Friday, July 25, 2014

Can you spare a sec for Wendy Bird the rescue cat?

Black kitty in a bed

This week, I thought I might do something a little different. Rather than focusing on the pets that live with me, I thought I might step away to discuss sweet Wendy Bird, an adoptable cat at the Willamette Humane Society in Oregon. I'm hoping you'll read this and share it with your social circles, so we can get her out of the shelter for good.

At the moment, Wendy is just one of more than 80 cats who are waiting for a home in this shelter. I volunteer there on Wednesdays, and I can attest that his particular shelter is pretty full, but many cats who come into this shelter march right back out again, in the arms of new families.

But Wendy is a hard sell it seems, as she's been waiting for a home since the middle of May. During Wendy's long stay in the shelter, she's seen many of her roommates come and go, but she keeps waiting for someone to notice her. Thankfully, she's working on her shyness, and it's possible that she's made so much progress that someone will take a chance on her.

For example, when I first met Wendy, she was so shy and scared that I didn't even know she was in the room. She hid in this little scratching post, pressed all the way at the back, and she never made a sound. The next week, she felt comfortable enough with me to respond when I called her name. I even got that particular moment of sweetness on video.

But I saw the biggest amount of improvement this week, when I went to see Wendy and found her out in the middle of the room, confidently drinking water and eating breakfast. She seems much more trusting these days, much more interested in interactions, and I think this is the perfect time to introduce her to the home environment.

But that means someone has to step up and adopt her. I'm hoping we can do that by networking. Share her story, talk with others about her, and try to get her out of the shelter and into someone's home.

If you want more information about her, here's a link to my original blog post about her on the WHS website.
Wendy Bird the adoptable cat

Thanks, in advance, for helping to rescue this sweet girl, who wants nothing more than a home to call her own. Let's make it happen for her!

Friday, July 18, 2014

4 goodies dogs love from the July BarkBox (and one meh choice)

Sinead the Boston terrier and her toy

This month's BarkBox came with two toys, and as I've mentioned before, that's a must in this dog household. Pug Liam and Boston terrier Sinead love one another, sure, but they also love to have things that are just for them. "Mine!" must float through their little dog brains on a regular basis.

Anyway, this month's selection was good enough that I decided to do a short-and-sweet review of the products we received, along with a little feedback that I'm hoping might prompt an even better box in August. So here goes.

The big hit in this box was a crab toy from P.L.A.Y. This is a fairly big toy with a gigantic squeaker, so the dogs are (naturally) thrilled with the idea of grabbing this thing and biting it as they run from place to place. I'm sure that will get grating in time, but for now, it's pretty charming.

The second big hit (for Liam, anyway) is a bag of PetSafe Indigo Triple Chews. These are designed to provide a probiotic that will boost a dog's gut microbe content, presumably to make digestion a little easier. More importantly, for me, these treats seem to take a long time to eat. Liam had to work on it for 20 minutes, and that's a huge amount of time for him. I'll keep that in mind when I need to do something time-consuming, like pruning the roses. Unfortunately, Sinead won't be getting any more of these. She had just one, and she's had some digestive upset. No micro-flora for her!

Liam the pug with his whale toy from BarkBox

Liam is also a fan of the second toy in this box: A corduroy whale toy from Loopies. This toy has a soft exterior, but the nap is pretty exaggerated, so it must feel interesting to him when he chews on it. I'm happy with this toy, too, as it looks like it's well made and won't fall apart. I appreciate toys that can stand the chew test.

We got some treats from Think!Dog, and I had to do a little snicker at this one. The people at BarkBox do a great job of describing their products and the cost of each piece, but this month's card had no clever description of this treat. Instead, we got a repeat of the description for the whale toy. Whoops! (Hey, BarkBox: I'm a freelance editor. Happy to help!) Anyway, this particular set of treats is made with crab jerky. I haven't tried that out quite yet.

It's the last treat that leaves me a little cold. It's a smoothie product from Mr. Barksmith's, and my dogs simply hate these things. The last few times I've tried them, they've walked away. I'd love to see a different type of cooling treat come down the pike in the future. This one isn't quite right for my guys.

Eiffel tower toy for dogs

And similarly, I'd like a ban on canvas toys. I know they should seem durable and able to stand the test of time, but each time we've gotten a canvas-based toy, the dogs have ruined it within days. This toy from the June BarkBox, for example, came apart at the junction between the toy and the manufacturer's label. I repaired it once, and it broke again. No more canvas, please!

That's it for this month! If you'd like your own BarkBox, use my code! You'll get a discount, and (disclaimer!) I'll get get a free box.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Helping cats to beat the heat

napping Russian blue cat in the summer sun
We're having some unseasonably hot weather in Oregon. My poor garden plants are both wilting and burning, and the dogs are spending the majority of their time in air-conditioned spaces. Normally, my cats love this kind of weather, and they even follow the sunbeams as they move, catching the rays while they loll about on their backs.

But this weather has been much too hot for even my sun-loving cats, and as it's likely to get even hotter next week, I'm pulling together some plans to keep them healthy and happy as the weather heats up.

For the outdoor cats, this means ensuring that they have shady, cool spaces to nap in. They're experts at finding shade, of course, but I've also started misting the grass in their favorite napping spots, so those spaces will be just a little humid and cool when the afternoon rolls around. I'm also on a three-time-per-day watering schedule, ensuring that these cats have icy cool water to sip on throughout the day.

blind cat in her cat bed
The indoor cats also need water, of course, but they also seem to enjoy having access to spaces they are normally barred from. At the moment, this means basement bedrooms. The basement always stays much cooler than the upper levels of the house, but the cats sometimes use these spaces to stash toys, shred plants and otherwise raise a little hell. Normally, I keep them out as a result. But when the weather is this hot, I open the doors wide and let them come on in.

Cooling mats (like this one:  K&H Pet Products Cool Bed III Medium Blue 22" x 32") can also be a blessing for indoor pets, especially if you're lucky enough to have a basement. I keep my mat downstairs during the night, so the water inside the mattress picks up the cool from the air, and I bring that mat upstairs in the evenings for cool cat naps. My cats tend to sleep next to it, rather than on it, but it does seem to cool them.

Russian blue shelter cat

I've been a little worried about cats like Cleopatra: One of the sweeties I've been working with at the Willamette Humane Society. But when I went in this week, the air conditioning in the shelter was working just fine, and all of the cats were resting comfortably. However, I'd bet these guys would love to rest in a home, not a shelter. Cleopatra (and many others) are adoptable, and the shelter is running a pretty nifty special on senior cats. If you have any space in your home on these hot days, these senior cats would appreciate your help, I'm sure.

****Update: Cleopatra has been adopted! But there are many others like her that still need you.****

Disclosure: Some product links in this post are “affiliate links.” If you click on them and make a purchase, I'll get a commission. Rest assured that I only recommend products that I believe provide real value. This disclosure comes in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Pets plea for silence this 4th of July

Pretty kitty sitting in a chair

My pets noticed the first 4th of July related crashes, booms and flashes of light on June 30th. I think that's a new record, and it has me concerned about what in the world is going to happen tomorrow night. After all, if people have so many fireworks that they can set them off days and days before the actual holiday, what will happen when we are generally urged to light crap on fire to celebrate our independence?

So, I decided to write my annual blog post, urging people to at least be mindful of the animals they live close to. I figure, if enough of us point out how terrifying these noises are to our pets, perhaps people will at least consider tamping it down just a touch.

Fireworks in Oregon 

A number of very loud and very distressing fireworks are illegal in Oregon. Bottle rockets, Roman candles and what my husband calls "M-80s" are all explicitly banned in the Pocket Guide to Fireworks Enforcement. In general, if it flies up into the air or scoots along on the ground for long distances, it's probably illegal.

But, we're just minutes away from the border of another state that doesn't restrict these things, so it's remarkably easy for people to pick up explosives and shoot them off. And law enforcement officials have their hands full on the 4th with inebriated drivers, fires and more, so they're not always available to step in when people get crazy. So people aren't all that compelled to follow the letter of the law.

Plus, a lot of people just seem to enjoy watching bits of cardboard blow up in the air. I can't expand on this point because I don't share it, but I know it's out there.

Fireworks and pets 

What I do know is that fireworks are responsible for a significant amount of pet-related misery. Some industry-quoted research suggests that pet losses increase by 30 percent in the aftermath of the 4th. Mainly, that loss comes as dogs and cats panic about the noise, the smell and the light, and they dash away in the hopes of finding safety. 
Pug pleading for silence
"Why do they do it?"
The problem is so prevalent, in fact, that some community animal shelters are forced to prepare for an influx of pets. Marion County, for example, released a statement about that this week. Officials there think that loose animals are such a problem on the holiday weekend that many owners will only be reunited with their critters when they come to the shelter later on. (Marion County is waiving fees to get the pets back, which I think is great.)

But there are many pet owners, like me, who have hidden concerns. My pets don't run away, and they don't need to be sedated to get through the holiday. But, I do have a blind cat, and she finds the fireworks to be very confusing. I spend much of July trying to soothe her when something loud goes off in the neighborhood, and she becomes increasingly agitated with the chaos that arrives on the 4th. As a result, I have to make a commitment to get home well before dark on the holiday and crank up the radio until 3 am, just so I can make sure she's not so frightened that she harms herself.

I know of dozens of dog owners who must do the same, and I can cite plenty of owners who stock up on Benadryl and Thunder Shirts just to get through July.

All for what? So you can light stuff on fire?


This year, I'm asking all of you pyros out there to take pity on our pets (and us) and keep it down to a dull roar. And remember: If you don't and you're in Oregon, you could be fined for the activity. (Those fines can be surprisingly hefty, too). Grant us independence from this problem, just this once. We'll be eternally grateful.