Monthly Archives: April 2009

Adopting a Special Needs Pet

I live with a wonderful, happily “normal” American Staffordshire Terrier named Skye. But Skye has special needs, and adopting a pet with special needs is not for everyone. You need to do your homework and make sure this is a task you want to undertake, because no matter how much you love this animal, some days may feel like a chore to you. I have been very lucky and don’t feel that Skye is any burden at all, but some of the sites I did research on mention that a pet with special needs is just that. They mention that you may have emotional issues after adopting a pet with special needs. They also mention that you should remember to give yourself a pat on the back when you need one, because after all you have taken on an animal that may have issues, and you are to be congratulated for shouldering the responsibility.

Most of my dogs had special needs of one kind or another. My first dog lost a foot in a lawn mower accident. Smokey Bear had issues with a certain type of person after being beaten by his owner’s boyfriend. So your special needs pet may not have a medical problem; it could be emotional or psychological as well.

You need to make sure you are financially able to take care of their needs in addition to your own. If your special needs pet requires regular vet visits to monitor medication amounts in their blood, or tests to make sure their organs are functioning normally, you need to be able to cover any fees this entails. I will tell you now, there are a lot of pet insurance companies that will not cover pre-existing conditions. I found that out before I even adopted Skye. If your special needs pet must sleep in a crate at night or have a crate when traveling, can you afford it? If they need any special equipment to be able to move around, you need to consider the fees for purchasing the equipment. Will there have to be adjustments to that equipment as your special needs pet ages?

If you choose to travel with them, you need to make sure that your special pet is welcome where you are going. If they are on medication, you need to have enough for your trip and several extra days, in case your return home is delayed. The same thing goes for their food if they are on a special diet. Traveling with a pet with special needs can be like traveling with a human baby. Along with a regular leash and collar you need to have the food you are feeding, any medication they are on and an enclosure they can rest inside safely. If they are on other supplements or need special water, you need to have that with you too.

If you are unable to travel with your special needs pet, you need to find someone who can take care of your pet. The person you choose should be responsible and able to medicate your pet if they need any shots or special medications. They should also be able to get your pet to the vet in a timely manner if the need arises.

There are many joys associated with adopting a pet with special needs. While we have encountered some issues with Skye, they were not insurmountable. Someone recently asked me if I would adopt Skye again, if I were given the chance to go back. My answer was a resounding “Yes.”

Ruthie Bently

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

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Skye, My Special Needs Dog

I have mentioned my American Staffordshire Terrier Skye in several of my articles. Some of you may know of her health issues, but I thought I would share them with you because dogs, cats and other animals with special needs need loving homes too.

I was not going to get another dog for a while after losing my last AmStaff Smokey Bear to old age at over 19 years old. I live in the country and have done so for over ten years now, with never a qualm of being in the “boonies,” as some of my friends call it. However, a violent crime a few miles from my house changed my thinking and after discussing it with my boyfriend, we began looking for another dog to share our lives with.

I found a breeder who had a retired AmStaff that needed a home; however, after discussing her with the breeder I found out that the dog’s handler wanted to adopt her, too. I didn’t feel right about taking her away from the only family she had ever known, and the breeder understood. The breeder mentioned she had another dog that needed a home, but she was hesitant because this dog (Skye) had special needs. Skye is a beautiful representation of the American Staffordshire breed. However, when she turned a year old and went into season for the first time, she began having idiopathic juvenile seizures.

What this means is that she began having seizures for no apparent reason. Skye was checked for epilepsy and did not have it, but that didn’t keep her from having seizures. The breeder had taken Skye to not only a regular vet, but a homeopath as well, and Skye had even been to the state university’s veterinary college to try and figure out what was wrong with her. Skye had grand mal seizures in clusters, which means that she had the most severe seizures and for hours at a time. The breeder mentioned that the seizures had gotten so bad, sometimes she would spend the night next to Skye’s crate to try and keep her calm. Some nights she would kiss Skye good night and say a prayer that Skye would still be here in the morning.

After hearing this story, I am sure you are saying “What were you thinking?” It may be hard to understand, but I had no other thought than to give this special girl a safe, caring, loving home of her own. Don’t get me wrong, I did lots of research into not only seizures but epilepsy as well, as that was the best information I could find that explained seizures and why they happen. I spoke with family and friends to get their opinions of whether or not they felt I was up to the task. I spoke with a trainer, who knows not only me but all the other AmStaffs I have lived with that had special training issues. I also spoke with a friend that said “Run like hell in the other direction,” so this story is not without its detractors.

I even spoke with an animal communicator to see how Skye felt about leaving the only home she had ever known. Speaking through the animal communicator, Skye said she couldn’t understand why she was still at the breeder’s. She knew that other dogs had gone home with families and didn’t know why she hadn’t. I asked Skye if she knew why she had seizures and got a surprising response: Skye thought all dogs had them and thought it was normal, but couldn’t tell me why she had them. I asked the animal communicator to ask Skye if she had any questions for me. Skye did, and what she asked me made me cry. Skye wanted to know if she didn’t live very long if I could still love her as much as I would love another dog. I asked the animal communicator to please tell Skye that I would love her if she was with me for three days or twenty years, but that I was aiming for the twenty year range. I also asked Skye if she wanted to come and live with me and she answered “Yes.” This was important to me, because she was coming from a place with a huge back yard she could run in safely to a place where we had no dog fences yet and where she would have to be walked on a leash until we could remedy the situation.

The breeder had a few requirements for me as well. I had to go for an interview to see if I would be able to handle an AmStaff to her satisfaction. A handsome boy named Henry helped me with that one. Henry got nosy and I didn’t back up or walk away, I just pushed him back and treated him as I would have treated any of my other AmStaffs if they got bossy. I passed the test and after learning about Skye’s requirements I got to bring her home with me.

We go to Skye’s vet every six months for blood tests, so her medication levels can be checked. She also has blood tests to make sure that her kidney and liver functions are normal, because the medication she is on can affect that also. Skye is completely off of Phenobarbital now but is still on Sodium Bromide, which keeps her seizures in check. Actually, my sweet Skye is closing in on her year and a half anniversary of being seizure free, and we have been blessed to never have seen one.

I believe that with love and faith all things are possible, and I have been blessed with a dog that proves it to me every day.

Ruthie Bently

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

The Funny Things Cats Do

I love my cats for many different reasons. Number one would have to be because they are such amusing creatures who always make me laugh. There is seemingly no end to the funny things cats do. Then too, their curiously eccentric ways leave me shaking my head, wondering why they do the things they do. I think all cats must lie awake at night, dreaming up odd behaviors that we humans can’t possibly comprehend. To be sure, life with my three crazy cats is never dull.
I’ve never understood why all my cats all come running at the sound of the can opener. I feed them Felidae cat food, and the can has a pull-tab lid. I’ve never opened a single can of cat food with the can opener, and yet somehow it became associated with cat food. I have gone outside to open a can of vegetables, because I don’t like explaining to my cats (yet again) that I don’t have any cat food and it isn’t time for their dinner. They simply don’t accept this explanation. All my cats must have super-sonic hearing though, because they still hear the can opener even when I use it outside.
You’d think with a cat’s notorious dislike of water, the sink would be the last place you’d find them curled up for a snooze, but you’d be wrong. In fact, so many cats like to sit or lie in the sink, that there’s an entire website devoted to posting pictures of cats in sinks! And why do cats always follow you into the bathroom every time you go in there to do your business? Worse, they usually push the door wide open when you’re indisposed. Rocky also likes to come in and sit on the edge of the tub when I take a shower. When I’m drying off, he wants to help by licking my leg. Um… thanks anyway, Rocky.
My cats also find the weirdest places to sleep, like the tiniest box that makes you wonder how they even wedged themselves into the box in the first place. They turn up their noses at the nice cat bed I got them and sleep in places that look (to me) like the most uncomfortable spot imaginable. Mickey will also open my kitchen drawer, dig out some of the dishcloths and towels, and sleep on the remainder of them in the drawer. Crazy cat! I’ve learned not to leave my bottom dresser drawer open even an inch, because he will reach in, hook each sock with his claws and fling them out onto the floor. Actually, I often leave my sock drawer open on purpose because it’s fun to watch him do this, and I get a kick out of seeing all my socks littering the bedroom floor.
Of all the funny things cats do, the chasing of the tail is probably the most commonplace. All cats chase their tails, and no one really knows why. Round and round they go, and when they finally catch their tail, there’s that ever-brief pause and a look that says, “Now what?” before they let it go, only to chase it again. Huh? And why must kitties lie on top of your newspaper, magazine or book every time you try to read? These things are certifiable cat magnets! It doesn’t matter if you’ve just finished playing with them or petting them, the minute you try to read something your cat will be splayed all over it. Same goes for trying to use the computer. It’s impossible to type with a cat blocking your view of the screen. Worse, cats all know exactly where the “delete” key is, and they love to step on it the minute you’ve finished writing something important. Hmmm. If I could just teach Mickey how to type, I could go curl up in the kitchen drawer for a nap while he wrote my next blog.

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

How to Travel With Cats

Unlike dogs, cats usually don’t like riding in cars. Whereas many dogs adapt easily to traveling and can go on road trip vacations with you, cats are usually much better off left at home. In fact, most cat owners usually only take their kitty for a car ride when it’s absolutely necessary, such as for visits to the vet. There are, however, times when traveling with cats is unavoidable. I experienced such a time when I moved to another state a few years ago. I put my belongings on a truck, loaded my three cats in carriers and into the back seat of my car, and away we went. From this road trip, I learned firsthand what to do, and what not to do, when faced with the need to travel with cats. 
Careful planning is essential if you are to have any hope of a good experience when traveling with cats. As early as possible before your trip, make a list of supplies you’ll need to obtain, purchase them, and put them in a safe place. You don’t want to be scrambling at the last minute for supplies, nor do you want to discover mid-trip that you forgot something indispensable. A sturdy cat carrier is a must, because cats do not travel well in cars and can get under your feet, claw your legs or otherwise become a dangerous distraction. I prefer the heavy-duty plastic cat carriers that have open-weave metal doors for air circulation. When traveling with cats for long distances, you need a cat carrier that allows some fresh air into it. I like to put a soft towel on the bottom for cushioning. 
You will also need to bring food and water, bowls, kitty litter, scooper, plastic bags for waste, and a litter pan. They sell small litter pans made for kittens, which are perfect for travel. I poured some kitty litter into a gallon milk jug, which was more convenient than lugging along a big, heavy container of litter. You might also want to pack one or two of their favorite cat toys. This will provide something familiar with their scent, and give them something to play with in the motel. Your cat may or may not feel like playing, but at least they will have the option. 
I learned the hard way that it’s probably not a good idea to give your cat very much food before you set out on your travels. I was cruising merrily down the highway, singing along with the three-cat harmony coming from the back seat, when suddenly I smelled something awful. My worst fear had become reality; Rocky had diarrhea in his carrier. Suffice it to say, I fed him very, very little for the remainder of this two day trip. Some cat’s digestive systems are highly sensitive, and stress combined with the movement of the car can wreak havoc on their stomachs. Hence, it’s wise to just feed them very small amounts of food until you arrive at your destination.
The one thing I debated about buying and bringing along is a leash and body harness. Cats are notoriously anti-leash creatures, but I now realize this is an essential supply when traveling with cats. Further, you should practice putting it on your cat and taking it off before your trip, so you will be familiar with how to use it – because there’s a good chance you will need it. I had to stop at a rest area after Rocky had his “accident.” This rest area didn’t have a lock on the door, so I put the harness and leash on Rocky, and tied the leash to the sink while I cleaned out his carrier, and then him. If he had been running loose in the room and someone opened the door, I likely would have never seen him again. 
If you find yourself faced with the need to travel with cats, I hope these tips will help you have a smooth and safe trip.

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

Adopting Older Dogs and Cats

Older dogs and cats are often overlooked as pets when you enter into a shelter. But, the truth is, they are often the best bet when it comes to adoptions! Enjoying the company of a dog costs nothing. You don’t have to pay each time you spend time with your dog, you don’t have to drive anywhere – it is wonderful pleasure right there in your own home.
Take a look at an older dog or cat on your next trip in. Then remember that they:
  • They are already house-trained. No more mopping floors five times a day or going through frustrating crate training. 
  • They are focused. You will have their full attention when it comes to training. 
  • They are easier to settle into a pack: Often the older dogs and cats are much calmer and have an inherent sense of pack. 
  • Your dog doesn’t care that you lost your job or your savings. He loves you no matter what.
  • Dogs and cats are relatively inexpensive to feed, you can bathe your dog with a hose in the backyard, and if you adopt a mutt, you may have fewer veterinary bills.
  • If you can’t afford to travel, the “I am gone too much” excuse is no longer valid.
  • Frisbees and balls are cheap, and if you videotape them, you might just win $10k on America’s Funniest Videos.
  • Petting a dog lowers blood pressure, thus saving on medical bills.
  • Your dog or cat doesn’t need a fancy vacation to be happy- she is satisfied with a walk in the park or lying on your lap as you read a book. 
Please consider adopting an older dog or cat – so many are being turned in to the shelter due to “cost” or “lost our home and had to move into an apartment”.
We especially need adopters for the older dogs who have been in a family environment for their whole lives and find themselves scared and confused in a kennel in the shelter. These old souls are the sweetest and the best! Seniors are by far my favorites.
For more reasons on why “Seniors Rock!”, visit www.srdogs.com.

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

A “Coat” of Many Colors…

Tabby, Calico, Gray – okay, well gray is kind of easy, but you get the idea. What kinds of colors are available for cats? And how do you know what you have? We have the answers for you.
Interesting Fact
Tri colored cats are almost always female. About 1 in 3000 are males, but they are almost always sterile. This is due to the genetic factors required to create the color pattern. It’s no reason to avoid neutering your cat though!
Solids
Typical “solids” are just that – one solid color. There are really four basic colors, but they can vary in shades. The colors are white, blue (which is really gray), black and “red” which is the official term for “orange”.
Tabbies
Tabbies are one of the oldest, and most common, patterns. They can become complex though.
  • Striped: Striped tabbies look similar to tigers, but are often called “Mackeral Tabbies”.
  • Classic: These cats have a round color pattern, similar to a target. They are one of the most common patterns.
  • Spotted: These cats have spots that resemble a cheetah, but are more commonly found in breeds like the Ocicat and American Bobtail.
Bi-Colors
  • Tuxedo: These are the kitties with glossy black coats and white socks or white bib.
  • Other Bi-colors: There are other bi-colored cats that may include gray and white or red and white, or even brown and white colors.
  • Points:
  • “Points” are darker shades at the ears, tail, and/or feet of a cat. The Siamese is known for this type of marking. A white cat with brown “points” is known as a sealpoint.
Tri-Colors
  • Calico: These cats have separate solid color blocks. They may be “diluted” which results in a very angelic looking kitty or could be in blocks similar to a tabby, which creates a very colorful cat.
  • Tortoiseshell (aka Torties): These tri-colored cats have several shades of color that are all blended together in an intricate, muted pattern.

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.