Blog Page

Keep Your Dog Healthy Through Middle/ Senior Age

I am super excited to introduce you to a guest blogger, Mark, who loves dogs (and all pets) just as much as we all do! He has taken time out of his busy schedule to write about how to keep your dog healthy through middle/senior age. Want more information regarding dogs? Check out his site: ourdogsworld101.com or his Facebook page. It is definitely worth the read!

___________________________________________________________________________________________________

How to Keep Your Dog Healthy Through Middle/Senior AgeHow to Keep Your Dog Healthy Through Middle/Senior Age

Dogs experience age-related problems and challenges as they get older. Usually, a dog is considered senior when it reaches seven years of age. Thinking about such changes begs the question, how to keep your dog healthy through middle/ senior age.

Consider taking these amazing steps to improve their health. By doing your part to keep your senior dog healthy, you will allow them to give you many years of companionship. Follow these tips and your middle-aged/ senior dog’s health will be assured.

Dog Food, Dog Bowl, Dog Kibble, Dry Dog Food, PawsHealthy Food and Nutrition

Diet is a very important point that contributes to the overall health of your fur buddy. For senior dogs, the nutritional requirements usually change and evolve. All middle age/ senior dogs have specific nutritional needs based on breed, age, weather, metabolism, and activity level.

The middle-aged/ senior dogs are prone to many health issues including arthritis, weight gain, cognitive issues, and appetite loss. Their diet greatly affects the quality of their life. These health problems can be affected or improved by the daily diet you feed.

Healthy seniors need more protein to maintain muscle mass. Many middle/ senior dogs need more protein, fibre, or other nutrients to ensure their bodies are well taken care of. You should give middle age/ senior dogs a diet that is tailored to meet their needs. You can consult your vet to select the best diet for your middle-aged/ senior dog’s specific needs.

Regular Vet VisitsMedicine, Veterinary, Equipment, Ear Examination, Dog

You should take your middle-aged/ senior dogs for regular check-ups at the vet’s office. Regular vet visits give your vet the chance to evaluate the overall health of your senior dog. You will also get the chance to discuss any unusual behavior your senior dog is displaying. Your vet will identify irregularities in case your fur buddy has any issues.

The vet will assess the general health of your middle-aged/ senior dog. These vet examinations can detect problems in older dogs before they become life-threatening. Regular vet visits improve the chances of a longer and healthier life for your dog.

Pill, Gel Capsule, Medicine, Health, Cure, DrugIntroduce Dietary Supplements When Appropriate

If your senior dog is not getting a complete and balanced diet, it may develop dietary issues. You can introduce supplements into your dog’s diet. Dietary supplements will not take the place of a healthy diet but will be an additional support to a healthy life.

You can give joint supplements to help keep your dog’s joints from hurting. Also, omega-3 fatty acids help with brain, skin and joint health.

Be cautious about giving human supplements to pets. Your senior dogs need dietary supplements if they’re suffering from arthritis, hip dysplasia, neurological problems, or poor coat conditions. Your vet can also assess whether your middle-aged/ senior dog needs a supplement or not.

A Comfy Place to LiveDog, Pet, Bed, Animal, Border Collie, Sleep, Cute

Arthritis and hip and elbow dysplasia are common issue for older dogs. These dogs deserve a comfy place to relax and sleep. A quality orthopedic dog bed can ease their arthritic joints while helping them stay cozy and comfortable. These beds are designed to provide extra support to your dog’s joints and bones.

You must provide a warm, comfy, and quiet place for relaxing and sleeping. Choose a low-traffic area in your house for your senior dog to relax and sleep. During winters, provide them cozy blankets to keep them warm. Also, keep their space clean and free of germs.

Dog Bath, Resigned, Wet, Soapy, Grooming, AnimalRegular Grooming

Regular grooming and careful weekly examinations are essential for your aging dog’s overall well being. Regular grooming can help you to spot bumps, lumps, wounds, and potential health problems on your senior dog’s skin.

Grooming also helps to remove any loose fur due to shedding, dirt, debris, or ticks and fleas. You should arm yourself with the right grooming tools for your senior dog. Make grooming a positive experience for your senior dog, filled with praises and rewards.

Regular Exercise and Mental Stimulation Strength, Dog, Golden Retriever, Strong, Exercise

Senior dogs should be given regular exercise and mental stimulation to avoid health issues. Regular physical activities will strengthen your aging dog’s muscles, enhance circulation and improve their heart and brain function. Always choose a physical activity that is appropriate for your dog’s age and stamina.

Mental stimulation also plays a big role in keeping your dog healthy. Try to provide ample opportunities for mental challenges to keep your dog young at heart and prevent boredom.

Pit Bull, Senior Dog, Senior, Portrait, Dog, MuttMaintain a Healthy Weight

Maintaining your senior dog’s weight is one of the easiest ways to increase his life expectancy. Healthy weight is a major factor that contributes to your dog’s overall well-being.

Obesity in senior dogs increases the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, arthritis, difficulty breathing, skin problems, and other conditions. It can shorten your dog’s life expectancy and decrease their quality of life.

Sudden weight loss in a senior dog is also a source for concern. Hyperthyroidism, diabetes and kidney disease are common causes of weight loss in senior dogs.

What are Physical Signs of Aging in Dogs?Dog, Pet, Old, Old Age, Elderly, Gray

Dogs show a variety of signs of aging besides a graying muzzle. Some hallmarks of aging in dogs include:

    1. Slowing down or difficulty getting around
    2. Increased barking
    3. Cloudy eyes or difficulty seeing
    4. Stiffness
    5. Awful breath due to gum disease or tooth decay
    6. Weight fluctuation

It’s important to note that physical signs of aging might look different in dog breeds.

Quick note: Contrary to the popular belief, dogs do not age at a rate of 7 human years for each dog year.

What problems are more common in senior dogs?

It’s easy to spot the outward signs of aging in dogs. Here are a few common health problems in senior dogs:

    • Hearing loss causing varying degrees of deafness
    • Vision loss due to tissue degeneration in the eyes
    • Joint problems
    • Dementia/Cognitive Dysfunction: When dogs lose cognitive function as they age
    • Cancer: It accounts for almost half of the deaths of dogs over 10 years of age
    • Heart disease
    • Kidney problems
    • Obesity
    • Gastrointestinal issues

Aging should not be painful for your furry companion. For your senior dog’s health-related questions, always consult your veterinarian. They can make the best recommendations for your dog.

Final Thoughts

Just like us, age is not a disease for dogs. Although senior dogs may develop age-related problems, good care allows them to live healthy lives in their senior years.

Remember, when you bring home a furry companion, you are committing to a long-term relationship. As a loving dog parent, these tips will help your middle-aged/ senior dog to stay healthy.

You can’t make your senior dog live forever, but you can help your furry pal live the healthiest life possible. A healthy senior dog can save you from a lot of stress and vet visits. All you need is to make some effort to support a healthy life for your senior dog.

A Pet’s Life Round Paw Necklace Review

A Pet’s Life Round Paw Necklace Review

Name: A Pet’s Life Round Paw Necklace
Website:  Chewy.com
Price: $49.99 with free shipping
Owners: A Pet’s Life
Overall Rank: 9 out of 10

 

A Pet’s Life Round Paw Necklace, Product Overview

This is a simple, yet beautiful necklace made from stainless steel. It is designed with a paw print on the front of the pendant and holds a small amount of cremated remains of your beloved pet. The chain is 19″ long and the gift comes with a small filling kit for convenience. Even though your pet may have passed over the rainbow bridge, you can keep them close to your heart with this pendant.


The Good & the Bad

Pros:

  • The cost: For only $50, you can keep your pet’s memory close
  • Free shipping: this ships within 1-3 days
  • Simplicity: This is a beautifully made pendant that is simple, but that speaks volumes on how you love your furbaby.

Cons: 

  • I really don’t see a con on this, as it is well priced and you can get through Chewy.com

Who is A Pet’s Life Round Paw Necklace For?

I believe this pendant is for someone who has lost a beloved pet and who would like to keep a small token/memory near their heart.

For those of us who have lost a pet, it is hard to find something that speaks volumes of our love for our pets, but is also small and simple that can be worn close to our hearts.  It is also difficult to find something that may be within our price range.

I know for me, this necklace is small, simple, and I can put my pet’s ashes in the back of the pendant (if I want), and it is in my price range (and does not overtly advertise my pet’s death).

My Final Opinion of A Pet’s Life Round Paw Necklace

I really like the pendant/necklace due to the simplicity and beauty of the paw print. It is affordable and can be purchased through Chewy.com, so you know if you have issues with the product or service, Chewy.com will provide great customer service. 

A Pet’s Life Round Paw Necklace at a Glance… 

Name: A Pet’s Life Round Paw Necklace
Website: Chewy.com
Owners: A Pet’s Life
Price:$49.99
Overall Scam Rank: 9 out of 100

VERDICT: LEGIT

Cloning Your Pet?

I came across an article recently regarding a family in Phoenix, AZ who cloned their Golden Doodle so they could have her identical twin after she passed away. There was another recent article written about the first cloned cat passing away. I read these articles and began thinking… This brings up a really interesting ethical question. Is cloning your pet a good idea?

History of Cloning Pets

Cloning is not a new idea. In 1885, German scientist Hans Adolf Eduard Driesch was able to create twin salamanders by splitting a single embryo into two separate viable embryos. British biologist John Gurdon cloned frogs in 1958 from the skin cells of adult frogs, and then in 1996, the world-famous, Dolly, the sheep was born at the Roslin Institute in Scotland.

Since then, cloning has become more mainstream…or normal all over the world. ViaGen Pets has been cloning horses for over 17 years and started cloning cats, dogs, pigs, sheep, and goats in 2015.

According to Copernicus Science Centre in Warsaw, this is a list of animals cloned since Dolly:

  • 1998 – the first cloned mouse (it was called Cumulina);
  • 2000 – the first cloned rhesus monkey;
  • 2000 – the first cloned pig (or even five pigs);
  • 2001 – a buffalo and a cow cloned;
  • 2001 – a cat cloned (it was called CopyCat);
  • 2002 – Konrad Hochedlinger and Rudolf Jaenisch clone mice from T lymphocytes;
  • March–April 2003 – a rabbit is cloned in France and Southern Korea;
  • May 2003 – a mule is cloned. It was achieved by the companies Idaho Gem and Utah Pioneer;
  • 2003 – a deer (Dewey), a horse (Prometea) and a rat (Ralph) cloned;
  • 2004 – fruit flies cloned;
  • 2004– a group of Korean scientists under the direction of Woo Suk Hwang announces an alleged cloning of a human embryo. The information proves to be a fraud;
  • April 2005 – an Afghan hound (Snuppy) cloned;
  • 2007 – a wolf cloned; South Korean scientists obtained two female wolves (Snuwolf and Snuwolffy);
  • 2008 – a Labrador dog cloned;
  • 2009 the first animal from an extinct species cloned: Pyrenean ibex
  • 2009 – a camel female

How Does Cloning Work?

Livescience.com states, “Cloning is the process of taking genetic information from one living thing and creating identical copies of it. The copied material is called a clone. Geneticists have cloned cells, tissues, genes and entire animals. ”

There are three types of cloning:

  1. Gene or DNA cloning: Gene cloning takes DNA from the organism, adds an enzyme to break the bonds between the building blocks of the DNA, and snips the strands into gene-sized pieces. Bits of DNA in bacteria are added with the gene and put into living bacteria. Here they will grow into colonies to be studied. Once a colony of interest is found, the bacteria can be made propagate millions more plasmids (DNA in bacteria). This can be useful for investigating the gene’s characteristic or to study the gene’s function.
  2. Reproductive cloning: Reproductive cloning is where any mature cell, other than a reproductive cell, is extracted and transferred into an egg cell that has had it’s DNA removed. The egg is then moved quickly into the reproductive process and inserted into the female’s uterus from the same species.
  3. Therapeutic cloning: Therapeutic cloning is similar to reproductive cloning in that a cell is take from an animal’s skin and transferred to a donor egg cell. The egg is chemically induced creating embryonic stem cells. These cells can then be harvested and used to treat diseases.

Reproductive cloning is what is used in the pet cloning process. A genetic preservation kit will be sent to the pet owner and the pet owner will need to obtain a skin biopsy from their veterinarian. The sample will be sent back to the cloning company like ViaGen Pet, where it will be stored until the pet owner is ready to begin the clone process. Cells can even be extracted from pets who have passed away as long as cells are refrigerated up to 5 days postpartum.

When the pet owner is ready to clone their beloved pet, the cells will be implanted into a donor animal oocyte and after the egg and cell become a viable embryo, it is implanted into the uterus. The embryo will go through the same gestation period as one being born naturally. The interesting fact is the donor does not need to be of the same breed as the cloned pet.

Once the cloned pet is born, it will remain with the donor until he/she is weaned.

What is the Cost to Clone?

Cloning your pet is not cheap. If a pet owner is forward thinking and obtains a cell sample while their original pet is young, the cost can be around $1600 for the test and $150 a year for storage. In addition to this cost, the pet owner has to consider what the veterinarian will charge for the skin biopsy. Once the pet owner is ready to start the cloning process, it can cost upwards $35,000 for a cat, $50,000 for a dog, and $85,000 for a horse.

 

 

Ethical Debate on Cloning

I remember when the news of Dolly, the sheep, came out in 1996. Everyone had an opinion. “Is this where we are heading with humans, too?” “Is it actually the same sheep?” “Will it move into our food sources as well?”

Let’s break down some pros and cons of pet cloning.

Pros:

  • the possibility of producing healthier/quality pets
  • the pet is technically a “twin” of the pet that has passed away and may have the same traits.
  • the pet owner may be able to keep the memory of their pet alive

Cons:

  • the cost of cloning
  • there will still be differences between the deceased pet and it’s clone.
  • there are unknowns when it comes to the health of cloned clones. (my head goes to the movie “Multiplicity”)
  • the expectation the pet owner has may be missed…(i.e. the clone is nothing like it’s twin, health issues, shorter life span)

My Final Thoughts

The idea of cloning has been controversial for a long time. When something new is cloned or has had some sort of genetic modification, people are going to debate the ethical value of what is being done. My thoughts regarding cloning a pet is…don’t do it.

Here’s why:

Each pet is unique. They all bring different elements into our lives with their personalities and antics. To clone your favorite pet means you do not get to experience the joy another natural pet can bring to your life. In addition, you should not expect your next pet to be like the pet you lost. When you go through the cloning process, your mindset will be more likely to consider the new pet as identical or very similar to your old pet. This is not fair to the new pet coming into your home.

The shelters are at full capacity with pets that need a home. Instead of spending money to clone your favorite fur baby, take a chance on one who really needs a home. If you prefer purebreds, talk to an ethical breeder who can help you find the right match for your family…

Don’t go into debt to bring your fur baby “back to life”. The cost is astronomical and there is no guarantee that the cloning process will work. Instead of spending money to create a clone; help preserve life by donating to a local shelter or organization that you are passionate about. Your money will be better spent helping the community.

I believe every pet is special and deserves your 100% attention. Once they pass over the rainbow bridge, allow the grieving process to take place, appreciate their virtues and the wonderful life they shared with you…and allow yourself to open your heart to a new family member who deserves your love. They may be a little more quirky, maybe a little more frustrating, but I bet you will find them to be an amazing fit into your family.

What are your thoughts on the idea of cloning your pet? Are you for it or against it and why?  Let me know your thoughts below.

 

 

Sources used regarding cloning:

http://www.kopernik.org.pl/en/special-projects/archiwum-projektow/projekt-genesis/krotka-historia-klonowania/

https://www.americanveterinarian.com/journals/amvet/2018/november2018/pet-cloning-where-we-are-today

ViaGen Pets | America’s Pet Cloning Experts

https://www.livescience.com/58079-cloning-facts.html

Welcome to My Pets Blog!

Smith Family and Pets

Smith Family 2021

Thank you for coming to Keeping Your Pet’s Spirit Alive blog! First, this blog is to here to help those of you who have experienced the death of a pet. It is also going to have information on how to keep your pets healthy, especially in the later years. You will find articles to help cope with the loss, gift ideas to remember your family members, as well as some individual stories , product reviews. Of course we will also take time for a few rants here and there.

You will laugh, cry, and possibly even yell as you read through articles. The most important thing is to hug our pets tight as well as remember the best times we had with the ones who have crossed over the rainbow  bridge.

Thank you for visiting my website. Please drop a line below with any questions, thoughts, or ideas you may have regarding keeping your pet’s spirit alive!

The Benefits to Spaying and Neutering Your Pet

Happy New Year’s Eve everyone. As we look forward to a new year (and new decade), I wanted to discuss an extremely important topic. Even though this topic is talked about by veterinary practices, animal welfare organizations, and popular T.V. shows, I wanted to discuss it here, too. Let me tell you why…

A couple weeks ago, I decided to watch an HBO documentary regarding people’s relationships with dogs. I thought it would be an interesting story on how dogs have become much more part of the family and how much we, as pet parents,  will do to protect them. I could not have been more wrong.

The documentary was broken into 3 parts. The first segment discussed how some owners/pet parents will do anything to make sure their dog is kept in the home even if it is truly aggressive (which is another blog for another day), and then it went into a story of the overpopulation in animal shelters in the Midwest. My heart was broken, and to be honest, I could not stop sobbing at what happened next. The documentary took us to a shelter where they euthanized dogs by placing them in a big container and gassing them until they die. These dogs, who were already scared of being in kennels, now became terrified as they were placed in a container with the lid closed. You could hear their cries as the container was being pumped full of a gas. Once the first round of dogs were euthanized, they placed more dogs on top of the bodies and proceeded to gas them. After they were all dead, a garbage truck picked up the container and dumped their lifeless bodies in the back of the truck…like trash.

I can’t even remember what the third segment was because this portion took all of my attention.

Yes, the visual was devastating, and yes, you may be overcome with emotion as well, but that is the point. This story didn’t have to happen, and these dogs did not have to die this way. If everyone did their part in caring for their pets, we could have avoided this situation.

Now, let’s look forward into the new decade. We CAN reduce the number of euthanasias in the United States by simply spaying and neutering our pets. A simple procedure… Not only can spaying and neutering our pets have an impact on the overpopulation in America’s shelters, it also has health and behavior benefits, which is what we will talk about today.

What Happens When Pets are Not “Fixed”

According to VCA, female dogs can have 1 – 2 heat cycles a year starting when they are between 6 -24 months old, where they can get pregnant. Some smaller breeds can have up to 3 cycles. These pregnancies can produce 1 – 13 puppies dependent on the size/breed of dog. If a female dog is not spayed, and she has 2 litters a year for 5 years (conservative number), she may give birth to up to 130 puppies. If her puppies are not fixed, the cycle repeats.

Female cats, on the other hand, start the heat cycles between 4-10 months old and will go into heat up to 5 times a year. Each pregnancy can result in birthing an average of 1-5 kittens; however, there have been many females who birth up to 10 babies. If a female cat gets pregnant in 3 of the heat cycles a year, and bears 5 kittens in each cycle, she will have up to 15 kittens a year. Even conservatively, a cat can birth up to 150 babies or more in 10 years. Can you imagine the cat population if her female kittens are not spayed?

These numbers can be staggering. What are the chances these puppies and kittens will find their forever homes? Some will, however, for unplanned pregnancies, many get put out on the street where they begin to reproduce or they end up at the local animal shelter.

Health Benefits

To avoid the number of homeless pets, it is important to get our furbabies spayed or neutered as soon as possible. Not only will it have an impact on the population, it also has health benefits for our pets.

For females, the ASPCA recommends spaying your pet before the first heat cycle, as it will reduce the risk of uterine infections and breast tumors which can be malignant or cancerous in approximately 50% of dogs and 90% of cats.

A male can be neutered as early as 8 weeks, as long as he is healthy, but the average age of neutering is approximately 6 – 9 months old. Neutering will reduce the risk of testicular cancer and other prostate issues.

The health benefits outweigh the cost as it allows our pets to live longer, healthier lives!

(If cost is prohibitive, there are many communities that have low-cost or fee-assistance programs for lower income households. Contact your local Humane Society for more information.)

Behavior Benefits

Spaying and neutering also reaps some behavior benefits…

  • You won’t have to deal with yowling and more frequent urinating from female cats.
  • Your male dog won’t need to find a mate, so he is less likely to devise a plan of escape from home!
  • Some aggression issues and marking may be thwarted with an early neuter
  • You will keep your sanity and money in your pocket since you will not need to care for your pet’s litters.

Economic Benefits

We have discussed some health and behavior benefits, but how does this simple procedure affect the economy…our communities?

The first benefit is the reduction of the animal overpopulation in the United States. If we can spay and neuter our pets, we can reduce the number of animals on the streets and in the shelters, which reduces the number of euthanasias in the animal shelters.

According to petfinder.com (using ASPCA estimates)…

  • Approximately 8 – 12 million pets enter animal shelters each year.
  • Every year approximately 5-9 million shelter animals are euthanized.
  • 50% of dogs and 70% of cats in shelters are euthanized due to lack of adopters.
  • Every 6 seconds in the United States alone an animal is euthanized.

The second benefit is improvement within our community. Stray animals in our neighborhoods can cause health and safety concerns such as unclean play areas for children (think sand boxes!) car accidents, disease, and even the possible killing of livestock or other pets. Reducing the number of unwanted pets on the streets can increase health and safety and can potentially reduce financial strain from having to pay for any damages.

Conclusion

Spaying and neutering our pets will benefit our pets, our families, and our communities. We will have pets that lead longer, healthier lives. We will reduce the number of unwanted cats and dogs on the streets or in the shelters, and we will reduce the number of needless euthanasias.

Please take this information to heart. If your pet is not intended to breed, and if you are not a qualified breeder, please be responsible and spay and neuter your furbaby. They will thank you for it and the community will thank you for it.

Let me know if you have any thoughts on this topic. I would love to hear what you have to say, so leave a note below.

Facebook Charity Donations?

So, I have been away from the blog for a while due to overtime needs at my day job, but also due to a bit of a meltdown on my birthday. I hit a milestone birthday this year, and had a hard time turning 40. (silly, huh?) Honestly, I feel no different than I did at 30, but I digress. Have you noticed social media is great at reminding you about your friends’ and family’s birthdays and that sure enough…you are getting older too. Facebook is great about sending these notifications.

For one to two weeks prior to my birthday, Facebook left a post saying they will donate $1.00 to the charity I support for my birthday, and then ask if I want to set up a charity donation for that specific organization. From a social media standpoint, it looks like a great idea…but I have a few thoughts about this.

The History

I first joined the Facebook Community back in 2009 around the time I was pregnant with my first baby. Facebook gave me the opportunity to reconnect with family and friends I hadn’t talked to in years. It was awesome! Now, I had the opportunity to share pictures of my new baby, ask questions about motherhood, and…get reminded about my family and friends’ birthdays.

It wasn’t until 2017 when Facebook added a new feature that allows their members to solicit funds for their favorite charity. Instead of getting gifts or cards, Facebook members can request a donation be made in honor of their birthday. The fundraiser can set a goal amount, post a personal message, and bam! A fundraiser has been born.

The Outward Appearance

From the outside, setting up a donation for your birthday looks to be a great opportunity to help out a non-profit organization. You have the ability to choose the organization, put it on your Facebook feed, and let Facebook continually remind your friends, family, acquaintances, random people you don’t even remember adding as a friend, that you are having a fundraiser. The system keeps track of how much has been donated, and what your total goal is for the organization.

This is a great idea to be able to help an organization without really doing anything. You can donate as little or as much as you want, and at the end of the day, you feel good about yourself.

Do I Feel Compelled to Give?

My sister started a Facebook fundraiser for her birthday, and she shared her two cents.

“It makes it easier for some to be able to show a little birthday support for people they don’t normally buy gifts for. This has happened to me; I got donations from people who never give gifts but they appreciated the opportunity to support a cause they believe in and get points with me for my birthday.”

I understand this perspective. It makes sense to give $5.00 as a small token, and then move on with your day. The birthday girl or guy gets a pat on the back, and the charity receives a small donation.

Now, most of us on Facebook have over 100 friends. But… have you noticed that these fundraisers tend to raise $200 or less? Why is that? Could it be compassion fatigue? Are we worn out with all of our friends asking for donations for their birthdays?

For example, I currently have 413 friends on Facebook. Chances are, if all 413 friends started a fundraiser for their birthdays, my news feed would only have room for their requests. That is extremely overwhelming for me.

It also makes me ask myself, “Do I feel compelled to give?” The overarching answer is yes, but… I have to dig deeper into the why. Why do I feel compelled? Is it only to make me feel better about myself for doing a nice thing? Do I feel guilted into it because my friend is requesting a donation? Do I really support the cause of the fundraiser, or am I just trying to get the request off of my news feed?

My goal is to be able to donate money to a charity to help them; not to make myself feel good or get myself noticed by others. Don’t get me wrong…these fundraisers are helping non-profit agencies, and are bringing awareness of the needs out there. I may donate to a friend’s cause, but maybe not for a Facebook birthday fundraiser.

Why Only Donate on My Birthday?

My thoughts boil down to this question…Why only donate on my birthday? To make a real impact to the community, donations should be on a regular basis. A one time offering of $5 will help a bit, but why not make it $5 a week or $5 a month?

There are so many organizations that are in need of monetary donations. These donations sustain their businesses so they can impact communities…OUR communities. Consider making a monthly donation to your favorite charity, but don’t base it on a Facebook birthday. Base your donations on how you can help non-profits stay afloat.

Conclusion

I understand many people appreciate the ability to use Facebook birthday fundraisers. It makes sense…and keep using it. In this, you are still able to impact the lives of others, but I challenge you to ask yourself why you are making a donation. Don’t do it because you can be seen. Don’t do it because you feel guilted into it. Do it to help others.

For those who are a little more skeptical of these types fundraisers, I encourage you to set up a monthly donation to your favorite charity, and if you are unable to give monetarily, go and volunteer. They can use your hands and feet, too! You can also set up a community fundraiser that can benefit the organization. Even though I was unable to give monetarily, I have been able to use my skills to facilitate fundraisers such as a Reverse Karaoke Night and a Shopping Boutique. These were so much fun, but they also helped the organization they were set up for.

Are you looking to find an organization to give to? There are plenty to choose from. For example, each community has a number of animal shelters that need your assistance. There are so many animals that have lost their homes or been abused. These shelters are doing everything in their power to help reduce the number of animals on the street, while finding deserving pets a loving home.

So, do you feel compelled to give? If you do, what charity is important to you? Let me know your thoughts!

 

Atticus Found His Furever Home

I’m back! I apologize for the lateness in posting, but it has been quite hectic here in Phoenix, AZ (not to mention a little warm…) With kids getting out of school, and my day job offering overtime, I have not been able to sit down for two seconds and write. It feels good to be back! The funny thing is, I am sharing a story from a good friend on his favorite pet…who is a big, goofy, lovable, opinionated, and fuzzy Maine Coon named Atticus.

It may have taken a while, but Atticus is now in his furever home with his good buddy, James… Enjoy the story. It will warm your heart.

Meeting Atticus

The phone vibrated next to me.

Hey. Are you ready?

Is this really happening?

Yes. You’re going to go over to her place right now.

Okay.

I sigh as I pocket my cell phone and get up from my couch. A minute later, I’m outside wearing a hoodie and flip-flops walking across the parking lot of my apartment complex. It was December in Arizona, and it was a chilly 40 degrees. Blinking incandescent lights lit the chilly night. A car door slams as I cross the lot and head towards my destination.


This story begins roughly eight months ago with my best friend Gabriela. Gabriela lives in a small house with three dogs. For a time, she decided to rent out one of her rooms for a young woman to help pay her mortgage for a time. This young woman had a rather friendly cat who was able to tolerate the attention from three very unique dogs.

I was introduced to the pair a week after they moved in with Gabriela and learned that the young woman was Kate and the cat was Atticus. Kate was in her early- to mid-twenties and had the air of a youth who was still trying to figure things out. Atticus was a large Maine Coon-ish type of cat who freely came up to say hello. At this moment in time, Kate seemed to be heading in the right direction. She had a steady job with a good pay and was on her way to being able to support herself.


The dark brown apartment door stood in front of me. Next to me was a young man who seemed friendly enough, yet his eyes flashed a challenge as I awaited a response to my knock. Kate answered the door and took us both in. It was clear that she expected one of us. She looked harried and nervous, a far cry to when I first met her.

She beckoned us both inside and I saw Atticus look up at us with his curious big green eyes. There was nervous twitch in his tail as he walked around the small apartment. His carrier sat in the middle of the living area.

“Okay. Let’s get this done quickly,” Kate announced as she closed the door. She walked over to Atticus who quickly disappeared under the couch.


Three months had passed from my introduction with Kate and Atticus. Kate had moved in with a boyfriend and had taken Atticus with her. Gabriela was both grateful of the experience with a roommate and thankful to be alone again in her home with her three dogs.

I received a phone call one weekend afternoon from Gabriela. She was in a frantic mood and rushed through a flurry of events that I asked to be repeated. Kate was moving back in. She had broken up with her boyfriend after he abused her.

The young man, who was introduced as James, helped Kate lift the couch causing Atticus to dart out and seek refuge in the bedroom.

Kate ran after him, all pretense of calm evaporating from her as she did. I stood there taking everything in with my hands in the pockets of my hoodie. It was still a little surreal to me that I was in this apartment about to be given a cat.

Kate reappeared with Atticus in her arms. A look of panic gleamed in his eyes as she stuffed him in the carrier, which now appeared to be a size too small for him.

“Okay,” she said once the deed was done. “I have his food in a plastic container. He likes fish flavoring. I also have a can of pumpkin sauce and his litter box as well. Finally, he likes to watch the water move as he drinks it, so I have this drinking fountain. I’m not sure if it works though.”

Her words are spilling out of her mouth. I’ve gone to crouching by the too small carrier to comfort Atticus. He had begun to meow in protest.

“He’ll be fine,” I finally say looking up at Kate. I try to sound as calm as possible. Kate’s eyes and posture relax. “I’ll make two trips. I’ll get him over first and then come back for the rest.”


Gabriela was frantic at work. Atticus had just learned how to operate the doggie door.

Four months had passed since Kate had moved back in. She was no longer with Gabriela at this point in time. She had decided to stay for only a month before she had set out to find a place on her own. In the meantime, Atticus had remained with Gabriela.

I was sitting with Gabriela in the break room listening as she detailed her attempts to get Kate to pick up Atticus.

“If, and this is a big if,” Gabriela began. She looked me directly in the eyes. “If I can’t get Kate to pick up her cat. You’re the only person I can trust that would be able to be a good home for him.”

We had talked often about me getting a pet of some sort. I had taken care of Gabriela’s dogs for four months a year ago due to an emergency. I preferred cats.

“I guess that can work…”


Atticus’ meows had slowed as I carried him across the parking lot to my apartment. I had tried to calm him with “It’s going to okay” and “You’ll be fine.” Maybe just hearing soothing words helped – I wasn’t sure.

“Here we are,” I announced as we entered my apartment.

I carefully placed the all too small carrier on the floor in the middle of the living area and unzipped the top. Atticus timidly peered out and took a quick scan of his new environment before leaping out and exploring.

“I’ll be right back.”

I left the apartment and headed across the lot to Kate’s pad.


Okay, this might be happening. I finally contacted Kate and she was mulling it over.

I sat at my desk at the office looking down at the new text. It had been less than a week since Gabriela and I even talked about my adopting a cat, let alone adopt Atticus.

Where does she live? I texted back.

The response had come back lightning quick. Believe it or not, but she lives in the same apartment complex as you.

You’ve got to be kidding me.


The second trip to Kate’s had been a quick one. She waited around as I collected Atticus’ litter box and food. She barely acknowledged what was happening. We stared at each other right before I left.

I wasn’t prepared for a speech, so I said the cheesiest lines I could think of. “He’ll be fine. I’ll take good care of him. And, you’re free to come visit any time. I’m right across the way.”

She nodded and seemed to be on the edge of tears. We both said good night and I made my way back to my apartment.

“I’m back.”

Atticus stuck his head from around the bedroom door before disappearing. I placed the food and litter box in their respective places and called out to Atticus. There was no response and I headed into the bedroom. Atticus was nowhere to be found. Knowing cats as I do, I got down to the ground and found a pair of green eyes staring at me from under the bed.


It’s been seven months since I adopted Atticus and we’ve bonded better than expected. We both have a laid back attitude and we both love to take naps during the day. He has claimed my computer chair as his own and frequently demands I vacate it to allow him a chance to curl up and sleep.

He keeps me going throughout the day and I’m sure to post more about him in the future.

Thank you for reading.

Conclusion

I love this story. You can see what Atticus has been through; the uncertainty ad the instability. On the other side,  you can see from the perspective of James, that Atticus was not going to be “rehomed” again. His home environment provided the stability and safety that Atticus needed and desired. I love that James was open to bring an unknown cat into his home, no questions asked.  Atticus needed help, and James was there. There is stability and love…with no judgment.

Many times, these kinds of stories can end with a heartbreaking conclusion; however, Atticus found his human. He didn’t end up in a shelter or in someone else’s home where he would be neglected. He found someone who would love him; all of him, despite his history.

And as you can see…Atticus is quite content in his new furever home.

Tell me what you think. Did you enjoy reading Atticus’ story? Do you have a similar story you would like to share? Let me know in the comments below.

I Want to Know Your Story

I was looking back at the comments on some of the posts, and I can see the love you have for your pets. If you are like me, you can talk about your pets all day to whomever will listen! So…why not create a post or a page specifically for that idea?

I want to know your story. Tell me about your favorite pet! I will list different categories you can choose from, or you can send in a story for all categories. The more the better.

Current Pets

This category is for those furry friends we have in our lives right now. How did you meet? How did they get their name? What makes them fit in your family?

For example, I adopted Hunter, our cat, from Lost Our Homes pet shelter this past year. When I took my three boys (and 2 others…what was I thinking?!), we were looking for a cat who was confident, would get along with others, and who would be okay with a loud home environment. My middle son gravitated towards Hunter (known as Julio at the time) and due to his looks and playfulness, my son and his friend decided to name him Hunter. This cat rules the house and the two big dogs that live here as well. He fits in at home due to his laid back attitude, his patience with the kids, and his playfulness with everyone.

Pets That Have Passed Over the Rainbow Bridge

This category is for the pets who have passed over the Rainbow Bridge, but who have left a special paw print on our hearts. I would love to hear their story, and how you met. What made them special to you? Did they help you through rough times, or was there a special circumstance that brought them into your life?

My example would be my baby, Roc. We adopted him at Arizona Animal Welfare League when he was 6 years old, and he lived to be almost 17 years old. Within those 10 years, he helped me through so much of the ups and downs of life, be it from job changes, pregnancy and miscarriages, and even relationship troubles. Roc will always have a special place in my heart because he taught me so much about myself, but also how valuable pets are to a family.

Silly Pets

Do you have a silly pet? Let’s talk about their silliness here. What makes them stand out to you? Do they have a special quirk or habit that you can’t stop giggling at? Have they had this habit since you adopted them, or is it something they started doing recently?

I have to say Beckham is my silly boy. He is 100+ pounds of fluff with no regard to personal space. Anytime I sit down on the couch, he comes up, and literally sits on my lap like he is a small dog. Oh…but it doesn’t stop there. Once he has made himself comfortable, he will roll over to lay on his back (with his back end still over my lap), open his belly up, and demand belly scritches. If I don’t pet him, he turns into a pretzel to give me a look of “Hello??? Why are you not petting me?” I don’t think I have seen a dog that big and that flexible before, but Beckham can fold himself up!

Don’t Forget the Hero, Too!

Do you have, or have you had a service pet in your family? Maybe you have a pet who has been able to save lives (yours or others) that you want to share stories about. What was the situation, and how did your pet become a hero? Did you know when you adopted them that there was something much more inside of them?

I would love to hear stories about service or rescue animals, therapy pets, or those special stories where your pet’s intuition saved a life.

It’s Up to You

I look forward to seeing the stories come in, and I am excited to dedicate a page specifically to your pets. Let’s see how many stories we can get, and maybe we will make a series of it!

You can email me your story and attach a picture to share at kelly@berniersmith.com, or you can leave a comment below. I can’t wait to see and hear all about your fur babies (or not so furry babies)!

Grumpy Cat’s Death

We have all heard about Grumpy Cat’s death this week, and even as we are mourning the loss of a silly cat, I think it would be nice to look back on her life. Let’s get an idea as to who Grumpy Cat was, why she was a success in the meme world, and why this illness took her life so suddenly.

Who Was Grumpy Cat?

Tardar Sauce, aka Grumpy Cat was a domestic mixed breed cat who was born April 4, 2012, and passed over the Rainbow Bridge on May 13, 2019. She made her home in Morristown, AZ, which is a small town 50 miles north of Phoenix. Even though she was born to healthy parents, Grumpy Cat had a form of feline dwarfism and an underbite that made her look…well…grumpy.

Why Was Grumpy Cat A Success

Grumpy Cat became an internet phenomenon quite honestly. Her owner’s brother (does that make him her uncle?) posted a photo of her on Reddit, and her fame blew up. She then became a great icon for internet memes.

Now, we can understand why her photos are all the rage. First, how many of us get caught up in cat videos, pictures, posts, and even merchandise? With her cute underbite and her feline dwarfism, she exudes the look of dissatisfaction that we feel as humans. Second, the internet is an amazing marketing tool. Once something catches, it can go viral quickly. Grumpy Cat’s humans, or hoomans, were smart in how they marketed her good looks. Third, I believe Grumpy Cat portrayed what we think, but don’t want to say. Yes, it is cute and funny, but there is always truth in jest, right?

Once Grumpy Cat became the face for memes, her owner was able to build on her popularity. This gorgeous gal had a Facebook account with 8.3 million followers, an Instagram account with 2.4 million followers, 1.5 million followers on Twitter, AND her own website with merch. Not only did she make friends online, she also did ads for large corporations as well as made personal appearances on live TV. It sounds like she was a pretty chill cat when it came to travel, which is good, considering all the media exposure she received. According to Wikipedia, her brand made upwards an estimated $1million in revenue over her lifetime.

The Illness that Took Her Life

Unfortunately, Grumpy Cat was taken from us too soon. She passed over the Rainbow Bridge due to complications from a urinary tract infection, with her family by her side. There is a lot of buzz around her death and if it was preventable; if she didn’t receive care in time, or if because of her deformities, it was expected. So…let’s talk about UTIs.

According to VCA Hospitals, cats can contract urinary tract disorders; however, urinary tract infections are less common. Even if it is uncommon, it is good to know what it is.

A urinary tract infection is when bacteria travels up the urethra, makes it to the bladder, and then grows. Urine is generally sterile, but if bacteria grows in the bladder, bladder stones can grow, or your cat may have other medical issues arise.

Symptoms of a UTI will be:

  • Painful urination
  • frequent urinating small amounts
  • blood in the urine
  • straining to urinate
  • yowling / crying out when trying to urinate
  • lethargy
  • Urinating throughout the house
  • licking the genitals
  • A stronger urine odor

Personal Note: My cat, Abel, had a UTI, but I am pretty sure it led to kidney failure, and it came on quickly. Unfortunately, we had to humanely euthanize him as his kidneys were too far gone, but, depending on the situation, and if you are able to get your cat to the vet quickly, you may be able to make a difference between life and death.

There are also certain things that may contribute to recurrent UTIs. If a cat has diabetes, or bladder stones, may be predisposed, but any cat can contract an infection.

Was Grumpy Cat predisposed to UTIs? It’s hard to tell… we don’t have access to her medical files, and her accounts don’t give details on if she suffered from any illness through the years. I think this was more of a fluke, even for a seven-year-old cat. My Abel, passed away at five, so I understand the shock and sheer sadness from a relatively healthy pet.

Grief Felt Across the World

I love seeing the condolences and heart felt comments regarding Grumpy Cat’s death. Even though she was an internet sensation due to her scowling face, she brought so much to people throughout the world.

The grief felt by all those who loved her memes, merchandise, and overall good looks, is great. I honestly didn’t think a cat could make such a difference in everyone’s lives, but apparently, I was wrong.

There are a few things we can do to commemorate Grumpy Cat’s life:

1. Take our pets to the vet to ensure optimal health.
2. Donate money to our favorite pet shelter
3. Volunteer at our favorite pet shelter
4. Spay and Neuter!
5. Stop blaming Grumpy Cat’s parents for her death. (It could have happened to anyone)
6. Love on our pets, because we don’t know when they might travel across the Rainbow Bridge.
7. Be kind to others who have lost their pet to illness.
8. Did I mention spay and neuter?
9. Research breeds and pedigrees to better understand your fur baby
10. Upload your cutest fur baby picture on my site, on my Facebook/Instagram/Twitter pages!

So What Now?

I loved the idea of Grumpy Cat; her looks, her confidence….and I am sad that she has passed away. BUT! There is so much we can learn from her life and her death. We have ideas, symptoms, and markers to look for in our own cats, but we also can have compassion for those who go through this with their own fur babies. They may not be as famous as Grumpy Cat; however, they are the heart and soul of their own families.

Take a moment and upload your comments, stories, and photos of your favorite feline. Tell me their stories. I would love to hear about them!

 

Sources used: https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/urinary-tract-infections-utis-in-cats

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grumpy_Cat

Why Do People Abandon Their Pets?

Okay, today I am going rogue…a bit away from how to cope with the loss of a pet. The reason why I am diverting from the norm, is because I have seen some really frustrating, maddening stories, and I need to vent. On Facebook, I have a number of groups that I am a part of regarding pets. There is Straydar (which is super helpful!), Alaskan Malamutes groups, I Love My Dog groups, community pages, local shelters, as well as friends who either work in shelters, animal behavior, or vets.

Outside of the pets who have been hit by cars or stolen, the most aggravating stories I see are people bringing their pets to the county shelters because they can’t or won’t care for them anymore. Why? Why do people abandon their pets to a shelter where they know the likely outcome is death?

Reason 1 – People Problems

Yes, this is a vague statement, but think about it. How many times have you heard excuses, I mean reasons, as to why a person can’t keep a pet. (It’s not you, it’s me….) There are both valid and ridiculous reasons to surrender your pet, and unfortunately, it is hard to differentiate between the two based on individual situations.

Here are some basic examples of valid versus invalid reasons.

Valid Reasons:

  • You have passed away
  • You are extremely ill to where you are unable to provide care for your pet
  • You are incarcerated
  • Your immediate family members are deathly allergic, and cannot be near your pet
  • Your financial ability to care for the pet has been compromised (although, there is a fine line on this one)

Invalid Reasons:

  • You moved out of state or to a home that doesn’t allow pets
  • Your significant other just doesn’t like your pet
  • You had a new baby
  • You don’t have time for your pet
  • The pet is too expensive
  • The list goes on.

As you can see there are valid reasons, and I do not fault the person who has done everything they can to provide for their pet. Unfortunately, there are times when the best decision is to rehome the pet(s).

On the flip side, too many people send pets to the county shelters or just drop them off in a different neighborhood for asinine reasons. I think there are a few reasons for this:

1. Education: So many people think a pet is cute, and to satisfy their want, they buy a pet without doing the research on the pet and how to care for them. For example, an Alaskan Malamute may not be the best pet for someone who hates to clean up fur, or who cannot learn that the breed requires leadership and training. How about a Jack Russel Terrier…they are high energy, high intellect dogs, who need to be working to keep themselves out of trouble.

2. The Cuteness Factor: We have paedomorphized pets in the media. (Aren’t cat videos the most watched videos on YouTube?) Movies and cartoons as well as some social media outlets show pets as big-eyed, lovable, squishy beings that only need food and love. Why not get one, right?

3. The Underdog: So this one may be a little more controversial. I think we have done a disservice in some ways for the pets that are seen as bully breeds. Animal welfare organizations and breed warriors have done so much to prove that these breeds are not as bad as people once saw them, that everyone wants one now. Take into consideration (especially in the SW), shelters are filled to capacity with these mostly Pitbulls. Why? Everyone wants to prove they have a good dog…and when they realize they don’t know how to train or care for them, they end up back behind bars.

Reason 2 – Animal Problems

Yep, this one is just as vague…and is the reason I am writing this post. There are various reasons why a pet may be rehomed or sent to a kill shelter because of who they are. Again, there are valid reasons as well as ridiculous reasons.

Valid Reasons:

  • They are aggressive towards people
  • They are aggressive towards other animals

Invalid Reason:

  • They are sick
  • They are old
  • They have allergies
  • They are injured
  • They have some behavior issues

As you can see, there are fewer valid reasons to rehome a pet based on their quirks. If a pet is legitimately aggressive, then, yes, I agree they are not suited for your home; however, my hope would be that you work with the pet as much as possible to see what the root cause of the aggression is and if there is a way to correct it.

If it is true aggression, where your pet would not be safe in any other home, you should have the pet humanely euthanized at your vet’s office; not taken to a shelter or dropped off in another neighborhood (or desert!). This allows your pet to understand that you are with them until the end, but it also doesn’t subject others to your pet’s behavior. In addition, your pet sees his family instead of strangers in a strange place prior to passing over the Rainbow Bridge.

The entire reason I started writing this post is because of the invalid reasons. We have to understand our pets don’t have control over getting old or sick or having allergies, nor do they understand why they got hit by a car or attacked by a hawk. Our pets rely on us to care for their needs, to speak up for them, and…not abandon them in their time of need.

Story Time

My mom adopted 2 of her puppies from an amazing rescue in the Phoenix area who specialize in wounded, sick, and old dogs that are brought into the county shelter. These dogs would be euthanized within days of arrival because the shelter did not have the resources to bring them back to health.

The owner of the non-profit has an incredible heart specifically for these dogs. Even if her shelter / sanctuary is at capacity, she does everything she can to pull the dog from the county shelter, have the medical needs cared for, and allow the pet to live out the rest of their days in a loving environment. Her and the volunteers want these dogs to know they are not alone in their journey. Not only do they bring these broken dogs in, they work to help others in the community who are struggling to care for their dogs medical needs.

Meet Teddy. He was adopted last year, but brought back to the shelter due to medical issues. A good Samaritan adopted him; however, needed help in obtaining funds to care for the multiple medical issues that Teddy was dealing with. Teddy’s leg was badly infected, has multiple tumors, and open wounds. He had ear infections in both ears, and they are waiting to hear back on if he has Valley Fever or Cancer.

Thank God for the donors and the owner of the non-profit who helped Teddy. If they had scrolled past the story from the county shelter, Teddy would have been euthanized.

The Reason for My Rant

Our pets need us. They rely on us to care for them, and to speak for them. Our pets don’t understand why we would send them away or abandon them. They expect to be a part of the family…like they were when they were young and/or healthy.

Why do people think it is a shelter’s responsibility to fix what they couldn’t or didn’t…? Is it because they don’t care, or is it lack of education? Is there something that society or the community can do to combat this human behavior? How can we spread the word that non-profit shelters need financial help and volunteers/fosters to fix the wrongs the person has done?

These pets are hurting, either physically, mentally, or both. And…we are not in an era where they can fend for themselves. They have become so reliant on our care that it is not fair to dump them in their hour of need.

So, what can we do?

1. Don’t get a pet unless you have researched the breed, pedigree, gender, size…everything… You need to understand what it is going to take to care for a pet, from basic needs to potentially poor health.

2. Don’t go with the “awww” factor. You need to add a family member that jives with your family. A Jack Russel may not mix with a quiet, sedentary lifestyle…

3. Do look into pet insurance. There are some plans out there that will be highly beneficial for the pet that you bring into the family. For example, if you have a puppy or kitten, a basic policy will help cover basic procedures, but also catastrophic events at a really good cost.

4. Do think about your lifestyle and how a pet will fit into it. Do you work crazy hours? Are you someone who likes to go on adventures? What type of home do you live in or where are you moving to?

5. Do understand your pet will get sick, injured, and old. Remember that they will be a part of the family to the end. If you feel that you are unable to care for them at those points, please do not get a pet.

6. Do donate to the shelters that care for these sick and aging pets. Without your help, they cannot give the pets the medical attention needed or the food to sustain them.

Final Thoughts

It’s not fair to our pets or the shelters to abandon them when our pet needs us the most. It’s selfish. Just because you think your heart may break because your pet is dying is a terrible reason for you to have someone else take care of the end process. Your pet needs you…and you need your pet.

If you are struggling to care for your pet’s medical needs, contact shelters in your community. Many of them offer free or low cost clinics to ensure your pets are healthy.

If you absolutely need to rehome a pet, go through the local organizations as well. They will be able to help you or tell you if your pet can be rehomed.

Overall, take responsibility. You adopted a pet, brought them into the family, and cared for them. That responsibility does not stop when they get sick, injured, or old.

Let me know your thoughts. I would love to hear what you have to say on this topic.