More than a week has passed since my husband and I adopted “Stormy,” renamed “Jeremiah.” Overall, considering all the changes the little guy has gone through in this short amount of time, he is doing well. He certainly knows I’m his caregiver! Not a bad thing… except when I leave the house. Then, he whimpers, barks, and howls. He may be developing separation anxiety.
According to both the American Kennel Club (AKC) and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), separation anxiety can occur in dogs who experience a change in guardianship or family. Dogs which come from shelters and rescues, as Jeremiah did, become accustomed to certain caregivers while living at Hearts United for Animals, and since I’m the primary caregiver to our pets (feeding, going outside to potty, etc.), he prefers I be in sight. Sometimes he even whines when I’m just downstairs doing laundry!
Separation anxiety can be mild or severe. Behaviors range from barking and pacing to going potty in the house and destroying furniture and clothing.
There are many counterconditioning activities a pet parent can implement to desensitize a dog to its human leaving. An article on the ASPCA’s website advises, “For dogs with separation anxiety, counterconditioning focuses on developing an association between being alone and good things, like delicious food. To develop this kind of association, every time you leave the house, you can offer your dog a puzzle toy stuffed with food that will take him at least 20 to 30 minutes to finish.” Recommendations for such toys include KONG; not only are these toys nearly indestructible, but they also provide opportunities for your dog to enjoy a treat while you are gone and also get some good exercise. Try this for short trips at first, such as going to the grocery store, can help prepare your dog for your long away-times, such as school or work. Read the entire ASPCA article on separation anxiety here, including recommendations for more severe cases of the behavior: https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/dog-care/common-dog-behavior-issues/separation-anxiety.
Jeremiah and our other dog Mary get along well; I often find him curled up next to her or at least within close proximity. Having our other dog around helps him, but not enough to keep him from carrying on when I’m gone. Needless to say, I’ll be working on some of these counterconditioning ideas recommended by the ASPCA!
Have you had a dog with separation anxiety? What did you do to help your four-footed friend not be so anxious in your absence?
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.
Springtime brings more people outdoors and thoughts about adding a pet to one’s life often occurs during better weather. Playing with a dog in the backyard, taking walks in the neighborhood and beyond, and opening windows to smell fresh air and hear birds sing conjure up ideas about sharing experiences – and life – with a four-footed friend.
Adopting a pet from a local shelter or rescue is a positive thing; oftentimes, adoption saves lives. The ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), which promotes Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month during April, reports that nearly 6.5 million animals are brought into animal shelters across the nation each year, and about 1.5 are killed in those facilities, oftentimes due to lack of adoption and lack of space. Therefore, adoption does save lives.
However, before running out to your local animal shelter or pet rescue organization, there are five questions a person should honestly answer before bringing a pet home. They are:
Let’s take a quick look at each of these questions and hopefully, help you answer them.
Being ready for a pet means examining your lifestyle and family situation. Primarily, do you have enough time to devote to a pet? Is someone responsible enough to not just feed and water the animal, but also to spend quality time playing with and providing activity and companionship for the pet? How many hours do you and your family spend away from home, which would leave the pet alone, possibly bored which, in turn, could lead to destructive behaviors. Make sure you have time to spend with your adopted animal – before you adopt.
What pet best fits your lifestyle? If you are gone a lot, a cat would likely be better than a dog. Cats are often much more independent; not saying you should ignore your cat, but a kitty doesn’t require walking, running, or playing activities as much as a cat does. Still, all pets need friendship and companionship, no matter what type of animal you consider bringing home. Various breeds of dogs need more, or less, activity, so if you’re considering adopting a dog, research the breed’s activity level requirements as well as personality traits. A great place to go for such information is the American Kennel Club’s website:
Finding a place from which to adopt a pet is fairly easy. There are many organizations whose mission it is to help animals in need of new homes. Local animal shelters and humane societies, as well as a wide variety of rescue organizations make saving pets and re-homing them a priority. The best place to start is your local shelter or rescue. Petfinder.com is also a great resource and helps thousands of pets find new homes every year. At this website, you will find specific breeds and ages of animals simply by using the parameters, and your zip code, at the site.
Speaking of ages, does a puppy or kitten suit your lifestyle or is it best for you to adopt an older animal? Baby and teenaged pets often require much more attention, care, and training, whereas adults and seniors are likely to be already trained and able to spend more time alone without worry of soiled carpet or chewed/clawed up furniture. Carefully consider how much time you have with the pet before being swept away by puppy and kitten cuteness.
Another option for adoption is a pet with a disability. These are often the most overlooked, and therefore, most likely to die in shelters. Yet, they are loving, faithful friends when given the chance. Blind, deaf, three-legged, or diabetic, these animals need loving, dedicated homes, too, oftentimes more so than “normal” pets. Consider adopting a pet with a disability, but also carefully consider the pets needs and if you can meet those needs. Deaf animals can – and do – respond to training via hand signals, and blind pets need more safety measures in place. These things are doable, and not costly.
So, are you ready to adopt a pet? Find more information about pet adoption and pet care at https://www.aspca.org/adopt-pet/adoption-tips
A little more than a year ago, my husband and I lost our nearly 18-year-old cocker spaniel named Cody. We had adopted him when he was almost 10 years of age. He had been used as a stud dog for a breeder and then basically tossed away like yesterday’s garbage. When we discovered him at our local humane society, his sad spaniel eyes ignited my heart. Even though he likely wouldn’t be with us but a few years, we determined to give him the best couple of years of his life. Two years turned into three, into five, into seven. At 17 ¾ years of age, Cody crossed the Rainbow Bridge, knowing he was loved, adored, and pampered to the very end.
Our hearts and home are more empty since his passing, but the nearly eight years we shared with Cody were filled with laughter, joy, and love.
We still have Mary, a springer-cocker mix we adopted four years ago this week. She was nearly seven when she came to live with us, and we credit Mary with helping keep Cody going as long as he did. They shared walks in the woods with us, trips to the dog park, and travels in the car, as well as cuddles on the couch and snuggles in bed. Their friendship was very special, especially considering they were not raised together.
Mary turns 11 next week. We’ve considered adopting another dog as she was raised with a smaller pup prior to her going into rescue at the death of her special person in 2012. She misses Cody; that was readily apparent in the early months after Cody’s passing. She is bonded to us, especially to my husband who often gets to work from home. When does a person know the right time to adopt a pet, whether one pet has passed or a person has never been the guardian of an animal before?
Just like with having kids, no time may be the actual “right time” to adopt, but one thing is for sure: a person must MAKE TIME to care for a pet properly. I would encourage anyone considering adopting a pet to make sure you have time to give, that your life is not so incredibly full that the animal will be left alone for countless hours and have little interaction with its human family. Too many animals are given up because of the excuse “I don’t have time for it.” Just as children need nurturing, attention, and care, so do our pets. They rely on us, they need us, and they want us to share time and activities with them.
So, if you’re thinking of adopting a pet, ensure you won’t change your mind in a month or so and say “I don’t have time.” First and foremost, make sure time is something you do have, or will make, before bringing a pet into your home.
And, if you think you can’t find the type of pet, the breed of dog or cat you want, think again: not all shelter pets are “mutts.” In fact, depending on where you live and what you’re looking for, 5 to 25 percent of shelter pets are purebred. Look on Petfinder.com for a specific breed, sex, and even whether they’re good with children or other animals. And, view this website for some of the types of dog breeds one is likely to find at shelters: https://mom.me/pets/19900-dog-breeds-commonly-found-animal-shelters/. Additionally, specific breed rescues can be found at this website: http://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/rescue-network/contacts/.
Is it time for my husband and I to adopt another dog? Not yet, but likely by the end of the year. I do look, and I do consider. And perhaps we’ll change our minds mid-year and adopt again at that time. We’ll know when the time is right – I believe you will, too for you and your family.
Most of us know that warm, fuzzy feeling of seeing a puppy or kitten at play. Pet lovers all recognize that tug at our heartstrings when we visit a Humane Society or animal shelter and see the many animals looking at us sadly through the cages. We also know the quiver of our lip when we look on the Internet, view the photos, and read the stories of the numerous pets needing new homes, looking to be placed by the hundreds of pet rescue organizations. Many of us, in turn, respond by adopting a pet or two.
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 are thinking of adding a pet to your home, seriously consider adoption – more than four million animals every year go into shelters and rescues.
October is National Adopt-a-Shelter-Dog Month, a great time to add a furry friend to your household. Here are six tips to help insure you and your new pet will spend many wonderful years together: