Wednesday, March 31, 2010

5 Things To Know Before Buying an Easter Bunny

When I was young, I loved my pet rabbits Tibbar (Rabbit spelled backwards) and El Ear-o (Don’t ask me how I came up with that one!) They were so cute with their long ears and twitchy noses. But is getting an Easter bunny for your children this holiday really a good idea? Here are a few things to consider before you make the big decision:

1. Do you have enough space?
A rabbits needs a fairly large hutch or pen. Look around your house and see if you have a good location. Rabbits can live outside, but they need shelter to keep them out of the elements, such as sun, wind, rain and snow. The House Rabbit Society recommends keeping your rabbit inside, where it can be part of the family’s daily activities.

2. Do you have enough time?
Rabbits may not require as much attention as a dog or cat. But you’ll need time to feed and care for the rabbit, including daily play time. Will your children remain enthusiastic…or lose interest after a few weeks?

3. Are your children old enough?
Rabbits are curious and affectionate pets. But they also may be timid and skittish. They don’t always like to be held. Children should be old enough to hold the rabbit gently, and not to squeeze if the rabbit tries to get away. If pulled and prodded, a rabbit might scratch.

4. Who will do the work?
We all know the old scenario--your kids beg for a pet, then you do all the work. Will someone in the family be committed to cleaning the pen? It’s a yucky job, but someone still has to hop to it!

5. Is now the right time?
Do your children get overexcited at Easter? Will everyone from Grampa Joe to Aunt Betsy be visiting? If there’s a lot going on, consider waiting to add a rabbit to your family. Then everyone will be ready for the new responsibility.

Rabbits can make great pets. If you choose to wait, give your child a plush bunny for Easter. Then check with local shelters and rabbit breeders after. Happy Easter!

(Originally posted on, March 2009)

Monday, March 29, 2010

Monday Pet Roundup

Hi and Welcome to Monday Pet Roundup!

Before we get to the links, I just had to share this hilarious shortie! This Golden Retriever has concocted the perfect crime!

* With Easter coming, you are probably aware of keeping chocolate bunnies away from your pets. But, Pet Connection blog explains that chocolate may not be as dangerous as you think. Find out what is the biggest Easter hazard to pets, and it's more dangerous to cats than dogs!

* Pawluxury brings us this recipe for yummy dog stew. No, not made of dog. Made FOR dogs.

* Could your dog make a good therapy dog? Check out these tips to get started from Petfinder.

* Kelly loves interactive dog toys. Dogstar Daily describes some great ones!

* Do dogs get allergies too? Scratching and Sniffing blog has all the info you need on how to spot and treat dog allergies.

* Cute Overload blog's adorable picture of the week. I just love it when dogs sleep with all four feet up in the air!

Friday, March 26, 2010

How many cats is too many?

Can you have too many pets? Well, as a pet lover my first reaction is no! But of course, like with ice cream and M&M's (okay, these are my personal issues!) sometimes things are taken to the extreme. While most dogs enjoy the company of other dogs, and cats seem happy in feline families, I'm thinking of people who accumulate pets to unhealthy and unsafe proportions. While this can happen with both dogs and other animals too, I'm reminded of the cat lady stereotype.

The Crazy Cat Ladies Society, an organization and boutique that uses humor to counter the stereotypes made about people who love cats, explains that animal hoarding is a psychological disorder, and recommends reporting harmful situations to the authorities.

Recent cases of cat hoarding have cropped up in the news last week. These situations may have started out as worthy attempts to help animals, and escalated out of control.

* Nearly 40 cats were removed from a San Antonio home littered with trash, cat feces and filth. The woman said she welcomed the help because she realized she had a problem.

* Also last week a Pennsylvania woman was cited for violating probation, stemming from her previous arrest for animal cruelty charges, due to keeping hundreds of cats in her home.

* Last spring this New Jersey woman's home was found in deplorable conditions, overrun by 93 cats.

According to this article in PETA, three characteristics of animal hoarders are that animal hoarders:
1. amass a large number of animals
2. fail to properly provide for the animals needs (food, water, sanitary conditions)
3. deny the abysmal living conditions of the animals

I know of many multiple cat families in happy, clean and healthy situations. What matters is well cared-for pets, no matter how many are owned. It's not about the number, but about the conditions. And if the number of pets exceeds the ability to provide adequate care, the responsible owner then knows it's time to make some changes.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Love a pet? Share that love!

Yesterday afternoon my husband and I were in the car and turned the corner to see a frisky Shepherd-mix puppy galloping through a 4-way intersection, pursued by a woman, a man and at least 3 kids. The dog romped back and forth across the busy road, ears flapping, obviously having a wonderful game of chase. Every time a car approached, my heart nearly stopped I was so worried about the poor little dog, who was blissfully unaware of the danger.

Everything turned out okay, but that incident got me thinking of just how much seeing an animal in need wrenches at my heart. And then I thought of all the worthy animal causes where people can volunteer to help. People just like you and me who love animals. Animal shelters, the ASPCA and many other organizations could use our help. Most of these groups relate directly to animal abuse or neglect, or homeless animals. That's why, at first, I didn't see a big connection when I was made aware of a need for volunteers at the Fresh Air Fund. Of course, I agree it's a worthy cause. Last year the Fresh Air Fund helped 5,000 inner-city boys and girls have a safe, fun experience in the country or suburbs. It's wonderful for your own children, too, to make friends who have had different experiences, and share their lives.

Here's where the pet part comes in. Many of these inner-city children may not have had the opportunity to own a pet. Or, if they've had an experience with a dog, it may not have been positive. Many of the children live in apartments where owning a pet is not practical, or not allowed. They don't have big yards or space for outdoor pets. By bringing one of these city kids to your home for part of the summer, you could introduce them to the love of a cat or dog, teach them about responsibility for another living being, and help them to discover the joys we all know that come from animals.

Maybe they'll even discover the magic of healing love of an animal.

Consider hosting a Fresh Air child today, and you could not only give a city child a warm, fun, country or suburban experience, but also share your love of pets, and see that love transferred to a child who has never had that opportunity before.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Monday Pet Roundup

Hi and welcome to Monday's pet roundup.

* Like most little kids, I always wanted to have a pet chimp. Of course, not many kids get that opportunity. And, we can't help but think of those awful cases, such as the recent one of the pet chimp (possibly amped up on Xanax) who went off and attacked its owner and a friend? Well now some states have approved a ban on primates as pets. I agree. Do you?

* Ok, so if not chimpanzees, what animal makes the perfect pet? This article in on abc news may surprise you!

* Here's a backyard chapel where a Buddhist minister and his wife, an interfaith minister offer blessings for pets. "May all beings be well and happy," says Rev. Branson, "and may all beings find peace."

* Why not jump over to a great new blog "One Year. 156 Fears. Life Changing." Although not exclusively about pets, it is a great blog, and I bring it to your attention today because I was fortunate enough to be interviewed there today! Joy tackles three fears every week--from the biggies like ice climbing and parasailing, to the smaller fears like telling someone that they cut in line---and blogs about her results. Her efforts will inspire you to take risks in your life. She also includes interviews, and today you can discover who I find inspiring (hint: one answer is a profession that many of you may hold.) and why I love to write about dogs!

What animals do you think make the best pets? Have you ever had your pet blessed? And, which animal-people do you find inspiring?

Friday, March 19, 2010

Pet Adoption Tips from Great Dane Mom

Meet the cutest little puppy, Shadow.

Okay, not so little.
Shadow is 6 months old and currently weights in at 80 pounds. Her mom, Ellen, describes Shadow as being "counter height." Well you can just imagine what that entails. Shadow, a Great Dane, can pretty much grab a snack from the kitchen counter, select a book to shred off the living room shelf, or help herself to some towels off the rack in the bathroom.

Ellen adopted Shadow several weeks ago from a local animal shelter. A family had turned in the beautiful ebony dog because they had no time for her after having a (human) baby. Since Ellen's veterinarian knew that Ellen owned a Great Dane previously, she contacted Ellen to see if she'd be interested in adopting this big baby. The vet knew that the dog would need an owner experienced with the breed for the best chance of a successful adoption.

"They just want to be close to you. They think they're lap dogs," says Ellen. She offers these tips to anyone thinking of adopting a Great Dane. "Be prepared for large housebreaking accidents, large dog food bills, chewing of woodwork, and lawn destruction. Crating is highly recommended, but large crates can be expensive. Most of all, be prepared for a short life span."

Ellen's previous Great Dane, Violet, lived until 6 years old. Life expectancy is about 8 yrs.

For Shadow, the transition from shelter to forever home has been fairly easy. She gets along well with her new siblings, a pug and a German Shepherd. She loves to leap...even over the Shepherd. And her favorite pastime is stealing food off counters. She loves all food, "even the apple she stole off the counter this morning."

For Ellen, the main difficulty has been in housebreaking an older dog with already established routines. "The only command she seemed to know was SIT." In addition, Shadow had some dietary issues that were resolved after experimenting with different dog foods. Putting two and two together (get it? ugh!) I can imagine that the dietary issues and the housebreaking issues led to some big clean ups!

Shadow is expected to grow 4 more inches in height, and to weigh about 120 pounds.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Irish Eyes are Smilin'

Happy St. Patrick's Day to you!
O'Kelly is dressed up for the day, and presenting you with some green carnations to help you celebrate.
Luck o' the Irish to ye all!

What about you--do you have an Irish pet? Or a pet who celebrates St. Patty's Day?

Monday, March 15, 2010

Monday Pet Roundup

Hi and welcome to Monday Pet Roundup!

*Excellent article at Pet Connection on how to ease conditions that stress our pets. Some common stressors are flashing lights and loud volume from televisions and video games, cigarette smoke, air fresheners, extreme temperatures, etc.

* Over at Joyful Paws, check out the easy-to-use new calculator to determine how old your dog is. No need to multiply by 7. (btw, Kelly is 52 and considered a "senior dog.")

* Have you noticed this? Blogpaws notes a trend in naming our pets "people names." I have followed this trend. My childhood dogs were Happy and Corky. The pets I've owned as an adult have been Schuyler, Hudson and Kelly.

* This review at Pawcurious gives you the scoop on the World's Best cat litter. (sorry, I couldn't resist!)

*Meet this year's Humane Society of the United States Dog of Valor winners, including a Bernese Mt. Dog who alerted her owners to a carbon monoxide leak, and a dog who scared off intruders who were holding a family at gunpoint.

* And finally, this adorable video from Cute Overload. Did you have a little trouble springing forward with Daylight Savings Time this year? This little lamb will put the smile back on your face!

Friday, March 12, 2010

One Whale of a Pet Fish

I've tried raising fish, but haven't met with much success. The common goldfish my kids won at fairs, or convinced me to buy from department stores, have lived less than a week. Perhaps I've been buying the wrong breed of fish.

(Photo credit: John Byron Kuhner) According to the New York Daily News, Queens pet shot owner Steve Gruebel has figured out how to keep a fish alive. He owns the oldest fish in New York...a black pacu named Buttkiss (named after Hall of Fame football player Dick Butkus.)
Buttkiss is 43 years old, more than twice as old as expected for a typical black pacu.

The pacu was only "guppy-sized" when Gruebel got him in 1967. Now he is 23 inches long and weighs more than 20 pounds. He lives at Gruebel's pet shop, Cameo Pet Shop in NYC, but Gruebel says he's not for sale. "He's a member of the family now."

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Lazy Dog Walker Fined

Q-When can walking the dog get you into trouble?
A-When you're doing it from behind the wheel of your car!

British dog-owner 23 yr old Paul Railton was fined and his license suspended when he was stopped for driving along a country road with his dog trotting beside the car. Railton was hanging onto the dog's leash through the car window.

Because he was driving slowly, about 5 mph, and the road was scarcely traveled, Railton apparently thought what he was doing was okay. "A lot of people exercise their dogs in that manner," he told the court.

Railton's dog is a lurcher, sort of like a greyhound, so as you can imagine the dog needs a lot of exercise. I guess Railton's intentions were somewhat good, since he was attempting to give the dog exercise instead of letting it sit around in the house and get fat. But his execution was dangerous. Not only for the dog, who could have been dragged, but potentially for other motorists.

While writing my book, Losing it With My Dog, I learned that walking the dog is good not only for the dog, but for the owner too. I don't know anything about Mr. Railton's size or physical fitness, but I'm guessing if he was using the car to walk the dog, he might not have been that fit. I guess he didn't realize that getting out and walking is good for him, too.

I confess, I don't love to exercise. I'm not particularly excited about going outside and walking. But I do it for my dog. And then, when I see how much she enjoys it, I start to enjoy it more too. And that way, we both benefit. I'm in much better shape now because I get out and walk the dog.

Railston admits that "there was an element of laziness" in his conduct.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Monday Pet Roundup

Hi and welcome to Monday Pet Roundup!

* Rachel Baum from Bark: Confessions of a Dog Trainer shares how pet parents often anthropomorphize their pets. I can relate! Isn't Kelly really feeling sad when I leave her home alone? Or hungry when she sees me eating a cheeseburger? Maybe that's why she gets what she wants!

*Love this story in Dogster: For the love of dogs blog about Chloe the pug who rescued his feline friend from a koi pond!

*I just "met" Frankie, the Walk 'n Roll dog. So sweet! Visit him here on Joyful Paws "dedicated to animals whose spirits teach us to live life with a purpose."

* I actually had a dalmatian who fleas seemed to run away from. But most cats and dogs are going to encounter fleas at some point. This post from Pawcurious shares some valuable information on flea control.

*Do you ever wonder about Schnoodles, Goldendoodles and Maltipoos? Here's a thoughtful article over at Pet Connection. I also liked this article "Time to stop littering" about spaying and neutering.

*We all know the benefits of adopting a shelter or rescue pet. But sometimes the connection doesn't last. Petfinder has launched a new program, FurKeeps, designed to KEEP pets in homes.

*A video to make you smile. Petopia has posted this YouTube video for Pedigree dog food featuring beautiful dogs catching treats in the air. The little fuzz-ball at the very end is so cute!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Want to help shelter animals? Purina will be setting up food banks and offering special adoption events at shelters in Florida, Texas, Arizona and California. By checking out the Purina One Tour for Heroes site, you can find out if they are visiting a shelter near you. But if you don't live near those locations, you can still help.

Just visit Martha Stewart's pet adoption site between now and March 31, 2010. Check out the adoptable pet search, click on a profile, and share that pet's information with your Facebook friends. Each time, Purina One will donate $1 worth of pet food to food banks across the country. It's that easy!

You'll be helping a shelter pet to find its forever home...and helping provide foods for other pets in need. I'll be posting some pets on my Facebook page too.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Pet Roundup

Welcome to Monday Pet Roundup!

*What about the horses? Thought-provoking article on Pet Connection. If you care about horses, you'll want to read this.

*Some airlines allow small cats and dogs to travel in crates under the passengers' feet. This is good news for pet owners, however bad news for allergy sufferers. New York Times cites an editorial in the Canadian Medical Association Journal calling for a ban on pets in airline passenger cabins. The doctors write, "Pets can be accommodated comfortably and safely in airplane cargo holds, which is where they belong." I disagree. I don't know the solution, but living creatures are not cargo.

*Looking for a "green" pet? Consider a rabbit! The Palo Alto Daily News informs us that rabbits "eat green kitchen trimmings" and their waste can be used for garden compost.

*Recently I wrote a post for, about presidential pets. While dogs were the most popular, John Quincy Adams owned the most unusual pets: an alligator and silkworms. Forbes magazine reports on some more bizarre "house pets"--a hippo that sleeps on the porch, a black bear that grew to be more than 100 pounds and put holes in the wall, and sharks owned by celebs Nicholas Cage and Ice-T. Most wild and exotic animals, however, do not make good pets.

*Over at The Healing Art of Pet Parenthood, here are top ten reasons to attend BlogPaws conference!

* Did you enjoy the winter Olympics? Dogster for the Love of Dogs blog catches us up with the canine side of the Olympics--the team of dogs trained to rescue victims buried in the snow, in the event of an avalanche. Love those images of the digging dog, nose in the snow!

Looking forward to your thoughts.