Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Well, it's been quite awhile since I've posted on this blog... I apologize for my absence. I did quite a bit of freelance writing this spring then attended a writer's conference and ended up with two part-time jobs, which I've been juggling the past several weeks. Additionally, we recently celebrated my parents' 50th anniversary. Now, at least for awhile, I should be into a routine and can again start posting some fun pet information!

Since summer officially began on Monday, I thought I'd post a bit on summer safety for our pets.

Summer is in full swing with warming temperatures and powerful storms. With the season comes safety concerns for our pets. Here are a few tips for keeping your pets safe this summer:

  • Don’t leave pets unattended in your vehicle! Cars quickly heat up to dangerous temperatures, especially on warm or sunny days, even with the windows slightly open.
    Ensure your pets’ vaccinations are up-to-date and that heartworm, flea and tick medications have been administered. Summer brings out rabies-carrying creatures, such as skunks and raccoons, and fleas and ticks are abundant this time of year as well. Protect your pets! Consult your veterinarian for more information on heartworm, Lyme disease, rabies and other diseases fatal to pets.
  • For your cat’s protection, keep her indoors! Cats can be purr-fectly content indoor pets – they just need is a bit of playtime, a cat tree and other enrichment. Keeping your kitty indoors protects her from death by car, rabies from roaming creatures, and other safety issues, such as antifreeze.
  • When planning your dog’s daily walk, seriously consider early morning or later in the evening for longer, cooler walks. If you have to walk mid-day, take a shorter route, and remember that sidewalks can burn the pads of a dog’s paws.
  • If your dog spends time outdoors in a kennel, ensure he has plenty of fresh, cool water and shelter. Rain and thunderstorms can pop up quickly, particularly in the afternoon when you may be elsewhere, such as work. And, NEVER chain or tie your dog out – lightening striking a nearby tree, heat exhaustion, dehydration and numerous insect bites are just a few of hazards posed to tethered dogs.
  • Cocoa mulch, pesticides, antifreeze, and other chemicals pose dangerous risks to our pets, including death. Ensure your pet cannot get into any of these hazardous products, and highly consider using organic products for your garden and yard.
  • When traveling with your pet, make sure to keep them properly restrained, in a secured carrier or special seatbelt. This not only protects your pets, but you as driver and your passengers as well – you’re not as apt to be distracted if your traveling four-footed friend is properly restrained in the vehicle.
  • If your pet does travel with you, make sure his/her ID tags are on the collar – you might even seriously consider microchipping your pet before traveling. Also, use a leash to walk your pet for its bathroom break. One of the worst ways to ruin your trip or vacation is to lose your pet.
  • Prior to traveling, look into accommodations that accept pets. There are some great websites that can help you plan your pet-friendly vacation: www.petswelcome.com; www.travelpets.com; www.petsonthego.com.
  • If you don’t take your pet on the trip with you, look into hiring a pet sitter, someone who’ll take care of your pets, your house, your mail, etc. Ask friends or your vet for recommendations, or try the following websites for certified, reliable pet sitters:
    http://www.care.com/pet-care-p1005.html, http://www.sittercity.com/pet-sitting.html, or
  • NEVER leave your pets home alone if you’re gone for an extended period of time. Even asking friends to “drop by” to feed and water isn’t enough. Bad things can happen if a pet is left alone for days – in addition to running out of water, yard and house destruction can occur, incessant barking often takes place because your pet feels abandoned, and that can result in upset and worried neighbors, and possibly a fine to you for animal abuse/neglect.
  • Don’t let the dog bite! Summer is the peak season for dog bites because of the increased number of children and dogs playing outdoors. Training, socialization and spaying/ neutering your dog help reduce the risk of dog bites. Also, remember to teach your children good manners around pets. To learn more about dog bites and how to prevent them, visit http://www.dog-biteprevention.com/

May you, your family, and your pets have a safe and enjoyable summer!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Irish Rock and Rule!

‘Tis the week of the Blarney, the time when EVERYONE becomes Irish! We have the Sullivans, the McGuires, the Irwins, the Daleys, the O’Briens, and many, many more familiar family names from the land’o’green. Greg and I named our cats after Irish drinks: Murphy and Bailey. Yes, we like things that are Irish - Greg is Scot and Irish.

During this week, we'll see people pin on green pins and shamrocks, wear green hats, and drink green beer while listening to pipe and fiddle music. Corned beef and cabbage, Shepherd’s Pie, Guinness, Bailey’s Irish Cream, Jamison’s, and Murphy’s Irish Stout are consumed by the pound (and I don’t mean the English pound, by crackey!) It’s the time for the wearin’ of the green and singin’ “When Irish Eyes are Smilin’” and other festive songs.

So, in celebration of the wee bit’’o’reen and the lovely Emerald Isle, I thought I’d take a look at the dog and cat breeds which have come to us from that lush country over the Atlantic.

The only breed of cat I found out about on the Web that originates close to Ireland is the Manx, which came from the Isle of Man in the Irish Sea. This tail-less cat was first discovered there in the early 19th century; how they got to that small island is unclear and many theories exist. Great stories always make for great fun! For information on the Manx, visit

Many breeds of dogs do come from Ireland – here are a few:

The Irish Wolfhound – one of the oldest breeds of dogs on the planet, and the tallest of dogs, this unique breed was used to hunt wolves and as a watch dog. Although a large, tough dog, the Irish Wolfhound is affectionate and loyal to its family.

Irish Setter – a chestnut-colored bird hunting dog, this energetic, friendly breed makes a great family pet, especially if exercised regularly.

Irish Red and White Setter – distinct from the Irish Setter, this breed almost became extinct by the end of the 19th century, and is considered energetic (needing lots of exercise), kind and intelligent and a great bird hunting dog.

Irish Terrier – considered one of the oldest of the terrier breeds, this spirited, loyal medium-sized dog was used as a watch dog and is good with children if raised with them.

The Kerry Blue Terrier – a unique-looking, bluish-black in color, medium-sized dog was used as a watchdog and for hunting vermin, small game and birds, is a native of County Kerry and make good family pets

Irish Water Spaniel – considered energetic, affectionate, social and a great family pet, this curly-coated dog with a rat-like tail (no fur on the tail) was used for hunting waterfowl

Soft-coated Wheaten Terrier – this medium-sized dog with a soft coat, was used to herd cattle and sheep as well as guard the farm, and is considered good with children and a dog that needs regular exercise.

Glen of Imal Terrier – described as a “big dog on short legs”, this smaller, agile breed weighs around 30 pounds and was used for hunting vermin and for turning the spit on the hearth (as in ‘working the rotisserie’!)

For more information on the dogs from Ireland, visit http://www.dogluvers.com/Ireland.html

To learn more about these and other breeds of dogs, including temperament and history, visit the website of the American Kennel Club: http://www.akc.org/

So, I’ll raise a glass to the dog breeds from Ireland and to my own felines who are named for some special flavors of Ireland: Murphy, my black and white long-haired cat named for Murphy’s Irish Stout Beer (Greg enjoys of glass of this now and again!), and Bailey, our short-haired tortishell, named for Bailey’s Irish Cream (one of my favorite liquors!).

HAPPY ST. PATRICK’S DAY, everyone! Keep those Irish eyes a’smilin’!!

And, if you like many things Irish, including music and literature, check out my friend Noelle’s blog: http://montanagael.blogspot.com/

Hope you all find a leprechaun with each rainbow!!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Soothing Sound of Snoring

I sit in my home office, working on projects I need to get down. I’m a bit stressed, overwhelmed with deadlines and thoughts of my “to-do list”. My computer isn’t responding as quickly as I want, the house needs cleaning because company is coming, dinner needs planning and completing, and snow needs shoveling. So much to do, so little time to relax – or even get everything done. My fists clench and my jaw tightens. Then, I hear it – the sound of snoring.

I glance to the floor and see my two dogs, each deeply asleep on their respective blankets. Tails tightly tucked into their bodies, noses pressed into the softness of fleece. Deep sleep envelopes them, and the deeply saturated muzzles let out a sound so calmly, yet so comical. I smile, then laugh, and my tension melts away.

Why do we humans put so much pressure on ourselves? We let tensions and “to-dos” affect our behavior and our attitude. Especially “the little things”. So what if my house isn’t perfectly cleaned? Will my friends or family disown me? Most likely not. If dinner is served at 6:30 instead of 5:30, so what? If the snow gets shoveled 30 minutes later, what’s the big deal? The little things add up, but we’re the ones who keep the score.

Pets are great teachers of what’s really important: love, companionship, courage, and dedication. The soothing sound of snoring not only brings a smile, but brings a reminder of reality and implication of importance – slow down, love, appreciate, and don’t let the small stuff take away the smile to your day.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Winter Warmth

Winter has returned to Wyoming, with snow during the weekend and morning temperatures around zero the past few days. Fortunately, the sun shines brightly today, helping to warm the winter day.

The animals, too, have needed more warmth lately. Murphy, our black and white cat, burrows under the covers on the bed - and she has long hair! Sage sleeps near the woodstove on one blanket, and Cody shares the other "doggie" blanket with Bailey, our tortishell cat! I moved my computer today into the dining room to be near the woodstove. Maybe we're all just getting old!

Yesterday was Valentine's Day, and my husband gave me a very lovely card, red roses, a box of chocolates, and a bottle of red wine. His thoughtfulness and his love warms my heart.

Sunshine, woodstove, loving and devoted pets... not too many other ways a person needs to have warmth in the home and in the heart!

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Furry Friends

With January drawing to a close, we celebrate 9 years of Sage as part of the Irwin household, and I've been reflecting on the meaning of friendship and how this special dog has impacted not just my life, but my husband's, my parents', my friends, and the many lives her story has affected through the stories and visits to schools. As I think of those positive impacts, the valuable life lessons, and the many people she's encountered and encouraged, I am deeply amazed and profoundly touched by Sage and her beautiful spirit.

What is a friend? Someone you trust, someone you care about, someone who is loyal and loving, someone who helps you smile each day, and someone you enjoy being with and miss when that individual is not around. That is Sage. Her devotion, her courage, her kind spirit, her affection all equal one thing... a special friend. Where else can one find such authenticity than in our pets? They are who they are, nothing more, nothing less, and they require very little from us except our love and loyalty. Our pets don't judge us, they accept us; they don't demand, they just accept, patiently and honestly. We humans can learn great lessons from our loving, loyal four-footed friends.

Pets help us to laugh more, to love more, to give more, to have faith and courage...in other words, pets help us be better people.

So, thank you, Sage, for all the blessings you've brought into our lives these past 9 years. And, to you, Cody, as we look to celebrate 2 years of sharing life with you. And, to our cats, Murphy and Bailey, who have been with us for four years, since young kittens. All of you bring joy, affection, and humbleness to our lives, and we are grateful for all the wonderful gifts you give to us: yourselves.

Gayle & Greg

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

You Know You're a Dyed-in-the-Wool Pet Owner When...

... you want to get back home ASAP because you miss your dog (or cat, or both!)!!

I recently traveled back East to attend a training seminar. I left on an very early Sunday morning and returned home the following Friday night. By Wednesday, I wanted TO BE HOME! I missed my pets and though the people in my training class were very nice and we enjoyed some meals together, I missed my furry friends like crazy! Usually I enjoy traveling, but this particular week, stressed by two major plane changes at two different MAJOR airports, one of which is nortorious for delayed flights and people sleeping in the airport due to missed connections or cancelled flights, just made me long for calm, quiet, and genuine friendship - which I receive at home from my furry, four-footed friends.

And when I did walk through the door at home on Friday evening, I was greeting with welcoming barks, wagging tails, and loving purrs. Now that's dyed-in-the-wool loving friendship! Don't think I'll be traveling so far again any time soon!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Tender Foot

The most recent snowstorm in our area brought about a dog walking nightmare - a big lack of sidewalks shoveled. Cody, our Cocker Spaniel, is a tender-foot, and just the smallest piece of ice between his toes can make him limp. I was even surprised when we walked across a sidewalk that had been shoveled and ice melt put down, that the small particles of ice-melt got between his toes and caused him to limp.

There are many hazards for pets during the winter months, include ice, snow and ice-melt. Therefore, when walking your dog, take a few minutes and clean your dog's feet and toes during the walk as well as after. Walks are important to our dogs, and they need them even when people haven't shoveled their walks (perhaps your routine will be shortened due to the lack of good-neighborliness!) and of course, a short excursion doesn't hurt the dog owner either. However, you want the walk to be enjoyable, not painful, and you want your special furry friend to be safe. Therefore, take some time to take care of your dog's feet during and after the walk. And remember, ice melt can be dangerous to your dog's health if injested, so again, keep your pet's paws clean, and you'll both enjoy your daily outing even more!

Happy Trails!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Make All Things New

A new year has begun, in fact, a whole new decade. I wonder if this will finally be the time that people stop thinking of pets as "dumb animals", disposable and without feelings.

I see the newest ads on TV for the Humane Society of the United States and the ASPCA, and they are heartbreaking. Both organizations fight cruelty and have been doing so for years. All pet lovers need to join that fight; too many companion animals are thrown away, are neglected or abused. Abuse seems to be running amuck in our society, not only of animals but also of children and women , where, in many other countries, women still have few rights and are treated as property instead of people. I pray more of us will step forward this year, this decade, and help combat cruelty in all forms, cruelty found in our communities, our country, our world.

There's a Scripture in the Bible that says, "behold, all things become new." (2nd Corinthians 5:17) With God's help, perhaps we can usher in this new year, this new decade, by helping others who need newness in their lives, who need others to show kindness and caring. Let's make a resolution to bring new joy and new hope to animals and people in need throughout our world!