Friday, October 31, 2014


The American Association of Feline Practitioners has Halloween tips for every cat owner. They spent the day running a contest for a cat to go on their info graphic.  The Winner, seen below, is Dusty, dressed up as The Cat in The Hat.  Before dark falls and the Trick or Treating begins, this info graphic is a nice supplement to my cat & dog Halloween Safety Post earlier this week.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

National Cat Day

Darlene & The Amazing Aimee
Today is National Cat Day. I've been thinking about it. National Cat Day. A day devoted to felines wherever they may be. Every one of them is a loving, sweet, often misunderstood living, breathing, sentient being.

If you have a cat or two or more, you know what wonderful companions they are, how loving and sweet. They have been plagued by Old Wives' Tales that are totally inaccurate but so widely adopted without thinking that it boggles the mind. 

Photo Courtesy of Louise Holton

Cats aren't independent. They are independent hunters, not independent creatures.  They crave attention which is why they're on top of your newspaper or book when you're reading, your keyboard at the computer, why they sit close or on top of you purring. They love to play with you and some will play fetch with the enthusiasm of a Retriever. But they are not dogs. They like to make the first approach. If a cat comes to you of his own volition, you are honored.

A black cat is decidedly not bad luck! In fact, in many places, including the U.K., they are considered good luck! They are merely black in color and sweet in nature. However, the idiocy attached to them leaves them vulnerable to people who will use them in unsavory practices, hence they are not adopted out around Halloween. Sadly, because of their color, many people won't adopt them at all! They are missing out on a wonderful companion and because of their bigotry, these beautiful, sweet cats are often killed in shelters. I don't pussyfoot around - any pun intended - by using the word euthanasia.  They are dead by someone's hand in a shelter.

Photo Courtesy of Sue Janson
Cats do not steal a baby's breath. In fact, children who grow up with pets are less likely to be allergic to them. The only thing I wouldn't allow is for the cat to sleep on an infant's chest just because of the weight, however, many cats will happily sleep at the foot of the crib or on the floor near the crib. The family baby is their baby, too. Children who are raised with pets and taught to be gentle with them grow up to be more responsible, caring people.

The cats that run loose outside have often been thrown out by people who think they're disposable. They are not. They are in danger from being hit or killed by cars, attacked by other animals, or they starve to death. 

Feral cats, those who have not been owned or socialized, deserve love, too, in the form of shelter, food water, and a Trap, Neuter, Return (TNR) program that allows them to live out their lives in relative peace and not reproduce more. If you see more in a colony it is usually because some irresponsible "owner" has thrown the cat away and chosen to dump their pet into a feral colony for which he is completely unprepared to live or even survive.

Photo Courtesy of Louise Holton

Cats often do therapy work in hospitals and nursing homes. That's not just a job for dogs!  Some are known to live with autistic children, providing them that "something extra" that they seem to need.

If you're a cat owner, celebrate your cat not just today but every day. If you can, please donate to your local grassroots rescue group. They will be happy to have whatever you can give, whether it's money, food, or even paper towels.

Cats give us unconditional love, the very least we can do is keep them safe from harm, feed them, give them fresh water each day, play with them, love them and cherish them.

Photo Courtesy of Claire Clayton

Monday, October 27, 2014

Halloween & Your Pets Plus the Chuckit Toy Winner!


Photo by Claire Clayton 

With Halloween only a few days away it's time to give some extra thought to your dogs and cats. While children find this holiday fun and many adults enjoy it, most dogs and cats are less than thrilled.

Some dogs enjoy getting dressed up and going out with the kids. If you have one of those dogs, be sure the dog's costume allows him to see and breath and allows his legs to move easily. 

Photo by Jim Stagg

If your dog is shy, not good around loud noises (like kids screaming), costumes, lots of people milling about, then do your dog a favor and don't make him participate in Halloween activities.

Your dog will be happier and safer indoors, in a room of his own with the door closed, toys to play with, a comfy place to nap if he can do that with the doorbell ringing and children shouting. Keep a radio on in the room. He should have a dish of water and, perhaps a puzzle toy with treats inside.

Your kitty, too, will be much happier and safer in a room of her own with a litterbox just in case, water and food, scratching post (or horizontal cardboard scratcher), a safe place to nap even if it's just a cardboard box with a towel on the bottom for an impromptu nap. Kitty, too, will appreciate a radio.

Cat with a Wig - Not a good idea to
cover the cat's ears!
Don't allow your cat or dog to have any of the candy that you're giving out or that your kids bring home. It's not good for them and you don't want to have to make a trip to the veterinarian! 

If you're having a party in your home, a separate room of their own is going to be the safest place under those circumstances, too. Being underfoot, or being fed something they shouldn't eat (or drink!) but a guest who thinks it's "funny," is not going to make you or your companion happy.

Having your companions closed off in another room will also save you the worry of your dog or cat escaping through the door and getting lost, or possibly hit by a car. Safety is an important issue.

Photo by Linda Aronson
Have fun on Halloween but don't let it be a disaster for your pet.

Now for the moment you've been waiting for - the winner of last week's giveaway - a Chuckit LIGHTPLAY Toy by Petmate Products that will provide lots of fun for our winner and their dog.  

And the Winner is:


Please send me your name and mailing address via my website: so I can pass it along and the toy will be on its way to you!

Thank you to everyone who entered.  

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Review: The Chuckit LIGHTPLAY Toy & Giveaway

Photo of Fuzzy by Gary Rohde

When it comes to testing toys, I have an assortment of volunteers. One of the most avid toy testers is Fuzzy who has owned Gary Rohde in Southern California ever since Gary rescued him from a shelter. A rather insecure, anxious dog who seemed to come not with baggage but a full set of luggage, he has flourished under Gary's loving care, great socialization and gentle training. 

Photo by Gary Rohde

Fuzzy has turned into a connoisseur of dog toys. Give him one and he'll be happy to play until he has either destroyed the toy or finally grows tired, whichever comes first.  When I was offered an opportunity to test Chuckit, a LIGHTPLAY toy by Petmate, Fuzzy was a pretty obvious choice. 

LIGHTPLAY Toys aglow!

A bonus of this group of new toys is that it can be seen when it's starting to get dark and great indoors to keep you from falling over the toy in the middle of the night if it's still charged. The Max Glow rubber charges under a bright light - including light from a cell phone in less than 10 minutes and the glow lasts for up to 30 minutes of nighttime play.

Lucas & Fuzzy Photo by Gary Rohde

I asked that one of the toys be shipped directly to Gary and Fuzzy.  It arrived quickly and Fuzzy immediately bonded with the box - after all, it was for him, contents and all.  

Gary unpacked the toy and Fuzzy loved it, playing with it on the sofa in their apartment. Then off they went for the real test - outdoors on one of their multiple daily walks.

Photo by Gary Rohde
Gary is disabled but even he could play with the toy, throwing it for Fuzzy in the safety of a friend's yard. Then he enlisted one of Fuzzy's friends, a young man named Luke and while Gary shot still pictures and video, they played together with the joy kids and dogs seem to naturally share.

Fuzzy gives this toy 4 paws up!  Gary and Luke seem to concur. The fact that Fuzzy hasn't been able to destroy it is another major plus since he's hard on toys.  Gary enthused that, "Fuzzy loves it!"

As you can see in the pictures (and the video below), Chuckit is a big hit with Fuzzy, Gary and Luke. 

If you want to learn more, you can go to Petmate's website:

Video of Fuzzy & Luke by Gary Rohde

If you want a LIGHTPLAY toy for your special canine friend, please comment on this post. A winner in the U.S. will be chosen at random from all entries.  Check back on Monday when I'll announce the lucky winner!

NOTE:  I was not paid for this review. The toy was sent to Gary Rohde so he and his dog, Fuzzy, could test it.  No money changed hands. This review is based on Gary's experiences with the toy, his dog and their young friend, Luke.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Review: War Dogs by Rebecca Frankel

Those of us who know and love dogs are only too familiar with what dogs do for humans. They are more than companions; they help lower our blood pressure, assist the blind and disabled, work with the Police and with people with emotional issues. And then there are the dogs who go to war, military in every way.

Rebecca Frankel, Senior Editor, Special Projects at Foreign Policy has been writing a weekly column, appearing each Friday, called War Dog of The Week, which has led to her just-released book, War Dogs: Tales of Canine Heroism, History, and Love

Author Rebecca Frankel

It's not often that we see this sort of look at at these brave dogs from the mascots of the Civil War to Military Dogs on patrol from Vietnam to Iraq, as real members of the military. Only these dogs are not volunteers. Their lives are on the line just as much as any other member of the armed forces and many have lost their lives, others have been left behind like old, discarded military equipment instead of the living, breathing sentient beings that they are, forming tight bonds with their human partner and giving their all under orders.

These dogs have traditionally been trained using aversive methods which, of course, does not please me. That aside (and for me it's a huge effort to put that aside), these intelligent living, breathing sentient beings use all of their senses, bravery and intelligence, which is extraordinary. 

Combat Tracker Dog Lex - who loves
attention - enjoys some free time with
his handler, Marine Lance Corporal,
John Peeler. Photo by Rebecca Frankel
Within the pages of War Dogs you'll meet these courageous dogs and their handlers who form a working team with an extraordinary bond. Frankel brings them to us, chronicling their careers as only a savvy reporter on the ground can do.  It's impossible to single out just one story for attention because each is unique and every reader will find favorites among these brave warriors who, today, are even parachuting over targets with their partner, wearing special equipment. We got a hint of this when the story came out about Osama bin Laden's capture with a specially trained military dog an important member of the team.

While definitely non-fiction, it occasionally reads like fiction. You are not likely to forget the dogs and their partners who make up this military book.

Photographs show these special dogs throughout the years.

You won't regret the time spent with War Dogs which was released on October 14th. 

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Joshua Fehringer
guides  MWD (Military Working Dog)
Suk, across the obedience course at Cannon
Air Force Base, New Mexico on August 15, 2012.
Photo by Airman First Class Xavier Lockley

Published by Palgrave Macmillan, War Dogs: Tales of Canine Heroism, History, and Love is 242 pages, List price is $26.00 It is available wherever books are sold.  Here's a link for easy online purchase:   

Note: I was not compensated financially for this review.  I received only a bound galley of the book to read in oder to review it.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

National Feral Cat Day - 2014

Photo Courtesy of Putsch Photography

This year, National Feral Cat Day falls on Thursday, October 16th Yes, that's today. Feral cats are unowned cats who live in colonies.  Cats are solitary hunters but are not loners, they like to live in a family grouping, even if that group, called a Clowder, is of their own making. Feral cats have lived among people for centuries.

Sadly, skewed numbers in a "study" have blamed feral cats for killing birds. Of course that's false information. How people who claim to love birds can hate cats is beyond comprehension. They're all living breathing sentient beings. While too many people find feral cats to be a nuisance, the best way to lessen their numbers is by Trap, Neuter, Return, commonly known as TNR. Each neutered or spayed cat is returned to the place where they have been living with a cut in their ear to show that they have been neutered.  They are given food and water by dedicated volunteers who also trap them humanely and transport them to be spayed or neutered.

Alley Cat Allies, founded in 1990, began National Feral Cat Day on their 10th Anniversary.  The date is always October 16th only the day changes from year to year.

For more information on National Feral Cat Day, here is my Q & A with Elizabeth Holtz, Staff Attorney for Alley Cat Allies.

Q.  How did you come up with this year's theme?

A.  Our Theme: TNR From the Alley to Main Street, captures the tremendous progression of TNR from something practiced privately by people who care for cats to the mainstream. Today over 430 local governments recognize or endorse TNR. It's practiced by animal control officers, city officials, citizens and animal shelters.

Photo Courtesy of Putsch Photography

Q.  How do you convince those who don't realize that TNR is the best option to choose for their city or town?

A.  I approach it logically by noting that TNR is currently the only effective is the only effective form of cat management that we have available. Cities have practiced trapping and killing (where feral cats are trapped, taken to a shelter, and euthanized) for decades with no positive impact on the cat population. It wastes taxpayer dollars and is cruel. When people realize that what they're currently doing is ineffective (yet costs money), they are happy to support TNR.

Q.  Is there a percentage of feral cats that are adopted into homes?

A.  No. The term "feral" refers to a cat's socialization level. Truly feral cats should not be tamed because they prefer living outdoors in their colonies. Today we use the term "community cats" to describe cats living outdoors, so they can have a range of socialization levels. Some people do adopt friendly community cats. But by far the best approach to community cats is TNR.

Q.  What are your goals for National Feral Cat Day?

A.  National Feral Cat Day is a celebration of the people on the front lines, caring for cats and advocating for humane laws in their community. It's a moment to recognize their hard work. Our goal is to build on the momentum and continue to spread the word.

Thanks to Elizabeth Holtz for this interview. You can find Alley Cat Allies online at:

Monday, October 13, 2014

Black Cats & Contest Winner!

Thank you to Layla Morgan Wilde - Cat Wisdom 101

It's October and thoughts are turning to Halloween. Well, they were turning to Halloween a lot earlier because the stores have had all sorts of Halloween paraphernalia on display for weeks. By the time most holidays arrive it's easy to get sick of them. 

Halloween holds some special cautions for pet owners. We don't want them getting sick from candy, getting frightened by children in costumes or having to wear a costume and go out with the kids Trick or Treating. Some dogs are fine with it, some are not. Most cats can think of a better way to spend the evening than having the doorbell ringing all evening. A lot of dogs feel that way, too.  If you're going to keep opening the door, be sure that your dogs and cats are put into another room with food water, a radio or TV on and some toys to keep them occupied for the few hours when you'll be opening the door. Be sure to do this if you are hosting a Halloween party in your home. Better safe than sorry.

One problem with Halloween is that people intent on doing harm to black cats, perhaps using them in some sort of ritual, will try to adopt them around that date. Shelters, by and large, will not adopt out black cats around that time.  It's a wise decision.

Thanks to Layla Morgan Wilde -
Cat Wisdom 101

What is not wise, however, is thinking black cats are bad luck.  It's a ridiculous old wives' tale and one that should have been put to rest centuries ago. Are you aware that in the U.K., among other countries, black cats are considered to be good luck?!  There are few things quite as beautiful as a sleek, black cat, shiny coat and eyes lovingly looking at you. 

It's beyond sad that black cats (and black dogs!) in the U.S. are overlooked for adoption. Love comes in all colors so why ignore a perfectly wonderful prospective family member because of color?

Please think about giving a black cat a new lease on life with a loving, safe home. She or he will return that love countless times over.

Here's a little Halloween fun from the adorable Havanese, Jasmine, her Mommy and some of their friends:

                                                 Thanks to CJ and Jasmine Jackson

 Now for the news you've been waiting for; the winner of last week's contest to win a copy of Really Important Stuff My Dog Has Taught Me by Cynthia L. Copeland, published by Workman Publishing.

The winner is:  Nancy Dionne.  

Please contact me via my website: with your address so the nice people at Workman Publishing cat get the book right off to you!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Book Review & Contest: Really Important Stuff My Dog Has Taught Me

Every once in awhile a wonderful gift book comes along and I'm inclined to think: Why didn't I write that? Well, this time it's because Cynthia L. Copeland wrote Really Important Stuff My Dog Has Taught Me, published by Workman Publishing.

Loaded with wonderful pictures and practical advice that's charmingly illustrated by the assortment of dogs gracing its pages, this book entertains, amuses and, for a gift book, makes a great deal of sense.

Cindy & Teddy @Colleen Krause
With her own adorable dog Teddy helping to serve as her muse, or perhaps by example, Copeland sets out to write a charming collection of thoughts. Not exactly the researched tome most of us reach for (or write), this book is just plain fun while giving some food for thought.

The photos, by a number of photographers listed at the end of the book in such minuscule type I thought I'd need a Guide Dog to read it, have captured dogs at their very best, from puppy eyes to joyous abandonment, to my personal favorite, an utterly adorable photo of a little Yorkshire Terrier, on his back virtually begging for a tummy rub. As a long-time Yorkie "mother," I kept going back to the picture and then discovered, to my utter delight, the photo is on the back cover.  If I have one wish it is that the photographers names were published on the same page as their photos. They deserve that very present credit.

©Rita Kochmarjova/fotolia

Looking at the dog shaking off water has to bring a smile, as does the Komondor at full run towards the camera, his locks flying as he speeds along at full tilt.  Photos also run to the serious. It's hard to look at the black and white photo of the Military Dogs and their handlers jumping out of a helicopter without remembering that they are full members of the military with a job to do, just like their human counterparts, except they don't volunteer for the job.

There's the dog with three legs, the old dog with his elderly human and so much more. It's a book to read and re-read. With the holidays coming, it would make a wonderful gift for the dog lovers in your life.

My Chartreux, Aimee, thinks she should write the Cat version if they decide to publish one. She believes cats have equal rights. I suspect I know whose help she would employ.

©Tim Kitchen/The Image Bank/Getty Images

Published by Workman Publishing in New York, this 170 page book retails for a modest $12.95 at brick and mortar bookstores and online:

Now for the really exciting news: Workman Publishing will send a copy of Really Important Stuff My Dog Has Taught Me by Cynthia L. Copeland to one lucky winner! If YOU would like to win that copy, post a comment here. The winner will be chosen by random. This is restricted to U.S. residents. Remember to check back on Monday to see if you are the winner!

NOTE:  I was not financially compensated for this review. I was only provided with a review copy of the book and .jpg photos to use in this blog. The contents of this blog are mine.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Are Your Pets Covered?

Darlene & The Amazing Aimee
Photo by Veronique Schejtman
When I ask if your pets are covered, I don't mean by blankets. I mean what happens to your pets if/when you die or are incapacitated?  Although we hate to think about it, it's inevitable. Any one of us could be hit by a bus, killed in a car accident, be felled by an incurable disease, or someday end up in a nursing home. What will happen to your beloved pets?
Photo Courtesy of Louise Holton
Alley Cat Rescue

Hardly a day goes by that I don't receive at least one e-mail asking if I can help re-home a cat or dog, often more than one, because he owner died or was taken to a nursing home. If there is family, they swoop in, take what material things they can and then either leave the pet(s) in the house or thrown out on the street. At most they will say they will take the pets to the shelter if someone won't take them. We know what that means. Often the pets are elderly and are euthanized. That's the pretty word. Let's be blunt: they're killed. Surely that is not what the owner wants for their beloved companion who was often the only one there providing love and comfort. No one thinks this will happen to their pets but it will unless you make provisions now if you haven't already done so.

Here are some simple steps you can take now, today, to ensure that your pets won't end up homeless, starving on the streets, or killed in a shelter.

1. Ask a trusted friend if s/he will look after your pet(s) in the event of your death. 

2. Go to a lawyer and make out your will. If you already have one, have your lawyer add a codicil naming the person who will take care of your pet(s). Do not name your pets because they may not be the one(s) you have when you die. Periodically ask the person if they still agree to do this or you will have to name someone else. And be sure to set aside money for each pet's care.
Photo courtesy of Mary Slaney

3. Make out a Pet Trust. This will allow the person who will take your pet(s) to have immediate access to your pet(s) and the money you are leaving for their care.

According to Louise A. Holton, President of Alley Cat Rescue in Maryland, "You should leave a Pet Trust as well as a Will. Leave a copy with friends and family and choose a good friend or family member to agree to take your cats [or dogs], with a donation of money to help them. A Pet Trust is available immediately upon your death and does not have to go through your estate. In a will it could take years for an animal to get any money,"

That's excellent advice. Only four States in the U.S. don't have a Pet Trust law as of 2012. Those States are Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota and Mississippi.  You'll have to check with your lawyer for a way in which to handle this if you live in one of those States.  Some States will allow the amount you leave to be reduced or redirected if it exceeds what the Court thinks it's in excess of the intended use.

If you don't want to use a lawyer, you can use a form on the website Legal Zoom to create a Pet Trust. It will cost about $50. to $80. to do it online.
Photo Courtesy of Gary Rohde

Holton has seen the results when this happens or if the caretaker of a cat colony dies. She and her organization's volunteers have had to go in and place the cats.  Louise Holton cares so much that she has written a brochure, Leave a Legacy of Love for members of Alley Cat Rescue.

Responsible cat and dog breeders state in their contract that if, for any reason, the person can't keep the cat or dog at anytime in that cat or dog's life, it is to be returned to the breeder. This is something many people don't consider when their relative dies without leaving a will and a Pet Trust.
Photo Courtesy of Louise Holton
You love your four-legged companion. Please do the right thing. Don't leave grieving friends and strangers to pick up the pieces, scrambling to find homes for your pets. Or worse: no one does anything and they either starve to death, are hit by a car, attacked by wildlife or nasty humans, or are killed in a shelter.  We each have a responsibility for our four-legged companions and that includes who will care for them when we no longer can.