Pet Stuff...

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Dog Adoption & Fostering

Whenever someone decides to try fostering a dog there's going to be a family member, coworker, or friend who will think they're crazy.
My advice? Go with your heart.

Fostering is work. You have an animal to take care of and that includes feeding, bathing, cleaning up after, and taking to adoption days or the vet. (Some rescues will do the vet visits for you.) Most rescue volunteers will pitch in and help each other with adoption days and if you have a dog that requires professional grooming, the rescue should pay for it.

Choose the right organization to work with for fostering. 

This can be your local shelter. Most accept fosters due to the over crowding. Check out their website, visit, or make a phone call and find out what they're looking for in a foster family.
Check out your local rescue. Look them up online. They should be a verifiable non-profit. Go to your state's website and there should be a place to look them up to see their non-profit status. In New Jersey that would be at the Directory of  Registered Charities   Making sure the rescue you choose is a non-profit helps to ensure all funds and donations will go to the care of the animals.

Once you find your rescue ask about their policies for fostering. Who pays for what? A good rescue will supply all the supplies (food, leashes, medical needs, flea prevention, etc.) and host adoption days in your community. Ask about what happens if you can no longer foster? This sometimes comes up if the dog you're foster doesn't get along with another pet in your home or if you have a family emergency and can no longer keep the dog. There should be policy in place for emergencies.

A good rescue usually gives a first time foster an easy dog. By that I mean one that is calm or maybe a puppy. Most puppies have no issues and just want to play. Good choice if you have kids. Some in the rescue I belong to only foster puppies and others only want to do the older dogs. I've done both. Puppies can be fun and older dogs are usually already house trained. There are good points to any age dog. Puppies are usually adopted faster than older dogs.

If you can't foster there are always other volunteer options.
Most good rescues run fundraisers and the more hands to help the better.
Processing paperwork for adoptions.
Calling references.
Doing home visits.
Transporting dogs.
Collecting donations.

Check out your local shelter or rescues. Their website should have a list of volunteer opportunities.

Volunteer and save a life. 

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Hurricane Safety list for Dogs

With hurricane season upon us and a storm surging up the east coast, don't forget your 4-legged furbabies! Here's some quick storm tips for keeping your pups safe and calm when the weather gets wild.
  1. Make sure your dog is tagged and chipped in case you get separated. It can help you find Fido after the storm. 
  2. Find out in advance where the pet-friendly shelters are or ask a friend or relative who lives in a safer area if they'd board your dog for the storm. Make sure it's someone you know and trust. 
  3. Make Fido a Go-bag. Just like that emergency bag you may need in case you have to evacuate, have one for your dog;  any medication they might need, a copy of vaccinations, water, dishes, food, and a favorite blanket. Don't forget a toy or two! Keep the leash handy and put their harness on in case you have to get out fast. 
  4. If you're riding out the storm at home; Keep them indoors! Aside from going crazy with fear of the wind, rain, and possible lightening, flying debris can injure your dog. If you won't send your child out into the storm, don't send your dog. 
  5. A box of Wee-wee pads can be your best friend's best friend. Place them by the back door so they know it's okay not to have to brave the elements. If you have a bigger dog and they stress about getting out to eliminate. Stay by the door and get them right back inside. (Only if there are no flying objects-branches, lawn chairs, trash, etc.) 
  6. Get Cash. Take some cash out of the bank in case the little card machines go down and stores only take cash. You never know what you'll need, so be ready. 
  7. Stock up on dog food! One thing New Jersey learned from Superstorm Sandy was stores might not open for days. There was one store around here that got generators in and their stock went fast. Everything flew off the shelves in record time. Get in two weeks worth of dog food and treats so your dog can maintain a normal diet during this stressful time. 
  8. If the noise and pressure changes are freakin' your dog out, try putting a t-shirt or thunder coat on your dog. Play calming music and pet them often to reassure them. 
  9. Put a photo of your pet in your wallet. If you have to search for them after the storm you'll need a picture to show shelters. 
  10. If you must evacuate take your pets with you. If it's not safe for you, it's not safe for your dogs. 

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Training a Dog at 5 a.m.

This is Gracie. She's my 5 a.m. alarm clock. This is the time my husband gets up for work. Gracie hears that alarm and she's on her feet pacing around the bed.
We have maybe 10-15 minutes till the barking starts.

If the power ever goes out, we're set. Our furry little alarm clock always goes off at 5 a.m no matter what. Even if the regular alarm is quiet, you know, Saturday, Sunday, holidays, this little fuzz-ball still goes off right on time.

I've tried to explain the difference between weekdays and workdays, but she's not getting it. She refuses to relent until we're out of bed. Gracie would make a good Drill Sargent.

What happens once we're up and moving? Gracie goes back to sleep....

Saturday, June 20, 2015

How to Foster a Dog

Did you always think you wanted to do something to help homeless animals, but weren’t sure what? If adoption is out of the question, you might consider fostering. Although being a foster family for a homeless dog can be very rewarding, you might have some concerns. Stay calm. It’s easier than you think.

The foster family opens their heart and home to a dog from a shelter and agrees to work with the pup on basic house manners. The dog you foster might come with a history of abuse or neglect and will need a lot of patience to assimilate to a home again.  Other dogs might be very easy and quickly become acclimated to your family.  Each dog is different, but don’t worry. Here are a few tips that will improve your fostering experience.

  1. Find a good dog rescue organization to team up with. Every area of the country has animal rescue groups. Look online or in your local paper and call a few in your area. This is your chance to interview them to see if they are a responsible group. Ask questions such as: “Will the group pay to have the dog spayed or neutered? What if the dog doesn’t get along with my dog? What if he has a medical problem? Who will take the dog if I go on vacation?” Getting answers to these kinds of questions will give you a good insight into the type of people you will be working with and how much support you will get if a problem arises.

  1. Be prepared for a variety of behaviors. Most dogs are good and want to please, but shelter dogs need a little time to come out of their shell. The dog may cower and hide when he first arrives in your home. This usually isn’t a problem. Give him space and let him come to you. The little fellow has probably had a rough few days of arriving at the shelter, being transported to the rescue organization, and finally to your house. He doesn’t understand why he lost his home or why he keeps being moved around. Show him where the acceptable bathroom place is, give him food and water and soon you’ll see a wonderful personality emerge.

  1. Know a few accidents are normal any time a dog moves to a new home. If your foster dog has an accident gently correct him with a firm, “no”, and show him the proper place to potty. When he does potty outside praise him so he knows he did it right.

  1. One of the best tools to get a dog adopted is photos. All good rescue groups have accounts at places like Petfinder.com and Adopt-a-pet.com. When the dog is in your house take some cute pictures of your foster. Send them your rescue group as soon as possible so they can put the photos up on the website. You could even take a short video of your little guy so everyone searching for a new pet can see how precious he is. You should also let your rescue know if there are any behavioral quirks such as chasing cats, resource guarding or marking.

  1. The hardest part is saying goodbye. You’ve given him love and affection and watched him go from a frightened little pup to a wonderful family dog and now it’s time to give him up. You’ve read the adoptive family’s application, checked references and decided they would be a good forever home for your foster dog. When you hand the dog over to the new family your heart may break. You’ve fallen in love with the little guy and now he’s leaving. It can be a very emotional time for the whole family, but remember there’s another dog out there that needs a loving foster family so he can find his way to a good life.


With so many animals being dumped in shelters every day, fostering one dog might not seem like much, but remember you’ve saved a life. Now that your first foster is adopted into a good family, you’re ready to save another homeless dog. You are the bridge between a scary shelter and a loving home. Be the bridge that gives these dogs a happily ever after and discover the magic of unconditional love.  

Monday, May 18, 2015

How to Give a Cranky Dog a Pill

Dogs are so smart. They can take a piece of cheese or meat and gobble it up while spitting out the pill. It's almost like magic. No matter how well you wrap, squish, or sandwich that pill inside the treat, the dog deftly spits it back out. So, what's the best way to give a dog a pill?

Double time them! Aim for their predatory instinct.

This is Cupcake. She had a huge blood blister on her ear. Read that about that miss-adventure here. Now she takes meds every morning and night. She's an older pup and very savvy on how to get her own way so I had to outsmart her. Here's how I did it.

First, wrap the pill in something irresistible. I use roast beef. It's a special treat she only got when we were first training her and if she needs a pill.

Prepare the roast beef wrapped pill and then take another piece of meat that's a bit longer so you can dangle it.

Hold pill roast beef between your fingers, but palm the second piece.

Offer the first and once its taken from your fingers quickly slip the second piece out and dangle it in front of the dog's nose. Watch their eyes pop as they get the scent. Every dog I'd ever had would gobble the first quickly in order to get that second piece. Meat gone, pill gone! Works every time.

I've found the meat works better than those pill popper things. I believe it's because meat is a more natural choice and not as stickly/chewy as the poppers.

Good luck with your pill popping pups! Let me know how this method works for you.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Fun at the Veterinarian

Cupcake (nee Corona) went to the vet today.
It wasn't pretty....

Saturday afternoon I noticed one of Cupcake's ears was flopping over. Normally her ears are straight up so this was a surprise.  On the top of her pointy ears was a big soft bump. Did she get bitten by a bug? Stung by a bee? I put some Neosporin on it and figured I'd wait and see.

Sunday
Still swollen. Doesn't seem to bother her.

Monday
Still there. Call the vet. She's not in any pain. Make appointment for Tuesday afternoon.

Tuesday
Take the trembling little Chihuahua to the vet. She starts shaking as soon as she realizes Gracie's isn't coming with us. Cupcake never goes for a walk without Gracie. She tried to get back into the house. I tug her along and put her in the car.

We arrive at vet and she's starting to run in circles. I pick her up before she trips me.

To truly understand how upset Cupcake is you have to know her history. For the first 9 years of her life Cupcake lived in a hoarding situation where she had no medical care, was repeated bred, and was rarely handled. There was no love and affection in this little dog's life before rescue. She came into my house full of fear. After two years she's found her place on our couch and in our hearts. However, that doesn't mean she trusts anyone else.

Cupcake is muzzled because she will bite anyone who tries to touch her. (except me, of course) The vet wants to drain the ear bubble so I hold her body and the assistant holds her legs. Just as the vet moves to drain the ear, Cupcake freaks and starts fighting. POP! The blister on her ear erupts and BloOd goes everywhere. It flew all over me and the table.

We calm her down and get the ear wrapped. As I hold her I say, "I think I smell something."

The vet finishes wrapping the ear. I release Cupcake and she tries to leap off the table. I pull her back and she takes a dump all over me and the table. Then she scrambles her little legs around on the slippery mess to make sure her little gift is spread everywhere. Thank you, Cupcake!

I pay the vet, make an appointment to come in for a recheck next Wednesday, and head home to shower. (Cupcake got a bath in the vet's sink.)

Has your dog ever had one of those fun days at the Veterinarian?

Happy Hump Day!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Thinking About Adopting a Puppy Mill Dog?

Thinking of adopting a Puppy Mill dog? 

One piece of advice; Do it! 

But read this first. 

You'll need patience, since this dog has never lived in a home before. It might not understand  the big deal about housebreaking issues and will need some positive reinforcement to learn where to eliminate. It might not understand things a normal dog would seem to know. His life before you was a wire cage. There were no warm beds, rugs, or cuddles. Go slow, have patience.

Your puppy mill dog will probably be older, so give it some time to learn the ropes. For all of it's years there has been a different set of rules. They were probably handled roughly, check for pregnancy, back in cage, take puppies as soon as they were old enough to go (sometimes even before that,) sometimes fed sporadically depending on the mill. They weren't bathed or groomed.

Everything must be learned and old habits need to be realigned. That takes time. Like children, each one is different. Some will learn quickly, some might always have problems. For the tough learners-wee-wee pads will be your friend in the housebreaking process.

I have a Puppy Mill dog and she is an absolute dream. Gracie, a Shih Tzu, adapted slowly. Luckily we had another dog and she kind of followed the lead. Gracie would follow Halston, our Golden, outside and quickly got the "where to go to go" down quickly.  Since she is a small dog, I do leave wee pads down when I leave the house for any length of time. Small dog, small bladder.

And she hates to be groomed. A Shih Tzu needs a groom every 4 to 6 weeks by a professional groomer. Shih Tzus have hair that will continue to grow and needs to be trimmed regularly. (Something to think about BEFORE adopting this type of dog-are you ready to take your new pup to the groomer regularly and can you afford it?) Gracie will twitch and move every time the groomer lines up the scissors which makes for some crooked haircuts.

When Gracie first arrived she was sick. A recent spay and both ears were infected. We had to get her well before anything else. I was her foster mom so she came to me right from the mill. If you're adopting a Puppy Mill, you might get it from a rescue that will take care of any health issues before adopting.

Our Halston has since passed, but she was Gracie's best friend to the end. They would cuddle and go everywhere together. Now Gracie has a new sibling, Cupcake (nee Corona) the damaged dog. She's not as cuddly as Halston, but they've come to an understanding.

Gracie loved to be petted, but not picked up. She'll cuddle by my side, but not so much on the lap. She follows me everywhere and will sit by my side while I'm at my writing desk. I never get a bad critique from her. :)

Adopting a Puppy Mill dog takes patience but the rewards are many. You'll get a best friend who will reward you with unconditional love, warm cuddles, and the knowledge that you gave her a chance at a life she never could have dreamed existed beyond that cold wire cage.