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Buttercup

posted February 28th, 2015 by
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Buttercup

Buttercup

 

By Lauren Cavagnolo

 

With her painted pink toenails, an assortment of tutus and an attitude to match, Miss Piggy doesn’t have anything on Buttercup, the resident mini pig at Horizon Animal Hospital in Bixby.

“She is quite a character,” says Cari McDonald, DVM. “Nobody really owns her; she is her own pig.”Buttercup lives at the hospital along with eight cats and one dog who travels back and forth between home and work with Dr. McDonald.

 

“Amazingly, yes, they all get along,” McDonald says of her little menagerie.

McDonald says she has always liked pigs and had wanted one for a while. When she moved out of Tulsa to Bixby almost two years ago, she was finally able to get one.

McDonald got Buttercup when she was 8 weeks old, and she has been living at the clinic for just over a year. At first there was some concern about how clients and patients would react to Buttercup, but McDonald quickly realized it was not going to be a problem at all.

If Buttercup is in the waiting room, she is quick to greet anyone who comes in the clinic, human or otherwise. “There are people that she likes; she knows when they come in. She goes over to say hi to them and greets them,” McDonald says.

“We had been really worried about how people would perceive having a pig in the clinic, but it’s become funny to everyone,” McDonald says. “Enough that they come to see the pig now. If we have her put up for some reason, everyone is like, ‘Where’s the pig? We gotta see the pig. Where’s Buttercup?’”

In fact, Buttercup has made enough of a name for herself around town that she has her own Facebook page, Buttercup the Pig, with more than 300 fans. And Dr. McDonald is now commonly referred to as “the vet with the pig.”

“She’s become a little bit of a celebrity,” McDonald says. She has even been asked to make public appearances at community events.

At Tulsa Relay for Life, Buttercup was asked to kiss the person who raised the most money.

“She got kissed by a doctor. She wasn’t real cooperative,” McDonald recalls, laughing.

There were also many kids at Tulsa Relay for Life who enjoyed having their photos taken with Buttercup.

“That was the highlight; they thought   it was the best thing ever, and they     were just really enamored with her,” McDonald says.

Buttercup also made an appearance at the annual Green Corn Festival in Bixby.

“She was a big hit there,” McDonald says. “Everyone wanted to see her and pet her and say hi.”

Taking care of a mini pig

Having and caring for a mini pig is incomparable to having any other pet, says McDonald.

Buttercup weighs almost 50 pounds, which should be close to full grown for a mini pig. But this large animal won’t get a walk on a leash or be put out in the yard when it’s time to do her business. Instead, like her feline companions, Buttercup is litterbox trained.

Much like her canine friends, she loves her squeaky toy and a good belly rub. Though there are probably some picky dogs that would turn their noses up at some of Buttercup’s favorite foods.

“Her favorite treat is apples,” McDonald says. “She loves sweet potatoes, lettuce and carrots. We have only found a few things she won’t eat. She won’t eat celery.”

In the right mood, she can even be convinced to perform tricks for some of her favorite foods.

Mini pigs also need to have baths regularly, and “she’s not the easiest one to bathe,” McDonald says.

Someone who is considering keeping a mini pig as a pet should consider having the animal spayed or neutered, something McDonald highly recommends.

“She was having some behavioral issues before we spayed her,” McDonald says “After that, it improved drastically. It’s more of a health issue with indoor pigs since she’s not around any other pigs.

“There is nothing else like her. She does not fit into any category. She’s not what I would consider an easy pet to take care of. I can’t imagine if we didn’t have her here at the clinic or how someone would take care of her in a house setting. I don’t want to discourage people, but… you would have to be in the country.”

In fact, unless you are in an area zoned for agriculture, it would be illegal to own any farm animal—even miniature and dwarf varieties.

Miss Personality

McDonald says all of those clichés about pigs are clichés for a reason. “Eating like a pig? They do. Pig-headed? They are. All of those things really apply,” she says.

“She is very opinionated, very stubborn, but she is super smart,” McDonald says.

“Everyone is always surprised at how smart she is. We can’t keep any trashcans down on the floor because she is smart enough to figure out how to tip over any trashcan and get to it.”

To keep her stimulated, McDonald   has created puzzles for Buttercup, hiding treats in boxes and wrapping them with duct tape—something Buttercup has figured out how to get undone in about 30 seconds.

Much like a toddler, if she gets too quiet, she’s in trouble.

“If it gets silent, she is into something she shouldn’t be,” McDonald says. “She thinks she is being sneaky.”

McDonald and her staff all agree that Buttercup’s biggest goal is to get into the kennel to get to the dog food. “It’s her biggest thing of the day; that’s her challenge,” McDonald says.

There are two doors in the clinic, and Buttercup is always paying attention.

“She’ll listen, and if she happens to hear it not click and not lock, you’ll see her; she’ll sneak around the corner,” McDonald says. “But then she’ll get excited because she knows that door is open, and she’ll start grunting and oinking to get to that door. You’ll shut that door and she huffs.”

Buttercup has also been known to harass the dogs staying in the kennels at the clinic, according to some of the staff.

“She’ll walk in front of them really slow because she knows they can’t get out,” said Abrianna Jackson, kennel assistant at Horizon Animal Hospital. “She’ll tease them.”

She also may be a little confused about what species she actually belongs to.

“She’s afraid of my pig. The same way other dogs are afraid of her,” says Jackson, who once had to bring her own show pig, Winston, to the clinic.

“He was chasing her around trying to be friendly with her, and she was like, “Don’t touch me; get away from me!” laughs McDonald.

“She would squeal if he took a step even near her,” adds Jackson.

“It literally was like ‘He’s touching me!’ It was so funny,” McDonald says. “She’s fine with dogs and cats, but with the other pig, she was not happy.”

Sounds like Buttercup is still in search of her own Kermit.

PAWSitively “Collaring” Cancer in Pets to Find a Cure

posted February 13th, 2015 by
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You never forget the loss of a pet. For the Benbaset brothers, the death of their dog inspired them to try to find a cure for cancer in pets and the formation of their own non-profit, PAWSitively Curing Cancer, Inc.

The Benbasat boys have made a stand against the disease that brought suffering to the two-legged and four-legged members of their family. Brothers Josh and Bryce, now 15 and 12, decided that they’d had enough after the dreaded disease claimed the life of their dog, Sashi, five years ago. Having a grandmother who is a breast and lung cancer survivor made the brothers aware of the disease’s power to cause pain within a family. So the boys decided that it was time to think pink for pets.

The brothers did their research and what they learned about the prevalence of cancer among pets was an eye-opener: 50% of pets over the age of ten develop cancer. “Cancer is the number one disease-related killer of dogs and cats,” notes Josh Benbasat. With the memory of Sashi in mind, the brothers knew that other pet owners would want to do whatever they could to protect the pets they love. But they couldn’t find any organization whose mission focused on pets and cancer. That’s when they formed PAWSitively Curing Cancer, Inc., a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to raising funds for pet cancer research.

“The goal of PAWSitively Curing Cancer is to raise funds from caring businesses and families to find a cure for this deadly disease affecting the dogs and cats who add so much joy to our lives.”

But the boys recognized that finding a cure needs more than money. It needs partners. They first reached out to the president of Trimline Manufacturing. The company president—also known as Dad—Steve Benbasat became the founding corporate sponsor for PAWSitively Curing Cancer. Seeing how committed they were to this goal, he decided to teach his boys how to start a business. “Everything from filing the paperwork to dealing with the application to the IRS.”

The Benbaset picked the right mentor, from both a business and a veterinary perspective. The Trimline soft collar is designed with compassion in mind, effectively replacing annoying hard plastic collars so that pets recovering from surgery can recuperate in complete comfort.   The soft collars are machine washable, durable, water repellant, and affordable.  Made in the United States, the collars are available in six sizes to accommodate all dogs and cats. The newly designed collars are trimmed in pink to raise cancer awareness and include a special label encouraging donations to PAWSitively Curing Cancer. A portion of the profits from the sale of every collar is donated to benefit pet cancer research.

Once they had their dad on board, the search for partners continued. They enlisted the University Of Florida College Of Veterinary Medicine and pledged that every dollar donated goes directly to the College of Veterinary Medicine. Dean James W. Lloyd endorsed his school’s connection to PAWSitively Curing Cancer. “We are proud to partner with PAWSitively Curing Cancer as the recipient of this vital funding. It will be a valued asset to continuing our cancer research program.”

About PAWSitively Curing Cancer, Inc.

The 501(c) (3) non-profit organization is dedicated to raising funds for pet cancer research. One hundred percent of all donations and corporate sponsorships goes to the University Of Florida’s College of Veterinary Medicine’s pet cancer research programs. Started by the Benbaset brothers after losing their pet dog to cancer, the mission of the organization is to fund cancer research so that pet owners can be spared the pain of losing pets to the deadly disease. You can learn more at www.cureforpets.org.

About Trimline Manufacturing Co. Inc.

Trimline manufactures a soft and flexible collar for dogs and cats experiencing injury, surgery and trauma-restraint conditions. The collars are manufactured in the U.S. from a specially designed washable, non-toxic, non-allergenic and water-repellant fabric. A percentage of the money from each collar sold benefits pet cancer research. Learn more at www.trimlineinc.com.

 

Contact:

Steve Benbaset

[email protected]

954-374-8637

Pet Insurance: Better Health for Pets, Peace of Mind for Pet Owners

posted February 13th, 2015 by
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Pet Ins

As pet ownership in the United States increases, pet owners are turning to www.petinsurancequotes.com to find out their options. Pet insurance keeps pets healthier while letting pet owners choose the coverage that suits their needs—and their budgets.

The 21st century has seen the rise of two dynamic movements in social consciousness: a heightened awareness of the importance of having health insurance and the increase of the number of American households with pets. True, the health care issue has so far focused on people, not pets, but a quick look at pet math reveals that the latest trends in pet care point the way to a new level of understanding about the level of care we should provide for the four-legged members of our families.

According to the American Pet Products Association, 68% of households responding to a 2013-2014 survey owned a pet. The APPA estimated that, in 2014, those 82.5 million households spent $58.51 billion on their pets. The number one expense, logically enough, was for food; our pets get hungry and we spent $22.62 billion to keep their bellies filled. The second highest expense? $15.25 billion in veterinary care.

With numbers like that, it’s easy to see that pet insurance is destined to become a standard feature of pet ownership, But that doesn’t explain why only one percent of American pets are insured, compared to 30% in the United Kingdom and more than 50% in Sweden.

Concern about the diagnosis for pet health inspired the launch of PetInsuranceQuotes.com so that as many American dogs and cats as possible can be insured. Since that time, the company has generated over two million quotes for insuring cats and dogs all across the country. They’ve built a reputation for being America’s most trusted pet insurance comparison website. Not only that, but they’re the only licensed pet insurance agency in the United States.

Animals share some health issues with their owners. Just like humans who have a hard time saying “no” to second helpings and failing to get enough exercise, excess pounds are becoming a problem for our pets. Maybe you’ve already had an episode of pet illness and you’re concerned about future incidents because you know that you want to keep your pet healthy. You know that the average office call runs $45-$55. But it doesn’t stop there. Animals are like us, and when they get sick, tests are called for to determine what’s causing the problem. Geriatric screening for older pets can cost as much as $110, and surgery can cost thousands.

Anyone who doubts that pet insurance makes a difference just needs to listen to the experience of one couple who purchased insurance for their Labrador retriever, Magruff. When he ended up needing hip replacement surgery, they were glad—not to mention relieved—when their pet insurance carrier paid $4300 of the $5200 cost of the operation. They were so impressed by the friendly and professional service they received for Magruff’s care that they felt as if they had their own personal concierge. “The service was so good I wish they owned an airline and some restaurants because they’re setting a new standard for service!”

That’s why you want to provide the insurance that allows you to give your family pet the best health coverage possible. Choosing a pet insurance plan is the first step in keeping the furry, four-footed members of your family around for a long time. Oh, and maybe you and your pet might want to keep an eye on those meal portions , , ,

About PetInsuranceQuotes.com
PetInsuranceQuotes (www.petinsurancequotes.com)  is dedicated to helping pet owners find the best insurance plan for their pets. The only licensed pet insurance agency in the United States has been selling insurance plans for dogs and cats for over seven years. The website offers free quotes, coverage comparisons, and guidance to steer pet owners to the plan that’s right for them. For more information, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FDI9-lbRLaE

Connect Socially:

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/pages/PetInsuranceQuotescom/199156640134800

Twitter – https://twitter.com/PetInsQuotes

Pinterest – https://www.pinterest.com/petinsurance/

YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCOVHW2BpoxqocaYW3fsigxQ

Google + – https://plus.google.com/u/0/106248626777029593285/posts

Blog – http://blog.petinsurancequotes.com/

 

Contact:

Nick Braun

[email protected]

1-800-928-6168

“Petworking” Pays Off With Petpav.com, Your Pet’s Best Social Network

posted February 13th, 2015 by
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Cat

Think of it as Facebook for the furry. Social media, a communications mainstay for humans, has now found a way to welcome the four-footed companions that are so integral to our lives, thanks to Petpav.com (short for Pet Pavilion).  It was only a matter of time that pets started networking too or rather, make that “petworking.”

On Petpav.com, pets aren’t just welcome, they’re the main attraction.  And there’s no danger of their profile being taken down by Facebook’s pet police. Founder Lisa Fimberg launched the site because she wanted to create a social network where people and pets could connect with one another. “Petpav is all about our pets,” Fimberg explains. “It’s a safe and friendly place to talk about your pet(s) and the pet owners love and embrace it.”

Petpav came into existence because Fimberg found that other sites didn’t provide the mix of information and coziness that she was looking for in her Internet quest. Fimberg was visiting websites to get advice on what to do about her cat’s unruly night-time habits. She found sites that answered her questions, but realized that people who love their pets don’t just want information, they want a “petwork”…one that is fun, user friendly and pet-centric. And that’s how Petpav.com started.

After signing onto petpav.com and filling out your pets’ profile, Sammy the site administrator, who also happens to be Fimberg’s cat, will welcome you. Sammy is an orange tabby with a bit of a sassy nature, but what else can you expect from the feline genius who’s responsible for the creation of petpav.com? You’ll navigate to the petworking wall and introduce your pet and meet other pets and the people they own. The site is populated by pet lovers who are passionate about their animals. No naysayers here!

You know that your pet is the smartest thing on four paws. Now you have a place where you can brag to others, and listen in return as they praise their pets and everyone gets it. The site also provides articles that give advice on pet health issues, local pet events, and news on pets. The pet forum answers questions on subjects as varied as feline leukemia, keeping pets healthy during the winter season, what you need to know before you adopt a guinea pig or a rabbit, and many other topics of interest.  They also have a resident veterinarian who can answer general questions.

Pet businesses can also become members, where they have the opportunity to become Pet Business of the Week. This includes being featured in PetPav.com’s weekly newsletter, as well as being promoted on social media sites Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.  Pet businesses can check out Petpav for the advertising it provides with the opportunity to directly target pet owners.

A special feature of Petpav is the contests that run throughout the year where you can win prizes. There’s the friendliest pet contest, the most social pet contest, favorite pet celebrities, and other fun ways to share your pet’s star quality and win valuable items for your pet. The first contest of this year is the Petpav Popularity Contest. Pets that make the most friends and share the contest on social media will be eligible to win prizes. Learn more about the contest which will run until March 3rd, http://www.petpav.com/pet-events/773-petpav-s-popularity-contest-is-your-pet-popular

You know how much you love your pet. Isn’t it time you connected with other pet owners who feel the same way?

About Petpav
Petpav founder Lisa Fimberg established petpav.com so that pet lovers can have a social media site specifically designed for what she calls “petworking.” Members set up profiles for their pets, share news and information, and take part in contests and forums. The site also welcomes pet businesses who benefit from the direct connection to pet lovers. Learn more at www.petpav.com

Connect Socially:

Twitter https://twitter.com/PetPavPets

Facebook http://www.facebook.com/petpav

Media Contact:

Lisa Fimberg

[email protected]

424-244-1738

Tick 411 – Everything You Need To Know

posted February 12th, 2015 by
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Tick 411-2

Tick 411

Tick 411

 

Everything You Need To Know About Treatment, Symptoms And Prevention

 

By Christy VanCleave

 

 

Ticks, more than just a nuisance, can carry diseases dangerous to people and animals.

That’s why it’s important for Green Country folks to know about ticks most common to the area and the viral, bacterial diseases and toxins they carry, as well as tick bite symptoms in both humans and dogs and how to treat and prevent them.

Here is the tick low-down to keep you and your pets tick free and healthy this summer.

Tick-born illnesses are caused by infection from a variety of pathogens. Because ticks can carry more than one disease-causing agent, patients can be infected with more than one pathogen at the same time. Diagnosis can be difficult since symptoms overlap with many common illnesses.

Reactions to tick bites may not show up for two to six weeks after the tick has been removed. Patients could experience one of many symptoms of the disease, and symptoms could appear intermittently.

Common symptoms in humans include headache, flu-like symptoms, stiff neck, fever, chills, swollen lymph nodes, fatigue, muscle aches, joint pain, nerve problems, abdominal pain and vomiting. If left untreated, the diseases can become severe and lead to other complications, even death.

The two most common tick-related diseases are Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever, but they are also the easiest to diagnose due to the rash that usually accompanies them. Lyme has a very distinct bull’s eye rash and Rocky Mountain spotted fever is a wide-spread rash.

Doxycycline is the first line of treatment in both adults and children and is most effective if started right away—within five days of the first symptoms. (The disease can later be confirmed by specialized lab tests.)

Canine symptoms are a little different and may include recurrent lameness due to inflammation in the joints, lack of appetite, depression, kidney damage, a visible stiff walk with arched back, sensitivity to touch, difficulty breathing and fever.  A blood panel test and urinalysis can be performed for accurate diagnosis. Again, doxycycline is the first choice of treatment if caught early.

Should you find yourself or your dog with a tick, promptly remove it with tweezers and grip the tick as closely to the skin as possible. Never use a smoldering match, cigarette, nail polish or kerosene as they may irritate the tick and cause it to inject bodily fluids into the wound.

Do not squeeze, crush or puncture the body of the tick since fluids may contain infection-causing organisms. The “head” does not stay in the skin, but the mouth parts may break off under the skin. Leave the mouth parts alone; they will expel on their own.

After removal, tape the tick to a calendar in case treatment is needed.  You can show the doctor for identification should it be necessary. It is also helpful to know how long it was attached if it was engorged.

While flea prevention has come a long way over the past 10 years, tick prevention hasn’t. Topical applications of Front-line or Advantix help, but take 24 hours to kill the tick once attached to the host. Some flea and tick shampoos with a pyrethrin base have a residue that lasts up to four weeks after application.

With Oklahoma’s high tick population, sound advice is to look over yourself and your pets after each walk or run in wooded or tall grass areas. With prevention in mind, and some basic knowledge of treatment, your summer outings can be fun, safe and tick free.

 

 

American Dog Tick

The American Dog tick is the most commonly-identified species responsible for transmitting rickettsia, which causes Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF) in humans. This tick can also transmit tularemia.

 

 

Brown Dog Tick

The Brown Dog tick has recently been identified as a reservoir of Rickettsia, causing Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Ehrlichia canis. It is also responsible for Hepatozoon canis and Babesiosis (zoonotic). Dogs are primarily the host for this type of tick.

 

Black-Legged Tick (Deer Tick)

Commonly-known as the deer tick, the black-legged tick can transmit the organisms responsible for anaplasmosis, babesiosis and Lyme disease.

 

 

Lone Star Tick

The Lone Star tick transmits Ehrlichia chaffeensis and Ehrlichia ewingii, causing human ehrlichiosis, tularemia, and Southern tick-associated rash illness (STARI), as well as Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

 

 

Gulf Coast Tick

The Gulf Coast tick can transmit Rickettsia Parkeri rickettsiosis, a form of spotted fever. Adult ticks have been associated with transmission of R. parkeri to humans. It is also responsible for hepatozoonosis infection that comes in two forms, but this tick is only responsible for Hepatozoon Americanum.

Saving Nadia

posted February 5th, 2015 by
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Nadia

Saving Nadia

 

By Nancy Gallimore

 

Note:

Winner2This article was the 2015 Friends of Rescue Award winner of the Dog Writers Association of America.

 

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.

 

It was 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.