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Consider the Pet Sitter

Are you hesitant about planning a vacation because of your dog? Are you stopped by images of your cherished family companion baying mournfully in a boarding kennel run by well-meaning strangers?

Consider another possibility: your dog, safe and snug at home, cared for by someone who’s qualified and experienced.

Consider a pet sitter.

Pet sitters are paid professionals who come to your home and spend quality time with your pet. The best ones are those who not only feed and play with them, but hold certificates in First Aid and CPR.

Consider the benefits.

Your dog remains at home, with the same diet and daily routine, and receives both attention and exercise while you’re away.

You can feel more secure knowing that, not only is your dog safe, but your home is too. Pet sitters can take in your newspapers and mail, water your plants and provide your place with that lived-in look.

To start, ask your vet for recommendations. Ask your family, friends and neighbors for the names of their own pet sitter if they have one. If not, research pet sitters in your area.

Interview each candidate over the phone, then in person, and ask the following questions: Can they provide written proof that they’re bonded and carry commercial liability insurance? What formal training have they received? Are contingency plans in place if an accident or emergency prevents them from fulfilling their duties? Will they provide extra services like grooming, dog walking or playtime with other dogs? If they provide live-in services, what are the specific times they agree to be with your dog? Will they give you a written contract listing their services and fees? Will they provide you with the phone numbers of clients who have agreed to be references?

If you’re satisfied with the person’s answers and if the references have checked out, it’s imperative that your dog first meet and interact with prospective sitter. Monitor them closely. Does your dog seem comfortable with the person? Are they a good fit? Are there any issues that need addressing?

Once your decision has been made and you, yourself, are comfortable, you can begin to plan that long-delayed vacation: whether for a weekend, a week or longer. Then, before your date of departure: Walk the sitter through your home, pointing out all the essentials needed to make the agreed-upon routine run smoothly and well. Give a trust worthy neighbor copies of your keys and have that neighbor and the pet sitter exchange phone numbers. Show the pet sitter any important safety features, such as fuse boxes, circuit breakers and security systems.

Prepare a comprehensive list of emergency contact information, including how to reach you, your vet, and the closest emergency clinic. Store all of your dog’s food and water bowls, treats, toys, and other supplies in one place, along with extra food in case you’re away longer than expected. Tape a list of feeding instructions and a photo of your dog (should your pet pull a “Houdini” and escape) to the door of your refrigerator.

With everything firmly in place, all you have to do now is leave. Secure in the knowledge that your precious dog is in good hands and is, after all, a mere phone call away.    

 

Article by Nomi Berger

Meet and Greet with Stamford’s Elite: The K9 Unit of the Stamford Police Department

 

We’re back with another Doggy Day Pawlooza update this week!

We are SO excited to have the Stamford K-9 Unit join us for a meet and greet from 10am-11am at our Doggy Day Pawlooza event. Not only are these guys brave, they’re the best looking ones on the force (at least we think so ;)).

The K9 Unit works hard at helping keep you, and the town safe. These dogs have to go through special training to assist police and other law enforcement officers in carrying out their duties. Now that is impressive. Looks like Stamford has a pretty great team helping to keep us safe.

Don’t forget to mark your calendar for June 3rd from 10am-3pm and come meet some these awesome dogs! Make sure to stay up to date on all event updates by liking our Doggy Day Pawlooza Facebook Page and following us on Instagram @stareliefpets.

The Vet Is In: Doggy Day Pawlooza

STARelief’s mission since the start has always been to be a resource to all pet owners. Proper pet care is such an important topic. We work to make sure that resources and information are readily available to all pet owners. This year we wanted to expand Doggy Day Pawlooza and pack more fun and activities for all those attending.

At this year’s Doggy Day Pawlooza, we are so excited to welcome our friends from VCA Davis Animal Hospital in Stamford!

They will be hosting a Rabies and Microchip clinic from 11am-12pm and “The Vet Is In”  from 12-1pm.

Mark your calendar and join us along with our friends at VCA Davis Animal Hospital. They will be there to answer some questions about proper pet care and conduct a rabies and microchip clinic.

 

We are so thankful for VCA Davis Animal Hospital and all their support.

Forever Home: Now What?

Be an informed adopter and make your new dog’s entry into your world as pleasurable as possible.

If this is your first dog, establish yourself with a vet or register your new dog with your established vet. Then apply for the appropriate licenses, etc., required in your area.

Remember that a dog’s true personality may not reveal itself for several weeks. Therefore, these first few weeks require an atmosphere of calm and patience, not anger or punishment.

Knowing your new dog’s established schedules for meals, pottying, walking and exercise beforehand are essential to maintaining his/her sense of continuity.

Once you arrive home, bring your new dog to his/her designated pottying place.

Spend time letting your new dog get accustomed to the place, and if he/she potties, reward him/her with praise and a treat.

Repeat this (whether your dog potties or not) to reinforce it, but be prepared for accidents. Even a housebroken dog will be nervous in, and curious about, new surroundings.

Your new dog may also pant or pace excessively, suffer from stomach upsets or have no appetite at all due to the sudden changes in his/her life.

Give your new dog the same food that he/she ate before.

After 30 minutes, remove the food whether it’s been eaten or not. Do not allow your new dog to “graze.”

(If you want to switch brands, wait a week. Begin by adding one part new food to three parts of the old for several days. Then add half new to half old for several more days, followed by one part old to three parts new until it’s all new food and the transition is complete).

Learn the commands your new dog already knows and don’t attempt to teach him/her any new ones for awhile.

Walk your new dog slowly through your home allowing him/her plenty of time to sniff around and become familiar with all of its sights and smells. 

If needed, teach your new dog proper house manners from the start — calmly and patiently. Reward good behavior with praise and treats for positive reinforcement.

Introduce your new dog to the other members of your household one by one. Unless you know that the dog enjoys approaching new people, instruct everyone to sit, silent and still, on a couch or chair and ignore him/her.

Allow your new dog to approach them, sniffing, whether it takes several seconds or several minutes. Only when he/she is relaxed should they begin to pet him/her lightly and gently.

Children in particular should be closely supervised to ensure that they follow these same guidelines.

Show your new dog his/her place to sleep and place a few treats around the area as added incentives.

Give your new dog some quiet, alone time to get used to his/her space while you remain in the room for reassurance.

For the first few days, remain calm and quiet around your new dog, allowing him/her to settle in comfortably while you become familiar with his/her likes and dislikes, quirks and habits.

Begin the routine you want to establish (according to your own lifestyle) for your new dog’s pottying, eating, walking, playing and alone times, and maintain it — calmly but firmly.

Initial resistance is to be expected, but remain firm – without impatience or anger – while your new dog gradually becomes accustomed to his/her new schedule.

To make the process as pleasant and reassuring as possible, spend quality time with your new dog, stroking him/her or brushing his/her coat, while talking gently and soothingly to strengthen the bond and trust between you.

If you want to change your new dog’s name, begin by saying his/her new name and giving him/her an especially good treat (chicken works well) or a belly rub. This will teach your new dog to love the sound and respond to it. Repeating this numerous times a day will speed up the process.

Limit your new dog’s activities to your home, potty and exercise areas, keeping away from neighbors and other dogs, public places and dog parks.

Invite a relative or friend over to meet your new dog. Hand them treats and tell them to be calm and gentle in their approach unless your new dog calmly approaches them first.

Gradually accustom your new dog to being alone by leaving your home briefly then returning, repeating this several times over a period of a day or two and gradually increasing the alone time from a few minutes to a half hour to an hour. This way he/she won’t feel abandoned. When you return, walk in calmly and don’t fuss over your dog until he/she has settled down.

If your new dog whines or cries, don’t cuddle or console him/her. It only reinforces this behavior. Instead give him/her attention and praise for good behavior, such as resting quietly or chewing on a toy instead. And treats always work wonders.

Slowly begin introducing your new dog to your neighbors and other dogs, closely monitoring his/her reactions, especially towards the dogs.

Bring your new dog to the vet to introduce them to each other, address any health or behavioral concerns, and get a new rabies certificate. For any behavioral issues you can’t resolve on your own, ask your vet for the name of a professional.

Remember that making your new dog the newest member of your family is a process, and that consistency is the key.

Your reward? A loving and happy companion, and the satisfaction of knowing that you have saved his/her life.

Article by Nomi Berger.

ACHOO! Cat Breeds for Allergy Sufferers

Are you for cats but your allergies are against them? Don’t despair. There ARE solutions. Although not purr-fect, they are certainly more paws-itive. 

But first: Allergies 101.

What is the culprit behind your sneezing and itching, coughing or wheezing?

The protein Fel D1 in cat saliva. When cats lick their coats, the allergen-laden saliva dries, becomes airborne, and like a warmth-seeking missile, will head straight for your sinuses.

Low allergen or “hypoallergenic” (NOT to be confused with “non-allergenic”) cats produce fewer allergens than other cats. Note the word “fewer”. But, saliva aside, all of these cats must be groomed frequently, which includes brushing and wiping them down, to keep their dander (like dandruff, dander is composed of skin cells and can cause allergies in people) to a minimum.

Listed below are seven breeds best suited to allergy sufferers:

Balinese

Often referred to as the “long-haired Siamese”, they are intelligent, inquisitive and very social. Despite their appearance, they produce less of the notorious Fel D1 protein, causing fewer allergy symptoms. 

Javanese

Playful, devoted, and “chatty”, they, like the Balinese, sport a medium-long, single coat that doesn’t mat. And because they have no undercoat, they have less fur, meaning fewer allergens.

Oriental Shorthair

As members of the Siamese family, with their distinctive wedge-shaped heads and almond-shaped eyes, they are active, outgoing and happy, with coats that produce fewer allergens.

Devon Rex

Active, curious and people oriented, they have both shorter fur and less fur. And while their paw pads and ears need frequent cleaning due to oily buildups, they require fewer full baths than either the Cornish Rex or the Sphynx.

Cornish Rex

Curious and friendly, they get along easily with people and other pets and have no fur except for a fine undercoat. Like the Sphynx, they need frequent full baths due to the oily buildup on their skin.

Sphynx

Fearless, energetic and friendly, they may be hairless, but they require frequent full baths to remove the gummy buildup on their skin. Their nails and overly large ears also require frequent cleanings.

Siberian

Loyal, energetic and playful, they have thick triple coats with a surprisingly low concentration of Fel D1 in their saliva.

BUT before you consider inviting any of these breeds into your life, you MUST spend time with them to test your reaction to them. If your allergies should flare with one, remember that you still have another six from which to choose. 

Article by Nomi Berger

Your Pet Is Not A Human Being

Your Dog Is Not A Human Being.

I’d be hard pressed to find anyone with a deeper love for dogs than me. On any given day, I might be

a girl is sitting outside in the grass shaking hands with her dog silhouetted against the sunset sky

driving a dog to the veterinarian, saving one from being euthanized or fostering one or two. I adore dogs and spend a great deal of time, energy, and money caring for them.

What I don’t do is treat dogs like they are humans. I don’t dress them in adorable outfits every day; I don’t push them in a stroller on a regular basis, either. And I don’t expect dogs to be entertained by the television when they are left alone.

I am not saying you shouldn’t think of your dog as an intricate part of your family. But don’t fail to see them for what they are…what they want, and what they need.

Many people who love their pets make the mistake of expecting them to enjoy the same things they do. Even worse, well-meaning pet owners often expect a dog to behave as a person in certain circumstances. This is unkind and unfair to the dog.

One of the core responsibilities of pet ownership is to keep our pets safe. They rely on us to make good decisions. It breaks my heart to see people surprised and disappointed when their dogs act like dogs.

Those of us who share our lives with animals should feel empowered to understand their emotions and feelings. To have an honest and authentic relationship with our pets, we need to listen, observe, and consider their perspective. In order to do this, we need to remove preconceptions and assumptions and be open to their truth.

So take Fido out of your stroller or purse and let him/her chase her own truth.

Heather Scutti

Program Director

STARelief and Pet Assistance

www.starelief.org

A Pet Safe Halloween Is A Happy Halloween

A Pet Safe Halloween Is A Happy Halloween

 

It’s that time again. For goblins and ghosts, pumpkins and pranks, and things that go bump in the night. But as responsible pet owners, please ensure that your dogs and cats aren’t innocent victims of Halloween’s fun and frolics.Halloween-Safety

Consider the following suggestions to keep your pets safe not sorry.

  1. Keep candy out of reach of your pet. Chocolate, especially dark or baking chocolate, can prove toxic for both dogs and cats. Candy containing the artificial sweetener, xylitol, can also cause problems. If you suspect your pet has ingested something toxic, please call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435.
  1. Although pumpkins and decorative corn are considered relatively non-toxic, they can still produce an upset stomach if nibbled on by your pet.
  1. Keep wires and cords from lights and other decorations out of reach of your pet. If chewed, your pet might be cut or burned or receive a potentially life-threatening electric shock.
  1. Although festive, carved pumpkins with candles inside can be easily knocked over by your pet and a fire started. Curious kittens in particular run the risk of being singed or burned by a candle flame.
  1. Keep costumes for your children and away from your pets unless you’re certain they’re comfortable being decked out, not stressed out, by putting on the “glitz”. Or opt for a Halloween-themed bandana draped round your pet’s neck.
  1. Keep all but the most social dogs and cats in a separate room when “trick or treaters” come to call. Even then, take care that your pet doesn’t dart outside when the door first opens.
  1. Should your pet “pull a Houdini” and vanish, ensure that he/she has either been micro chipped or is wearing a collar and tags for proper identification and a swift return to your anxious arms.

With some strategic planning beforehand, you and your pet can be assured of spending the safest and happiest of Halloweens together.
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When choosing a dog, choose wisely!

dog-shelter-adoption-family_shelter-pet360Truer words were never spoken, because being an informed owner truly means being that dog’s true, best friend.

An alarming number of dogs are abandoned, surrendered, and euthanized each year in this country. The reasons are many, but one of the greatest contributing factors is the failure of too many potential owners to educate themselves fully BEFORE acquiring a dog.

The educated ones would know to thoroughly familiarize themselves with the breed they’re considering, including the breed’s physical description and personality, trainability and exercise requirements, health issues, and general care and grooming.

They would know there’s no such thing as TOO much information. The more informed they are, the more informed their decision.

They would know to choose a breed that fits in with their particular lifestyle, needs and expectations. Examples. No high shedding dogs in a home of allergy sufferers. No hyperactive or high energy dogs in a small apartment. No dogs who can’t get along with cats or any other family pets. No dogs in need of constant companionship if there is no one at home during the day.

They would know that, whatever the breed, raising a dog from puppy hood is, like raising a child, not a hobby or a sometime thing but a full time, fully committed responsibility.

They would know that puppies must be housetrained promptly and socialized early in order for them to develop into well-behaved and friendly dogs with good bite inhibition.

They would know to always be consistent, that discipline does NOT mean punishment, and that love, in and of itself, does NOT conquer all.

They would also know that certified trainers and supervised puppy classes can be of crucial help to them in raising calm and balanced dogs if they’re unable to manage on their own.

On the flip side are the uninformed and uneducated owners. The ones who, ruled by their hearts and not their heads, choose poorly from the start. The ones who, sadly and all too frequently, raise untrained, ill-mannered and often dangerous dogs.

These are the dogs who, over time, will prove too much for their ill-equipped and increasingly frustrated owners. These are the dogs who will eventually be abandoned in empty lots or left by the side of the road. These are the dogs who will be deposited outside a local pound or shelter or, if they’re lucky, surrendered to a rescue organization.

These are the dogs who will be adopted – and probably returned – by unsuspecting people intent on doing the right thing by not buying from a pet store or an unscrupulous breeder. These are the dogs who, more than likely, will be euthanized due to overcrowded facilities or because of their own people-biting or dog-aggressive behaviors.

These are the unfortunate innocents who will pay with their lives for their owners’ unfortunate ignorance. Thereby perpetuating an all-too-familiar and vicious cycle. And the only way to break this cycle is to turn every potential dog owner into an informed and educated dog owner.

Remember that the dog YOU ultimately choose is counting on you.

The Joys of Adopting a Senior Dog

5-1r-DFJMNV_u18Req5d9a2XusuRR_1z_6SRHRL9K18How many times have we humans heard the expression, “You’re only as old as you feel”? And why is it that some days, despite our actual age, we feel younger than we are, while other days, we feel older, much older?

So it is with our canine companions. What constitutes a senior in one breed may be an adult in another – with plenty of room for peppiness in both. Although most veterinarians agree that a dog is considered “senior” around the age of 7, what matters more is the size, not the number. Small dogs mature slower, tend to live longer than large dogs, and become seniors later in life. Dogs weighing less than 20 pounds may not show signs of aging until they’re around 12. Fifty-pound dogs won’t seem older until they’re around 10, while the largest dogs start “showing their age” at around 8.

But if wisdom comes with age, so do benefits. And in the case of those lovingly dubbed “gray muzzles”, the benefits of adopting a senior dog are many. Think puppy at heart without the puppy problems. Because in adopting a senior dog, you CAN judge a book by its cover. What you see is what you get: a mature animal whose physique and persona are fully formed — no baby teeth to gnaw on your furniture, no yappy energy to wear you out – allowing you to see, within moments, if yours is a mutual match or not. Although, as with everything else, there are always exceptions to the rule, opening your home to an older dog means opening your heart to an experience akin to instant gratification.

Calmer than their younger counterparts, older dogs are house trained and have long since mastered the basic commands of “sit,” “stay,” “down,” and “come.” And contrary to popular belief, you CAN teach an old dog new tricks. Dogs are trainable at any age, and older dogs are just as bright as younger ones, with a greater attention span, making them that much easier to train. Older dogs are loyal, loving and experienced companions, ready to walk politely on leash with you, run gaily off leash (with good recall) in the dog park, and play frisky games of fetch with your new tennis ball or their own, well-worn one.

Less demanding of your attention than younger dogs, they are content with their own company for longer periods, then will lavish you with all of their adoration and affection when it’s cuddling time. Due to their lower energy level, senior dogs are easier to care for and make superlative companions for senior people. They also make friendly and gentle playmates for children — particularly if they were once some other family’s cherished pet.

One common misconception about older, adoptable dogs is that they are “problem dogs”. And yet, most of them have lost their homes, not because of their behavior or temperament, but because of changes in the lives, lifestyle or circumstances of their original owners.

Sadly, for many senior dogs awaiting adoption, age IS seen as a number, even if that number is only 5, and even if that same dog has 10 years or more to live, to love and be loved. More difficult to adopt than younger dogs, and just as deserving of a permanent home, they are all too often overlooked and for all the wrong reasons.

Senior dogs seem to sense when they receive a second chance at the rest of their lives. And anyone wise enough to adopt one, will not only reap the benefits, but will be the lucky recipient of a love as unconditional as it is enduring.

Tick Alert: Pet Owners Beware

Tick Alert: Pet Owners Beware

With the arrival of summer comes the arrival of an annoying and possibly fatal pest: the tick.

What was once considered a nuisance found only in the wooded countryside has been persistently and increasingly invading cities both large and small. Now ticks can be as close as your neighborhood park or your neighbor’s backyard.

What, precisely, is a tick? A tick is a fairly common, external parasite that embeds itself in the skin of both animals and humans. Once it lands, it inserts its mouthparts into the skin and feeds on the blood. And that single tick has the potential to pass on multiple diseases.

Deer ticks and Western Blacklegged ticks can carry Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever, which animals (and humans) can contract.

 Prevention and early detection are the best ways of protecting your pets against Lyme disease. The intent is to stop it before any symptoms appear. Should the disease progress, symptoms can include stiff, painful and swollen joints, and a limp that comes and goes, often appearing to switch sides. Some dogs have an arched back and a stiff walk. More serious, however, are fever, difficulty breathing and kidney failure. Heart and neurological problems are rarer.

 To help protect your pet, there are several preventatives available – such as K9 Advantix – which stops ticks BEFORE they bite, killing, not only all of the major tick species, but acting as a flea treatment as well. A product meant only for dogs, K9 Advantix must NOT be applied to cats.

 Such preventatives are particularly important for high-risk animals such as hunting dogs, cottage dogs, and dogs hiking through fields. But it’s important to remember that dogs (and cats) can pick up ticks in the city as well.

 When bitten, the skin of some pets may become red and irritated around the site, while others may not even notice the parasite attached to them. It is imperative then, that you inspect your pet thoroughly when returning from areas known for ticks.

 Should you find a tick on your pet, it must be removed very carefully to ensure that the mouthparts are fully removed. If left behind, they can abscess and cause infection. Kill the tick by placing it in a zip-lock bag and pouring rubbing alcohol over it. For the uncertain owner, special tick removal devices are available, while the squeamish can have their vet remove the tick instead.

 Some experts now advise that when your pet is tested annually for heartworm, the same test include screening for Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis and anaplasmosis (both bacterial infections). A positive test result enables you to start treating your pet early — before the onset of any symptoms.

 Never was the expression “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” more true.

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Article by Nomi Berger

Nomi is the best selling author of seven novels, one work of non-fiction, two volumes of poetry and hundreds of articles. She lives in Toronto, Ontario, Canada with her adopted Maltese, Mini, and now devotes all of her time volunteering her writing skills to animal rescue organizations throughout Canada and the USA.

 

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P.O. Box 3035
Stamford, CT 06905
Phone: 203-636-0971
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