Having a dog is the best thing that you could have especially when it comes to love and companionship. A dog makes the best cuddle buddy, not to mention how much their loyalty is guaranteed. Your dog is likely to invade every aspect of your life and that includes the space in your house. If you are looking for some order in your house so that, your dog doesn’t drive you crazy by taking over the whole house. It is a good idea to either find a room just for your dog, or a space in one your rooms that is designated just for Fido. How about setting aside a playroom for your dog? That way you will be able to have a little more control with his movements and order in your home. It doesn’t need to be a whole room, in fact, finding the best dog crate for small dogswill work just as great. The following are tips on designing a wag-worthy room for your dog.
1. Find the ideal spot
Finding the perfect place for a dog’s room dependents on the use you intend it for… Is it for play or are you looking for a haven for your pup when you are not around? Also, you have probably observed the spots he is fond of around the house. Use your dog’s behavioral patterns to pick a spot just for him. If he loves to look through the window, a cozy spot with a view would be perfect. Maybe he likes to be in the center of the room where all the action is or perhaps cuddling up in a quiet corner is more his speed. Use that observation to find somewhere suitable to design a space for him.
2. Find a place you can easily monitor your dog
You can never be too sure that the spot you pick offers maximum security. Will, your dog get access to unauthorized areas? Are there breakable things? You need to be sure that even while you are away, your dog will not cause harm to itself or lead to any destruction. Get rid of anything that poses a risk to your furry friend. A soft but sturdy dog bed will ease your pup’s pressure points by not sleeping on a hard surface. A quality dog bed or mat will help him feel safe, secure and comfy.
3. Fix a comfy sleeping spot for your pup!
It does not matter how much you have accessorized his room. Your dog will always be looking for a good spot to nap. You might want to get him a comfortable sleeping spot in the designated space. Most dogs, including your dog, usually prefer an enclosed sleeping space like a crate or an indoor dog house. Also, depending on his preferences, some may prefer a little music and or background sounds to feel comfortable, especially when alone. Remember that dogs require a lot of sleep, especially if they have been active during a long walk or playing with other dogs.
4. Get him some toys
You cannot afford not to have a great collection of toys for your dog. Dogs enjoy playing. You will not be available all the time, and they will need something to keep them busy and ward off boredom. It is also a great way of enhancing your dog’s mental and physical health. While selecting toys for your dog, ensure that they do not pose a threat to the dog and are suited for your dog’s age. Avoid toys that they can easily swallow. A chew toy would be ideal as it will keep him busy all day in your absence. You might also want to try an activity toy: dogs tend to get really fascinated by them and can keep them occupied for hours!
5. Feeding bowl and mat
Once your dog gets used to his room or space, he will be comfortable doing most of his activities from there. That could also include eating. Your dog’s room is a perfect place to keep his, feeding bowl, water, and a mat. Remember to stay stylish and creative, there are so many stylish options to choose from these days. It is advisable to have a glass or stainless steel feeding bowl as they are less likely to attract bacteria if kept clean. A matt will be useful in controlling the tidiness of the room and save your floor from stains.
Regardless of whether your dog has its own room or you have created a space in one of your own rooms, you need to take care of it and make it as homely as possible. It will go a long way in helping your dog feel content, and you can easily be able to train him to enjoy his own special little spot that he can call his own.
The contemporary market for dog collars is so extensive that it spoils you for choice. In our own store we sell collars in eight different styles, so we understand that the choices presented to owners can be challenging. How can you figure out which collar is the right fit for your concerns and your dog’s comfort?
Picking the perfect collar isn’t just about finding one that looks good to you. The collar also has to fit your dog properly and function practically. The biggest factors you need to consider when you choose a collar are material and fit.
The overwhelming majority of modern collars are made out of either leather or nylon.
Professional trainers frequently choose nylon thanks to the range of extra features that nylon collars can offer. Reflective material, for instance, can be sewn into the lining to improve your dog’s visibility. (Our IDC Luminous Reflector range is just one example.) A reflective collar protects your dog in both low-light and poor weather conditions. This added safety is especially important if you and your dog do a lot of walking close to roads. Reflective collars are also a good idea if you regularly let your dog off-leash.
Leather collars generally cost more than nylon ones, but they make up for this added expense with greater durability. A well-maintained leather dog collar can deliver reliable service for 10 years or even longer. There are practical advantages to leather, as well. Leather collars cause less fur matting; this makes them more convenient for long-haired dogs. Leather will also mold itself to your dog over time, providing great levels of comfort.
Many owners also prefer leather for style reasons. It looks smart, and choosing a leather collar gives you an even wider range of design choices. However, if you’re looking for a high-quality harness for your dog, then you should do some reading.
Note that it’s possible to combine the benefits of leather with those of nylon. In our IDC Lumino range, for instance, fluorescent strips add high visibility to the comfort and durability of leather.
The reliable rule of thumb for sizing a dog collar is to measure the circumference of your dog’s neck and then add two inches. A regular cloth tape measure works perfectly for measuring your dog.
A good collar fit is essential if you want your dog to be comfortable, safe, and healthy. A tight collar can restrict your dog’s breathing and cause a great deal of discomfort. Loose collars can get your dog tangled up on random objects or simply fall off.
Once you try a collar on your dog, check the fit by sliding two fingers under it. This amount of space ensures that the collar is snug enough to stay on but not so tight that it restricts breathing.
You also need to think about the width of the collar. The wider a collar is, the heavier and more restrictive it will be. Collar width should be directly related to your dog’s overall size, with thinner collars being more comfortable for smaller dogs. This is why we stock a wide range of collar widths; our models go from less than an inch to almost 10 inches wide.
Remember that growth and weight changes will affect the fit of your dog’s collar over time. Make a habit of periodically testing the fit with the two-finger check.
Collars Vs. Harnesses
In most jurisdictions, regulations oblige you to fit your dog with an ID tag at all times. This strongly encourages all owners to fit a collar, and most owners find it convenient to attach a leash directly to the collar for walking.
Some dogs dislike wearing collars, though. Training these dogs to respond well to walking with a leash generally calls for a harness rather than a collar.
There is no universal rule dictating whether collars or harnesses are better for walking your dog. It really comes down to the preference of the specific pet. If you’d like to learn more about the respective benefits of collars and harnesses, we have a guide on the subject available here.
One January day a surprise package from Amazon was delivered to my door. Inside were several gifts for my cats and my dog, Angel. There was no name disclosed as the “sender,” but I wish I knew who it was. I want to thank them because the stuffed duck toy inside instantly became Angel’s favorite friend.
This yellow, fuzzy, flat duck with a squeaker inside is about the size of Angel’s shepherd/husky head. She carried it upstairs to my bedroom and placed it on my bed where she sleeps beside me. It has been there ever since, with an occasional accidental tumble to the floor and my duty to retrieve it back to Angel’s side.
Angel uses it as a pillow. She sleeps holding it between her front paws. I have found it tucked between the footboard and mattress. I have seen it sticking out from under her body as she snores. One day it was between her back legs. This duck is definitely her pal for life.
Adopted last year at the age of 11, Angel had no name and no history on record. She was a stray with a variety of health issues and facing euthanasia at a kill shelter. Angels intervened and she was transported by a rescue worker to a shelter 200 miles away. That’s where I met her and fell in love.
For two months she showed no interest in toys. Then one day she relaxed a bit more and picked up a stuffed toy given to her by a young boy who volunteered at the shelter. She showed me that she is skilled at quickly severing the limbs, ears, and tails off of stuffies with her back teeth. She can pluck the stuffing and squeakers out in seconds. (See my story about this stufficide )
This yellow duck, however, is sacred to her and goes unscathed.
Someone who follows my posts about Angel on social media sent us this duck, a gift so perfect it was like divine intervention.
Angel finds comfort in this fluffy critter and sometimes gently chews on it at night, squeaking it before I fall asleep.
“We have favorite things, why shouldn’t our pets?” said Steve Dale, certified animal behavior consultant (CABC) and national radio host. “What makes it a favorite toy likely depends somewhat on the individual pet, but we really don’t know exactly. The texture of the toy will attract a pet to it, and conceivably the smell may also matter. Sometimes, it’s like Linus’ security blanket, presumably giving the pet a feeling of comfort. Sometimes we reinforce the behavior because it’s so cute, and we say that to the pet. Like so many behaviors, we knowingly or unknowingly may contribute just by telling the pet how cute he is, or how wonderful she is.”
I have experienced this toy/pet bond with several other pets over the years.
My cat, Desdemona had a love for little plastic, felt covered mice. Three mice she loved to fetch and retrieve with me for many years. Those mice I eventually placed on a shelf beside her ashes.
My cat, Forest loves a real mink tail toy and for several years he would carry it around the house, losing it in places for me to find and retrieve it.
My Brittany spaniel, Speckles bonded with a large stuffed moose that my mom gave me one Christmas. That moose was as big as Speckles when he was a puppy. He carried it everywhere and slept on it, using it as a pillow. He ripped its ears, tail, antlers, and lips off and I mended and washed that ratty thing countless times. Speckles would watch me toss his moose into the washing machine and wait for it to come out of the drier. Speckles died at the age of 12. The moose I could not part with.
My cat, Jack loved Speckles and he mourned when Speckles passed away. The moose became security for Jack during his sadness and I often found him sleeping near it. My last dog, Trucker, was adopted at age 5 and he also found comfort in that moose. When Trucker died, I had the moose cremated with him.
A friend told me that his Pomeranian, Cody carried around a small stuffed lion toy for 15 years, sucking on its ear. When Cody died, my friend wanted to bury the lion with the dog but he could not find the toy.
It wasn’t until two years later when he brought home a new puppy, a border collie named Toby, that Toby explored his backyard and found the lion under bushes. The dirty, moss-covered lion shocked him as it stuck out of Toby’s mouth. The lion is now sealed in a plastic bag as a memory.
I remember years ago reading a story about a photographer who specialized in capturing images of old, tattered dog toys like these in special locations in order to memorialize pets that had passed away. The images were simple, yet moving. Torn, dirty, frayed toys were placed in a wooded area, or on a park bench or a special chair that the dog used to rest. It spoke volumes to the years that toy was loved.
It’s like an old teddy bear or a comfort blanket that a child used to carry, but now is tucked away in a cedar chest with other mementos.
I have taken many photos of Angel sleeping with her duck on my bed. Sometimes I capture short videos of her squeaking it softly in her mouth. I post them on social media, often with the caption of, “A girl and her duck.” These images alone tell a story and I will continue to share them for others to enjoy.
Angel, a mysterious old dog with no name, ended up at a kill shelter and was routed 200 miles away to cross paths with me, bringing each other comfort. This fuzzy yellow duck mysteriously showed up in a box on our doorstep, crossing paths with Angel and became her comfort. I protect Angel just as I protect this duckie that is so important to her.
I know that my Angel, based on her breed, is in the last years of her life. When she passes away, I plan to have this duck cremated with her so they are together, forever.
Tracy Ahrens is a veteran journalist, author, artist and mom to three rescued cats and one dog. See her web site at www.tracyahrens.weebly.com and add her children’s book, “Sammy Sparrow’s First Flight,” to your collection. All proceeds help 10 humane organizations.
Maggie turned 11 years old today and is celebrating her birthday in dog-friendly Canada. We’re looking forward to seeing how dog-friendly Canada can be and meet fellow dog-friendly Canadians.
Myself, I grew up in Vancouver, Canada and I truly remember wonderful times with my family dog so I can’t wait to explore it today with Maggie.
This makes the 5th country that Maggie has celebrated her birthday! As a traveling dog, Maggie has sure experienced a lot of places and I am so happy that she is by my side. Here are a few other places Maggie has celebrated a birthday
Birthday Number 10, 9, 8, 7 and 6
For the last five years, Maggie has enjoyed all the wonderful things that the United Kingdom has to offer. Mostly based in London she has enjoyed traveling on the dog-friendly tubes, trains, and buses. Loved that most of the pubs are dog-friendly and marveled at just how friendly Brits are to their wagging four-legged buddies.
Birthday Number 5 and 4
What dog wouldn’t love living in Switzerland? The whole country is a doggie paradise with beautiful mountain trails, romps in Lake Geneva and dog-friendly transport. Dining out is never a problem for well-behaved pooches.
Birthday Number 3 and 2
A lot of people thought I was crazy to bring my dog to the urban jungle of Hong Kong. But did you know that Natural terrain covers about 60% of the total land area ofHong Kong? Besides all the wonderful trails and beaches that you can enjoy with your dog. Did you know that in Victoria Park there are two restaurants that are not only dog-friendly but they also have a menu just for dogs?
My favorite place though was a seaside bar right on the beach where I would take Maggie. While she played on the beach with the owners’ dog I was able to watch her while the sun set over a chilled glass of wine.
When Maggie was one year old she celebrated her birthday in New York City
Birthday number one
Not too far from dog-friendly Canada, but where it all began was in New York City. This is the place where I found 10 weeks old Maggie. Little did I know what an adventure we would have!
Do you consider it’s dog-friendly Canada or not?
We’re here to find out! We’re looking for dog-friendly places, things to do and source out the best pet-friendly Canadain products!
Did you know that dogs have emotions and feelings just like people, and feel happy when they get the love and attention that they deserve? Any dog lover will tell you that happier pets are healthier pets, and we all want a healthy wagging dog.
But how does one go about keeping their pet happy and healthy?
My dog, now 11 years old is truly a happy go lucky beagle. It marvels me each day as I see her jump off my bed every morning ready for breakfast. It starts with a long stretch and a moan, then a little tap dance and finishes off with a wag of a tail ready for breakfast.
Considering I can’t even think in the morning, watching this ritual each day always puts a smile on my face, regardless of the day. It gives me a such as good feeling to know I have a dog that is happy.
Secrets to a Happier Pet
A socialized dog will grow up to be friendly and happy with other animals and people. Which is your first step to a happier pet. It’s important that you take your dog out regularly and expose it to different situations. This way you and your dog can basically go anywhere. A dog can be taught to be social any time, but it’s best to start early.
I started taking Maggie everywhere with me when I first got her at 10 weeks. I would take her to friends houses, dog parks and even to my local. She got to experience different situations and meet lots of other dogs and people.
2. Don’t Spoil the Dog
Dogs want you to be the leader because they have an innate need for social structure and security. Dog’s want you to lead, but if you don’t take that role, then they are going to put their paw forward and take charge. And if you let that happen, well you’re going to get a dog who’s a little out of control.
Dogs are just like kids, and the earlier you set the rules and teach them discipline, the less their chances of becoming a spoilt dog. A happier pet is a dog who understands the rules.
A spoiled dog can cause havoc, such as being aggressive, begging at the table, or running off. Which in turn leaves you frustrated and at times maybe even angry. All this stress confuses a dog and leaves them irritable and confused.
Don’t let the dog train you and thus become a spoiled dog. With Maggie I always kept these rules in place:
I always let Maggie know I am the trainer and not the trainee.
I always make sure that Maggie says please in order to get that new toy or treat.
I control the number of treats and toys until she showed me polite behavior.
I never rewarded Maggie when she showed undesirable behaviors.
In turn, when I do give Maggie a treat, she feels happy and loves her reward.
3. Nurture & Praise
Just like children, dogs need to be nurtured too. I always show Maggie just how much I cherish her. I do this by watching her body language and I communicate back in a loving way. I find this the most rewarding part of my relationship with my dog. It is also important for her welfare and is key to prevent and resolve all manners of problem behaviors. When I respond to Maggie appropriately, this allows her space and keeps her free from stress. Or in simple terms, Maggie knows I understand her, respect her as a dog and of course that I love her too.
Dogs also thrive on praise and compliments, just like you. I always make sure to let Maggie know each and every time she’s doing something that makes me smile. It keeps her motivated and happy.
4. Healthy Eats
To keep your dog healthy it’s important that proper nutrition is available for your pooch. Diet affects everything about your dog. A healthy diet will keep your dog’s skin and coat, weight, energy level and gastrointestinal function in tip-top shape. Make sure you choose a high-quality dog food or learn about homemade diets.
I always make sure Maggie gets the best food possible, and I have been home cooking for her since she was a pup.
A healthy diet is a very important step to a happier pet!
A bored dog is an unhappy dog, simple as that. Rember all dogs were bred for a purpose, and even mixed breeds are still subjected to their genetics. Dogs that lack mental and physical stimulation are often badly behaved.
Considering Maggie is a beagle, I knew that she needed long walks and that she was bred for sniffing out rabbits. To keep her stimulated I made sure we took walks in different locations, and to stimulate her mind I played many games with her that would make her think. Our favorite game was “sniff out the treat”.
All dogs need some degree of grooming. It can be as simple as a good scrub in the tub, nail trims and brushing.
Maggie is a short haired beagle who sheds all year round. I always make sure that she gets a good de-shed bath and brush out and that her dew claws are always nicely trimmed. I also find that when I brush her it’s a great time to check to see if anything is different on her body. It also amazes me how energized she gets from her bath and brush out.
For a lot of cat owners, a trip to the local store is as far as they will go in terms of litter box diversity. However, the world of litter boxes is more intense than you might imagine and there are many different choices that you can make. Of course, you will need to take your cat into account when you do this. Factors such as age, size and privacy preferences need to be looked at before you pick up the right litter box.
If you have one cat and they enjoy their privacy, you should look at a litter box that has a large hood. However, this is not ideal when you have multiple cats as they will not like others sneaking up on them as they are busy inside. You will need to look for a different type of litter box in these cases and look at some of the tips available online for hiding the litter box
Choosing The Right Litter
While it is important that you choose the right type of litter box, you also need to choose the right type of litter. To help narrow down the choices available, you should consider clumping or non-clumping. Clumping litter is generally more cost-effective and will be a time saver.
You should then look at scented and non-scented litter. This will generally be your preference because you might find that the scented litter helps to hide odors better. However, you do have to take your pet’s sensitivity into account with this.
Most litter can be purchased in small boxes or bag choices. This allows you to try something for a month to determine if it works for your cat. It is also important to note that the most expensive litter on the market will not always be the best choice.
Choose A Metal Litter Scoop
Plastic litter scoops are the most common on the market and you will be able to find them in retail and grocery stores. However, they are not actually the ideal scoop as you will never be able to get a firm grip on large amounts of litter at one time. This means that you will be scooping the same spot for a while before it is completely clean.
This is why you should consider getting a metal scoop instead. You will be able to find these scoops at pet stores and they will change your life. You will be able to clean the litter box with easy and much quicker which is ideal.
Choosing The Best Location For The Litter Box
The best location for your litter box will depend greatly on your house layout, size and the preferences of your cat. Your cat’s first choice for placement will generally be somewhere that is private and away from heavy traffic. Cats do not like to have an audience when they are using their litter box. This is why many owners will place their litter boxes in the spare bathroom or the laundry room where their cat can have some privacy, but you will need to consider the number of cats you have.
If you have more than one cat, you will want to have more than one litter box. Having a litter box for each of your cats will ensure that they each have privacy. If you have a home with multiple levels, you should have litter boxes on each level. If your cat needs to get to a litter box quickly, having one close by is preferred.
Keep The Litter Box Clean
This is something that should go without saying. You will not want to use a dirty toilet so you should not make your cat either. You need to look at cleaning the litter box daily or at least every 2 days. If you find that your cat is going outside of the box, cleanliness is generally the reason for this.
Self-cleaning litter boxes have come on a long way in recent years and they can make the whole process of hygiene a lot easier. The automatic litter box for cats means there is no more need for scooping or cleaning and can be a great investment.
You need to ensure that the sides of the litter box are free of urine and feces each time you clean it. You also need to listen to your cat regarding the litter box. Bathroom issues are one of the ways that your cat is able to tell you something important.
Check Waste For Problems
Most people want to clean the litter box as quickly as possible and this is understandable. However, you do need to take note of the litter box when you want to look for signs that your cat is having issues whether physical or mental. You should ensure that your cat is urinating and defecating at least once per day. If you notice any excessive urine, strange odors or blood when cleaning, you will need to take your cat to the vet for a checkup.
Make Use Of Baking Soda
Baking soda often seems to have magical properties and you need to take advantage of this. You can use baking soda in cooking and for countless cleaning applications. Many people place baking soda in their fridge to remove odors and you can do the same around your litter box. Sprinkle a bit of baking soda into the litter each time to you clean and you will see a reduction on the odors that come from it.
Blow Your Nose
If you are the lucky person who has to clean the litter box, you need to make a note of this tip. After you have cleaned the litter box, you need to blow your nose and run the tissue along the inside of the nose. Most people do not realize that there is a large amount of dust that they inhale when they spend a few minutes cleaning the litter box.
You should try this tip once and then you will understand why it is important. Blowing your nose will also remove the smell of the litter that generally follows you for the rest of the day.
Change The Litter Completely Once A Month
Once a month, you need to completely change the litter. This will ensure that your cat has a fresh litter feeling. Changing the litter will also give you the opportunity to thoroughly clean the litter box. This is something that you need to do for both you and your cat’s sake.
What has been working will not always work forever and you need to consider this. This is why you need to reassess the litter and litter box regularly. When you do this, your cat will always have the right litter and litter box.
*This story appeared February 12, 2018 in Wayne County Press, a newspaper in the area where my dog, Angel was found in Southern Illinois. She celebrated her 12th birthday and adoptaversary on March 18.
By Tracy Ahrens
This story is about a search. A search for the previous owners of my adopted rescue dog.
By no means would I ever return her to those owners, for over the past year she has become part of me that I could not live without. But as the anniversary of her being picked up by an animal control facility is upon us, I would like to know why this geriatric gentle soul, without a name, was discarded or never searched for after she left what she knew as “home.”
Her deep brown, calf-like eyes have made me look inside of her mind many times, wondering why she was nearly euthanized because someone didn’t want to look for her when she was lost, or if she was purposefully abandoned.
I am curious why she has a large scar on her left shoulder if she ever had puppies, where she came from, when she was born and what breed her parents were. I wonder if she ever slept in a human’s bed, played with stuffed squeaky toys, has been professionally groomed or if you have photos of her from her younger years. I simply wonder what her name was.
This is what I know about my geriatric girl who is now named Angel.
On February 11, 2017, she was picked up as a stray by Wayne County Humane Society and Animal Control in a southern Illinois town called Fairfield. She was not wearing a collar and was not microchipped. Noted as “elderly” and a “catahoula/heeler/shepherd/husky mix” she was classified as an “escape artist.” If you know Huskies, you know they like to keep going in one direction “on a mission” if they run off. If you know Angel, she’s arthritic and fairly slow, so the label of “escape artist” makes me laugh.
Angel sat at animal control waiting for someone to claim her. When her “hold” time was up and euthanasia was scheduled, animal control workers couldn’t bear to kill her. She also spoke to them with her soulful eyes and gentle demeanor. She didn’t deserve this fate. So, they networked with an animal rescue worker closer to my home which is over 200 miles north. This rescue worker, Donna, is known for transporting shelter animals facing euthanasia in remote towns, to help increase their chances for adoption.
Deserved to Live
Donna also took one look at Angel and knew she deserved to live. On February 23, Angel traveled by van over 200 miles to Cache Creek Animal Rescue, then based in New Lenox, Il…
A young shelter volunteer, Jason, sat in a large cage with her for at least an hour researching names on the Internet to find one that suited her. For adoption purposes, he named her Aira, which means “of the wind.”
My path crossed with Angel as I was filled with sorrow. Cache Creek Animal Rescue advertised another dog that reminded me of my dog, Trucker, who had passed away from cancer in January. He battled cancer as I battled breast cancer. My home was empty without him and my heart was shattered. I started casually searching shelters to find another dog that touched my soul.
When I walked through the kennel to see that advertised dog, I saw Angel lying on a bed in her cage. She was broken emotionally, ears drooping, eyes expressing great sorrow and worry.
I stood in the shelter waiting room thinking, then I asked if they could bring this aged girl out to see me.
I still remember her eyes meeting mine as she walked slowly with the shelter worker. I dropped to my knees, hugged her and cried. She was just as broken as me.
We sat together alone in a cat rescue room to see if she interacted well with felines. I have three cats, so this was vital. Angel didn’t care about them. In fact, she stuck to me like she had known me for a lifetime. I captured her in a photo that day with her head lodged between my knees and her eyes piercing my soul. I placed that image in a frame that says “Best day ever.”
Angel had to be vetted before I could bring her home, so I visited her again before she moved in with me on March 18. When she saw me the second time, her ears stood up and she danced a bit, touching me that she found me so comforting. Estimated to be 11 years of age, Angel was lumpy with fatty tumors, limped with arthritis, had missing and worn down teeth and was clearly not spayed.
I worried about her fatty tumors being cancerous, as my dog had fatty tumors, including one that contained mast cell cancer. Losing another dog so quickly after meeting was something I couldn’t imagine facing. Tests, however, showed she was cancer free.
I also knew, because of her breed and an unknown senior age, that her time with me would be limited. But none of this was her fault and I knew she deserved unbridled love for what little time we may have together.
Because of her age, a myriad of health issues, and perhaps because the shelter workers knew my story of fighting cancer and losing my dog to the same disease, they waived her adoption fee. This “free” dog is worth more than any fee I could have ever paid.
Sure, she is hard of hearing, has a thyroid condition (she takes medicine daily), is a bit overweight, has arthritis, and a paralyzed larynx – but with love and security, she has blossomed into a puppy again.
People marvel over her smile, a smile and perky ears that sprouted almost immediately in my care. She responded quickly to the name Angel as if it was meant to be.
She still dances in a circle when she sees me after being apart; her bond with me brings tears to my eyes.
I wonder if she was discarded because of her coughing and sometimes vomiting after drinking (due to the paralyzed larynx), or maybe because she sheds enough fur to stuff king-size pillows, or that she is often as stubborn as a goat.
I wonder if she ever played with toys, as it took her over two months before she picked one up with excitement. I wonder if she ever had her photo taken, as she slightly feared me taking her photo for the first couple months we were together.
She has a sense of shyness when meeting new people, but with assurance, she loves children, adults, other dogs and cats.
I know she likes pizza, peanut butter, and ice cream. The word “no” means little to her. She talks and whimpers like a husky. Rabbits excite her. She also seems to love water, as she walked without hesitation into the river beside my home.
If someone truly lost this beautiful girl and misses her, I want you to know that Angel has a basket full of stuffed toys, five large dog beds throughout my home, a wooden stool to climb up onto my bed (where she sleeps beside me every night), food and water bowls hand painted with her portrait, designer collars, an unending cookie jar full of bully sticks (her favorite), she wears hats and other attire to be photographed for holidays, she goes on daily walks, is professionally groomed, has a neighbor who babysits her (at my neighbor’s house) when I’m at work, and without question, she has immeasurable love.
If you could share with me anything more about her history, I would love to know. I realize that her history may include neglect that I cannot fathom, but due to Angel’s loving demeanor, I think she had to know some degree of love.
Rest assured, for the rest of her days I will bring her love and peace.
Two phone calls were received from people in Wayne County who read this story. Neither of them knew Angel from the past, but they wanted to tell me:
“I really enjoyed your story”
“I wanted to tell you how touched I was by your story – and I praise you for taking this old dog. I enjoyed your story honey. Bless you.”
I also contacted Wayne County Humane Society and Animal Control to see if they had any more information on Angel. All of the workers who were at the rescue shelter when Angel was found are no longer working there.
Dogs are great. Those loving little eyes, soft ears, and floppy feet make dogs basically irresistible to love. However, everything has its downside, and dog ownership is no different. When you’re deciding whether or not you’re ready to own a dog, you should weigh the pros and cons and decide if you’re ready. A pup may seem like the perfect, loving addition to your family, but dog ownership has its difficult parts as well.
This is the fun part. Dogs are great, and they offer so many positives to the lives they touch. In fact, the pros are so great that they often greatly outweigh the cons.
Companionship: Dogs are more than wagging tails and wet kisses, they are also amazing companions. They offer friendship, helps us from feeling lonely, and can be a sidekick for any adventure. Dogs are full of love and devotion, and there’s nothing that compares to the love you’ll have with a dog.
Protection: Dogs help people feel safe. Even if you have a small pup as your companion, they are still able to alert you if there is something off. Granted, you may have to train this behavior into your dog as not all of them come with this perk. Still, not being alone can feel safer, and dogs can provide their owners with that sense of security.
Everything has its downsides. Having a dog is so rewarding, but it’s not all walks to the park and playing catch. Dogs are a lot of work, require a lot of your attention, and can cause their owners some heartache.
Training Difficulties: Some dogs can enter your home fully trained and ready to be your loving companion. However, that’s not always the case. You may run into potty training problems, obsessive chewing, barking, digging, or escaping. If you get a dog, you have to be ready to train them — not to mention dealing with the destruction until they are trained.
Lifestyle Changes: Getting a pup means that your life might have to change a bit. Long vacations now need to include bringing your dog, boarding them, or getting a puppy sitter. If you’ve spent all day away from them, you might not be able to make quick plans after work anymore so your pup isn’t home alone for too long. Be sure you’re ready for the lifestyle changes that may need to happen.
Are You Ready For Your New Pup?
You have the pros, you have the cons, and now it’s time to decide if you’re ready.
Providing a Forever Home: It’s important to ask yourself if you’re ready because if you adopt a dog, you need to commit to forever with them. Even if they pee, chew, are hard to train, have health issues, or require a lot of time, you have to commit to working with them. Even if you move or you have a baby, you have to commit to forever for your dog. If you can’t, you’re not ready.
A New Addition to the Family: It’s not just about you; it’s about the whole family. Be sure your whole family is ready for dog ownership before committing to a new fuzzy family member.
Dog Ownership Alternatives: Not being ready for a pup is totally fine. In fact, it’s a lot more responsible to realize that than to realize it after adopting. If you’re not ready, that doesn’t mean you can’t have a pup in your life at all. Ask friends or family members with a dog if you can take them for a weekend, or even just for a few hours to play. Volunteer at your local shelter, foster, or make money by pet sitting in your neighborhood.
Dogs aren’t all cuddles, there are plenty of difficulties that you should consider as well. If you’re ready for the hard parts, you might want to consider plunging into the amazing world of dog ownership. If you’re not, that’s totally OK too. There are plenty of ways to get some puppy love in your life without owning a dog or until you’re ready.
It felt like a spontaneous support group session. I stood at the checkout counter of a pet store and the manager was scanning my purchases, including a stuffed pink giraffe dog toy.
He asked me what kind of dog I have. I shared with him and paused before noting that my dog, Angel, 11, just started playing with stuffed toys, two months after adoption.
Embarrassed that I may own a demonically possessed canine, I noted, “She likes to rip their legs and ears off.”
The manager laughed and put my confession to shame. His dog “goes for the throats” of stuffed toys, ripping out their jugulars. He was shy to describe his house full of throat-less stuffed animal toys.
My house is a graveyard for limbless, earless, antlerless, tailless creatures.
A fellow dog owner refers to these attacks on innocent stuffed creatures as “stufficide.” Her dog, Bart, is like my Angel. He instantly chews off limbs and, she said, “There’s always a bit of glee in Bart’s eye when he’s performing a medical procedure.”
That same giddy, demonic look comes over my Angel as she performs clean-cut amputations of stuffed animal parts with a grinding molar action.
When Angel came into my life she was given several stuffed toys by a shelter volunteer and I bought her a couple. I had no idea if she liked toys, as she was found with no background information or a name.
One of the toys I gave her was a small Wonder Woman doll with a squeaker in it. She slept in a bed with it, but ignored it. But two months later, something snapped. She got a feisty glimmer in her eye, picked up Wonder Woman in her mouth and started to chew on her. I laughed to myself watching her, until she spit out an arm. Then, the other arm.
The “bracelets of submission” that Wonder Woman uses to deflect gunfire, small missiles and other projectile weaponry, were cut off with the geriatric molars of a shepherd-husky.
This was the start of her obsession with removing appendages from stuffed creatures.
We now have a dinosaur missing a spikey plate from its back, a monkey with one leg, a pink dog with three legs, a pink rabbit with one ear, a cat face with one ear, and that giraffe I bought during my in-store counseling session, it is now missing one ear and one antler.
As the mood strikes her, she strikes another toy, chewing off parts and spitting them out in her beds or on the floor. At first I had a small collection of parts, but I have since disposed of them.
When legs are ripped off of critters, I steal the toys away to mend with sturdy upholstery thread. Angel supervises the surgeries with that same giddy, demonic stare.
Many dogs are annoyed by squeakers and seek them out first to extract from a toy. Angel doesn’t seem to care about killing squeakers. She just wants to rip creatures limb from limb.
Most dog owners have stories of how their canines like to carry around toys, rip them up at warp speed or bring them to bed. A German Shepherd owner told me his dog loved basketballs and deflated them within 20 seconds. Stuffed toys were gutted in less than a half hour, and tennis balls were chewed in half in 60 minutes.
I have to say that one or two stuffed animals always lie on my bed where Angel sleeps beside me. She also occasionally carries one outside when she goes potty, sets it down on the grass and I have to carry it back inside.
Three pet beds in my living room are like islands that hold Angel’s stuffed toy collection. I think of this environment like the Island of Misfit Toys, from the holiday television special Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. That island had oddball toys like a spotted elephant, a “Charlie-in-the-box” and a bird that swims.
I’ve taken photos of Angel’s signature collection, and captured images and videos of her chewing off and spitting out limbs. It’s like photographic evidence from crime scenes.
Many more toys will enter my home just to make Angel happy in her senior years. One bunny she’s removed all of the stuffing from and it shall remain stuffing-less per her request. Two smaller bunnies and a squirrel are her favorites, as she likes to chase bunnies and squirrels in real life. Those toys have been mended countless times and I’m happy to oblige. I even bought an extra stuffed bunny from the store so she has a spare.
I laugh at her silly behavior with these creatures, wondering if she had toys in her past. I’m sure she never had this many and I find joy in making her happy.
Tracy Ahrens is a veteran journalist, author, artist and mom to three rescued cats and one dog. See her web site at www.tracyahrens.weebly.com and add her children’s book, “Sammy Sparrow’s First Flight,” to your collection. All proceeds help 9 humane organizations.
One afternoon I found myself singing to my cat, Forest as I popped open a can of pate to feed him.
I believe that I was singing a rendition of “Surrey with the Fringe on Top” and strategically inserting Forest’s name, such as “When they see Forie comin’ in a surrey.”
As I sang while Forest ate, I stepped into the bathroom (just off the kitchen) and continued my tune. I figured that Forest quit eating and carried on his way.
My cell phone in hand, I exited the bathroom to see him still on the sink watching for me to return. He had been listening to me sing the whole time. I snapped his picture, kissed him and continued my serenade.
I often sing to or around my three cats (Forest, Joan and Jack) and my dog, Trucker Josiah. People have snuck up on me before with a visit to my home, catching me singing to my pets while cleaning the house.
My cats purr when I sing to them. They rub on me, knead their paws, and their whiskers fan forward saying, “I love you.”
Inserting their names into my tunes makes them know I am speaking to them. Even if other words are gibberish to them, they know their names. I also insert their nicknames and they respond.
I would never belt out a loud, scary song. My selections include musical tunes, lullabies, Christmas carols, hymns or a blend of different melodies as the mood strikes me. For each ballad I only sing a few lines or a chorus.
Some classic tunes I’ve altered for serenades include:
Little Bunny Foo Foo – “Little Bunny Foo Foo, Hopping through the Forest, Scooping up the field mice and boppin’ ‘em on the head.”
The Hills are Alive – “The hills are alive with the sound of Jackie!”
Chim Chim Cher-ee – “Chim chim cher-oo! I love you little Forie I love you I do!”
I feel Pretty – “And I pity, any dog that isn’t Truckie today.”
You are My Sunshine – “Please don’t take my Josie away.”
Getting to Know You – “Getting to know Joan, getting to hope Joan likes me too”
My Funny Valentine – “You’re my sunny funny Forie Valentine, my Forest-ita Valentine”
Then we have originals, such as:
Hairy Nipples – “Forie’s got some hairy nipples, he’s a hairy nippled boy!”
Crunch-itas – “Crunch-itas – little crunchy crunchies.”
I also must note a special “Happy Birthday Dance” jingle that is performed yearly to commemorate each of their births.
Sometimes I’ll pause during a melody and invite them to join me, but my “Sing it to me Forie!” is usually met with a blank stare and silence.
I’ve conducted singing experiments before, while lying across my bed or on the living room floor. Sure enough, if I sing and they are in the room, they gather next to me for petting and kisses.
In my observation, my cats react to singing like I am their mother purring, comforting them as she did when they were babies.
My dog responds by associating my gentle touch, hugs and kisses with my voice. Trucker relaxes, lies down, closes his eyes and starts to sleep. As his hearing has faded with age, I often sing to him while lightly pressing my lips to his head so he can feel the vibration of my voice.
I have tested this singing reaction with other people’s pets that I have babysat, and with my mom’s cats when I visit her. If they have never heard singing in person, the reaction can bring a little hesitation – but once they associate touch with voice they seem to relax.
As aforementioned, cleaning the house usually makes me break out in song. Songs gather a furry audience.
I recall one day when I was on my knees cleaning the kitchen floor. I was singing random tunes and inserting Forest’s name. I looked up to see him lying in the kitchen entryway, sleeping.
Another time while I was cleaning the floor and singing, Forest appeared across the room on a chair. Who knows how long he was resting there, purring, watching me like a talent scout.
A quick online search revealed that I’m not alone in my desire to sing to my pets.
According to the American Animal Hospital Association‘s Ninth Annual Pet Owner Survey, 65 percent of pet owners sing and/or dance before their pets. Some, they say, “have created little jingles they sing to their pets at suppertime.”
Google “singing calms pets” and you’ll find that singing is recommended by veterinarians and pet behaviorists. Animals are soothed by specific tones and pitches. Special CDs of songs exist just for cats and dogs.
My playlist of “originals” continues to grow. Perhaps I should start recording these tunes and playing them for my pets when I am not home. Maybe I have a hit single for a recording industry niche?
One thing is certain, at my house I’m a celebrity singer. There is always an attentive furry audience and that’s what matters most.
Tracy Ahrens is a veteran journalist, author, artist and mom to three rescued cats and one dog. See her web site at www.tracyahrens.weebly.com and add her children’s book, “Sammy Sparrow’s First Flight,” to your collection. All proceeds help 9 humane organizations.