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!