Tag Archives: animals

Choosing the Right Dog

18 Jan

Yet another question a friend of mine wanted me to write about: What is the right dog for me?

Rule 1: You don’t want a puppy. You may THINK you want a puppy, but really, you don’t.
Rule 2: The more purebred the dog, the less you want the dog. You think you want a purebred, but believe me when I say…you DON’T.
Rule 3: You love labs. They are like the coolest dog ever. And you’ll walk them 6 times a day! But no, really, you won’t. And they are okay, but you don’t want a lab.

What is the point that I am making?

Owning a pet seems like rainbows and butterflies, but it is a LOT of work, and if you don’t choose the right breed or mix for your lifestyle (as well as think realistically), you will feel overwhelmed and may regret your choice.

First of all, loving a specific breed of dog is usually equivalent to thinking a breed of dog is pretty. Pretty will get you nowhere. Any potential dog owner needs to assess their lifestyle to get any sort of idea what kind of dog they would like. Active folks can do really well with high-energy breeds, but if you aren’t planning on playing fetch for an hour, or taking you dog on 3 walks a day, you can’t keep up with a lab. That is when you see problem behaviors arise. I see a lot of Boxers, German Shepherds, and breeds like Aussies and Cattle Dogs come into the shelter for breed-typical behavior. German Shepherd eats cats and the Aussie is herding and nipping the children, and all I can think is you didn’t see this coming? Training and socialization can do wonders, but not if you aren’t anticipating your problems before they start.

Small dogs? Good for someone who doesn’t have small kids, and leads an active lifestyle. Big dogs? Well-suited to apartments, as long as your willing to give some play time. Labs, pitties, border collies? Only good for people willing to put in the time to stimulate mentally and physically. Like I said, pretty won’t get you anywhere if your dog needs to go for a walk, but you’re too lazy to give him one. As for me, I think Great Danes are gorgeous, but do I own one? No.  Because I don’t make enough money to feed one, or pay for end of life medical costs because purebred dogs always have major health problems. Which brings me to my second point…

Do you want your dog to live 7 years? Or would you rather have your companion for a ripe old 15? Purebred dogs typically live for a shorter length of time than mixes, and have many more health problems because of the inbreeding taken to keep the breed “pure”. Danes have leg problems, labs get cancer, pugs can’t breathe…and it keeps going. By simply diluting those genes a little you will have a much healthier dog.

And finally. The puppy. Most of the people I met don’t actually want to put in the time to properly potty train, socialize, and train manners to a puppy. It takes a lot of hours, and still then you might not get it right. They are high energy, they like to bite and bark and whine, they have to go out so often, and they pee and poop in your house if you don’t figure it out soon enough. What people really want is something small, fluffy, and adorable that they don’t have to put any work into.

What kind of dog do you want, and how does that fit into your lifestyle? Have you ever acquired a pet, and then regretted your decision?

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The Meaning of Life

17 Jan

I was approached, today, by a long-time friend of mine who simply asked me what is the meaning of life?

As an agnostic atheist, the meaning of life is not clear as it may be to others. I’ve met gnostic atheists who say there is no meaning to life other than the biological need to reproduce. Many theists (read: religious folk) say that the only reason for our perpetual existence is serving a higher being.

And because it is unclear, it is something I’ve spent much of my time pondering.

I’m also a scientist, and as such, I can tell you that humans are animals, and are thus subject to many of the same principles all animals are subjected to. These being the essence of survival: intake (food, water), excrete, and reproduce. Reproduction is the essence of all animal life, which is why, although our planet is vastly overpopulated and we are basically killing our own kind, humans continue to have offspring. That, in a nutshell, could be the meaning of life. Humans just happen to have developed opposable thumbs and a conscious, or we wouldn’t be thinking about why we exist.

That’s how I’ve come to my conclusion about the meaning of life.

The meaning of life is about the human connection. We’ve already supported that with our brief discussion of reproduction, but it’s more than that, too. It’s about gaining knowledge and sharing knowledge. It’s about being kind and sharing ourselves with others. If I can inspire one person, whether it is to be kinder to others, or to learn something knew, then I’ve made a difference. If I can teach someone something, I’ve made a difference. Even if my smile at a stranger in a grocery store can brighten their day, I’ve made a difference.

Why else do humans spend so much of their time with others, exchanging stories and asking advice? It’s all about spreading the wealth of knowledge, and making our journey in this life about the journey, not the destination. I think that is what many of us get caught up in, is the destination. You know…living life through God so that we have a beautiful afterlife with rainbows and butterflies and unicorns (because what’s heaven without unicorns!??). But that isn’t good enough. We are here now, and we need to make the best of it.

From my point of view, if you live this life trying to teach, help, and be kind to others then whatever your belief, you win. How can a Christian God send someone who has lived their life virtuously, but was Buddhist, or Jewish, or Atheist, to anywhere other than this heaven place? That doesn’t sound like a being that is amazing, and forgiving, and wonderful. That sounds like a judgmental, power-hungry dictator.

Living life to it’s fullest. Gaining knowledge and wisdom. Giving knowledge and wisdom. Connecting to each other. Showing kindness to all. Sharing stories and giving advice. That’s what life is about. Growing as an individual, to grow as a culture.

And sex. Lots and lots of sex. It is our biological prerogative, after all.

What do you think is the meaning of life?

Dogs, Their Testicles, & Cancer

13 Jan

In a moment of weakness in which I lacked inspiration, a friend of mine wanted to know how I feel about neutering too early, a correlation with cancer, and behavior problems.

First of all, I’ll say I’m not a vet. I did, however, do a brief search on the topic and was almost instantly overwhelmed. The most glaring problem I see with the statement “neutering too early causes cancer” is how much we like to throw around the word causes. Are we sure it causes cancer? If you ask me, and this is even coming from someone who lost someone to cancer less than a month ago, everything causes cancer. Eating eggs, drinking too much milk, not jogging enough, jogging too much, looking at cats on the internet, sex, everything. This means that I don’t really care. BUT, just because we see an increase in cancer does not mean the cancer is the cause. It could be just a correlation without any causative effects.

This could be something as convoluted as neutering causes a decrease in secondary sexual characteristics and behavior, that could lead to behavior patterns leading to an early death, thus extending the lifespan and due to the lengthened life span and the natural course of senescence, cancer becomes more frequent. If a human dies at 34, they are much less likely to have had cancer than someone who dies at 95. Plain and simple.

Finally, to someone who is not a vet (I can’t stress that enough), I don’t immediately see a reason why this would cause cancer. Cancer is just a tendency for cells to lose their regulation and divide uncontrollably. This procedure doesn’t continually damage cells, causing them to need to grow and divide. But like I said, I’m not super up-to-date on my literature, so that is just a speculation and a plea to make sure you question everything you read, even science.

On the other side of this testicle fence lives the behavior behind neutering. By neutering a dog, you are ridding that dog of hormones that cause secondary sexual characteristics and behaviors to arise. Mounting behavior is one of these, and is usually very problematic for dog owners. Other dogs don’t generally like it, and it tends to cause fights to happen. Energy levels see a decline in dogs that are neutered as well, as does aggression. If we neuter a dog before it begins to develop sexually, we can stop these behaviors before they happen or become very, very hard to change.

I think the biggest thing to consider here is how dedicated of an owner you are. If you adopt a high energy dog such as a lab or pit bull, and choose to keep him intact, you are likely going to see extreme levels of energy, mounting and sexual behavior, increased likelihood of aggression, and marking. Lots and lots of marking. Once these behaviors are solidified, it is difficult to intervene and most of the time owners tend to just manage them. If an owner can’t manage them, that is when shelters see dogs with behavior issues such as “marking”, “inappropriate mounting”, and “dog aggression” come through their doors. From what I’ve seen, most folks can’t handle a high energy dog, either.

There is a reason why we look at dogs that come in the shelter with behavior problems and say well maybe if they neutered their dog they wouldn’t have this problem…a

BUT. If you neuter your dog before these characteristics develop, you’re much less likely to see them develop in the future. Dogs are more likely to stay in their homes with their owners, and with a healthy lifestyle, can look forward to many, many years…without marking the couch, the chair, and the door frame.

You’re also much less likely to have any oops-my-dog-bolted-out-the-door-and-got-all-the-neighborhood-dogs-pregnant incidents.

Thoughts? Are your pets spayed or neutered?

What it Means to be an “Open-Admission” Animal Shelter

14 May

For those who are hard of hearing, or just prefer reading, the text version is below:

Hey everyone, so this is my first video blog…hopefully in a long series of video blogs.

And I’m bringing this to you, because as some of you may know I work at an animal shelter. If you didn’t already know that, you do now! Before I go any further, I am just going to mention that I am not going to say the name of the shelter I work at, but just in case any of you deduce it or already know it, I am not a representative of my animal shelter.

I work for an Open Admission shelter, so that’s actually what I’m going to be talking about today. What is an open admission shelter?

An Open Admission shelter is similar to the equal opportunity act. An employer won’t discriminate based on age, sex, creed, religion, or any of those things, and an open admission shelter functions in much the same way. We won’t discriminate what animals we bring in. We will take in a 1 day old puppy, or a 17 year old dog. We’ll take in aggressive and dangerous dogs, and then of course we will take in the normal dog.

Even if we don’t have space in the shelter, we will still accept animals…we will make space.

The opposite of an Open Admission Shelter is a Limited Admission Shelter. A limited Admission shelter is what you would usually call a rescue. The great thing about limited admission shelter is that they get to choose which animals they take in – they are often breed-based, so they may only take in specific breeds, like yorkies or large breeds. Open admission shelters often utilize these rescues when we don’t have the resources to work with an animal to give them a home.

The estimated number of owned animals in the United States in 2012 is 179 million cats and dogs.

The number of stray animals estimated in 2012 is 70 million.

70 million. That’s a lot!

The unfortunate reality of this numbers, is that we can’t place all of these animals. We have a variety of resources we may utilize – we can try transferring to limited admission shelters than I mentioned earlier. They often have more resources per animal because they have fewer animals. We might also try fostering an animal if it has an issue we can work with, but isn’t quite ready for adoption.

Being a nonprofit organization, means we have limited resources, and unfortunately those run out.

Even though we can take in all animals, we don’t always have the resources to safely or effectively adopt those animals out. And it is for this reason, that Open Admission shelters perform euthanasia.

Would you want a dog that escaped its yard and killed another animal, or mauled a child, to live next to Grandma? Or you? Or maybe you have kids…do you want this dog as your own pet?

Or what about a cat that is so aggressive, you can’t touch it? Or a cat that is so terrified, it can’t function?

Would you be willing to pay even $100 for a dog that may pass away within the next 6 months?

These are all issues we face when we are trying to decide if an animal is an adoptable animal.

I don’t speak for all shelters when I say this, but our adoptable animals don’t have a shelf life. Once they pass behavioral evaluations and medical assessments and are made available, they remain on the adoption floor until they are adopted.

If an animal is on the adoption floor for an extended period of time (1 or 2 months) we may transfer that animal to another facility in hopes that it may find its forever home in that community. Just because we aren’t reaching the right adopters, doesn’t mean they aren’t out there.

The goal is to reduce the number of animals without a home, and do reduce the number of animals subjected to cruelty each year.

If you have any questions, please get them to me. I want this to be an open discussion, so share this, and give me your questions. Maybe I’ll even answer them in a follow-up video blog! I want to answer them and dispel any myths or rumors you may have heard about open-admission shelters!

 

What Does the Fox Say, You Ask? Let’s Talk About Furries

27 Apr

According to a few friends of mine, who did some intense furry research recently, the song “What Does the Fox Say?” references some mannerisms and language associated with furry culture. Not familiar with furries?

I’m not either, but from what I’ve gathered, its a form of hentai porn based around humanoid animals. One, both, or many people may also dress up in furry costume and have sex. (If I have any of this wrong, let me know…like I said, I’m not too familiar.)

That brings us down to the question – if you were to partake in this furry culture, what would you be? After not-a-whole-lot of deliberation, I decided that I would be a red panda, because HELLO they are adorable. And if I’m going to be a furry, I want to be an adorable one…with an awesome tail…cause tails are the shit.

I don’t think I’d ever get into full blown furry madness, but I wouldn’t be opposed to dressing up in a fuzzy costume and having some fun. After all, costuming (and I don’t mean this in any sexual sort) is my thing. Those fuzzy costumes feel nice on the skin, too.

Would you ever partake in anything furry? Do you have anything to add about furry culture? What furry would you be? I WANT TO KNOW!

RIP Pandora

27 Oct

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Yesterday, I found one of my two beloved chinchillas dead in their cage. It was my baby girl, Pandora. She was young, so the only reason I can think she passed was dehydration, however, they had water in their bottle and it was functioning. They have been living in my house without me for the past 2 months, and I come regularly to give them more fresh hay and make sure they have fresh water. On this particular trip, both were available and I was so excited, because I just bought them both lots of new treats and things to chew on.

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If it wasn’t dehydration, I have no clue as to what happened. Regardless of the reason, I feel terrible, and know that most likely, it was my fault. It always sets on the shoulders of the owner, and I wish that this stupid roommate thing never happened.

Pandora was my first chinchilla, and I will miss her dearly.

RIP Pandora

My Decision to Postpone College

28 Aug


When I was in 3rd grade, I made a decision that affected the rest of my life. I decided, at the ripe old age of 9, that I was going to pursue veterinary medicine as my career. To this day, that has remained my goal.

I finally finished classes for my bachelors degree, but that isn’t even close to my goal. At this point, I still have 6 years of college ahead of me, as I am going to get my vet tech certificate before going to vet school.

Originally I planned on beginning at the local community college in the fall following the completion of my bachelors, but that ended up being pushed back to the spring. In retrospect, I think that was the better decision – after being in school for 18 years, a break is inviting and welcome.

And that brings me to the present. I’ve reached a point at my current job at which I find myself unable to advance or grow, and that is, in a word…unfortunate. The unfortunate part of it all is that I don’t feel as though I am done with my non-profit job. I like the work we do, but I can’t handle another year if scooping poop and scrubbing floors.

Call me conceited, but I think I’ve paid my dues.

But, because of my decision to go back to school, I can’t work any other position at my current company.

That is why I have decided to wait until next fall to continue my education.

First, if I get the position I am applying for, I will have the opportunity to work hand-in-hand with a certified dog behaviorist. That isn’t an opportunity that comes around every day.

Second, I need a break. I need to want to study. I need to miss the knowledge.

And finally, I need to be a young adult for a while. All I have known is barely scraping by because I am going to school full time and working the rest of the time just to be able to pay bills. I want to enjoy being on my own, and being an adult, and being a 20-something while I am still a 20-something. When I finish college, I will be about 31. That’s too old to not have had some life me time.

What do you think of my decision? Are my reasons valid? What has your experience with school and your career been?