As pictures unfolded the past several days of destruction from Hurricane Harvey along the Texas coast and the sky’s open spigot drenching Houston with floodwater devastation, one could not help but wonder about the people and animals impacted by this natural disaster.
Hurricanes, tornadoes, fires, floods -- every year the United States and other countries feel the assault of such forces. And, every year, rescue organizations, from the American Red Cross to the ASPCA, respond to people and pets in crisis. Sometimes the images and realities are overwhelming – who can forget Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans? These are the times when I, at least, wish I’d won the lottery and could pump millions of dollars into the organizations that respond to natural disasters.
Two recently published articles helps us understand the situation:
But, I don’t have millions. I don’t have thousands. I really don’t even have hundreds. And, I imagine most people are in the same boat, so to speak. So, how can we respond? How can we help?
Look around at the resources we do have. Can we purchase an extra bottle of laundry detergent or give up a cup of coffee at the local drive-through on our way to work? Donations, of supplies or money (even if it’s $5 or $10) can go a long way, partnering with other small donations.
As an author, I have another resource – my books: they are about pets. And, I can encourage a fundraising campaign, giving books to those who donate to Hurricane Harvey pet rescue endeavors. That’s what I’ve decided to do.
National Dog Day was Saturday, about the time Hurricane Harvey hit Texas. In honor of dogs, and helping those in need impacted by this major storm, I’ll give a book to anyone who requests one after they have donated to a pet rescue organization helping animals displaced by Hurricane Harvey. Groups such as the ASPCA, Best Friends Animal Society, Humane Society of the United States, and Austin Pets Alive! are participating in the pet rescue endeavors (you can learn more through the links I’ve provided here).
Email me a copy of the receipt (or some other type of confirmation) that you receive from your donation to one of these groups (or one of your choice that is helping the animals displaced by the hurricane and Houston’s flooding), and I’ll send you a book for free! My email address is email@example.com. Keep the book for yourself or give to a friend, child, or grandchild. My inspirational stories weave wonderful life lessons and showcase how pets can teach us amazing things.
Many of the pictures we’ve seen have also been inspirational: people helping one another, coming together in community, saving lives, providing hope. That’s what we can do here: provide hope, let others know we care. When our hearts are broken by the images of ravaging flood waters, dogs swimming in feet of water, trying to survive, hurricane damage to businesses and homes, people atop house roofs waiting to be rescued … we wonder what we can do.
I donated yesterday to Austin Pets Alive! with some of the book sale funds I received from events last weekend. I hope you’ll help me help pets affected by this crisis. The book offer will continue through September 15, when I’ll be bringing my new furry friend home (my husband and I are adopting a dog in a few weeks – more about that exciting news in next week’s blog).
Won’t you join me in helping pets affected by this month’s natural disaster? In addition to the book, I will also provide you with a FREE monthly pet-oriented newsletter, which you can also share with your pet-loving family and friends.
Thank you for doing what you can to help people and pets affected by this disaster – I look forward to partnering with you in this endeavor!
ORGANIZATIONS HELPING TEXAS ANIMALS:
Below are links to some of the animal rescue groups helping the animals in Texas:
Your pet is your best friend, always giving you endless love and (sometimes slobbery) kisses. While your furry friend enjoys playing with toys and sleeping on a soft bed, there is one thing your pet loves as much as you: food! Although kibble is acceptable, it’s time to treat your best friend to something yummy and delicious.
With so many pet food and treat recalls during the past few years, many people are turning to, or considering using, homemade dog and cat food and treats. There are pluses and minuses: the major plus is that you know for sure what you’re feeding your pets; the minuses include time to prepare/cook and ensuring your furry one is receiving the proper nutrition it needs.
Barbara Laino, the author of "The Healthy Homemade Pet Food Cookbook" and owner of an organic farm in New York, teaches people how to make quality dog and cat food (she also teaches how to make better people food as well). She says the foundation for a good pet food diet is variety.
“I believe much of the recent food allergy problem has developed from feeding the same thing every day,” says Laino. “Yet, this is probably one of the most controversial parts of the homemade diet. Somehow it has reached the point that people are scared they can’t balance their dog’s food properly.”
Raw diet vs. cooked food is another debated concept. To this thought, Laino says, “I think people get hooked on the raw concept, but it’s not all about raw. Whatever you feel comfortable with, whether it’s boiling chicken breasts or grinding raw chicken necks … any time you’re preparing food using fresh ingredients, it’s going to be a thousand times better than what you’re getting from kibble.”
Budget and time can be a constraint for pet owners. Laino says there is a way to improve your pet’s health without going totally to homemade food.
“You can take a scoop of good kibble and combine it with carrots, honey or a whole egg,” she explains. “Another one is canned salmon, which is super-easy and convenient. If you do nothing else, add a little canned salmon to your dog’s kibble every day. It’s one of the healthiest things you can do.”
Keep in mind, however, that changing your pet’s diet shouldn’t be done abruptly. Introduce new foods slowly, whether that be raw, homemade cooked, or even a new brand of commercial bagged or wet food.
Learn more about creating homemade pet food at these websites:
Treats for pets are often seen on a recall list. The latest are rawhide chews for dogs. You can make pet treats at home, once again being sure of the ingredients in the goodies. Here are three websites to visit for homemade treat recipes:
For Dogs: http://www.personalcreations.com/blog/dog-treat-recipes
For Cats: https://iheartcats.com/5-easy-diy-cat-treat-recipes/
Ensure your pet isn’t eating the wrong things by cooking for your pet and controlling what ingredients go into your furry friend’s food and treats.
Additionally, keep track of recent pet food recalls by visiting this website periodically if you do continue to feed commercial kibble and wet food to your pet: https://www.avma.org/news/issues/recalls-alerts/pages/pet-food-safety-recalls-alerts.aspx
This site shows dog food and treat recalls: https://www.dogfoodadvisor.com/dog-food-recalls/
This web page shows the cat food recalls as well as dog food recalls: http://www.petful.com/recall-lists/cat-food-recalls/
Our pets depend on us for nutrition, fun, and safety, so let us pet parents do our best to safeguard their health.
On Monday, August 21, people will be watching the skies, especially in areas like Casper, Wyoming (where I live) as a total solar eclipse appears. Those of us who enjoy animals may wonder what pets and other creatures will do in response to the eclipse.
Most of us know animals respond to natural phenomenon, such as earthquakes. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, animals seem to sense the onslaught of an earthquake. And, many pet owners know their dogs become anxious during thunderstorms.
According to a report from National Geographic and other sources, animal behavior during an eclipse is not well documented due to the rarity of such an event. However, the organization reports that in other eclipses, “Dairy cows return to the barn, crickets begin chirping, birds either go to roost or become more active, and whales breach in the seas.”
During the upcoming eclipse, an ecologist at the California Academy of Sciences, Rebecca Johnson, is seeking to improve the scientific record regarding animal behavior and solar eclipses. She has helped create the Life Responds project, which runs on a SmartPhone app called iNaturalist. The Nat Geo article states, “Her team of biologists and astronomers will use the app to collect data from the millions of people who will witness the eclipse on August 21. The hope is that the Life Responds app will create a meaningful clearinghouse for animal behavior during eclipses that scientists can use to advance their research.”
Staff and volunteers at zoos across the country will also be observing behaviors of the animals living in these facilities. An article from CNN states that the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga plans to carefully observe its lemurs. “There is evidence from past eclipses that lemurs ‘behave oddly during these events,’ according to Thom Benson, the aquarium's director of external affairs.” Additionally, Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo “is betting something could happen with its collection of chimps, which it will be watching closely.”
Watch a video on NASA’s website about llamas’ and whale responses to past eclipses: Video about llamas and marine mammals: https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov/animals-total-eclipse.
As far as our pets, we may or may not observe and/or hear much of anything. The CNN article goes on to say, “A study from the 1970s found that pet rabbits mostly slept. A few caged birds got agitated. Some dogs ignored the eclipse; a few seemed scared; a few barked when it was over. Cats, well, cats were cats. Some played, some meowed, but for the most part they slept, again showing off their best quality, as anyone who owns a cat knows: Our feline friends think the sun and the moon revolve around them, so what's the big deal about a little more shade?”
Another article, published on Quartz, quotes Bryant Buchanan, a biologist who studies nocturnal animals at Utica College in New York: “Then, of course, as light levels increase any dusk activated genetic activity will move into daylight genetic activity. It’s hard to imagine that the eclipse would have much more of an effect than temporary confusion.”
So, how will the animals around us, including our pets, respond to Monday’s solar eclipse? Perhaps those of us observing the sky can also take a bit of time to watch and listen to nature and our pets and participate in the Life Responds project, becoming scientists in our own communities, adding to the public knowledge.
Mothers have their special day in May; fathers have their special day in June. Grandparents have their special day in September, and dogs have their special day this month! August is known for the Dog Days of Summer – often hot, and many times muggy – but it’s not just weather which brings out a special recognition. Dogs around the country have their own special day in August. Each August 26 since 2004 organizations and individuals around the country have celebrated National Dog Day.
Started by author and pet lifestyle expert Colleen Paige, National Dog Day was first developed to honor the search and rescue dogs of September 11th. Ms. Paige then turned her attention to the millions of dogs in need of loving, forever homes, and expanded her mission to include encouragement of pet adoption. (see the National Dog Day website: http://www.nationaldogday.com/).
We, too, can celebrate dogs in both a community way and a personal way. Volunteering at the local shelter is a great way to honor National Dog Day, as a family, group, or individual: walking dogs, playing with cats, helping to clean up the area around the shelter, even taking a group of Scouts or other people for a “handyman project” at the facility. In a personal way, do something extra special for and/or with your beloved pet: take a pet-friendly vacation; buy a pet first aid kit; hire a pet photographer to capture a “family portrait;” microchip your dog for its safe return should it become lost. There are numerous ways to celebrate the special dog in your life!
Today, two new Chicken Soup for the Soul books about pets are released: one about dogs, the other about cats. These books particularly advocate the adoption of pets, with a portion of sale proceeds going to the American Humane Association. I have a story in the dog book The Dog Really Did That? about a dog I helped transport for a Colorado-based rescue group. One way I celebrate dogs is to write about them (see my website for the various inspirational pet books for children and adults); this Chicken Soup story, “Jazmine’s Journey,” is my seventh published work for Chicken Soup for the Soul. I’m honored to have several of my stories about pets, mostly rescue/shelter animals, in this internationally-recognized book collection!
Another way I celebrate dogs is to help my local and regional rescue groups through events and transportation needs. I transport for several groups, including Big Dogs Huge Paws and Mid-America Boston Terrier Rescue. And, I donate a percentage of my book sales to area pet rescue organizations.
Another way I celebrate dogs is to take care of my own pets in a variety of ways, and when the time comes to add another furry friend to the household, I adopt through a shelter or rescue. I’m seriously looking now for a new furry friend; my sweet cocker spaniel Cody has been gone for nearly 18 months. Several days a week I spend time searching for that “special someone” and when the opportunity arises for just the right dog (we are a multi-pet household), I will adopt a new four-footed friend.
There are many ways to celebrate the dogs in our lives and to help local, regional, and national animal rescue groups. Whether you donate needed supplies to your local shelter, assist in transporting animals for a regional rescue, or contribute money to a national group (even through purchasing the newly released Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Dog Really Did That? or The Cat Really Did That?) or adopt from a shelter or rescue, you are helping dogs in need. And, you can celebrate your special dog every day simply by just being your pup’s best friend!
As the Dog Days of Summer engage, celebrate the incredible loyalty, friendship, and courage dogs give in your own special way.
While walking through Montana woodlands last weekend with my friend and her dog, I pondered the tiny pests which can affect we humans and our animals. Just thinking of the possibility of ticks made my neck itch that day! Although it’s fun to hike and saunter the woodlands with our pets during summer, there are several tiny, nasty pests which can affect the enjoyment of such activities.
During this season of the year, many of our beloved animals spend more time outside. Running through grass, exploring forests, and encountering other pets while outdoors can bring your pet into contact with fleas and ticks. These tiny creatures can cause plain irritation as well as great harm to dogs and cats. According to Web MD, fleas, though tiny, can eat 15 times their own weight in blood, causing anemia in a dog or cat. Fleas cause itching and are known to be the most common cause of pet skin disease. Ticks, when not removed properly, can bring Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever to both animals and people.
Various preventive programs curb fleas and tick exposure, and therefore, a pet parent's worry. Talk with your veterinarian about how to prevent these tiny pests from infecting and affecting your dog or cat. You can purchase preventive measures from your vet directly or from a local pet supply store. You may also want to consult the Pet MD website for more information on fleas and ticks, which includes a Flea and Tick Survival Guide: http://www.petmd.com/flea-tick-survival-guide#. Learn more about fleas and ticks and their impact on pets at http://pets.webmd.com/ss/slideshow-flea-and-tick-overview.
Ticks and fleas aren’t the only miniscule pests which pet parents should be concerned about. Mosquitoes also pester animals as well as people. Fur provides some protection, but ears and noses are vulnerable. Living and spending time near a water source makes you and your furry friend more susceptible to swarms of mosquitoes; therefore, use protection from these blood-suckers. Mosquitoes can carry West Nile Virus as well as heartworm, a major disease affecting dogs; cats can get the disease as well. View heartworm incident maps at https://www.heartwormsociety.org/pet-owner-resources/incidence-maps. Therefore, protect your pet from mosquitoes. Dogs and cats can be allergic to tiny problematic creatures like ticks and mosquitoes – another a good reason to protect them from these pesky pests!
Other small pests which can affect the enjoyment of summer for people and their pets include biting flies and gnats. These little creatures may also carry disease. Therefore, protect yourself and your pets from them as well.
Being outdoors during summer is fun for us and our pets, particularly our dogs. But remember, there are tiny creatures out there just waiting for a warm body, ours and our animals, on which to inhabit. Therefore, take the needed precautions and purchase those preventative remedies to keep your beloved pet from being infected by fleas, ticks, mosquitoes and other tiny, pesky pests. Talk with your veterinarian about how to keep your furry friend safe and healthy this summer.
Gayle M. Irwin is a writer and public relations professional who volunteers with various animal rescue groups. She enjoys sharing her books and her passion for pets and the environment with others.