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…
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.
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:
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)
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)
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.
A dry food only diet. (Her food was dry)
Heavy exercise after a meal (she didn’t have time to run around after that meal)
Anxious or stressed-out personality. (yup for Nikki)
Abnormal gastric motility (genetics)
Hormone secretions (genetics again)
Male gender (My dog was a female and it still happened)
Being underweight (My dog was not underweight)
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.
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.
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.
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.