Friday, December 25, 2009

A Time to Celebrate and a Time to Reflect

Merry Christmas, everyone! The dogs and cats as well as my husband and I enjoyed a delightful Christmas Eve afternoon together and now it's Christmas Day. The snow is falling, the fire is blazing in the woodstove, my husband is air-bound to visit his parents who live far away, and I have time to pause in celebration and reflection upon this past year and the wonderful ways my dear pets, my precious family, my great friends, and my loving God have helped me.

For many people today, Christmas Day, is a time to be with family and/or friends, to celebrate love, especially the greatest love of all - God's love for His creation. That love gave us His Son, Jesus, as Redeemer and Savior of all. I personally believe that includes the animals He created, for Genesis 1 tells us that when God created the Heavens, the Earth and the Earth's inhabitants, He called His creation "good". I believe God makes His presence and His love known to us through our pets - their devotion, their friendship, their comfort all reflect the love God has for us. My pets have been a great comfort and inspiration for me, especially this past year with the various struggles and set-backs my family and I have endured. Their continual loyalty and love, their perseverance, their enjoyment of life and taking things in stride serve as reminders to me that life is precious, life is challenging yet life is also to be enjoyed and friends and family treasured.

So this day, I say THANK YOU to my God, my parents, my husband, my friends and my pets for making my life special because of your presence in it. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to each of you!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Lend a Paw and a Hand!

Hard to believe Christmas is nearly here!

In the past few days, I've witnessed a number of distressing situations, ones which touched my heart deeply. Two involved animals, the other people. There's only a few days left until Christmas, and I hope each of us will do SOMETHING to help pets and people in need.

Today, I stopped by the Salvation Army to donate a few toys I'd purchased. There was a HUGE LINE filled with adults who were there to pick up Christmas baskets and other donated food products, as well as toys for their children. I could not believe the number of people in that line in this relatively small town of Casper, Wyoming! I walked out of that place with tears in my eyes.

Just a few days ago I took a lost dog to the Casper Humane Society. The little guy was frantically running around my block, getting up on people's porches and asking to come into their homes. He did that at my home, too. He was lost and looking for someone to help him, or hoping one of the houses was his. He had on a collar but no tags. After taking him to the Humane Society in hopes his family would find him there, I was driving back to my home and what did my eyes see? Another lost dog! This time, running in a very busy street! I wonder if either dog is home for Christmas?

Those of us who have our pets at home, our children at home, who still have our homes, those of us who have our relatives healthy REALLY need to be thankful and recognize our blessings this Christmas. And though money may be tighter this year for most of us, surely we can go to the Dollar Store and buy a few things, whether that be little toys, games, bath and beauty products, or pet toys and supplies, to donate to the Salvation Army and the Humane Society/rescue groups in order that people and pets in need will know they are cared about by others in the community. $5 at the Dollar Store buys 5 things to share with others - $5 is about the cost of a Starbucks Coffee or a lunch at a fast food place. Can we all give up one of those to help others?

Stop by your local Humane Society or Salvation Army this week and see if your heart doesn't break, too. And, when you see a lost pet, do what you can to help it. Maybe you can't put the ID tag on that pet, but if you know someone who doesn't have an ID tag on their pet, buy one for them this Christmas - your friend and your friend's pet will thank you if one day, Lord forbid, that's the pet running loose and lost and some good Samaritan helps it get back home.

MERRY CHRISTMAS and HAPPY NEW YEAR to pets and people everywhere! Let's all do something positive to help our fellow humans and fellow creatures this holiday season!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Pet Safety During Cold Weather

Baby, it's COLD outside! I mean, FRIGID!! Early December got off to a slam-dunk start in central Wyoming during the weekend, with temps below zero and wind-chills even worse! This cold and snow is expected to move eastward, and the west will also get another winter blast yet this week. My woodstove chugs; the wood is even frigid! As I throw more logs into the wood heater and drink hot chocolate and wrap myself in an extra blanket, my mind thinks of all the homeless pets and people throughout the U.S. who must endure (and hopefully survive!) this Arctic blast.

Those of us with pets should be mindful of how the cold affects them and do our very best to keep them safe. If early December is this frigid, the rest of the winter may be one of the worst winters we've experienced in quite sometime.

So, here are some tips to keep your pet safe this winter:
1. Keep pets indoors as much as possible, especially small dogs, dogs with short and/or little amount of fur and cats. They are suseptable to extreme cold, especially the pads of their paws and their ears. Frostbite can set in quickly with below zero temperatures.

2. Of course, dogs need to go out to do their business, but get them back inside quickly. Keep walks short, just enough to stimulate their necessary functions and to get a brisk exercise.

3. After returning from a walk, clean your dog’s paws of the ice, snow and other materials picked up along the way. Snow and ice can be painful on pet paws, and material such as ice melt for sidewalks may be ingested by your pet as s/he cleans itself, which can cause medical problems. Do the paw cleaning for your pet for better safeguards.

4. Speaking of outdoors and dangers, remember that anti-freeze poisons pets, so keep your pet away from the garage and driveway, and those of your neighbors. Watch where you and your pet walk and keep your furry friend away from anti-freeze!

5. Warm car engines attract cats and small wildlife, so be careful when starting your car. Pound on the hood to scare away any potential animal "renters" (perhaps your neighbor's cat who doesn't keep his kitty indoors as he should!). Be mindful not only of your own pets, but those living in your neighborhood.

6. For large, furry dogs that do live outdoors most of the time (like huskies, for example), make sure they have a bit of extra food during this extreme cold weather. The extra nutrition will help keep them warm. Also, be sure they have a warm doghouse with plenty of straw, hay or blankets inside.

7. Despite the snowy conditions, water is still important for an outdoor dog. Use a heated pad or other heated water device to keep your dog's waterbowl from freezing.

Other winter-related pet care tips can be found on the Humane Society of the U.S.'s website:

May we and our pets all be safe this winter season!

Monday, November 23, 2009

So Thankful...

Thanksgiving is nearly upon us, and as I reflect upon this past year, I recognize the many blessings I've enjoyed: my parents, my husband, my friends, my pets. My pets are my friends, so I shouldn't delinate between the two, but I want and need to make sure I and others realize their value, their distinquished place in my life.

This is Cody's second Thanksgiving with Greg and I, Sage's eighth, and the kitties' fourth. I am so amazed at how quickly time flies! And because time does pass too quickly, we all should reflect and give thanks for our blessings, and probably more often than once each year.

So, I take a few moments to ponder and recall and to say to my parents, my husband, my friends, and my pets: I LOVE YOU AND I'M THANKFUL FOR YOU!

May each of you reading this post enjoy a blessed, happy, joyful, and safe Thanksgiving! And may you reflect upon those who are important to you and give them a hug and a 'thank you' for being in your life. Remember, time passes too quickly.

Below are a few tips to keep your furry friend safe and healthy this Thanksgiving (remember not to overinduldge yourself or your pet this holiday!):

1. With front doors opening and closing to welcome friends and relatives and for buzzing out the door for Thanksgiving food shopping, keep in mind where your pets are. They can zip out that front door very quickly if we’re not mindful of their location in the house or how long that front has been open or how many times it opened that day – a lost pet is a scared pet so avoid the “missing pet” situation from the start.

2. Make sure your pets have collar and ID tags in case they do become lost then they can get home more quickly. You may also want to invest the small amount of money needed for your vet to implant a microchip. Collar and tags can become lost themselves, and pets turned into the local animal shelter are scanned for microchips. Make sure your pet can get home more quickly with identification (and make sure that identification is up-to-date!)

3. Holidays often mean great food feasts. Don’t give your pets turkey or chicken bones (dangerous!) or rich foods like gravy (upset tummies!). Keep your pets’ food routines during the holidays – it’s best for everyone – no matter how sad his/her eyes look upon you for that piece of pumpkin pie!

4. Speaking of routine, don’t neglect your dog’s daily walk and exercise. Routine is the key to an emotionally healthy pet. Our dogs need this daily routine, not just for emotional stability as their human companions scurry hither and yon, but also they need the daily ritual for their overall physical health – just like us!

5. After returning from a walk, clean your dog’s paws of the ice, snow and other materials picked up along the way. Snow and ice can be painful on pet paws, and material such as ice melt from sidewalks may be ingested by your pet as s/he cleans itself, which can cause medical problems. Do the paw cleaning for your pet for better safeguards.

6. And, speaking of outdoors and dangers, remember that anti-freeze poisons pets, so keep your pet away from the garage and driveway, and those of your neighbors'. Watch where you and your pet walk and keep your furry friend away from anti-freeze!

7. All the holiday excitement, running around, and extra guests can cause our pets stress. Make sure there’s a quiet place for your dog or cat to get away from the noise and activity, a quiet room in the house and provide things your pet is familiar with: your dog's bed or special blanket, your pet’s toys, and food and water dishes, your cat's litter box. Just as people need “down time”, our pets also need a peaceful spot where they are comfortable and secure.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone, and may you, your family, friends and pets enjoy a blessed and safe holiday!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

De-Stress with Your Pet!

With the lovely autumn weather we've experienced in Casper recently have come several wonderful walks through the neighborhood. Having two dogs prompts my husband and I to get out and stroll, or when he's not home, for me to "tag along" with the two spaniels! We walk either early in the morning, before the kids arrive at the local school, or later, after the kids are in school and their parents are at work. Either way, the crisp autumn mornings with cloudless sky offer a peaceful, relaxing start to the day!

And, if one's day is off to a great start, chances are a person can handle the little darts of stress that life often brings our way during the day. Taking a morning walk, petting and caring for our pets, and other enjoyable tasks put a smile on our face and that releases endorphins that help us meet the day's challenges.

At the end of the day, our pets come to our aid once again. My cat Murphy crawls into my lap once I sit in my recliner with the afgan, purring and wanting attention and snuggling into the blanket. Sage or Cody sits beside in the chair (yes, the recliner is oversized to accommodate both dogs and cats!). Talk about relaxing! I love these evenings shared with my four-footed friends!

Our pets provide great health benefits, including reducing stress, lowering blood pressure, and uplifting our moods. And with the holidays coming on, often adding to our stress, isn't that great news?! So, play with those kitties, and get out that leash - our pets are ready to help us de-stress and smile!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A Tale of Two Dogs (and maybe two people!)

Last weekend my husband, the two dogs and I traveled to Montana. I was conducting two book signings and we also were able to visit some friends and spend time with my parents -- we thoroughly enjoyed our time up there!

Sage, though, had a bit of trouble. Her traveling days, I believe, are nearly finished. She becomes very anxious, panting constantly and not settling down. Even a small tranquilizer doesn't kick in until we're nearly at our destination. I believe the blindness has impacted her ability to travel, possibly upsetting her stomach and/or making her dizzy. She is fine when we arrive, and enjoys being with my parents and meeting people at the bookstores. I'm sad to see this happen as she is such a hit with people and truly enjoys being around them.

Cody, on the other hand, is a great traveler! We put his blanket in the back seat, near Sage's travel kennel, and he looked like a prince on his throne! If he's not in between the seats, hoisting himself up to see what's going on out the window, then he's curled up, sleeping soundly. Cody, too, is great about meeting new people, and was as much a hit at the bookstores as Sage. He's also a hit with my parents, who were once adamant about "no dogs in the house!" Cody and Sage, however, have won their hearts, and both dogs are good for their physical and mental health as well. (Dad even walks one or both of them sometimes!) I love taking the dogs to visit my parents! (except for the 'getting there' part!)

Two different dogs, two different reactions to the same event. Kind of like people. Different personalities, different reactions to situations at times. Our dogs can be a reflection of ourselves. I'm not as good at night driving as I used to be; in fact, I can get downright anxious about it. Didn't do that when I was younger. Kind of like Sage - stressed over aspects of travel now when I didn't used to be. My husband is more like Cody - laid back with a 'take it as it comes' attitude. Amazing how our pets can be mirror images of ourselves. Perhaps subconsciously that's why we bond with certain pets so easily. Now, if only Sage and I could be more like Cody and Greg - we'd all enjoy our little vacations a little more, especially without long drives or travels at night!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Joy of Giving

The title may sound like a Christmas theme, and though it looked like Christmas in Casper just a few days ago, The Joy of Giving happens anytime, anywhere.

For me, it was today. I transported a dog from rescue toward her new home. She is going to a new family in Canada, and I got to be part of the process! This is not my first transport, and it certainly won't be my last, but it has special meaning for me because this dog has a special story.

I'll call her Jazz for now, Gentle Jazz. Although a large dog, part Great Pyrenees, she has a gentle, kind spirit. But, she had a tough life: abandoned and pregnant; she gave birth to a very large litter of pups, and was found under an overpass in very bad weather and in very bad shape. All the pups lived, but Jazz was depleted from the experience of feeding and protecting herself and her little ones. Yet, at one time, this loving dog was someone's loving, intelligent companion. She knows several commands and is quite docile, even around children. Her heritage of gentle protector is evident is quiet, yet vigilent dog.

Jazz is going on a long journey, from rescue in America to new human companions in Canada. I am grateful to have helped her get her to her destination, and I pray she and her new family will enjoy an enduring, abiding bond. An amazing dog with an incredible story, and many caring people to help her along the way. I believe there is a story to share in Jazz's journey! And in this story is a great lesson - joy of giving: sharing your life, giving of yourself, even just a few priceless, precious moments, to help another. I am thankful to be even just a small part of her special story!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Keep Pets Safe During Halloween!

Although Halloween can be a fun holiday for children and adults, our pets find this time of year down-right spooky! Between extra excitement in the house, people wearing strange clothes, and all the ringing doorbells and loud noises, pets really stress out. Here are some tips to keep your pets safer and happier this Halloween:

· Keep pets safely inside, away from trick-or-treaters and other Halloween activities. This will ensure that pets won’t become frightened or feel threatened at the sight of noisy costumed children.
· Remember that frequently opened doors provide a perfect opportunity for escape, which can go unnoticed during all of the commotion, so keep your pet safe by keeping it in a secure room away from the opening and closing of the front and back doors.
· Be sure all pets are wearing collars with ID tags in case of accidental escape.
· Keep candy out of your pet’s reach. Candy can be harmful and chocolate is toxic to pets.
· Keep pets away from decorations. Flames in jack-o-lanterns and candles can quickly singe, burn or set fire to a pet’s fur. Pets can become tangled in hanging decorations like streamers and can choke on some decorations if they chew on them.
· Resist the urge to put your furry friend in costume. Most pets dislike the confinement of costumes and masks, and flowing capes can cause injuries if pets get caught on something.
· Don’t bring the family dog along for trick-or-treating. Dogs may become difficult to handle during the noise and confusion of the festivities, and a lost dog or a dog bite to someone will quickly end your Halloween fun.

These Halloween safety tips are provided by the Humane Society of the United States and others who care for you and your pets. Happy (and safe!) Halloween!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

In the Face of Adversity

Walking the dogs today, Greg and I and the dogs were charged by a large yellow lab and its golden retriever friends. In the barking and chaos that insued, Greg and I kept our dogs on their leashes and tried to calm them. The dogs' owner can rushing out of the backyard, from where the dogs came thanks to an unlocked gate, and tried to coax his dogs back into the yard. Sage remained at my side and Cody, in an effort to protect us (and him, I assume) lunged at the yellow lab, another male. Thankfully, the dog's owner caught the lab's collar and took him back into the yard. The golden, a female, was more curious than aggitated, and she and Cody sniffed each other then, she, too was taken back into the yard. Our walk resumed.

A thought flashed through my mind -- here we all were, in the midst of adversity, and Sage, though at first surprised by the fast dogs and the barking and sniffing, stayed by my side and remained relatively calm. She trusted Greg and I to take care of her. Even in her blindness, and being blind-sided by these large, fast dogs, she remained close to those who would protect her (and Cody was certainly ready to go to battle for her and for Greg and I!) Sage stood steadfast in the face of adversity; Cody squared off and ready for battle. Maybe we people need to take a lesson here, especially me: God is ready to do battle on my behalf, to take on my enemies and take care of me, if only I stand steadfast in the midst of the adversity I face. Trust and have faith: God will take on my enemies (my fears, my worries, my problems, even Satan himself) on my behalf. All He requires of me is to trust and remain steadfast beside Him in the face of my adversity.

Thanks to Cody and Sage, and two strange dogs, I learned a valuable lesson today.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Make Me Smile!

Ever notice how pets bring a smile to our face? Whether it's in the antics they do or the joy and comfort they bring, "pet therapy" is no joke; pets bring smiles and joy to our faces and our hearts.

My dogs are great examples. Recently, Sage sat with me in the recliner (yes, we can both fit, it's an oversized recliner!). She had been laying with her head near my feet, then suddenly, turned and laid her head on my shoulder, her cheek next to mine. This sightless dog gazed at me with such love and devotion, my heart melted and my smile widened. I stroked her chin and face gently, and said over and over "Such a good dog, Sage. You're so brave and so sweet. What a good dog you are, Sage." I think she understood!

Cody, our cocker spaniel, brings a smile when he holds his green rubber ball in his small mouth. that ball widens his mouth like the Joker's grin in Batman! Cody LOVES that rubber ball like Linus in Peanuts loves his blanket; he can't leave home without it! Cody's antics with his ball or with his little legs trotting down the sidewalk during our morning walks make me smile and laugh.

Even Murphy the cat brings a grin to my face and delight to my heart. She "talks" each morning, possibly telling me about her dreams the night before. Her squeeky voice has given her the nickname in our household "Little Miss Squeek", and she tries very hard to get a conversation started. Needless to say, Greg and I can't ignore her, and we talk back to her. I think she likes that, as she purrs and purrs, and rubs her head into our hand. When she lays on my lap during the evenings we watch TV, she stretches into the afgan in my lap and turns to have her tummy rubbed and her chin scratched. Her long, black and white fur is like silk, and pleasant to touch. Her dedication to us and her adventurous spirit makes me smile and chuckle (yet that spirit can get her into trouble when she climbs the fence into the neighbor's yard!).

My sweet, loving, fun pets... helping me find joy and smiles in what can be a tough, uncaring world!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Having a blind dog that is loving, loyal, and free-spirit is quite cool! Sage is unafraid of snow, ice, or squirrels and she derives pleasure from simply being herself! Maybe there's a lesson in this: accepting your weaknesses and not letting them get you down.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Snow's Come Too Soon!

Although it's officially autumn, Casper (and much of the Rocky Mountain West) looks like Christmas and feels like January! Protect your pets during cold snaps by making sure short-haired dogs have sweaters on when they go outside and by cleaning your dog's feet after they've been outside - ice and snow can build up on the pads and between the toes, causing great pain and discomfort. Watch your pet while it's outside doing its business and don't keep your dog for long periods of time (unless it loves the snow and has lots of fur to keep it warm!)
Make sure your pets stay warm and snug (just as we humans like to be!), and ensure their food and water dishes are full.
And, if your pet is like my Murphy cat, have a blanket nearby that your pet can snuggle against and maybe into! Just make sure they don't dig so far down into the blankets that they overheat!!Keep yourself and your pets warm and safe during this crazy winter-like weather and the actual winter yet to come!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Importance of ID Tags

This morning, after walking my own dogs, I drove to the store and saw a dog running in the street. I pulled my car over and coaxed the reddish, long-haired, medium-sized dog into my car. It was a friendly dog and hopped right in! First thing I checked was a collar -- ah, yes! Then, are there tags? Many times when I've "rescued" a street roamer, there's been a collar with NO tags. But, ah, thankfully, this dog's owner placed the animal's tags on the collar, including a city license that was actually up-to-date! I called Metro Animal Control, gave the staff member the dog's tag number, and was given the name of the owner and a phone number. I asked for an address, thinking I'd just drive up or down one of the close-by streets and be able to get the dog home. But, no! This owner's address was clear across town! I asked the staffer how he thought the dog could be in MY neighborhood, and of course, got the answer "don't know."
So, I called the phone number, thinking I'd get voice mail, but thankfully, the owner answered, and I discovered he and the dog did live a short distance away, so I was able to get handsome RED long-hair back home safely, and into the loving arms of the owner's little boy. I thanked the man for having up-to-date ID tags (in the form of current licensing) but cautioned he probably should update his address with Metro. Still, a happy ending!

How important it is to have our pets wear identification or at least a current rabies and city license tag. It's so much easier for pets to get home timely and safely when their collar has some type of identification. I've rescued several "street urchins" in the past, and rarely have those animals had a license or ID tag on their collars. Remind all your pet friendly pals to insure their animals have collars and tags just in case, as in what transpired today, their pet escapes the yard and runs down the street and hops someone's car! With identification, your pet will go home instead of going to the animal shelter or to someone's else's home!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Adopt-a-Shelter-Dog Month observed in October

Animal welfare groups across the country celebrate the joy of dog adoption next month. October is recognized as national Adopt-a-Shelter-Dog Month and offers a wonderful opportunity to give a dog a new, loving home.

Promoted by American Humane (a national animal welfare organization based in Denver, CO) and the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), Adopt-a-Shelter-Dog Month brings greater awareness to the plight of homeless dogs throughout our nation. The Humane Society of the United States estimates nearly 3 to 4 million dogs and cats enter shelters across the United States annually, many of which are euthanized for one reason or another. This year’s Adopt-A-Dog theme is “Be a Super Hero! Rescue a Shelter Dog…and Get a Loyal Sidekick for All of Life’s Adventures!” and hints at one of the many special reasons to adopt a dog.

If you are considering adding a dog to your household, this is a good time to do so! Dogs are loyal and loving, providing that special ‘sidekick’ for life’s journey. Many dogs enjoy riding in the car, going for walks and hikes, and simply being a part of a family; therefore, they make wonderful companions! And remember the great health benefits dogs can provide: reducing stress and blood pressure and uplifting our moods, among others.

Whether you are single, married, have children, or are retired, there’s a dog to fit every lifestyle. Of course, you need to find the RIGHT dog, and that’s one of the roles animal shelters, rescue organizations, and humane societies provide. The staff and volunteers who spend time with the animals know their personalities and may often know the dog’s background, and therefore, offer a tremendous service for those hoping to add a dog to their life.

This year’s theme of super hero is a strong, positive one. Most of us have a role model, someone to whom we can look up, think of highly, and try to emulate. Those role models may be celebrities, or sports or political figures. Yet, we can all be positive role models, especially to our children. Kids look at superheroes, like Superman, in awe, watching the cartoon and movie versions of these make-believe characters. Wouldn’t it be great if, as adults, we gave children someone to look up to, being noted especially for our kindness and compassion? Not only can we teach our children the uplifting, strong moral characteristics of selflessness, kindness and compassion, but we can also teach them responsibility toward our community and our pets.

So, won’t you be a superhero today, to a homeless dog and to your kids and grandkids? Adopt a dog in October during national Adopt-A-Shelter-Dog Month. And even if you can’t adopt a pet, there are many things you can do to show kindness and compassion: support our local pet rescue and shelter organizations with donations not just of money, but also of dog toys, treats, food and even your time.
Dogs need people – they need our care, compassion, time, and attention. Be a Super Hero today!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Pets are Powerful Therapy

I've been away from this blog for quite sometime but that's because I spent nearly six weeks with my parents after each experienced major and frightening health issues.

For almost two weeks, in the later part of that situation, my blind Springer Spaniel, Sage, stayed with us as well in their small home in Montana. Sage has experienced significant issues herself, from progressive blindness to being lost for 3 days to frequent urinary tract infections to, the latest, a pre-cancerous skin tumor. Through each significant challenge, Sage has exhibited immense courage and tenacity; her tail rarely stops wagging, and her sense of confidence and faith is inspiring!

While she stayed at my parents’ house, she sat near each one of them, coaxing in a silent way for them to pet her. They often complied, giving her gentle pats and talking to her tenderly. Sage sat quietly, seeming to enjoy the attention and seeming to know they needed that respite of acceptance and devotion.

Dogs provide great health benefits to people. They can reduce stress, lower blood pressure, uplift our moods, and add years to our life. The simple fact that our pets accept us for who we are, they love us unconditionally and are devoted companions, they often wait by the door for our return, and pets (especially dogs) get us outdoors for fresh air and walks – all of these things and more are healthy benefits to people, both emotionally and physically.

Therapy pets are used in hospitals and nursing homes around the country to help patients feel better. The Delta Society and other groups certify pets and their owners to take into such public places and studies show these animals provide great benefits to those whom they visit.

Unlike people with whom relationships can be complex, unpredictable, and stressful, animals are a great source of stability and companionship. They don’t change, and their loyalty to their owners and ability to rebound from tough situations can be inspiring. Pets are also a great source of comfort. The simple act of petting a dog can lower blood pressure and bring a sense of calm to one’s spirit. Interacting with a cat in a playful manner can generate enjoyment and laughter. Even watching fish in a beautiful tank can bring about a sense of peace and an enjoyment of beauty through the colors of both the fish and the tank. And, don’t we all need a bit more peace and stability in our lives?

I am thankful for the therapy Sage gives my family and I. Her dedication and devotion are beyond measure. She has taught me many things during her young life, including the value of friendship and loyalty and the strengths of perseverance and courage. My own special therapy pet, whom I can share with others – what a blessing!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Give of yourself to help animals!

Recently I transported two female Springer Spaniels to their adoptive parents, a couple who wanted to give them a permanent, forever home. As part of a breed-rescue organization, I have transported dogs to their new homes and have given of my time in other ways as a volunteer.

I don’t have lots of time to volunteer, but I have found a few ways in which I can serve to help animals in need. Volunteers are vital to rescue and other animal welfare organizations, and there are many ways a person can volunteer. Some of these endeavors take lots of time, others take only a few hours a week. If you enjoy animals, here are some ways in which you can help your local animal shelter, Humane Society, or animal rescue organization:
  • Donate time to walk and play with dogs.

  • Donate time to brush and play with cats.

  • Serve as a foster parent, providing a temporary home to injured or orphaned animals, those awaiting a new home, or mothers with very young kittens or puppies.

  • Transport pets going into new homes.

  • Assist with fundraising and other special events.

  • Help landscape and clean an existing facility.

  • Donate products, such as pet food, toys, treats, even laundry soap and cat litter.

  • Donate money.

Visit with a representative from your local animal shelter or rescue group and see what their needs are that you as a volunteer can provide. You will be amazed at the difference you can make in the lives of homeless pets in just a few hours a week or even a few hours each month as these animals await their loving, forever home! Be part of the positive solution by giving of yourself in some small way.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

My Pets, My Instructors

Summer seems to be here. Somehow, the region where I lived by-passed spring. The apple tree is in full bloom (took less than a week!) and the temperature surpassed 85 degrees the past few days. We blinked and spring has gone -- wow, time does fly!

With the onslaught of warm weather and early sunrises, my cats have come out of hibernation. Bailey, the independent and aloof one, now wants to explore the backyard before 6 a.m., something her sister likes to do no matter the season or air temperature! The two spend hours in the backyard, watching (and trying to catch!) the birds; stalking mice; and laying on the patio in the warm sunshine. And when not outside, they observe their outdoor domain from windows, cat trees, or any other place they can find to look out. My cats simply ENJOY -- and I enjoy watching them.

Ever notice how our pets just take things in stride -- weather, lack of success in mouse-stalking, physical limitations? They don't sweat it, as the old saying goes. They simply appreciate what they have and patiently wait for what they don't (a bird, in the example of my cats). We can learn a lot from our pets: loyalty, patience, simplicity, courage, perseverance, friendship, appreciation.

Some people call them "dumb animals" -- I observe them and see "teacher".

Monday, April 20, 2009

Road Trip with Your Pet

I've been away from this blog for longer than I intended due to sickness. This has been a VERY LONG WINTER here in the Rockies. Signs of spring are coming, though, despite the consistent snowfall -- robins are appearing, grass is greening (thanks to the extra snowfall!), and the sun is shining (finally!).

My husband and I took a weekend trip with our two dogs recently, something we’ve not done in quite sometime. It was a pleasant journey, at least for a few of us. Sage, our blind dog, no longer travels well, and she stresses about being in the car, even for a short while.

Cody, the Cocker Spaniel, on the other hand, lays down and sleeps, sometimes so peacefully that he snores! It’s an amazing difference between the two.

Once at the two different hotels we stayed at, we all relaxed for the night. The beds were king-sized (don’t often get that in hotel ‘pets allowed’ rooms!), the rooms were large enough that Sage, the blind one, could more easily navigate, and the prices were very reasonable (of course, it isn’t really the travel season yet!). We did have to pay an extra charge per pet per night, but nothing extravagant, and I’m grateful for that, especially traveling with two dogs.

During our journey, we stopped at one particular rest stop where a young man had also stopped with his two dogs. He had a van loaded with stuff, from skies and a shovel on top of the vehicle, to a bench seat with blankets on it for the dogs inside. I smiled, both inside and outside, when I saw this guy with his two 4-legged friends. Not only did he exercise them at the rest area, but he provided them attention and the vital substance called water and he played with them outside at the pet designated part of the rest area. It was great to see! He obviously enjoys his four-legged companions and was having fun traveling to wherever he was going with them.

I thank the people who are responsible for creating pet areas at highway rest stops. I thank the hotels that are pet friendly and allow us traveling pet owners places to stay with our furry friends. I thank pet owners who not only take their pets on trips, but who provide them the stimulations they need and the basic necessities they require. It’s wonderful to bump into other traveling pet owners. We share smiles, exchange greetings, and often stop and chat about our furry companions. Pets bring pet owners together, and I’m thankful for that, too.

As travel season approaches, here are a few traveling trips for taking your pet on the road with you:

  • Pack enough pet food and also containers of water for the trip. In addition also take along the following: your pet’s food and water dishes, bedding, litter and litter box, leash, collar and tags, grooming supplies, a favorite toy, a first-aid kit, and any necessary medications.

  • Make sure your pet wears a sturdy collar with ID tags throughout the trip. It's also recommended to have a tag on your pet with contact information for your destination.

  • Make sure your pet’s vaccinations are up-to-date and carry a health certificate with you.

  • Make frequent pit stops. Provide your pet with fresh water in addition to the exercise and bathroom breaks when you stop.

  • Never leave your pet unattended in a parked vehicle. Not only can the inside of a car heat up quickly, but unattended pets can be victims of theft.

  • Be sure that your pet is safely restrained in your vehicle. Utilizing a pet safety harness or travel kennel are the best ways to keep your dog safe. Cat should be in carriers for their safety (and yours!). Whatever method you choose to properly restrain your pet in the vehicle, be sure to make their comfort a priority. Simply providing their favorite bed or blanket can help your pet feel more at ease during a road trip.

For more indepth travel tips, visit the Humane Society of the United States' website at or

And, for pet-friendly accommodations, visit:,, or

Happy Trails (and Tails!)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Little Dog, Big Heart

Almost exactly one year ago, my husband and I adopted an older male Cocker Spaniel. A family who got him in another estate had brought him into our local shelter. He obviously had been used as a stud, as he was nearly 10 years old and not neutered. We know nothing else about his background, except he supposedly needed to be “the only dog”. Well, that has turned out to be completely false.

Cody blended right in with Sage, our blind Springer Spaniel, and he seemed to take on the role of protector. It’s as though he realizes she has a handicap. The first few months when they went out together to the backyard (which they do often!), he watched her, and if she ran too close to one of the trees, or to the stair railing of the deck, Cody would try to prevent her from getting hurt.

On our walks and in our house, he is ever vigil. If he thinks a dog or a person is going to hurt me, his mistress, he sets into a barking frenzy. Once, I walked past a yard with a large golden retriever, and that dog came charging to the fence, barking up a storm! Cody retaliated, pulling on his leash and barking loudly! He didn’t care if that dog was 3 times his size, he’d have taken him on to protect me. Thankfully, the golden stayed in its yard and simply barked. We don’t walk near that yard anymore.

Our house would surely be off-limits to intruders. Cody keeps watch on a chair near the front door, with an eye on the picture window as well. Whenever he hears a diesel motor or sees a person simply walking past the front of the house, his “protection mode” kicks into high gear, and we are alerted that "something is out there!" We always know when someone is at the door! In fact, we always know when someone is walking on the sidewalk, even if they are across the street!
This 30-pound, elderly dog is totally loyal and loving. Cody – a little dog with a big heart!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Spring is coming!

Is spring arriving where you live? This wonderous season is trying to make a comeback in the Rocky Mountains where I reside, and the pets know it! (The songbirds seem to feel it, too, I've noticed this week!) The dogs are restless and want to take more walks each day, and the cats want to spend more time in the backyard. Let them, I say! They need the exercise, and frankly, so do I. With temperatures climbing into the upper 40s to mid-50s and sunshine showing (I know some of you southern types may be shivering just thinking, "It's only 45 or 50, and she thinks spring is coming?!", but for one living with temps only in the 20s or maybe 30 for four months, 45 is WARM!) now is the time to put on those walking shoes, get out the garden and grass rakes, and take yourself and your animals outdoors! Make sure your pets are safely with you, whether on a leash while near the street or within sight while in your backyard. Being out in the fresh air and sunshine is good for our pets and good for us people, too.
I hope spring is coming where you live. If it's already there, count your blessings -- snow will continue to fall off and on where I live for the next two or three months. That's what I like about spring, though -- it's a hopeful season, and I'm hoping it comes to stay and SOON!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Cozy Comfort – Devotion from a Pet

This past week I’ve been down for the count – started with a scratchy throat, progressed to bronchitis. I’ve not slept well in nearly a week, spending most time in my recliner with the vaporizer on. Zapped of strength and energy, it’s been a lonesome, despairing week – expect for one important thing: I’ve not been alone.

My blind dog, Sage, has learned how to jump onto the recliner and turn around and find a comfortable position to lie next to me. She’s done that for quite sometime. Usually, she turns away so that her nose and ears face the livingroom so she can smell and hear things going on around her better. However, this week, instead of her “normal” position on the chair, she has turned to face me, lay her head on my chest, and simply relax and “look at” me with such adoration. My heart has melted, and thanksgiving rises up for this special dog. She has given me great comfort in being by my side and in how she “looks” at me. I know she can’t see, but there’s just something about her expression, her acceptance of both her condition and of me – not at my best – that is heartwarming and uplifting.

I recall walks we’ve taken and how she simply just “goes” – walking in snow, walking in the woods (on a leash of course!), walking through a park – and she expresses no reservations; in fact, she WANTS to go walking! I cannot imagine, not being able to see, and just walking. Trusting your companion fully and just enjoying the experience of being outdoors, taking in the smells, the crispness of the winter air, the freshness of the mountains in summer… What faith, what courage, what trust!

As I sat close with my dog this week, I was reminded how important we are to them, and I know how important she is to me. Giving me love, acceptance, devotion, and comfort in my time of need. How many people actually do that for other people, including those we say we love? Humans can certainly learn a lot from their pets. Too bad more of us don’t acknowledge that fact!