I vividly remember the first day I saw him – tawny brown eyes staring at me through the kennel fence. He’d been brought in by someone who thought she’d rescue him from a backyard breeder, but her two already-adopted dogs wouldn’t accept a still-intact male. So, the woman brought the 10-year-old cocker spaniel into the local animal shelter, hoping he’d find a new home quickly. However, the shelter manager told me, despite his pedigree as a purebred cocker spaniel, his age might keep him from being adopted very quickly. It didn’t. Cody came home with me three days later, after a neutering, bath, and groom. We traveled together, shared time on the couch together, and enjoyed walks and dog park adventures together. He lived more than seven more years after I adopted him; Cody was nearly 18 years old before he passed away in my home. He was a wonderful companion for me and for the blind dog also living in my home at that time.
Some animal welfare groups estimate nearly 25 percent of dogs that enter animal shelters and humane societies are purebred. Several groups also estimate that only 2 percent of stray cats brought in to such facilities are reclaimed by their owners. I’ve adopted both dogs and cats from animal shelters and pet rescue organizations since I became an adult. Adoption saves lives and provides individuals and families with a wonderful furry friend. Adoption is kindness in action.
This week is known as Be Kind to Animals Week, a time set aside by animal welfare organizations to remind us all that just as people need kindness in their lives, so do animals. Every year, nearly 1.5 million dogs and cats die in shelters across the United States because not enough people adopt; that number translates to nearly 2,000 EVERY SINGLE DAY. Kindness + compassion = adoption.
Pets and People Help Each Other
Pets not only bring joy to the lives of their human caregivers, but they also benefit people in many other ways: they help reduce blood pressure and weight, they help keep our cholesterol low, and they provide us with love and devotion like no other. Pets help us be more social – ever gone to a dog park where no one talks to each other? We laugh more, we exercise more, and we dote on our “fur-kids” with toys, treats, and costumes, bringing more smiles to our faces when they pose for us, lick our faces, and beg for belly rubs. In short, animals our good for our minds, bodies, and spirits. How can we NOT be kind to them?
Yet, every day, dogs and cats (as well as rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs, horses, and others) await loving, kind people to give them a forever home. Could that person be you?
Kindness = Adoption
It’s been about a month since our 13-year-old springer/cocker mix, Mary, passed; my husband and I are considering adopting another dog not only as an extra companion for us, but also for our beloved Shih Tzu, Jeremiah. Pets grieve the passing of other household members, and I’m sure Jeremiah would enjoy once again having a four-footed companion as much as we would. This week is an ideal time to get more serious about adopting another pet.
I hope you’ll also take time this week to consider adding a new pet to your household. By being kind to a pet in need you could be saving not just one life, but two: the animal you adopt and the one waiting to take its place at the shelter or rescue. You can find your next furry friend at your local animal shelter, humane society, or pet rescue organization, through Best Friends Animal Society or the ASPCA, through a breed rescue group, or at Petfinder.com, ShelterPetProject.org, and AdoptaPet.com.
Resources for Adopters
There are many wonderful resources for people who adopt animals. Below you’ll find three, two for being better prepared to add that four-footed companion to your household, and the other listing several great reasons to adopt a pet:
There’s a funny song “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas” – did you get one of those? Sometimes families or individuals bring home a new pet as a Christmas gift, maybe not a hippo but a dog, cat, or guinea pig. Is that you this year? No matter what time of year you bring a new pet into your household, your life is going to be different – just as it is when a new human baby arrives. Here are a few tips to help you, your family, and your new pet friend adjust to the “new normal:”
These are just five tips to consider before and after you bring home a new pet. There are many other ideas offered by the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) and Petfinder, two sites which provide pet adoption opportunities and pet care tips:
Pets bring people deep joy through their antics and their devotion. Studies show pets benefit people emotionally and physically, helping with depression, cholesterol, and blood pressure, among other things. A pet is a special gift, and it’s a gift for life. Take care of your new pet and it will take care of you!
One of the most well-known national animal sanctuaries, Best Friends Animal Society, located in southeastern Utah, is about a 13-hour drive from where I live in Wyoming. I have visited twice and volunteered once. What an amazing place!
For many years, Best Friends has been on the frontlines of the “No-Kill” movement, a vision of seeing that no healthy, adoptable animal is euthanized in America’s shelters. Recently, the non-profit organization turned up the volume, and the heat, to make no-kill a reality by 2025. Staff and volunteers believe that achievement is possible.
The main Best Friends sanctuary is located outside of the small town of Kanab, Utah, which itself is located within 20 miles of the Arizona border is southeastern Utah. The beautiful red sandstone rocks of that area, which includes Zion and Bryce Canyon national parks, offers a dazzling, inspiring backdrop to the 200+ acre sanctuary. This special place provides a temporary (and sometimes permanent) home for dogs, cats, rabbits, birds, horses, and other animals. This group took in more than 20 of the Michael Vick dogs, several of which were later re-homed with loving families. Best Friends has done so much good around the country, including opening new adoption centers in places like Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, and New York. Soon, a new Best Friends center will open in Houston. They partner with other animal welfare groups across the country, such as Austin Pets Alive! And most recently, a small Texas town that receives thousands of animals each year. Texas leads the nation in number of shelter animals killed each year, and Best Friends – among other groups – wants to make a positive impact for pets in that state.
The ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) estimates the number of dogs and cats that enter animal shelters in the United States to be around 6.5 million; 1.5 million of those, including healthy, adoptable animals, are killed. That doesn’t have to happen. If adoption rates would rise above the current 50 percent, more positive outcomes for more animals would result.
Can no-kill hapen in America during the next seven years? Best Friends envisions such a possibility. With organizations like Best Friends Animal Society and adoption supporters throughout the nation like you and me, it can be done. Let’s all do our part to educate people about the joy of pet adoption and raise the mantra of #AdoptDon’tShop in our own communities as well as via social media. There are two weeks left of October’s Adopt-a-Shelter-Dog Month, and November brings Adopt-a-Senior-Pet Month. Think about one thing you can do to make a positive impact on shelter animals these next several weeks, and let’s help Best Friends attain the goal of #NoKill2025 – for the sake – and the lives – of these animals.
With the recent Kitten Bowl, Westminster Dog Show, and American Rescue Dog Show now complete, many people may be thinking about bringing home a dog, cat, kitten, or puppy. Pets touch our hearts and warm our homes – they provide companionship, comfort, and comedy to our lives.
There is little else that lifts one’s spirits than to come home from a tough day at work or school and be happily greeted by a four-footed friend. If you’re thinking of adding a pet to your home, here are six tips to help insure you and your new dog or cat will spend many happy years together:
Having a pet makes a home more cozy, warm, and loving. Pets are devoted to their humans – they love us unconditionally – and like children, they depend on us for care. Therefore, make sure you’re ready and that you’re willing to be faithful to your new furry friend, which can live 10 to 20 years.
#GivingTuesday occurs this week, and on this day those of us who advocate for animals can make a big difference for those creatures.
#GivingTuesday allows us to partner with and thank non-profits around the world with a monetary donation. Around this time every year we are bombarded with spending money, from Black Friday deals to Cyber Monday savings. Many of us get wrapped up like a box at Christmas in the buy, buy, buy, and spend, spend, spend – and yes, #GivingTuesday is no exception. However, the big difference between Black Friday/Cyber Monday and #GivingTuesday is that our dollars can do a lot of good on this special day – helping charities continue their good works.
Whether your passions lie with pets or people, or both, you can make a difference on #GivingTuesday; contributing to causes that help others is a very positive endeavor, and oftentimes your donations can and will be matched through grants and other donors.
On this #GivingTuesday, if you’re an animal advocate like me, let’s pool our resources and help pets in need. Donate locally first if you believe in a pet rescue or animal shelter near you; oftentimes, the local organizations receive little to no national funding; our local groups need us, their community, to step up. But, if you want to split your donation between a local and a national group, as I often do, here are a few national animal rescue organizations you might consider supporting:
There are many wonderful organizations, including breed rescues, like English Springer Spaniel Rescue of America, Big Dogs Huge Paws (specializing in breeds such as Mastiffs and Great Danes), and Mid-America Boston Terrier Rescue (I have transported dogs for all three of these groups). If you like a specific breed of dog and want to assist a national rescue group for that breed, visit this American Kennel Club website: http://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/rescue-network/contacts/.
Another group I like to support is located in Wyoming, but its reach extends beyond state borders. Black Dog Animal Rescue, in Cheyenne, has been around for nearly 10 years, helping shelter dogs scheduled to be euthanized in shelters find new, loving adoptive homes. One of their successful programs pairs prisoners with pups; the inmates work with the dogs regarding obedience and agility training.
My plan for #GivingTuesday is to donate locally, regionally, and nationally, and though I may not have a lot of money, my contribution paired with others can, and does, make a difference.
How about you? Want to help animals in need? I hope you’ll do so on this #GivingTuesday. Animals need people and rescues and shelters need individuals and groups to help them help the animals. Show your compassion and concern today – donate and make a difference!
What’s in a name? Most names have meaning, and many times people seriously consider the name they give a child. Many pet parents also genuinely think about the name they bestow upon their animal, especially when the pet is adopted.
A Dog Named Stormy
My husband and I are in the process of adopting another dog, and we are seriously thinking about names. Currently, the dog is named Stormy, and although that’s not a bad name, the little guy (a Shih Tzu) was rescued from a puppy mill situation by a non-profit animal welfare group. We think he deserves a new name: he has a new life, he’ll be starting over in a loving home with us, and truthfully, I don’t want my dog named after a natural force that can kill (he’s not a police or military dog after all!). So, we are discussing names. I even asked friends for their input, and, after seeing Stormy’s picture, many expressed their thoughts. My husband has his ideas for a new name for our new pet, and so do I. We will take a list of the names we’ve compiled, both our own favorites and the thoughts of pet-loving friends, and we will bring those ideas with us to the adoption center.
When we meet Stormy and have time to spend with him, including a several-hour drive back home, we’ll see which new name appears to “fit” him. Will it be Spencer? Or Ozzie? Or Ranger? Perhaps Beau. Or Teddy. Or maybe even Story – he has a story, and I write stories… but my husband frowned at that one (just as I frowned at Ozzie).
Popular Pet Names
There’s a lot of advice out there about naming your pet, whether dog or another animal. One of the best pieces of advice I’ve followed is to keep a name short and easy to say, and therefore, easy to understand. Another is to not name your pet after something that sounds like a command, such as “Joe,” which could be misinterpreted as “no,” or “Kit,” which could be heard as “sit” (or something far worse, especially if you’re yelling that name across the dog park!)
There are hundreds of popular names for pets, both dogs and cats. Some trendy feline names include Bella, Coco, and Jasper. See here: http://www.findcatnames.com/top-cat-names/
The American Kennel Club (AKC) provides a listing of the top 100 dog names, both male and female. Other websites provide a similar listing. Some are even broken done by the top name for various breeds, or the top names for different “jobs,” such as hunting dog breeds. I’ve looked over nearly every website, and some of the things I’ve learned include:
Keep the Name or Change It?
I’ve usually kept my dog’s name short and sweet: Sam; Cody; Sage; Mary. All of them had their names already except for Sam – he was a stray whom no one knew anything about. But, he caught on to that name quickly and we enjoyed a decade together with a deep, close connection. I kept the other dogs’ name the same because, at least in Sage and Mary’s cases, their situations weren’t dire or so traumatic that I believed a change was necessary. And, Cody was nearly 10 years old when we adopted him, so neither my husband nor I thought it worthwhile to change his name; he was totally used to it, and again, it was short and easy to say. My cats – well, the two remaining with us were kittens when we adopted them so we could name them as we wanted (Murphy and Bailey); my husband comes from Irish ancestry, and I enjoy Irish culture, so we chose names to reflect that (plus those names that end in “y” seem popular and easy to understand). My other cat, Ama, was already named and it was so unique, I decided to keep it.
How about you? Do you keep a pet’s name when you adopt or do you change it? What do you take into consideration when naming your animals?
Many people enjoy having more than one pet in the household, but adding another animal can come with challenges. Some dogs are more domineering than others, yet you don’t want an overly aggressive dog who won’t allow your second canine friend to eat or play with the toys. And, if you have cats, you’d like to see your feline friends get along. Or, if you have a mixture of dogs and cats, you’d prefer the dog not aggravate or chase the cat… or the cat to constantly swatch and scratch the pup. Just like blending human families, blending a furry family can take a great deal of patience and a lot of time. Be prepared to work with your animals in order to experience harmony in your home.
We had a dog named Cody, a cocker spaniel we adopted from our local humane society in 2008. He was wonderful with our blind springer spaniel, Sage, but she took more time to acclimate to Cody living with us. And, Cody was terror for our two cats. We didn’t properly introduce Cody and the cats, and for several weeks, even into a second month of living with us, Cody chased the cats every time he saw them. Finally, one of our kitties had enough and she swatted his face. That’s all it took and the chasing ceased. It was still another month before harmony set in but it did happen.
After Sage passed, we waited another year to obtain another dog, and this time we chose one who had been around, and therefore, was good with, both dogs and cats. Mary became our next dog, adopted in 2013, and she and the kitties get along wonderfully!
Cody passed away in January 2016. In October, I brought home a small Pekinese mix named Lemmons, again from our local humane society. He had not been around cats, but the shelter staff “tested” him by taking him into the cat room; Lemmons behaved well. And, when I brought him home I introduced him properly to the cats, taking things slowly and having them sniff each other through closed doors. All seemed to be going well. Then, the day I let Lemmons and our cat Murphy near each other, he lunged for the back of her neck. Too much trauma and drama, so I decided he would do best in a home without cats. He had also snapped at Mary a few times. Lemmons was later re-homed through the humane society with someone who had no other pets and to my knowledge, he’s doing much better in that setting. And, my household is harmonious once again.
Sometimes blending furry ones into one household doesn’t work and a person must make the decision that is best for all animals (and humans) of the household. There is the right home for that animal; it just might not be yours.
As my husband and I once again consider adopting another dog – Mary is lonely as the only dog in the house; she had a smaller pup friend in the household before ours and then of course, she had Cody when she first came to live with us – we will once again seek a smaller dog that has been in a multi-pet home. We are hoping to find our next furry friend later this year, possibly another Cocker Spaniel, a Cavalier King Charles spaniel, a Bichon Frise, or a Shih Tzu. Each breed is different, in personality, in activity level, and in requirements, just as people are different. So, I’m studying, I’m asking questions, I’m researching. Petfinder.com is a great way to find a new furry friend and the various rescues and shelters in my region are also excellent organizations to contact.
If you’re looking for a feline or canine companion, visit your local rescues and shelters and check out Petfinder as well. Just remember that blending a furry family takes time and patience so do your homework first for the right breed and the right individual.
June is Adopt-a-Shelter-Cat Month, a time to bring to light the millions of cats who are in need of homes. Because spring and early summer are considered “kitten season,” a time when thousands more cats and kittens need care and new homes, animal shelters and rescues across the country designate June as Adopt-A-Shelter-Cat Month.
Here is a short list of things you can do to help, whether or not you can adopt:
By helping organizations that help cats, whether it’s through actual adoption, by volunteering, through community education, or by donating funds and supplies, you are helping cats in need during this special time of year.
Science has proven that having a pet has many health benefits for people, including lowering one’s risk of cardiovascular disease. Some of that is attributed to walking and other exercise activities with a dog. But, what about cats? Does living with a cat benefit a person?
The answer is YES! According to PetMD’s daily Vet Blog, owning a cat also has health benefits. Those include reducing stress levels and blood pressure, which can also help reduce cardiovascular disease. Having a cat can also reduce the risk of depression. Having a furry companion eases loneliness and helps a person unwind and decompress after a rough day at work or school. Cats provide special companionship, and though they tend to be more loners than dogs, cats are also affectionate and playful, helping people not feel so alone and helping them be active, even if it’s just tossing a ball or a catnip mouse across the room. In fact, cat companionship seems especially beneficial to people who live alone or are widowed.
Additionally, a 20-year study found that people who live with cats were 40% least likely to die from a heart attack, and cat owners visit doctors 12% less frequently than non-cat-owners.
Although some people are allergic to cats, exposure to dander and fur in the house can “result in increased resistance to allergens, decreasing risk for allergies and asthma,” according to Health Fitness Revolution.com.
A psychological study showed that children who grow up with pets, including cats, tend to have greater compassion, empathy, and higher self-esteem.
Two different friends have added cats to their homes in the past few years. One adopted an adult male cat, the other obtained a female kitten. Both agree the benefits of companionship, laughter, and relaxation and much more come with living with a cat.
A cuddle with your kitty, a purring lap sitter, or a frisky game of chase the feather chases away the blues and provides fun and laughter. A cat is a wonderful companion, and in its unspoken way benefits a pet parent in a variety of ways.
So, hug your kitty today … and if you don’t have one or are thinking of adding another to your home, adopt one today! June is Adopt-a-Shelter Cat Month, a great time to consider adding a feline friend to your family – there are millions in need of homes, and you can be one of those life-saving heroes. Both you and the cat will benefit.
Animal shelters and pet rescue groups throughout the country take in numerous pets every year. In fact, statistics show that nearly seven million animals enter humane societies, SPCAs, and animal shelters every year; nearly half are killed due to lack of space and low adoption numbers. However, for people who do adopt, there's a plethora of animals from which to choose and so the questions: Which type – dog, cat, guinea pig, rabbit, reptile? What breed or kind? How old? How do you choose the right pet for yourself?
Here are five ideas:
The ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) provides a list of pros and cons to adding a pet to your home. They offer tips and guidelines for those considering adopting a dog, a cat, a hamster, a guinea pig, a rabbit, or having a fish. View these tips, and other important pet information, at the organization's website: https://www.aspca.org/adopt/adoption-tips/right-pet-you.
So, which pet is the right one? The one that is right for you!
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.