfair to your poor dog to think they will share your love of fireworks. I learned this the hard way. Some dogs can be destructive when fear turns into panic. Betty gets crated if we are having a storm. If my neighbors decide to set off fireworks, I will put her in her crate to keep her safe. Her level of fear can be managed with these simple precautions.

For some dogs, this is not enough. There are several other things you do to try to help calm dogs that are extremely fearful during storms and fireworks and to keep them safe:

  • Crate train your pet. A crate can be calming to a dog that is already accustomed to being in a crate. It can also prevent your pet from running away or becoming destructive.
  • Thunder-shirts help calm dogs in the same way that swaddling comforts babies.
  • Calming collars are infused with naturally calming smells like lavender.
  • Turning the television or music on low helps drown out some of the scary noises.
  • Placing the dog in a quiet room (preferably in a crate).
  • Giving the dog treats during storms and other loud noises can help improve the association that they have with storms and ultimately help desensitize them.
  • Make sure your pet has a collar with your current information should they become lost. Make sure they always wear a tag on their collar with your phone number on it.
  • Microchip your pet. If they lose their collar -or someone takes it off, a vet or shelter can still determine how to get your pet back to you. Make sure that your microchip info is up to date. If your pet is already micro-chipped, have your vet check by scanning your pet during your regular exams to be certain that the chip has not migrated out of your pet. This can happen! My Betty was micro-chipped by the rescue group before I got her. When I took her for her first vet visit, the vet could not locate the chip, so we chipped her again. The vet explained that sometimes the chips do work their way out of pets.

Know your pet. Building trust is calming to a pet. Do not expose them to more than they can handle like I did with my old Lab. Most dogs, even if they are trained to tolerate fireworks, will not actually enjoy the festivities like we do. I hope you and your family (and pets) have a very happy Fourth of July.


Originally published at mrycpetcare.weebly.com.