They will soon be knocking
at our doors – ghouls, goblins, witches, vampires, storm troopers, and many more! These creatures can be scary, especially to our pets.
The end of October is often a frightening time for animals, especially for those left outdoors. Halloween brings out a lot of spookiness, including threats to black cats. Some statistics show an increase in animal cruelty during Halloween, and because black cats are surrounded
by myth and superstition, companion animal groups caution pet owners to keep their cats (and dogs) secure during Halloween. Between doorbells constantly ringing and strangers standing at the door covered in make-ups and masks, our pets can become stressed, even frantic. Plus, the opening and closing of the front door provides an opportunity to escape into the night. Therefore, make sure your pet is in a secure place, such as a different room or in his/her crate, during trick-or-treat time.
There are many safety concerns for pets during this time of year. Therefore, as Halloween descends, here are a few tips to keep your beloved pets safe:
You can find additional tips here: https://phz8.petinsurance.com/ownership-adoption/pet-ownership/pet-holidays/5-ways-to-keep-pets-safe-on-halloween.
Enjoy the festivities and keep your special four-footed friend safe this Halloween!
October is not just for dogs with National Adopt-a-Shelter-Dog Month and October 22 designated by Subaru as Make a Dog’s Day - cats have a few special days of their own this month. For example, National Feral Cat Day falls in October, and National Cat Day in the United States, which falls on October 29.
Why this special designation on that particular day? Founded by Pet and Family Lifestyle Expert Colleen Paige, who also founded National Dog Day, National Puppy Day, and National Pet Day, this day celebrates cats and their importance in our lives. Rescues and shelters are encouraged to bring greater awareness of the need to adopt cats, and people are encouraged to showcase their furry feline friends with photos across social media.
The American Society for the Prevention of
Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) estimates more than 3.2 million cats and kittens enter U.S. shelters every year. Of that number, only about 5 percent of strays are reclaimed by their owners and more than 850,000 are euthanized. Many live out their lives at no-kill shelters. There is greater need for increased cat adoption.
The end of October is often a scary time for cats and other pets, especially for those left outdoors. Halloween brings out a lot of spookiness, including threats to black cats. Some statistics show an increase in animal cruelty during this time of year, and because black cats are surrounded by myth and superstition, companion animal groups caution pet owners to keep their cats (and dogs) secure during Halloween. Whereas some countries and cultures view black cats as “bad,” others feel the opposite. In fact, England and Scotland are known
to see black cats as lucky instead of unlucky.
No matter what type of pet you have, keeping your beloved furry friend safe is key during Halloween. Just opening the door for trick-or-treaters can cause your pet to run out the door. Therefore, keep your pet in a secure room while dishing out candy. Sweet treats eaten by dogs and cats can cause healthy
issues; therefore, put the yummy treats out of reach of your pets. For more Halloween safety tips, visit this ASPCA web page: https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/general-pet-care/halloween-safety-tips.
October is not only a time to keep your animals safe, but also a time to celebrate the joy dogs and cats give us. These special days and months should help us remember the amazing ways companion animals impact our lives and give us reason to honor and celebrate them each and every month and day. Spoil your pet in a special way today … and remember to keep them safe!
The man at the dog park told my husband he was traveling the country with his furry friend, an Australian shepherd mix. He also said the pair were visiting as many dog parks as they could, and that this stop, in our community in Wyoming, was just one of many. The man went on to say he’d been in a car accident a few years previous, and that his dog became a reason for him to get up, do his therapy, and improve his health. He said his dog “saved my life.”
Dogs do that. There are the K9s in the military and on police forces; there are the service dogs for blind and wheelchair-bound people; therapy animals that visit hospitals and nursing homes; and search and rescue dogs who find the lost (read a recent story from Ohio about such a canine who found a missing young child).
Next week, American Humane’s Hero Dog Awards will be shown on Hallmark Channel. This program, in its seventh year, showcases the many wonderful dogs on duty, and this year, the categories include Shelter Dogs. This is wonderfully appropriate since October is National Adopt-A-Shelter-Dog Month. Car company Subaru recently announced its first Make a Dog’s Day, being celebrated on Tuesday, October 22. This month is certainly “going to the dogs,” and that’s just fine!
The ASPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) estimates more than 3.3 million dogs enter America’s animal shelters every year. Some come in as strays and may be reunited with their owners; others are turned in by their people for various reasons. About half (1.6 million) are adopted and nearly 700,000 dogs are euthanized. October offers shelters, rescues, and others the opportunity to showcase the many wonderful dogs in need of homes through promotion of adoption.
My husband and I recently adopted a rescue dog named Sadie from English Springer Spaniel Rescue of America. She may not be a service dog, military K9, or therapy dog, but she has rescued us. We lost our other springer, Mary, to cancer in April. That loss, like most pet losses, left a hole in our hearts, and left our Shih Tzu, Jeremiah, without a canine friend. Sadie is filling both voids. She and Jeremiah haven’t drawn as close and he and our other springer, but when Greg and I are away from the house, she at least provides companionship for him. Sadie has bonded strongly with my husband. She stays with him in his home office, goes for walks in the dog park and around the neighborhood, and spending time on the couch watching TV as well as outdoors in our back yard. That hole left by the passing of our other springer is slowly healing, thanks to a hyper springer spaniel named Sadie.
I’ve heard others say the same. After the passing of one pet, the adoption of another helps the healing from the loss. Dogs (and cats) help us in other ways, too. They fill a gap, for loneliness, for service, for recovery, for friendship. We rescue dogs, and they rescue us in many, varied and special ways.
So, this month, consider adopting a dog in need. And, if you can’t adopt, do something else to help, like volunteer, donate supplies or money, attend events. And always remember to be the best responsible pet parent as possible! We rescue dogs and they rescue us.
NOTE: My forthcoming novel, Rescue Road, is about second chances, both for the humans and the animals in the story. Releasing next month in honor of both October’s National Adopt-a-Shelter-Dog Month and November’s National Adopt-a-Senior-Pet Month, the book highlights the importance of pet rescue and adoption and provides resources to do just that at the back of the book. Rescue Road will be available in both print and e-book format and is scheduled for release on November 9, 2019. Learn more about the novel and watch a short book trailer here: http://www.gaylemirwin.com/novels.html
Mystery stories haven’t always been my reading genre, but recently, due to two Wyoming authors who have “hit the big time” (Craig Johnson and CJ Box), this line of writing has captured my attention. Therefore, I was thrilled to learn about Linda O. Johnson and her works that weave pet rescue and animals in general into several of her books.
Pick and Chews is one of those stories.
Told in first-person point of view, a vet tech named Carrie sleuths murders in her community, and in this story, it’s the man she loves that’s a suspect. That guy, Dr. Reed Storme, is a veterinarian at the clinic where Carrie works; he and other veterinarians are at the top of the police’s suspect list for the murder of a woman vet who decides to open a competitive practice in town.
Witty, fun and adventurous with some twists in the story, Pick and Chews gives insight into several people who could be the murderer, including Dr. Storme. Additionally, readers are introduced to some of the wonderful dogs owned by the characters as well as ones available for adoption through the community’s rescue organization. I like how the author weaves the importance of pet rescue and adoption. Carrie, who is also a baker of both people and dog treats, hosts adoption events at her business. As the murder mystery deepens, Carrie’s own canine is threatened, causing the amateur detective to reconsider her sleuthing. Who’s the culprit? Read the story and find out!
Johnston has written numerous books, and Pick and Chews is just one of this Barkery & Biscuits Mystery series. A fun, cozy, clean read, pet lovers and mystery book lovers alike will enjoy this story! Check it out here: https://www.amazon.com/Pick-Chews-Barkery-Biscuits-Mystery/dp/0738752452.
As autumn turns to winter, if you’re looking for some enjoyable reading, you might consider some of Johnston’s works.
My husband and I recently welcomed Sadie, a springer spaniel, into our home. We adopted her through English Springer Spaniel Rescue of America's Rocky Mountain chapter, who had pulled Sadie from a shelter in Utah. At eight years of age, a person would think her training days are over. But, not so!
Sadie came to us knowing a few basic commands: sit, shake, and (not as much) come. Her “come” command is much better as is her “down” command. According to dog rescuer, trainer, and TV show host Brandon McMillan, a dog should know seven basic commands: sit, stay, down, come, off, heel, and no.
We are working on all of those. Heel, off, and no are the most difficult for her. Her springer instincts drive her to explore, whether every blade of grass or tree trunk on a walk or the food on the table or kitchen counter. However, she is responding more positively to those instructions each day.
Because she is food motivated, receiving a treat reward for her positive responses to the commands given works with Sadie. In fact, according to a recent study, dogs do respond better to food rewards in training than any other type of motivator, including praise and pets. McMillan uses treats when training the dogs on his show or in private. “Dog Whisperer” Cesar Millan also touts the benefits of using food during training exercises, and the American Kennel Club stresses the use of small, easy-to-eat tidbits for training.
What About Cats?
Cats can also be trained using treats. You should also use a clicker, a small device that makes a clicking sound. Command, click, treat; command, click, treat. Cats can be taught to walk on a leash, to shake hands, and to come. A woman in Nebraska even taught her cats agility in order to increase their activity level and stimulate them mentally using a clicker and treats.
Celebrity cat behaviorist and trainer Jackson Galaxy encourages cat owners to use protein treats to train their cat(s). He notes you may have to try a variety of types to find one your cat likes.
Training your dog or cat whether that’s basic obedience or fun tricks to provide them with physical activity or mental stimulation is best accomplished through positive reinforcement. Punishment or other negative techniques are not only harmful physically and mentally, but also can damage the bond between you and your pet.
Watch and listen to Brandon McMillan on this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cgZro-RvMrE
Watch and listen to Jackson Galaxy discuss some tips on training a cat here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WJcWoksdlOM
This month is a celebration of our feline friends. September is Happy, Healthy Cat Month! How can we ensure our kitty companions are happy and healthy? Here are five ways:
Find out more about ensuring the health and happiness of your cat at these websites:
Honor your feline friend by keeping him/her happy and healthy!
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.
Our springer/cocker mix, Mary, died in the spring due to cancer. Our household is emptier without her. Her happy personality, enjoyment of people and the outdoors, her comforting presence is greatly missed. We needed time to grieve. Now, we feel ready to add another dog to our family.
How does a person know when the time is right to adopt a pet?
That all depends on the person. I’ve known individuals and families who have lost furry friends and never adopt another. I’ve also known people who missed their animal so much, they took hardly any time to bring home another pet. Only you know for sure when the time is right.
Whether you’re considering adding another dog or cat to your household as we are or if you’re looking for a pet for the very first time, you should do some preparation, not only mentally but physically. For example, make sure your house is ready to welcome a furry friend. If you’re looking to get a cat, make sure you have a litterbox and cat litter, some catnip mice and other toys, and a climbing/scratching post as well as food, water, and dishes. Therefore, when you bring Kitty home, she’ll have all the basic things she needs right away.
The same goes for a dog. Do you have toys, food, pans for the food and water, a dog bed, collar and leash? Do you have a yard and plans for exercising your pup? Are you mentally prepared for the responsibility of caring for a dog?
September is considered Dog Ownership Responsibility Month, a time to remember that pet owners are responsible for the life and care of their animal. Ownership responsibility is EVERY DAY of EVERY MONTH. Therefore, the very first thing you need to recognize before adopting a pet is to accept that responsibility for the animal’s life. blDo you have time to properly care for a pet? Are you willing to spend time, not just feeding and watering your dog or cat (or whatever type of pet you have), but engaging with the animal, exercising, exploring, playing, even sitting on the couch and watching TV. Know the activity level of the pet you’re considering; if it’s a herding or hunting breed, like a border collie or springer spaniel, that dog will need lots of exercise and engagement. If you’re considering adopting a cat, you don’t have to walk it or go to the dog park, but you should still plan playtime, especially for a kitten or young adult.
If you have other pets in the house and are looking to add another, as we are, make sure the animal can accept coming into a household with other animals. And, have a plan of introducing, say your new dog to the cats in your household. Our home includes two elderly cats and a middle-aged shih tzu. We have experience introducing a new dog into the household; we adopted Mary in 2013 and had the cats then as well as an aging cocker spaniel. Mary’s laid-back personality and the fact we brought the elderly cocker with us to meet her helped make the transition easy, even with the cats. When we adopted Jeremiah, the shih tzu, he and Mary spent time in the car and in a hotel room together, helping to seal their bond immediately. We introduced Jeremiah to the cats slowly, intentionally, and within a few short months, the household was peaceful, although anxiety reigned for the first few months. That’s to be expected as everyone gets used to each other.
There’s a lot to think about when considering bringing a pet home, whether it’s your first adoption or your tenth. There are many resources, including pet adoption checklists, that you can review and may find helpful; find a few below:
When should you adopt a pet? Whenever you are ready!
It's a new month and a new season is on the horizon. With the dawning of September and autumn just around the corner, I thought I'd create a quick, yet helpful and fun post about pet blogs.
In addition to my little corner of the dog and cat writing world, there's a plethora of other pet bloggers out there who want to help dog and cat owners (and guardians of other creatures as well, such as parrots, ferrets, guinea pigs, rabbits, lizards, and other creatures) as well as provide some laughter to our world. Pet Life Today recently created a list of noted pet blogs, which you can find here: https://petlifetoday.com/best-pet-blogs/.
Over the years, I've guest-posted for some pet blogs; you'll find a short list of those sites below:
Front Seat Ryder: https://frontseatryder.com/
A Heart for Shelter Dogs: http://www.aheartforshelterdogs.com/sample-page/
Lincoln Pet Culture: https://lincolnpetculture.wordpress.com/
Black Dog Animal Rescue: http://www.bdar.org/news
And a few years ago, I was interviewed for Coffee with a Canine:
There are many wonderful resources on the web for pet lovers, including great blogs such as those noted above. There are hundreds, if not thousands, more. Take some time to see what other pet lovers have to say, the recommendations they give, and the wonderful animals they love and help. Even some veterinarian clinics post blogs as do many rescue organizations, such as Black Dog Animal Rescue in Cheyenne and Best Friends Animal Society in Utah (https://bestfriends.org/blogs)
As I look to release my novel next month, I'll be guest-posting, as well as be interviewed, at different blogs, and I will announce these as they come along on my website.
Meantime, enjoy the content I and other pet lovers provide to help and to entertain you.
Books are an important avenue for learning and relaxing. Now and then, I’m going to blog about a book that has impacted me in some way and features animals as characters or are the principle focus of the book. Since yesterday was National Dog Day, I’m starting off with an entertaining contemporary romance called “A New Leash on Love."
Combining romance and animal rescue is something a person who enjoys reading doesn’t come across often, and since I’m stepping into that genre with the release of my first novel, I was intrigued to come across “A New Leash on Love.”
The book is written by Eliza Boyd, who has created and published several clean, contemporary romance books. “A New Leash on Love” is the first installment of her Animal Sanctuary Romance series. The story takes place in True Love, Arizona, where we meet Hannah Lockhart, who has come to the small town to help her cousin establish an animal sanctuary. Hannah promises to stay a few weeks and though she loves animals, she can’t wait to return to her big city life. Enter Luke Steiner, a man once burned by love so badly he lost his business. Now re-established in True Love, he tells himself, “Never again.” His eatery and his dog are his focus - until he volunteers at the animal sanctuary and works alongside Hannah. The undercurrent of the story is a wrong number text message.
The author writes a fun, oftentimes humorous, clean romance story with serious undertones of the determination - and need - for animal rescue. I enjoyed the tension and flirtation between Hannah and Luke, especially since the two characters don’t realize they are texting each other after a mix-up in a phone number given to Hannah by a member of the community. The two primary characters, when they meet in person, get off to a rocky start due to Luke’s concern for his dog’s health (which Hannah doesn’t know about at the time). Luke’s inner turmoil about his dog, Ralph, speaks volumes to me as a pet lover and pet parent; those of us who live with animals know the twisting of our hearts when our dogs, cats, and other critters are ill and we’re seeking answers to the issues. Reading this aspect of Luke’s life helps make him a likeable character, even with his other flaws (after all, no person is perfect).
That’s the other aspect of this book that I like: the characters are relatable. Hannah is in search of herself, even if she doesn’t realize that; many of us have been at that point in our lives once or twice. Her cousin wants to rescue animals and provide a sanctuary for them - who wouldn’t love a person with such compassion and kindness? And the people of True Love are caring and helpful to their neighbors - our “real world” needs more people like that. And, of course, as Luke and Hannah come to realize the text message brought them together and subsequent texts helped them to really get to know one another, the “real” Hannah and Luke, there’s a Happily Ever After, which we who read romance always want to see take place.
Boyd’s writing style is witty and entertaining. The story flows and the characters are enjoyable, including the animals she introduces us to, such as a group of goats that come to the sanctuary. Luke’s dog, Ralph, develops a friendship with a cow that is sweet and fun to read, weaving a subtle reminder that we don’t all have to be the same to enjoy each other’s company.
“A New Leash on Love” released earlier this summer. If you’re looking for a fun, clean romantic read with undertones on the importance of animal rescue and the joy of animal companionship, I encourage you to get a copy of this book. Or, if you’re simply looking for a fun read with some flirty yet clean romance and delightful animals as secondary characters, this could be the book for you. “A New Leash on Love” is available in print or via Kindle through Amazon.
Her next creation in this new field of pet rescue romance is “No Kidding in Love,” a story which again takes place in True Love, Arizona (Boyd has another series about this fictional community). “No Kidding…” is a brand-new release, available August 29 - I pre-ordered the book, and I look forward to reading the story. With a goat on the cover, I can tell this will be another fun read!
What book(s) have you read recently that’s animal-related? Why would you recommend it/them? Watch for more book reviews on my blog later in the year.