Tag Archives: pets

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?

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

New Mommy Syndrome

3 Sep

 

This is my third attempt at writing this blog. I can only hope that this one is effective, but considering I’m past the first sentence, I’m off to a good start.

My new baby isn’t really a baby at all. He is a 2-year-old dog, who I’ve named Jazz, that I adopted two weeks ago, yesterday.

In my second week, I’ve become more adjusted to having a dog, but in no way is my new mommy syndrome gone. From the moment that I first got the call that Jazz was mine, up until about a week later, I was 30 seconds from breaking down and sobbing uncontrollably.  At the end of that week, being in worse shape than I started, I finally lost control of my emotions and broke down – at work no less. I pulled myself together the best I could, but when I got home I laid down on the couch with my new doggy and cried. I cried, and I cried, and I cried some more.

I was at wits end. I was afraid to leave my home. I was afraid to come home again. I couldn’t think about tomorrow, because the prospect of being tied down by a dog for the next 12 years was too overwhelming to think about. I didn’t eat for the first 3 days. I couldn’t sleep. With every moment he peed in the house, my hopelessness increased. Every poop was unbearable. Plain and simple: I was a total mess.

Unfortunately, Jazz’s story wasn’t simple. I couldn’t just take him back because I was overwhelmed. I couldn’t take him back because I realized I wasn’t a dog person. The truth is there was only one other option. Either I adopted him, or he was put to sleep. It was that outcome that pushed me to adopt him. I had to fight through the pain, just long enough to find the light.

Its been two weeks, and although that doesn’t seem like any respectable length of time, I still haven’t found the light I’ve been searching for. I can leave the house without being sick to my stomach, and I have been eating and sleeping normally, but my life is no where near anything remotely close to normal. I feel guilty when I spend time with my friends, and I feel guilty when I would rather take him out for 5 minutes to go potty, than walk him for 45. I feel guilty when I see how great of a dog he is, and he is great.

Sure, he is indifferent about most things dogs love. He could care less about tennis balls, rope toys, toys, or generally anything other than rawhide. It has its perks, and it means he doesn’t chew my furniture or shoes. He enjoys water, and likes the cats. He rarely barks or jumps. He likes other dogs and is easy to train. He loves people more than anything. How can I have so much anxiety about a dog that is so perfect? These are things I think about every second, of every day. There isn’t a moment that passes that I don’t wonder where he is at or what he is doing.

Apparently, this is all just new mommy syndrome.

If I could rewind time, there is no way I would change my decision. I love Jazz, I do. He has had positive impacts on my life, and I do enjoy spending time with him.

Yesterday was what I like to call “a good day”. On good days, I wake up and don’t feel doom in the pit of my stomach. On good days, I look forward to being a dog owner. These days are really dependent on my schedule. When I got home yesterday, I sat around for a good 30 minutes to an hour, and then I packed up the pup and we went to the dog park. If I could spend every day at the dog park, all days would be good days. Being outside, and watching my pup play with the other pups is so pleasurable. I have no stress when we are at the dog park.

The day before that wasn’t a good day. It was what we don’t talk about. Days like that I find my fuse is just a tad bit too short, and my desire to be independent is all-consuming.

Fast forward to today, and although it wasn’t a good day, it wasn’t unspeakably terrible. It was nice to come home and love on him.

Two weeks later, my stress level is still more than doubled. I’m managing, though. I grit my teeth and try to come to a compromise. No one seems to quite understand what new mommy syndrome is like, and I don’t think I fully believe that it will go away, but that is the misunderstanding that keeps us all being individuals. Friends try to help, and in one breath I don’t want help. In the next breath, I’m just thankful that I’ve made it long enough to contemplate if I need help.

If there is one thing this experience is teaching me, it must definitely be that I will never be able to raise children. Oh, and that perseverance will keep your head above the water, even if its just barely enough to breathe.

Have you ever had “new mommy syndrome”? Was it with children or a pet? How did you cope?

Fire, Evacuation, and Pets

11 Jun

 

Yesterday marked the beginning of the biggest fire northern Colorado has seen in years. It is still burning strong today at over 14000 acres of land are up in flames. An enormous number of people and their pets have been evacuated from their homes. All the while, I have been doing my job at my animal shelter.

I was there for 12 hours today, and I look forward to a very similar day tomorrow. We’ve opened our doors to a hundreds of animals, and continue to offer space for more. Unfortunately, some of their homes have already been taken by the fire.

It feels good to know that I’m making a difference, and as I sit here, all I can think about is how I wish I was able to be at work. My thoughts go out to the vast number of people and animals affected by this fire, and I can only hope that the wind will cease, and by any luck the sky will open up and rain will pour down.

Photo taken by Jessica Peterson.

My First Time

20 Apr

Euthanasia.

A four syllable word that brings a lot of discomfort, both in the hearts and the minds of those speaking and hearing it.

It isn’t something that anyone enjoys doing. If animal lovers had their way, it wouldn’t exist…and thats a fact that is true across the board. Sometimes, as you will hear most people put it, its a necessary evil. This is especially true in animals who are suffering. If you’ve ever been in extreme pain, you know that it can be so bad that you wish you could just cease to exist. We all wish this was the only time it had to be done…in extreme cases. Sometimes, its not. There are so many animals in this world that there is no possible way for us to find homes for all of them. Some of them can’t even be in the same room as someone. I don’t know if that is something I could’ve fathomed as an absolute until I worked with some of the animals I have.

Sometimes, animals just have to be euthanized. I don’t like it, but how can you adopt out an animal knowing that it could potentially kill a child? Or another pet? Or you? How can you say its okay to let an animal keep suffering?

On April 15, 2012, I euthanized my first animal. It was a 16 year old brown tiger cat whose health was failing, and it was requested to be put down by its [loving] owner.

This wasn’t my first time in the euthanasia room by far. I’d assisted many times before, and I had even completed injecting the drug on animals that had already had most of it injected already (to help me become competent in intravenous injection).

This time it was different. This time it was all me.

The problem with older cats is that it is much harder to find veins, and it is much easier to blow them. As with all the animals that come into that room, I gave her attention. I picked her up, scratched her head, and thus began the purring. The purring is usually the hardest part.

Very awkwardly, I put my thumb against the vein to help stop it from moving. I, slowly, put the needle under the skin. I missed. Tried again, and got it. Then…the vein blew. I couldn’t use that leg again, so I tried the other one. It was much less awkward on this leg, and I got the vein on the first try.

And it was done.

It was rather…uneventful? I didn’t really feel…anything. Maybe it was because I had already been numbed by previous events of the day (the terror involved with trying to break up a dog fight), or maybe it was that I’ve accepted that euthanasia is a fact of life in the shelter. Maybe it was even because I didn’t know the animal personally, because I’ve had animals I was close to put down for various reasons and it sucks; I have to choke back tears every time, while I continue to toil away at my duties.

As I walk down the path toward being a veterinarian, I’ve had to do many things that I haven’t wanted to do, and I’m sure I’ll have to do many more. Its a combination of these things that makes me not only a well-rounded veterinarian, but a well-rounded human being as well. I can understand deeper things than just existence.

Once again, be a responsible pet owner. Socialize your animals, train your animals, and most of all get them spayed and neutered. Maybe someday, if people become more responsible, we can get to a point in which euthanasia becomes uncommon in the shelter.

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My kitty walked with me all the way to the recycling today!

17 Apr

My kitty walked with me all the way to the recycling today!

Meet Ziggy. He walked all the way to the recycling and back, with only a little help!

Need tips on how to get your cat to walk on a leash? I can help!

The Truth About Kill vs. No Kill Animal Shelters

17 Apr

Ever been to an animal shelter? One of the first questions folks usually ask is if its a “kill” or a “no kill” shelter.

I currently work in a shelter, and I’ve come to dislike these terms – they are inaccurate. Better, more accurate terms to use are “open admission” and “limited admission” shelter. The reason for this is because “no kill” shelters do euthanize animals in certain situations, and because “kill” doesn’t accurately describe the mission of open admission shelters.

At an open admission shelter, all animals are accepted, regardless of the state they are in and the capacity of the shelter. At limited admission shelters, only a specified number of animals are taken in, and often these animals are confined to a specific age, species, and/or breed – these shelters will often turn away animals, who will then end up in open admission shelters anyway. That’s the first thing you need to know.

The second thing, is that no one wants to euthanize animals. Open admission shelters will work with other shelters and rescues to move animals that have behavioral or other issues, and to reduce the number of animals euthanized (we are all trying to save the animals – we love them, remember?). Limited admission shelters often work with these open admission shelters to provide these homes and to work with these animals to make them adoptable. In a case that an open admission shelter can’t place an animal, or the animal can’t be adopted (health or behavior issues), sometimes euthanasia is the only option. Its also the last option; remember, no one wants to do this.  If an animal is too sick, its quality of life is severely diminished. If an animal is aggressive, how can a shelter say that it is adoptable? If it gets out one day and kills a child, who is to blame?

That being said, limited admission shelters will also resort to euthanasia in extreme cases.

Neither shelter type is necessarily better than the other, because they both work together in order to help find homes for animals and to help correct the animal overpopulation crisis. That is why it is so important to spay and neuter pets. If the number of animals decreases, the number of places they can live increases, and the number of euthanasias decreases. It makes perfect sense.

So please, try to change your frame of mind to encompass open admission and limited admission shelters instead of “kill” and “no kill”. Spay and neuter your pets. And understand the important role each type of shelter plays, because we are all in this together.