Monthly Archives: November 2009

Volunteering for a Cageless Shelter


By Ruthie Bently

I had a wonderful experience and found many new friends, both two and four-legged, when I volunteered for a cageless shelter. I had a client in Illinois who came into the pet shop I managed looking harried and a bit rattled. I found out she was the founder of a cageless shelter. I had never heard of one before, so I asked her what made a cageless shelter different from a regular animal shelter. She explained that the animals stayed with volunteers in their homes rather than in cages. The reason she was so harried was that she was taking care of three litters of newborn kittens, and was looking for volunteers to place other animals that had come in. I offered to help with the kittens, but she asked if I would consider helping her with a cat instead. The cat needed a safe, quiet place to stay, as it looked like she had been bullied and was a bit timid. I said “yes” and began to learn about cageless shelters, and what wonderful places they can be.

A cageless shelter is much like a regular shelter in that each person coming in to adopt must go through a screening process. There is an adoption fee and all the animals have been to a vet for a full check up, worming (if needed), vaccinations, spaying or neutering, checking for fleas, ticks and ear mites, and a bath and nail clipping (if needed); cats are usually also tested for FIV and Feline Leukemia.

A cageless shelter can be a large facility that houses dogs and cats in large common areas as opposed to separate cages, or it can be a smaller facility with volunteers that keep the adoptable pets with them in their homes until they find a home. As a pet is adopted out from a volunteer’s home, another soon takes it place.

One nice aspect of the second kind of shelter is that each pet gets one-on-one attention from the volunteer they live with. If a dog needs training, the shelter may have the volunteer take it to a class. Depending on the availability of funds, the supplies and food for the pet may be provided for the volunteer. Each cageless shelter has different rules and regulations, but most request that if the pet is no longer wanted by their adoptive family, that they be returned to the shelter. The cageless shelter I worked with even issued each adopted pet a tag with the shelter’s name and phone number, in case it ever got lost.

I liked the idea of interacting with a cat that was in need of tender loving care. I didn’t own a cat at the time and was happy for the companionship. I was responsible for getting Gwen to the vet to be spayed and two weeks later, taking her back to have her stitches out. After that, she came back home with me to await a call which would unite her with a family of her own. It was then that my life took a turn in a different direction.

A young couple wanted to come see Gwen, who had been living with me for about twelve weeks. Although I was happy for Gwen, I was a bit sad that I would lose her companionship. I greeted the two warmly and went to get Gwen, who greeted them as if they were old friends. Gwen was a beautiful calico with a coat of orange, black and white, and the most beautiful green eyes I’d ever seen.

Upon seeing Gwen the young woman said “Oh no, she just won’t do.” I was flabbergasted and tried to hold back my surprise. I asked if it was her age or her gender. The woman replied that Gwen was the wrong color. “The wrong color?” I asked. The woman told me she wanted a white cat because all her furniture was white and Gwen’s hair would get all over the furniture. I thanked her for her candor, and saw them out.

The car had not even left the driveway before I was on the phone with the shelter letting my supervisor know how the interview had gone, what they felt was wrong with Gwen, and that I had decided to adopt her myself. I kept thinking about muddy feet prancing across that white furniture if they ever let a white cat outside.

The time I spent working as a volunteer with a cageless shelter was a very rewarding experience. I would recommend it to anyone wanting to volunteer their time to work with animals for a good cause. The interaction and time you spend with a pet in your care can help the pet become more socialized, and gives them a better chance of finding their own forever home.

Read more articles by 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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How to Keep Cats Off Your Kitchen Counters


By Julia Williams

Cats are notorious counter surfers. Dogs do this too, but cats have an advantage over some dog breeds who would counter surf, if only they could jump that high. Nearly all cats, except very old or obese ones, are agile enough to get up onto the kitchen counters. I don’t believe they counter surf just because they can, though. My cats get onto the counters because that’s where the food is. It doesn’t matter that I never leave any food out; they see me preparing food there, and one can surmise that they keep checking every day on the premise that it could happen.

I don’t really know why they counter surf, but I do know a thing or two about how to keep cats off kitchen counters. I’ve had plenty of practice at that, especially since Rocky joined my household six years ago. For reasons I can’t fathom, this cat has major food issues. Rocky is on a “seafood” diet – i.e., he sees food and he eats it. He has perfected his food-snatching technique as well, and can snag food off the counter in a nanosecond.

All of the different methods I’ve tried to keep Rocky off the kitchen counters don’t work for long, but they do work for my other cats and I think they’d also work for most cats. Rocky is just “special,” and I’ve learned to either watch my food like a hawk while preparing it, or lock Rocky in the bedroom until every morsel is put away. It’s simpler that way and it works for me, unless I have a memory lapse.

Such as, the time I baked some cookies that came with caramel topping. I watched him carefully as they cooled enough so I could drizzle on the gooey caramel. Because the caramel needed to harden before I could put them away, I took Rocky with me into my home office. A short while later I realized I’d forgotten all about the cookies, and Rocky. He sauntered in, licking his chops. Uh-oh! I ran into the kitchen to see how many cookies he’d eaten. To my surprise the cookies were still there – but they were licked clean of all the caramel!

Here are some things you can do to keep cats off the kitchen counters. Try one, and if it doesn’t work, try another, because dirty cat paws that have been digging in a litter box have no business being on the kitchen counters.

Clean up after food preparation, and never leave anything edible on the counter. You might be surprised by what foods a cat will sample, especially if you have a feline like Rocky. Plus, if they find a tasty tidbit on the counter one day, they’re more likely to keep checking it.

The spray bottle is a classic cat training tool that I’ve used successfully (on every cat except Rocky, of course). Spray a fine mist of water into their face when they are on the kitchen counters, and tell them firmly to “get down.” Most cats hate water, but a fine mist won’t hurt them and they quickly learn that the counters are a no-cat zone.

Coins in a can is another method I’ve used to keep my cats off the counters. You just give it a good shake; the noise startles them and they jump down. This worked for Rocky until he got used to the noise. I’ve used a whistle too, but it scared my other two cats too much (and seemed unfair since they’d done nothing wrong).

Sticky tape on the edge of the counter is touted as a good cat deterrent, but I found it very inconvenient.

Booby traps: there’s a hilarious video online of an invention called the Blender Defender. This homemade booby trap features a motion-detecting blender and strobe lights that activate when a cat jumps up on the kitchen counter. In the video, the unsuspecting cat jumped four feet in the air and promptly fell off the counter. Price to make the Blender Defender: $214. Video of ambushed cat: priceless.

The long-handler grabber gizmo was actually designed for getting things down from high shelves; however, I recently discovered it works wonders to deter Rocky from jumping on my counter while I’m preparing food. The pinching motion freaks him out, so now I keep it handy whenever I have food on the counter. If he even glances up at the counter, I “pretend” grab at him and he runs out of the kitchen.

The Tattle Tale is a motion sensor machine that sounds a loud alarm whenever it detects the vibration of a cat jumping onto the counter. I haven’t actually tried this but it sounds promising, and might be worth getting. It sells for $24.99.

Remember, you may have to try several methods to find one that works for you. But with patience and training, you should be able to keep your cat off the kitchen counter.

Read more articles by Julia Williams

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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.

Tips to Keep Pets Safe During the Holidays


By Anna Lee

Thanksgiving is not far off, and then Christmas followed by New Year’s Eve. As the holiday season draws closer you need to think about what food items and decorations could possibly cause serious harm to your pets. The following items are bad for your pets not only during the holidays, but every other day of the year too.

Turkey is a favorite food during the holidays. Remember, cooked bones of any type are not good for a dog or a cat due to sharp splinters. People assume turkey bones are ok because they are larger than chicken bones. N0, do not give your dog turkey bones. To err on the over-protective side, I have never given Abby any type of bone.

Chocolate can be toxic to dogs and cats. In simple terms, your pet can become very sick, and in rare cases may not pull through. Do not ever give them chocolate, not even one small chocolate chip.

Plants: Most of the plants we think of as Christmas plants are beautiful to look at but can be deadly to animals, including poinsettias, holly and mistletoe. If you want to have a beautiful poinsettia on the mantel, that is far enough out of reach for a dog, but remember how high a cat can climb.

Christmas Trees: Make sure your tree is secure and can’t be tipped over. Big dogs have big tails, and one swish could send a tree flying. You can put a nail in the wall behind the tree and use a piece of string to tie the tree. My parents always tied our live trees like that, except one year. That year the tree fell over; it missed the dog but all my mother’s antique ornaments were destroyed. Use unbreakable ornaments on the lower branches of the tree and put your precious glass ornaments higher up to be safe.

If you have a puppy, keep an eye on it around the tree. A puppy will be attracted to the blinking lights and colorful ornaments. Do not use tinsel as cats and dogs can choke on it. Do not add aspirin to the tree water if you use a real tree. Aspirin can be toxic to pets, and they might get to the water reservoir and drink the water.

Electrical Cords: We always seem to use a lot of electric cords for trees and other decorations. A lose electric cord is a play thing to a puppy or kitten, so make sure they are taped to the floor when possible. When you are not at home, leave your decorations turned off. This is a good rule whether you have pets or not.

Welcoming Guests: When your guests arrive, make sure the dog or cat doesn’t escape without your knowledge. A little pup can easily slip out of the house when no one is watching. A cat may get scared with so much activity happening and try to make his escape.

Candles: Never put a burning candle where a dog or cat can reach it. Better yet, if you have pets or young children, you should get the artificial candles that are very popular now. They run on a battery and the flame actually flickers like a real candle. If you prefer a real candle at least put it high on the mantel out of reach.

By following a few holiday safety tips for pets, the parties and festivities will end on a high note!

Read more articles by Anna Lee

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.

Facts about Hypoallergenic Pets


By Suzanne Alicie

People all over the world suffer from allergies, to things like dust, pollen, mold, certain plants, certain fabrics and foods. But the worst thing for an animal lover is to find out that they are allergic to pets. Pet allergies are caused by dander, hair, and protein. This means that an allergic reaction can be triggered when the animal isn’t even in the room, since they leave all of these particles behind through shedding, saliva, and by simply having been in the area.

Luckily for animal lovers, there are hypoallergenic pets available. So if you love dogs but are allergic, there are breeds you can choose that won’t trigger your allergies. This includes dogs that don’t shed, dogs with minimal dander, and even dogs that don’t slobber and drool. The same goes for cat lovers; there are certain breeds of kitties that won’t cause your throat to close up, your eyes to water, or hives to appear. Take the time to learn more about each animal that interests you and how it will work in your world of dealing with animal allergies.

Hypoallergenic Dogs

Not all dogs have a layer of fur to shed every season or two. There are quite a few that have fur which grows almost like human hair; it needs to be trimmed and groomed, and doesn’t fall out.

Dog breeds to avoid include Samoyed (although they are a minimal dander dog, they shed terribly); Golden Retriever, and other large long haired breeds. Ideally you want to choose a short haired dog, and preferably a small dog.

For some reason the small dogs don’t seem to cause as much of a problem with protein allergies. This could be due to the lack of saliva and slobbering in small dogs. This group includes Chihuahua, Bichon Frise, and Miniature Pincers.

Large short haired dogs include Boxers and Greyhounds, but in those cases there can be an allergic reaction to the protein from their slobber.

There are a number of hybrid dog breeds available for people with allergies. However, when it comes to choosing a hybrid such as a Poodle/Labrador mix, it is important to make sure that the dog inherited his coat from the poodle parent. The same goes with most hybrids; you will want to ensure that the dog you are getting has inherited the hypoallergenic feature you are looking for.

Hypoallergenic Cats

Cats that don’t shed are rare indeed, and if you enjoy a fluffy cat instead of a hairless variety your options become even more limited. The Sphynx, LaPerm, and Cornish Rex cats are usually a good choice for people who have a mild cat allergy.

Sadly, for cat lovers the allergy is usually to a feline’s saliva and not their hair. Thus, it’s important to visit your doctor to determine the actual cause of your allergy. You don’t want to spend a lot of money on an animal that features a hypoallergenic coat, only to realize that it isn’t the fur which bothers you.

Breeders are hard at work developing a truly hypoallergenic cat, but for many people the cost will deter them from purchasing one.

Non-Traditional Hypoallergenic Pets

Some people’s allergies are too severe to consider a dog or cat in any form. For folks like that, there are the non-traditional pets that don’t trigger allergic reactions. Fish, turtles, and reptiles, while not furry and cuddly, can still provide entertainment and interaction of the pet variety.

Read more articles by Suzanne Alicie

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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.

November is “Adopt a Senior Pet Month”


By Ruthie Bently

Petfinder.com is a virtual, searchable database of adoptable animals, shelters and adoption organizations in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Petfinder.com has designated November as “Adopt a Senior Pet Month,” which I think is a wonderful idea. Many senior pets end up in shelters every year, often because their human passes away without making arrangements for them. I have adopted several older pets, so I know firsthand that there are many advantages to choosing a senior citizen pet over a younger one.

The very first cat my ex-husband and I ever adopted came from a shelter, and was an older cat. We walked into the cat room, and as I passed a cage this paw shot out and tapped me on the arm. I turned, looked into eyes green as grass, saw a hair coat that looked black but glistened chocolate brown in the bright sunshine, and was lost. My husband was not smitten; he wanted a kitten.

If you are undecided about getting a pet, an older animal is a good way to go. I knew that older pets in shelters are adopted last; I didn’t know they are also usually the first to be euthanized. By adopting an older pet you are saving a life and should give yourself a pat on the back. You’ll still have food bills and regular vet visits, but because of their age they will not be with you as long as a puppy or kitten would. If you are looking for a certain kind of dog or cat, you would be able to try out the breed without a long-term commitment.

An older pet will already be spayed or neutered; most shelters will not adopt out a pet that isn’t. There will be no puppy or kitten shots to get, no teething or chewing on inappropriate things (such as shoes or electric cords), and no kitten climbing your curtains or unfurling the toilet paper roll. You won’t have to deal with puppy potty breaks at two in the morning in the rain or snow, or clean up after a kitten still learning how to use the litter box. The majority of older pets have already been housebroken, already have their permanent teeth and usually have basic obedience skills. And older dogs will settle into your routine quickly and without much fuss because they’ve been a pack member and understand the hierarchy.

When you adopt a senior pet you get to see their personality when you meet them, and not have to wait for it to develop. You’ll be able to see if they are laid back or highly active. You’ll find that senior citizen dogs will like chilling out more than younger dogs. While older dogs still need some exercise and do enjoy it, you won’t have to walk them five miles every day, as you would a young Labrador or Golden Retriever. You will know pretty quickly what kind of shedding, brushing and grooming you are going to have with senior pets. You won’t get any surprises about their size either, since they are finished growing.

If you have to be away from home for several hours, you don’t have to go rushing home to let them out to go potty or exercise, as you would with a puppy. An older dog or cat will greet you warmly when you get home and not be bouncing off the walls. Because of their age, older pets are calmer. If you wanted to enroll in open obedience classes, or teach your older dog some of those tricks you’ve seen other dogs learn, go for it. Their age and sereneness will give you an edge on training; their attention span is longer than a puppy’s, and they will be able to learn faster.

Remember that green-eyed black cat? His name was Keentya, and he ended up in the shelter because his owner had passed away without making provisions for him in her will. After some begging on my part, and a discussion that outlined many of the points above, we went home with this beautiful older cat. He latched onto our hearts and never let go. Keentya was great in the car and traveled to Pennsylvania with us for holidays for several years before his passing. He became such a member of our family that one relative even made him his own pillow and embroidered pillow case with his name on it.

While none of my older adopted pets’ time with me was long enough, given the chance I would adopt a senior pet again in an instant. The benefits far outweigh the shortness of time they spent with me, and the blessings they gave me were many.

Read more articles by 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.

Fear of Dogs: Cynophobia Symptoms, Causes and Cures


By Julia Williams

Do you have a fear of dogs, or know someone who does? The likelihood that you answered yes to one or both of those questions is fairly high, considering that the fear of dogs is quite common in our society today. Having a little fear of dogs is natural and may actually protect you, because some dogs (especially strays or other dogs you don’t know) could be dangerous, and should always be approached with caution. But for people who have Cynophobia, which is not a healthy fear of dogs but an extreme, irrational one, this fear can make their life miserable. Left untreated, Cynophobia can severely interfere with a person’s work, school, and social relationships.

Phobias are classified as a type of anxiety disorder, whereby exposure to the feared object, activity or situation can cause excessive sweating, shaking, heart palpitations, difficulty breathing, inability to think or speak clearly, and even a full blown panic attack. Cynophobia then, is not simply an aversion to dogs; it’s an intense feeling of fear at the sight of one – even if it’s just on television or through a window. Very often, a person with Cynophobia can have an anxiety attack just by thinking about encountering a dog. They may understand intellectually that a dog on TV poses no danger, but this doesn’t prevent them from having a reaction.

Although snakes and spiders are more common animal phobias, Cynophobia is especially debilitating because dogs are such an intrinsic part of everyday life. According to a survey by the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association, there are approximately 74.8 million pet dogs in the United States. Dogs are everywhere we look and thus, practically impossible to avoid. And for someone with Cynophobia, it doesn’t matter if the dog is a tiny puppy, a Chihuahua or a snarling guard dog– all are equally frightening.

What causes Cynophobia?

Like all irrational fears, Cynophobia is a protective mechanism created by the unconscious mind. A Cynophobe is usually terrified of being scratched, bitten or attacked by a dog, but may not have any idea where this fear originated. Sometimes all they know is that they’ve had a fear of dogs for as long as they can remember. It is possible, though, that they had a frightening experience with a dog at a young age but don’t remember it.

Both children and adults can develop Cynophobia after being attacked or bitten by a dog, or seeing another person have a bad experience with a dog. In addition, parents who have a strong fear of dogs can sometimes transfer this to their children. On the other hand, early exposure to good-tempered dogs seems to lessen the probability of a person developing Cynophobia as an adult.

Treatments for Cynophobia

With professional help, the fear of dogs can usually be overcome; however, many Cynophobics avoid seeking treatment because they’re embarrassed about fearing an animal so many people love. If they get teased by others who don’t understand the debilitating nature of phobias, they may be even more reluctant to seek treatment. For some, the idea of confronting their fear of dogs is just as terrifying as dealing with Cynophobia. Nevertheless, if someone has a desire to conquer their fear of dogs it can be done, and there are several therapeutic options.

Cognitive behavior therapy is a form of psychotherapy based on the belief that the way we think about things affects how we feel emotionally. Rather than focusing on past experiences, cognitive therapy employs problem solving in the present, e.g., helping someone change the way they think about dogs.

Systematic desensitization therapy uses visualization and gradual exposure combined with relaxation and breathing exercises to desensitize a person to their phobia. In a controlled environment, typically a therapist’s office, the patient is taught to visualize a frightening situation (such as encountering a dog). When this no longer produces intense anxiety, exposure to dogs is introduced in a systematic, structured way while the person concentrates on staying calm. This exposure could include looking at photos of dogs, watching videos about dogs, seeing a dog through a window, and eventually, being in the same room with a dog.

Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) is the study of how individuals create their reality. NLP views phobias as the result of faulty “programs” or images that a person has created, e.g., seeing all dogs as aggressive and threatening. With NLP, these programs are revealed and “re-programmed” so that the phobia is minimized or eliminated.

Hypnosis helps to reprogram the subconscious thoughts that may be linked to the phobia. People with Cynophobia usually have a strong subconscious belief that any dog they see will attack them. When the subconscious is reprogrammed through hypnotherapy, the phobia symptoms are often minimized.

If you suffer from Cynophobia but feel like you’re all alone, rest assured – there are many others who share your fear of dogs. And you shouldn’t feel that this is just something you “have to live with,” because with proper treatment, effort and time, you can overcome Cynophobia.

Read more articles by Julia Williams

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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.