Last week I wrote about timing and adoption. Well, for my husband and I, the timing was just right. Our family unit changed last weekend – we adopted another dog! Our springer/cocker mix Mary died of cancer in April, leaving our shih tzu Jeremiah without a canine companion - and my husband without one as well.
Mary was primarily Greg’s dog, although she greeted everyone with a wag of her stubby tail. He missed his furry friend and about a month ago, we began looking. Greg’s one stipulation: we had to adopt another springer spaniel, or springer mix. Last week, we learned of one in our region that needed a home. We filed the adoption application, spoke to the foster “dad,” and made an appointment to visit on Sunday afternoon. Sadie, an 8-year-old springer spaniel, spent Sunday night in our home, thanks to English Springer Spaniel Rescue of America.
Adopting a new pet is an exciting adventure! A new life, a new friend, a new routine, all wrapped into a bundle of joy, love, and loyalty ... and in our case, energy! Sadie may be considered “middle-age” in years, but her energy level is that of a teen-pup. We’ve nicknamed her “Rocket Dog!” First thing each morning, she jettisons from her sleeping kennel, runs through the house to the back door, and launches herself into the backyard. She runs, and runs, and runs. The spaniel smile she displays captures a person’s heart. The joy she exhibits for life inspires … and wears a person out!
We knew to expect this behavior. She lived in her foster home for nearly a month; therefore, the family experienced her energetic, OCD-like, behavior. She receives medication daily to help calm her through the day, and she responds well to the drug. Greg also takes her on two to three walks daily, and she is learning to slow her stride better each day. Fortunately, we own recreational property not far from our house, and this weekend, we plan to take Sadie there for the first time. There’s an enclosed area there that Greg built last year for Mary that will become our new dog’s “off-leash” area, and we know she will enjoy that special space, even more probably than she does our fenced backyard.
Sadie and Jeremiah get along fine … except when the bigger dog doesn’t watch for the smaller one and steps on him. However, Jeremiah stands his ground and lets out a growl to help her understand she needs to keep a better watch where she’s going! I hope they become good friends, for Jeremiah and Mary relished a special bond, and I know he misses that connection. He and Sadie may never have the same relationship as he did with Mary, but Greg and I would love to see them lay next to each other on the couch or dog bed in the near future.
Adopting a new pet is not only exciting, but it can also be challenging. Integrating an animal into the household, especially a home with already-established pets, changes dynamics. Sometimes the pets already in the house don’t readily accept a new addition, and sometimes that acceptance just takes a while. A new pet can come with physical or emotional issues, as Sadie has, but that doesn’t make the animal “less than,” any more than such challenges makes a human child “less than.” Patience, perseverance, and understanding are critical in these situations, and being willing to go the extra mile for that animal in need is vital.
Greg and I are committed to helping Sadie feel secure and loved. What we will receive through the journey is priceless – the trust and loyalty of a beautiful creature. She’s already given us kisses, and a week hasn’t even gone by yet.
Rescued pets give us what many people do not: unconditional love and devotion. A person’s life is enriched by those things that money can’t buy. We’re blessed to share our home and our lives with Sadie, and the many other animals who have graced us with their presence over the years.
What animals have you adopted over the years? How have they enriched your life? Feel free to leave a comment.
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.