General Interest

Saving Nadia

posted April 7th, 2016 by
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What's in Your Dog Shampoo

Saving Nadia

NadiaBy Nancy Gallimore

I woke up this morning with a little black nose pressed into my neck. Nadia, my new foster puppy, apparently decided it would be a great idea to sleep in the human bed last night. I hug the puppy to my chest, and she sighs in contentment. With her sigh, the sweet, distinctive aroma of puppy breath fills the air around us, and I breathe it in, cherishing the scent that will turn into dog breath all too quickly.

Itwas only about a month ago that this happy, cuddly pup was just a small, dark shadow, standing lost in the middle of the road. The moment my Jeep made the turn toward home, the shadow darted away to hide in the bordering brush and trees. I barely saw the movement, but I knew—it was a dog.

I’ve seen it too many times—a dog or cat blindly bolting for cover because this unfamiliar situation into which it has been plunged seems to be filled with nothing but danger and fear. This road, the peaceful country road that takes me home, is apparently a favorite spot for people who want to abandon unwanted animals. It’s a quiet, somewhat hidden side road, but it has just enough homes along the way to pacify a guilty mind—to allow the “I found him a home in the country” lie to have a hope of validity.

I kept my eyes focused on the point where I had seen the little ghost dog leave the road. I slowed as I reached the right spot, and I scanned the brush for any sign of my new friend. The late afternoon sun slanted bright beams into the camouflage of tall grass, weeds and trees, and as I searched, I finally caught a glint of wide, terrified eyes.

She was crouched tensely against a tree trunk beneath some fallen branches, her little face and body tight with stress and panic. Her eyes were round with fear, and every muscle in her body was ready to bolt if I made one wrong move.

Her soft brindle-hued coat allowed her to easily melt into the wooded background and growing shadows. If she decided to move farther into the brush, I would quickly lose sight of her. Though I wanted to rush in to whisk her away to safety, any sudden movement would have closed the door of opportunity.

There is an art to helping frightened stray animals. A panicked dog or puppy seems to revert to a primal state where raw survival instinct replaces any previously known domestic inclinations and responses. This is the moment when the human has to abandon the notion of how to respond to a pet animal. All of the baby talk and promises of cookies bounce off of terrified ears and a numb heart.

So I parked my Jeep and walked a bit down the road from the puppy, keeping myself at an angle to her but always    keeping her in my peripheral vision. She,  still crouched and tense, did not take her eyes off of me, the potential predator.

I reached a spot about 5 feet down-road from the pup. Her hiding place was about 8 feet off the road, so I was far enough away that I wasn’t putting pressure on her. I sat down in the weeds and gravel because dog rescue never manages to take place in a comfortable location.  Again I kept my body at an angle to the puppy instead of facing toward her.

Well-meaning humans really tend to get it wrong when trying to approach a scared dog. We usually go straight at them, looking directly into their eyes. We immediately thrust a hand toward its face. We lean in and push our faces toward them, all the while babbling in a high-pitched, loud voice. Imagine yourself in a position that is about a foot or so off the ground and how that feels—not pleasant.

Then, we tend to ignore all of their “please don’t pressure me” signals. They glance away. They lick their lips. Their ears will be tense and generally pressed back. The whites of their eyes show. These are all signals that say, please, please back away, but most humans don’t know how to read them. This is how rescue opportunities are lost—or worse, how humans end up with a nasty bite.

So there I sat, glancing sideways at the puppy, talking to her in a low, soft voice, tossing bits of beef jerky near her hiding spot (well, sure, I always keep something enticing in the car!). After about five minutes, the grass rustled, and the young dog cautiously reached out to hungrily snap up a bite of jerky.

Ah, progress. Very, very slowly, I scooted a little bit closer to where the pup sat, watching. Then I just held steady again. I kept my body loose and relaxed. I stayed at an angle to the puppy. I did everything I could to communicate a message that said, “I mean no harm.”

I tossed more jerky, this time not quite so close to where she hid. She crept out to gobble a few bites and then watched me warily, very ready to bolt if I made one wrong move.

Cars passed behind me. Most ignored me completely; some slowed to see what I was up to. I just sat and prayed they would not stop to help. Any added pressure from the human world would send this puppy racing into the brush. I needed a “please ignore the crazy lady playing in the weeds” sign.

After about 20 minutes of slow progress toward the puppy with a non-stop shower of yummy jerky (I can’t lie… I had a few bites myself), I decided to take the pressure completely off. I scooted slowly away from her and then got up, still in slow-motion and walked back toward my car.

What I hoped would happen, did.

Trailing about 4 feet behind me, a young, thin, frightened puppy followed. She still wasn’t sure about me, but I was the best thing she had found in this big, scary world, and while she wasn’t ready to run into my arms, she sure wasn’t ready to let me go either.

As long as I stayed steady and didn’t move too quickly, I was about to see a puppy make a very difficult choice—the choice to trust this human.

I looked sideways at my little shadow and asked if she might like to come home with me. Her reply was to crawl underneath my Jeep and plop down. Oh, great. First, I got to scoot around in gravel and itchy weeds, now I would know the joy of lying on my belly on the asphalt and gravel under my car. No matter. She was well worth it.

So I stretched out on the road and scootched my way under the Jeep. I would like to say a public thank you to my very significant other, Jim, at this moment for putting a little lift kit on the Jeep. It sure made the scootching much easier. Scootch, by the way, is a technical term that anyone who rescues animals in the field knows all too well.

Now I’m lying on my belly, under my Jeep on a thankfully not busy stretch of road. I extended my fingertips to offer another little bit of jerky. She gently took it from me and swallowed it without even chewing. This was one hungry puppy.

Then I reached out to lightly tickle the side of her neck with my fingers. At this point, I would like to issue another public thank you for the combination of my mom and dad that gave me freakishly long arms. They come in darn handy.

While lightly petting her with my fingertips, I finally saw a change in the puppy’s posture. Her eyes softened. Her ears lowered and relaxed. She exhaled with a distinct, little sigh. This puppy was making a choice to trust me.

I will tell you that when I catch frightened little dogs like this, I do initially take hold of them by the scruff of their necks. That may sound rough to some, but I have one chance to get it right, and I can’t risk a struggle or a fear-inspired bite. It’s important to be very careful when approaching a stressed animal that may feel cornered or threatened. I have found that most small dogs, especially young puppies, will go very still when you take hold of the loose skin on the backs of their neck. Their own mothers know this. It is not painful, and I don’t use this little handle for long, but it can be effective for safely scooping up a scared puppy.

I rubbed the puppy’s neck, and then I gently took hold of her scruff. Together, we scootched out from under the Jeep, and I quickly hugged her close, promising her softly that everything was going to be OK now. The pup quickly decided that I was her port in the storm. She pressed into me without a struggle, completely surrendering her fate into my hands.

The once scared, starving, lost puppy quickly became happy, secure and very friendly. She now has dog friends that play with her. She has soft beds for snuggling. She has many arms that love to hug her. She has all of the food and treats she could ever hope for even though she still inhales every meal as if it might be her last. She has a name, Nadia, earned because she is very agile and loves to tumble.

Most importantly, she has a future.

Nadia is learning skills every day that will ensure she can be successfully placed with a loving family. She is a dear, gentle, smart little girl. Someone will be lucky to love her. I can’t wait to see that match happen.

In the meantime, I will continue to teach her where she should potty and where she shouldn’t. We’ll talk about Jim’s house shoes and why they really aren’t a chew toy. We’ll go for car rides and walks. We’ll approach new things and new situations together as she learns to be confident. We’ll have great fun together.

I will enjoy our snuggle time and her sweet puppy breath. And when she places in a new home? Well, I have whispered in her ear every single day since she arrived that even after she finds her perfect family, I will always, always be right here if she ever needs me.

And I will.

 

Author’s note: The methods I outline here work for me, but I have a great deal of experience handing animals and have been involved in animal rescue for decades. I encourage anyone approaching a frightened or injured animal to exercise great caution. If you are unsure, call the animal shelter or a rescue group for assistance.  No one needs a bite from a stray animal.

I am pleased to report that Nadia’s story does have a “happily ever after.” She has been welcomed into a wonderful home where her life lessons continue. She is safe; she is loved, and she loves her new human. Here’s hoping the same for all of the Nadias out there.

Lost Pet Found

posted March 30th, 2016 by
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Lost Pet Found

By LaWanna Smith

An action plan for dealing with every pet owner’s worst nightmare

It was a warm afternoon when the faint sound of thunder rumbled in the distance. I had just arrived home after running a quick errand, and my dogs greeted me at the back gate as I pulled in the driveway. Well, all but one furry face; Baxter, my 10-year-old Shepherd mix, was missing.
An unsettling feeling passed through my stomach as I recalled hearing the thunder. Baxter had always been afraid of storms and other loud noises, but the approaching storm was still too far away for my husband to hear it from inside the house. I did a quick search of the property and found no sign of Baxter. Previously, when a storm had panicked him, he jumped the fence, but he was still nearby and came running right back when I called. But not this time.
Trying to stay calm, I got into my car and began driving our walking path in the neighborhood with no luck. After about 30 minutes of searching, I was officially scared.
This lost dog story does have a happy ending. After 48 hours of canvassing the area, posting 100-plus signs, listing Baxter on numerous websites, placing an ad in the paper and putting more than 250 miles on each of our two cars, we brought Baxter home—tired, full of fleas and pretty scared, but otherwise fine.
Over the course of two days, he had traveled about 10 miles that we could track, though likely more. We were able to follow his route by the calls we received in response to our signs. Ultimately, a very kind person responding to one 8” x 10” sign led us straight to our boy for a happy reunion.
Unfortunately, not all lost pet stories have a happy ending. Statistics show that one in every three dogs will become lost in its lifetime with only a small percentage recovered.
Your immediate actions upon discovering your pet is missing can be the difference between success and heartbreak. Following is a list of helpful tips for recovering a lost pet:
Act fast.
It is a fallacy that pets will find their way home on their own. By immediately beginning your recovery process, your odds of finding your pet increase greatly. Get out on foot; walk your neighborhood and knock on doors. Dogs tend to travel while cats tend to hide out, generally fairly close to home. The more people know to keep an eye out for your pet, the better.
Check the likely spots. Do you and your dog have a normal walk you take in the area? Is there a park or a house with other dogs your dog likes to visit? Are there neighborhood kids your dog enjoys? Check all the likely “fun spots” first. For lost cats, search the area around your home carefully and then expand your search to likely hiding places around neighboring homes (with permission, of course). Sometimes use of a humane cat trap with a little yummy food in it will do the trick. Check with your animal shelter to see if you can borrow or rent a trap.
Enlist help and post signs!
Have someone start making fliers and signs featuring a current photo of your pet while you do your initial search. Make sure your cell phone number is included on your signs, so you can be reached immediately at any time of the day or night. Keep your cell phone battery charged!
Keep your signs simple and the text large. Your signs must be very legible. Passing motorists must be able to read them quickly and easily. A good tip for keeping your signs fresh and waterproof is to put each flier in a clear, gallon-sized zip closure baggie.
Give fliers to all of your neighbors and post signs at all entrances/exits to your neighborhood. Ask permission to post signs in yards near intersections. Give fliers to your mail carrier and any delivery people who happen to frequent your neighborhood. Also, post signs at all major intersections in your search area.
Start working in a circle from the point where your pet was lost. With each 24-hour period that passes without recovery, expand your sign placement another mile in each direction. Never think your pet “won’t go that way” or “won’t go that far,” especially with dogs. You might be amazed how quickly four legs can travel.
Post notices at all local veterinary clinics, grocery stores, community centers and any other public business that will accept a flier. Be sure to hit all animal-based business such as pet supply stores, training schools, dog daycares, boarding kennels, etc. People who love their own pets are more likely to notice and offer assistance to a stray animal. Place an ad in the lost and found section of the newspaper immediately. People who find a stray pet often look there first.
Take your search online.
Modern technology is a great thing, and now your computer or smart phone can provide the key to locating your lost pet. A quick post to Facebook, on your general feed and on specific lost and found pages, can yield great results or leads. Twitter can work similarly. Websites such as findtoto.com offer phone services (fees specified on the site) to contact people in your area to notify them of your missing pet. This can be a fast, effective way to spread the word. Local rescue groups also offer pet lost and found listings.
Check with local shelters and organizations.
Visit local animal shelters and notify all animal rescue organizations. File a lost pet report with every shelter in your vicinity and visit the nearest shelters daily if possible. Many shelters are only required to hold animals for a 72-hour period before they can put them up for adoption or authorize euthanasia. You cannot rely on calling to ask if your pet is at the shelter. The OKC Animal Shelter alone houses hundreds of animals, and it is virtually impossible for the person answering the phone to know for sure whether your pet has been checked in that day or not. Plus, only you can truly identify your pet.
Do provide all animal control agencies and rescue groups with an accurate description and a clear photo of your pet, along with all of your contact information. To locate contact information for other area shelters and rescue groups, refer to the Directory portion of www.okcpetsmagazine.com.
Use Caution.
If someone claims to have your pet, meet in a public place. Do not give out your home address and do not agree to go to the home of an unknown person. Ask them to meet you at a local veterinarian office, pet supply or other public place to return your pet. Be wary of pet recovery scams. When talking with someone who claims to have found your pet, ask him to describe the pet thoroughly. If the caller does not include specific identifying marks or characteristics, he may not actually have your pet. Be particularly wary of people who ask you to give or wire them money for the return of your pet. It’s OK to offer a reward, but it can attract people with less than honest intentions.
Don’t give up your search! Animals that have been lost for weeks and even months have been reunited with their owners. Keep the word out there.
And once you find your pet, collect all of the signs you have posted. Leaving up signs once a pet has been found is not only pollution but also unfair clutter for those people who still have missing pets.
Proper ID
Of course, keeping proper identification on your pet at all times is pertinent to a speedy reunion in a lost and found situation. A collar with vet tags, city license and a personalized tag will help keep your pet safe. However, collars can be lost, so it is recommended to talk to your veterinarian about permanent identification such as a microchip. A chip about the size of a piece of rice is injected under your pet’s skin in the shoulder region. When a scanner is passed over the site of the chip, it pulls up an identification number that leads to all necessary information for locating that animal’s rightful owners.
Even under the most protected circumstances, pets can slip through open doors, sturdy fences can be jumped or crawled under, and gates can be left open by workmen or kids. If the unthinkable does happen to you, remember that a good plan and quick action can lead to a safe and happy recovery.

Murphy the Labradoodle

posted March 7th, 2016 by
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What's in Your Dog Shampoo

Murphy the Labradoodle

MurphyStory and Photos by Holly Clay

 

Murphy is a 2-year-old Labradoodle with a whole lot of love to give.

Not only IS HE SPECTACULARLY ADORABLE, but Murphy can say something about himself that most dogs cannot. In fact, Murphy might even have a longer list of accomplishments than most humans. So what makes Murphy so different from most other pets out there? Murphy is not only a therapy dog with A New Leash on Life and a Certified Canine Good Citizen, but he also shines in the classroom where he volunteers his doggie time with children. If that did not make you feel a little self-conscious about your own life, then just know Murphy also has great hair.

In the winter of 2013, Stephanie Summers and her husband decided they wanted a family pet. Unfortunately, Stephanie suffers from severe allergies. While her husband started his research on dog breeds, a coworker suggested a Goldendoodle—specifically an F1b (Goldendoodle crossed with a Standard Poodle). The Summers heeded the advice of their friend and adopted Murphy on Jan. 20, 2013. Murphy is their first pet and obviously a good one!

So how did Murphy get involved with therapy work? His mom Stephanie was kind enough to explain the entire process of becoming certified. Let me tell you, it does not sound like an easy task to become a certified therapy dog and Canine Good Citizen.

“My husband and I both have hearts for volunteering,” Stephanie says. “Since Murphy is a ‘people-dog,’ it seemed like a natural fit to involve him in our volunteer efforts. At a very young age we started taking him to Jessie Cantwell, a trainer at Ranchwood Veterinary Hospital. We began with puppy socialization and then advanced to basic manners and obedience. In addition, we did extensive socialization training at parks, children’s festivals, playgrounds and dog-friendly businesses. Finally, we completed the six-week required therapy dog program through A New Leash on Life.”

As you can guess, Murphy successfully passed the required exams and became a certified therapy dog and Canine Good Citizen. However, Murphy’s work was not finished there.  Once he became officially certified, he moved his skills and volunteer efforts into the classroom at a local elementary school.

Through A New Leash on Life, Murphy and his parents have partnered with South Lake Elementary (Moore Public Schools). They currently visit the school several times each week, where he volunteers as a reading buddy and works in the special education classrooms. Murphy visits are also being used to motivate and reward good behavior. It is evident the children have a special bond with Murphy. In fact, Murphy will be starting his own club this February in the special education classrooms, called “Murphy’s Kindness Club.” The goal is to teach students the importance of kindness and how they can spread kindness each day.

Although Murphy is very popular throughout the school, the largest impact has been with the students in the special ed classrooms. These students have become attached to Murphy.

“I have seen students go from struggling in spelling, to earning a perfect score simply because Murphy came to visit for the spelling test. It’s incredible to see students who typically struggle with anxiety excel in Murphy’s presence. Everyone loves Murphy Days, even the teachers!” says Kara Evans, special education teacher.

The smiling faces say it all! It is as if a celebrity is present when Murphy enters the school. The kids yell his name and reach out to touch the fluffy dog as he happily gives kisses to them all. Murphy seems to enjoy the attention just as much as the children do. He is also given an extensive amount of treats, which he certainly does not mind either. Every job has its perks, and it seems Murphy has found the perfect job for him.

Five Great Reasons To Get Your Goat

posted February 28th, 2016 by
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Five Great Reasons To Get Your Goat

BY Nancy Gallimore, CPDT-KA

It was a pleasant drive to a spot in the country just outside of Claremore, Okla. I drove up a winding, tree-lined drive to find a lovely home in a clearing. I was there to meet goats, to learn about goats, to write about goats. Yet, there was not a goat in sight. Huh.
As I got out of my Jeep and looked around, I could see fenced areas with shelters. I could see hay. I could see feeders. But goats? None.
Just as I was starting to wonder if I was at the wrong address, Sharon Wilson emerged from her home with a warm greeting. We introduced ourselves, and I asked the obvious question, “Where are the goats?”
Sharon smiled as she glanced around. “They’re around here somewhere.”
She picked up a little bag of goat treats and started calling, “Goats! Here, goats!” I waited, I watched. It didn’t take long. One shake of the little bag of goat chow, and I heard the first bleat. Suddenly, like funny, little horned elves, Wilson’s Nubian goats stepped into the clearing to check us out.
At first, they seemed a little shy and unsure with strangers in their midst, but another rattle of the food bag did the trick; they scurried to us to collect on the promise of a quick snack. Suddenly, we were surrounded by curious faces and agile little lips gently and quickly nibbling goat pellets from our palms.
As we enjoyed their company, I talked with Wilson about her goats and why she considered them good pets. Our conversation, combined with information from other goat enthusiasts, led me to the creation of my top five reasons to (or not to!) add goats to your life.
Goats will likely give you an opportunity to meet your neighbors.
When considering sharing your life with goats, you need to know that they don’t always stay where you want them to. In fact, they could well be the best escape artists in the barnyard, and they do love to roam. You may even find them standing on your neighbor’s front porch.
According to Wilson, the majority of her little herd came to live with her because they were consistently escaping from their former home at Shepherd’s Cross, a nearby working farm. Because the farm was located near a busy road, the owners feared the wandering goats would be injured.
While Wilson admits that she hasn’t been 100 percent successful in keeping the goats contained, her 100-acre property allows the goats to roam safely, and they don’t seem to get into too much mischief. Because goats are at risk to predators, such as coyotes and stray dogs, Wilson does secure her goats in pens by the house each night.
The pens are enclosed with 6-foot-tall chain-link fencing that does keep the goats contained and safe when necessary. Standard stock fencing, like the fence at Shepherd’s Cross, is generally not adequate for thwarting determined goat escape attempts. I have personally seen a small goat hop on a hay bale to hop onto a horse’s back, allowing it to then hop right over a corral fence to freedom. The general consensus among goat owners I have talked with is a goat will almost always find a way out, no matter what type of fencing is used.
Goats are natural landscapers.
Goats are great for weed control. Wilson said she acquired her original two goats, Billy and Bobby, to help control weeds on her acreage. Goats are browsers whose diet consists of about 70 percent non-grassy plants and brush, so they do not compete with other grazing animals for grass and can actually improve lawn and pasture conditions.
At the same time, if you decide to plant a garden or ornamental landscaping around your home, your goats may see it as just another buffet line. Wilson was quick to point out that goats are smart, curious, and can be destructive. If you plan to invest in extensive landscaping, you might first want to invest in really secure goat fencing.
Goats just might teach your dog a thing or two about agility.
Once the picnic was over, the goats meandered away from us and into a fenced area where there were some pieces of equipment generally used for dog agility training. In this case, however, the agile dogs were agile goats.
They immediately displayed their climbing ability by scampering up a narrow ramp to perch atop the dog walk… um… goat walk, a 12-inch-wide plank positioned about 4 and a half feet off the ground. These guys could definitely win an Olympic gold medal in the balance beam competition. Three of them maneuvered around together on the plank with ease.
According to Wilson, if you are going to house goats, it is a good idea to build them plenty of things to climb on. If you don’t give them something to climb on, they will likely find something on their own. That something could very well be your car. Seriously. Goats will hop right onto your car. Wilson, and about a million other goat owners with slightly scratched and dented cars, can confirm this fact for you. She eyed my too-nearby-for-comfort, still-new-to-me Jeep with unconcealed concern. Thankfully, the goats decided to climb elsewhere during my visit.
If you want to have a pet goat, you should double your pleasure by having a pair of goats.
“Goats need companions,” advised Wilson. “You don’t want to have a solitary goat; you need at least two.” But be careful—without a little herd management, it can become a dozen goats in no time at all.
When Wilson originally decided to get goats for weed control on her property, she bought a pair, Billy and Bobby—neutered males, called “wethers” in goat-speak. When she added the goats from Shepherd’s Cross to her little herd, there were a few does and a buck named Joseph in the mix.
With Joseph’s “attention” (keeping it PG-13!), after about five months, the few goats suddenly became a herd of a dozen goats. Nubian goats often have multiple babies, so it is not unusual to see a doe give birth to twins or triplets. This means your herd can grow quickly.
Five of the babies were rehomed, as was the amorous Joseph, but apparently not before he wooed the ladies once again. With a sigh, Wilson pointed to a couple of the does who were displaying suspiciously large bellies.
It appears the stork will visit Wilson’s farm one more time in the coming months. There are few things cuter than baby Nubian goats with their huge, pendulous ears, bright eyes and mis-chievous antics. I do believe this story will require a follow-up visit, and I can’t swear I won’t leave with two baby goats in tow.
If you have goats for companions, get ready to laugh. A lot.
“Goats are clever, funny animals. Ours give us lots of laughs every single day,” Wilson said.
In just the time spent with Wilson and her crew, which includes Billy, Bobby, Mary, Molly, Emma, Sissy and Joey, I could easily understand the entertainment value of having goats around. Some were affectionate; some were shy; some were very curious—I actually cleaned goat lip smears off of my camera lens—and all were enthusiastic when it came to each goat claiming his or her share of the treats.
Honestly, I could have sat and watched this herd for hours. They bounced around, played, and loved climbing on their custom jungle gym, as well as on the agility equipment I suspect was really in place for Wilson’s beautiful Samoyed show dogs.
Of course, when considering adding any animal to your family, it is important to understand the specific care requirements of that animal before diving in headfirst. In addition to fencing challenges, and the need to have at least two goats for company, goats do have some specific diet and care requirements.
Wilson said that while she lets her goats graze freely on her property, she also supplements their diet with quality hay, alfalfa pellets and goat pellets. She also provides them with minerals essential to their health. And of course, fresh, clean water must be available at all times.
Goats also need to have their small, cloven hooves trimmed routinely and be wormed and vaccinated on a regular schedule. Wilson also counsels that you have to watch your goats carefully for any signs of illness, such as dullness or a yellow cast to their eyes, diarrhea, lack of appetite and any nasal discharge. As with any animal, early detection of illness is vital to their wellbeing, so diligent supervision is required.
Despite their hardiness, goats are susceptible to pneumonia during cold temperatures. Wilson stressed that goats need adequate protection from cold wind and damp weather. She has several straw-filled shelters in her pens, which allow her goats comfortable snuggle space out of wind and rain. She works to keep these shelters clean and the bedding dry and fresh.
If you are considering goats as weed-eating pets, information provided by Gary Pfalzbot, author of the website Goatworld.com, suggests it’s important to first define your expectations for a pet goat.
“If you are looking for a pet that sits in your lap while watching TV, a goat is not that kind of pet,” stresses Pfalzbot in an article on his site. “If you are looking for the type of pet that you need to pay very little attention to and feed perhaps once a day, a goat is not that kind of pet either.
“Having a goat as a pet primarily means that you are willing to let it be the type of animal it is—an outside animal that you cannot necessarily have sleeping on the bed with you each night. A goat basically needs to be outside in natural elements.”
Another important consideration when thinking of acquiring goats is to be sure that you live in an area where they are allowed and where you have proper habitat to allow them to thrive happily. For example, goats are not generally allowed within city limits and must be kept in areas that are zoned agricultural. A goat would not do well kept in a small enclosure in a backyard.
Wilson’s goats are all Nubians, a popular breed for goat enthusiasts. Nubians were developed as dairy goats with milk rich in butter fat. They are pleasant, friendly, people-oriented animals with a little spark of mischief readily visible in their eyes.
In a couple of months, when Mary and her other herd-mates deliver new, tiny, floppy-eared bundles of bouncing, prancing joy, I can’t swear I won’t be the first in line to see them and fall in love.
In the meantime, I’m heading to my home in the country to rethink my fencing just in case I “need” to add a couple of goats to my fold. For now, I’m still entirely too fond of my Jeep to even entertain the idea of my future goats tap dancing on the hood.

Missing Cat!

posted February 21st, 2016 by
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What's in Your Dog Shampoo

Missing Cat!

By Dolores Proubasta

 

Instead of panicking, enlist an action plan.

Cats don’t like to roam; most would rather stay home on a favorite armchair or window sill looking out, feeling wrongfully imprisoned.

Forced to “enjoy freedom” by guardians blissfully unaware of traffic, poisons, dogs, aggressive toms, pregnancy, neighbors who don’t like cats and other dangers, a cat will stake his territory, usually very close to home, and fend for himself as well as he can. For entertainment, he will do exactly what he would do in the safety of a living room (observe, sleep, chase, groom…) with the occasional kill of a songbird as a bonus. In fact, there is not much out there to do for an animal that has no place in the wild, and much less in the city, except as a “companion.”

Outdoor-access cats develop a check-in routine for feedings or human companionship. When they fail to show up at the usual time, guardians should presume their pet is in trouble and start an immediate search, following the recommendations stated below. Intact males and females are even more at risk because, even if able to return, the males may be wounded, and the females will be pregnant.

For cats to live long, healthy lives, the only alternative is to adhere to the indoor-only plan. However, a door is left ajar or a screen comes off the window frame, and before you know it, the cat is out.

Given a chance, most indoor cats will heed the call of the wild only to discover there is danger all around. Faced with strange smells, noises, and creatures, the errant cat, instead of high-tailing it back to safety, may go into hiding. If vocal, he’ll be quiet; if friendly, he’ll avoid people; and movement will be under the cover of bushes, night and shadows.

Back home, the cat’s absence is met with justifiable panic. The first impulse is to send out search parties in different directions to cover as much ground as possible and to plaster every utility pole in town with “Lost” posters. This M.O. is the correct one… if a dog goes missing. However, if a cat goes missing it requires subtle adjustments explained below. The first thing to remember to recover your cat is that he will rarely stray beyond three or four houses in either direction from where he ran out. Of course, a cat cared for enough to be kept indoors is presumed to be spayed and neutered; if not, all bets are off.

Quick action, a good plan and perseverance are imperative. Don’t ever think “He’ll find his way back,” because there are at least as many chances he will not. Waste no time and do the following:

  1. Put food and water by the door the cat exited.

Keep it fresh. Alternatively, set a humane trap (see 7 below).

  1. Search for the cat right away.

Don’t be discouraged if the first attempt fails; the cat may still be enjoying the newly gained freedom. Walk the immediate neighborhood at least twice a day without fail (preferably in the quiet hours of the early morning and late evening—take a flashlight). Search for the cat alone; only the cat’s closest people should be involved because un-familiar voices and smells will send him into deeper hiding. Don’t send a child to do the job unless it’s the cat’s primary friend.

Your personal and steady involvement in the search helps remind your neighbors that the missing pet is not a passing concern to you, but a serious one. Don’t expect them to do your job for you, but they can be your eyes when you are not there (see 4 below).

Call your cat in gentle reassuring tones so that he may realize he is still near you, and, therefore, safe; this may keep him from wandering farther away.

Ask permission from the neighbors in a five-house radius to access their backyards, even when they are at work. Don’t bother to ask for access to yards with dogs, because no cat would hide there. Obtaining permission to enter other people’s yards (without being mistaken by a prowler) is a huge tactical ad-vantage because tool sheds, decks, porches, and access to crawl spaces are behind, not in front of, houses. Look under structures, behind bushes, up trees, around wood-fence runners and window ledges… Leave no place unchecked.

Carry an unopened can of fishy food. If the cat is spotted, he may respond to the temp-ting sound and smell of a freshly opened can.

Take a pet carrier with you if you think the cat may walk into it or if he may be difficult to restrain in your arms once caught.

  1. Post laminated “Lost” signs in the intersections around your address.

Use packaging-strength clear tape to affix the sign to utility poles — unlike staples it works on metal too. Place the signs at lower than eye level for car drivers to see. (Remember to remove all signs after your pet is found as a courtesy to your neighbors and a signal that the search is over.)

  1. Distribute flyers, i.e., paper copies of the “Lost” sign, to each house or apartment near yours.

If the resident is not in, do not insert the flyer in the mailbox, which is unlawful, but tape the flyer to the storm door or another visible spot by the entrance. Individual flyers give your neighbors a sense of how important your cat is to you; give contact information, a visual description of the missing cat and additional pertinent information. (Keep it short.)

  1. Take a copy of the flyer to the city shelters, humane societies, and neighborhood veterinarians in the event the cat is trapped by animal control or someone else and taken there.

Do not use this wide coverage, however, as an excuse to stop looking. The cat is most likely only yards away from you.

  1. Search online.

Post your missing cat’s description, photo and last location on all social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter. While your general news feed is a great place to gain leads, there are specific lost and found pet pages for most towns or areas.

  1. If your cat is hard to catch, set one or two humane traps.

A raccoon-sized trap is most comfortable for an average-size cat. Put one by the house entrance or where your cat was last spotted. Be prepared, however, to catch other cats before yours. Carefully release the unwanted (and angry) guest and start again. But first you will have to wash and disinfect the trap thoroughly to avoid contamination if the previous animal was sick and also because your cat will not walk into a place where another may have urinated or left the scent of fear.

For a baited trap to be effective, remove any other feeding stations. Ask your neighbors to refrain from trying to be kind by feeding your cat. Only hunger will drive the cat into the trap. A pinch of catnip next to the food may make it more enticing.

Also, covering the trap with a towel or blanket makes it more inviting and provides shelter once the cat is inside. Traps must be checked frequently to avoid exposure and prolonged fear of any animal inside.

With the plan outlined above, a cat should be recovered within hours or days of the escape, but be prepared to persevere longer. The search has to be aggressive and methodical. The life of a feral cat is short and hard; death is usually painful. Most feral cats were once owned by people who either abandoned them or “lost them,” which simply means they failed to look for them under the mistaken belief that “Tom will come back when he’s ready.”

Ask The Doc

posted February 15th, 2016 by
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Ask The Doc

Gary Kubat, DVM / Veterinary Emergency & Critical Care Hospital BluePearl Oklahoma City
Q: I live near a location where the emergency sirens blow every Wed-nesday at noon. My Lab puppy, who has never heard this sound before, has started running outside and howling when he hears the noise. Why does he do this, and are the sirens hurting his hearing?
A: Ahhh… another great mystery of canine behavior that can only have a definitive answer when we learn to speak “dog” (and they learn to speak back). We may be disappointed in the canine’s answer as it is probably not as interesting or mysterious as it appears.
The general consensus is that the sirens are interpreted by your pet as another canine howling; hence, the natural response is to answer back in the instinctual language that is heard. This same reasoning could also apply to barking as it is heard progressing through a neighborhood. The howling may communicate a location, sex, dominance status—we simply do not know for certain, but it is likely not complicated.
Perhaps some dogs just enjoy the vocalizing! Someday a behavioral researcher with the time and funding may find a way to conduct fMRI tests on howling dogs to see which parts of the brain are activated and functioning just prior to the initiation of the vocal response; then we might have some insight into the reason.
It is unlikely that the sirens are causing discomfort. Observe dogs that are howling; they do not exhibit the expected signs of pain or fear. They do not try to run or hide; they do not tuck their tails or lower their ears or heads. Just as your dog, some try to run toward the sound outside rather than away.
Two of the greatest and most enjoyable sounds in nature are the howling of a wolf and, for those of us in Oklahoma, the howling-yapping of a pack of coyotes in response to sirens (it certainly serves to locate the pack!).
Meanwhile, here is another pack behavior to ponder. Why do some municipalities test storm sirens on Wednesday and others do it on Saturday? And who picked noon as the time?

Q: My dog has “hot spots” no matter what time of the year. I can’t clear them up. Any suggestions?
A: Hot Spots (more expensive-sounding synonyms are: acute moist dermatitis, pyotraumatic dermatitis, or just moist eczema) are always initially a problem of self-trauma. A focal itch or inflammation is scratched and rubbed until the skin becomes even more inflamed. This induces more itching, initiating a self-traumatizing progressive cycle. The lesion can become very large even in a few hours. At this point the lesion is painful to touch, and many dogs will require sedation just to clip and clean the wound to allow topical treatment.
The location of the lesion is often a clue as to the cause of the originating itch or lesion. For example, if the lesion is located on the hips or rear limbs, the prime suspect is flea infestation. You may only see one flea, but that is enough to start the problem. If the lesion is on the side of the face below the ear, the original problem may be an ear infection that resulted in the dog scratching at the ear area.
The hot spot skin lesion needs to be treated, but the initiating factor needs to be identified. Dogs do not spontaneously self-traumatize (exceptions exist: see acral lick dermatitis or lick granuloma). Other causes include staph skin infections; skin fungal infections; allergies, topical or inhaled, that result in skin itching; and many other factors.
Another common denominator is a moist environment, especially with a long-haired breed. The skin stays wet, becomes inflamed and itches, resulting in the scratch/rub response. Some dogs that drool heavily develop hot spots on the lower jaw as a result of constant excessive moisture. I once had a patient presented because the owner thought the dog had been struck by lightning, when in fact the dog had multiple hot spots all on one side of its body.
The dog had spent long periods of time in its dog house (with wet straw bedding) during a recent rainy spell of several days. The long-haired dog simply never dried out, and dermatitis developed, which the dog then self-traumatized. Another potential complication during the warmer months is an infestation of the lesion with fly larva or myiasis. The hot spots’ lesions are oozing serum and often smell strongly necrotic, attracting the flies. This is often a problem with older, arthritic or obese dogs that are not mobile enough to keep the flies off the lesion.
The treatments of the skin lesion include topical ointments with antibiotics and corticosteroids for the inflammation (after the lesion is clipped, cleaned and dried). Topical antiseptics may also help, as well as antihistamines. I usually dispense the topical medication as a spray since most patients are too painful in the area to allow application of an ointment. I also like to apply a topical anesthetic, such as lidocaine ointment, or an injectable anesthetic, such as Marcaine, for an instant although brief relief from the itching to break the cycle. Treating the actual lesion is relatively easy and usually responds well within a few days.
The real problem and solution is to identify the inciting cause, especially in your case of repeated episodes at all times of the year. Frankly, in Oklahoma, your problem is flea infestation until proven otherwise. If not fleas, then we proceed through the culprit list based on logically identifying the most likely cause. A skin allergy may be only seasonal, but if it is induced by household items (smoke, carpets, foods, straw in the dog house), it could be a problem year-round.
Some cases will require a skin biopsy to determine if a bacterial infection (pyoderma) or other disorder exists. If your pet is experiencing repeated year-round hot spots you need to be prepared to spend some time and effort with your veterinarian to resolve the problem.

Q: My dog got pancreatitis and almost died. It was really touch and go, and it was scary. What exactly is pancreatitis, and how does a pet owner prevent this?
A: First, let’s determine what exactly is a pancreas? It is an abdominal organ closely associated with the duodenum and liver that produces and secretes chemical enzymes that assist in digesting food. It also secretes insulin, associated with the most common diabetes. Amazingly, it does this without harming or digesting itself… normally. Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas that develops when the normal protective mechanisms of the organ are overwhelmed by pancreatic enzymes, resulting in autodigestion.
What is the cause? Anecdotally, most veterinarians (myself included) will blame a dietary indiscretion of a high-fat diet (often table foods) as the inciting cause most of the time. In truth, the actual causal agent of pancreatitis is frequently unknown. What we do know are a whole lot of related risk factors associated with pancreatitis and pancreatitis patients.
Certainly, ingestion of high-fat foods is on that list. But we have all heard the story of how the same dog has eaten the same table food many times without a problem, and the other dogs in the household ate the same thing and are having no problem. Pancreatitis is more common in obese animals (that probably eat more table food anyway, which is why they are obese). Hyperlipidemia (high levels of fats/lipids in the blood even when fasting) is associated with increasing frequency of pancreatitis.
The miniature Schnauzer is a breed often associated with hyperlipidemia and pancreatitis. But pancreatitis can also cause hyperlipidemia. Pancreatitis can also cause diabetes, at least transiently. Diabetes is also associated with hyperlipidemia, and it is not unusual for a miniature Schnauzer to be diagnosed diabetic. Which came first? Isn’t this complicated? There is more…
Some commonly used drugs have been associated with pancreatitis, including furosemide, a diuretic often used in cardiac dysfunction; if the heart is not functioning well, the pancreas may suffer from hypoperfusion or poor blood supply, which leads to pancreatitis as well). Potassium bromide, an anti-seizure medication, has been associated with a higher frequency of pancreatitis. Hyperlipidemia has been associated with seizures.
Now suppose you have an older, overweight, diabetic, hyperlipidemic miniature Schnauzer taking potassium bromide for occasional seizures, and on furosemide for mild heart disease. How do you prevent pancreatitis? Well, at the very least, be extremely careful with diet. The bacon fat can find some other use. Also, consider pet insurance.
If your pet is diagnosed with pancreatitis, it will usually be treated in-hospital at least during the acute phase. It was once believed that all oral stimulation and food should be withheld to avoid stimulating the pancreas to secrete enzymes, but current thinking is to provide oral nutritional support as soon as nausea can be improved. IV fluid support, antiemetics, antibiotics, and narcotic pain medications are usually the basis of treatment. Complications can involve the liver-bile duct system, sepsis, or in severe progressive necrotizing pancreatitis, surgery may be required to address the peritonitis (inflamed or infected abdominal cavity). Other complications can include pulmonary failure, kidney failure and blood coagulation problems. While most patients do recover, pancreatitis is not usually a 24 to 48 hour recovery. Expect your pet to be in-hospital for several days, and if complications do develop, the prognosis for recovery is reduced.
Although in some cases it may be unrealistic to completely prevent pancreatitis, you can certainly reduce the risk by eliminating associated risk factors as much as possible and adhering to very strict dietary control. You should work closely with your veterinarian to identify the risk factors you have the power to change. Specially developed prescription-only diets are very beneficial also.