Easter Pets

easter-bunny-disapproves

I agree with The Easter Bunny. I disapprove of giving animals as gifts. I print this post this every year because it is important. If I can help spare one little life, it is worth repeating myself. Please read, and share this information with others.

Every year hundreds of baby bunnies, chicks and ducklings are bought as “novelty” Easter gifts. While much thought is put into the “surprise” factor, little is put into the long-term care and commitment. Consequently, the animals will suffer abuse or neglect. Many will be released into the wild, ultimately facing death.

It has been reported by the U.S. Humane Society that “within the initial weeks following Easter, 30% of these novelty Easter pets will die. Another 60-70% will be released or left at a shelter.” Most of those released or left at shelters are already ill or suffering.

Every Spring, shelters are inundated with bunnies, chicks, and ducklings that are dumped because the novelty has worn off. Little or no thought was put into their growth or care. They were purchased solely for human enjoyment, into homes not equipped for their needs.

Before purchasing any pet, do your research. Ask the right authority, go to the proper source. Read, go online, learn about the animal’s needs, proper care, and expected lifespan. See what is involved to keep the animal healthy. Know what the possible pitfalls are with the particular pet you are considering, such as the fact that chicks and ducklings are known to carry salmonella.

Following are some facts and links provided by the Humane Society of the United States. Please read, consider, and take this to heart. These are real live beings with beating hearts.

RABBITS:
Average lifespan: 7-10 years
Facts:
*Rabbits may not do well in a household with young children. They often do not like being lifted or held.
*Rabbits like to dig and need to chew.
*If you get multiple rabbits they should be spayed and neutered as soon as possible.
*Multiple rabbits will often fight.
*Weekly expenses can be in excess of $25.00 for food alone, per rabbit.
Research Sources:
House Rabbit… http://www.myhouserabbit.com
Bunny Basics… http://www.thebunnybasics.com
Rabbit.org… www.rabbit.org

DUCKS:
Average lifespan: 8-15 years
Facts:
*Ducks are very social animals, doing better kept in groups (a “paddling” or “brace” of ducks).
*Ducks need a lot of space and a shelter to keep them safe.
*Ducklings will need to be kept in an indoor pen/cage for the several weeks.
Research Sources:
Pet Duck Blog… http://www.petducksblog.com
Keeping Ducks… http://keeping-ducks.net

CHICKENS:
Average lifespan: 5-8 years
Facts:
*Chickens naturally scratch, peck and dig. If housing is inadequate, they will cause damage.
*Many towns and cities have regulations concerning chickens, regarding them “livestock”.
*Health and zoning boards should be consulted.
*Chickens are noisy, but roosters are especially noisy!
Research Sources:
My Pet Chicken… http://www.mypetchicken.com
Backyard Chickens… http://www.backyardchickens.com

Please, do share animals with children. Educate yourself and children on animals and the various breeds and species. Visit them in natural habitats or ones created especially for them. Visit zoos, farms, and other places where you can do this in safety, for all involved. 

So, fill those Easter baskets with their favourite stuffed Easter toys. And, remember to include lots of books about those animals, too.  Love and knowledge can change the world.

Bounty

As I shopped for groceries this week, I contemplated the holiday. Thanksgiving is meant to be just that: a time to give thanks. Time and circumstance has made that time different things to different people. However, it does not change the meaning of the holiday.
As I put things in my cart and checked them off of my list, I thought of the many things that I am thankful for. The word “bounty” came into my head. I actually stopped to think about the real meaning of the word.
bounty
noun: bounty; plural: bounties
-something given or occurring in generous amounts; generosity, liberality.
I looked around at all of the food displays. The shelves and bins and tables…all full. As I got the things for our holiday dinner, I thought of the bounty of food that God has blessed us with every day. We do understand, and are thankful.
As I continued shopping, I remembered other things that I had neglected to put on the list. So, I thought carefully to avoid another trip to crazy town. I added the items to the cart. Nothing frivolous, but things that we needed. There are always things around the house that need to be replenished.
The cats needed litter, so I stuffed that under the cart. The dogs needed the special “senior” treats. Kenzie is a senior and Stella is middle-aged. We are conscious of their needs to stay healthy. Their bounty, I thought with a chuckle. Yes, but they are part of our bounty, too.
Bill needed some things for his trucking life. A man has to maintain his health even when on the road. He isn’t getting any younger, either. But, he is certainly a big part of my bounty.
Finally, I checked out of the store. I thought about bounty all of the way home. I looked at everything. I watched the squirrels and their bounty of nut holes in my flower beds. I watched the last of the Sandhill Crane and their bounty of companionship on their southward travel. I waved back to nice neighbors who waved to me. I watched the sun peek out of grey rain clouds.

Again, I marveled at the bounty that we are blessed with every day. We are blessed in so many ways by a very generous God. That is what “bounty” is. It is not only about the things we have, but that God is generous in His giving. God is good. And, I am thankful. 

Day Twenty-Two in my Giving Thanks series

Love Remembers

On this special Rainbow Bridge Remembrance Day, I would like to call attention to my Rainbow Bridge page. On that very special page, you will find many cats, dogs, reptiles, birds, fish, and rodents. I have listed the furkids that have crossed The Bridge throughout my adult life. They are listed in order of the date of their adoption. Pictures will be added in the near future, as possible.

My first dog was Velvet. She was 15 when she crossed The Bridge. I was 25. She is buried in a formal pet cemetery. As I had engraved on Velvet’s headstone, “Love surpasses death”. This still rings true. My life has been blessed by so many critters. I believe I am a better person for having had each of them in my life. I remember and honour each and every one of them with love and gratitude…always. 

The Rainbow Bridge

‘There is a bridge connecting Heaven and Earth. It is called the Rainbow Bridge because of its many colors. Just this side of the Rainbow Bridge there is a land of meadows, hills and valleys with lush green grass.

When a beloved pet dies, the pet goes to this place. There is always food and water and warm spring weather. All the animals who have been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.

The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind. They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. Her bright eyes are intent; her eager body begins to quiver. Suddenly she begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, her legs carrying her faster and faster. You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross the Rainbow Bridge together, never again to be separated.’ 

~Author Unknown

Kitten Nightmares


Having been born in an old abandoned house had exposed the minions to many dangerous, scary, unhealthy things. They came to me at one week of age. When the outlaw minions were two weeks old, they went to visit the vet for the very first time. Bonnie was really there as moral support for Clyde. Tiny little Clyde had a very big, serious situation to confront. He had a Cuterebra.

Cuterebra are botflies. The adults seek hosts in which to lay their eggs, using any opening in the host to do so. The eggs are hatched under the skin of the host, where they grow and evolve in the warmth and safety of the host. Cuterebra hosts are usually rodents, such as mice, chipmunks, and squirrels. Rabbits are common hosts, as well. Since cats frequently stalk areas with these animals, they often ingest or pick up the botflies and their larvae.

The larvae (maggot) itself can be picked up, in which case it will find an opening in the skin to complete its life cycle. This opening may be a wound, the nose, ear, eye, or any orifice. The Cuterebra larvae will migrate through the host’s tissue until it chooses a suitable place to grow. As the larvae grow, a welt often becomes noticeable under the skin of the host animal. This is a warble. Eventually, a hole will appear in the skin. This is an air hole for the larvae to breathe. Often, it can be observed as it pokes through the hole for air.

The safest way to treat this situation is to seek help through an experienced veterinarian. The warble must be treated with a local anesthetic, usually through the air hole. The hole is enlarged to ensure full, intact removal of the larvae with hemostats. The complete area is then flushed thoroughly. An antibiotic ointment is used to help faster healing. Sometimes, an oral antibiotic is given, as well.

     Cuterebra being removed from a kitten 
                                                                                     ~source~

Unfortunately, where there is one Cuterebra, there may be more. This is the nature of flies, including botflies. Clyde was a good example of this, as he was an easy target for the evil Cuterebra. As he turned four weeks old, he spent the day at the vet for Part Two, or Cuterebra Revisited.

This time was a bit more involved. The second warble was next to where the first had been, leaving one long, gaping wound. The first area had begun to heal but became re-infected as the second Cuterebra was taking over. There is not much room on a tiny kitten’s left shoulder. This was a serious infection. Clyde is now cleaned out, stitched up, on an oral antibiotic, and is now recovering well. Clyde is a real trooper. Thankfully, I was able to get Clyde the help that he needed.

Not all animals get assistance with Cuterebra. Wild animals, such as rodents and rabbits, suffer these horrible infestations. Many die slow, agonizing deaths. Horses can also become hosts because of their availability to botflies. While Cuterebra rarely infests dogs, cats often become targets because of the rodents and animals they stalk or hunt.

Sometimes, warbles are thought to be abscesses, injuries, sores, or “bug bites. Cats that spend a lot of time outside are at risk for Cuterebra. Naturally, cats that live outdoors are at a considerably higher risk. Strays and feral cats, like Bonnie and Clyde’s mother, cannot avoid this exposure.

Cuterebra infestations cause many secondary health issues. These parasites can attack various systems of the body, eventually shutting them down. Infection can be localized or widespread.

One system that is noticeable when compromised is the respiratory system. Cuterebra can cause visible breathing difficulty, coughing,  wheezing, or shortness of breath, along with fever. There may be any combination of these symptoms.

Another serious consideration is the neurological system. Symptoms of an affected system include dizziness, paralysis, and blindness. More unusual symptoms include odd movements such as pacing, circling, or twitching.

If the eye becomes the area of the parasitic infestation, a lesion may be noticeable. This will lead to blindness and loss of the eye.

I am not an advocate of cats being allowed to roam, even after they are altered. I have seen too much, and know too much. It breaks my heart. This is the down side of rescue. It is a reality that most never speak of, because of the nightmares the Cuterebra (and creatures like them) invoke. And, it should invoke those horrific scenarios. If the Cuterebra is ignored, it will continue on its evil, self-serving mission.

There are too many dangers outside. In my opinion, they outweigh the benefit of being there. Traffic is a serious concern. One of our feral cat rescues (Chanel) had been hit by a car and dragged for blocks. After three surgeries, we were able to rehab her enough to get around the house, though she remained disabled.

Dogs, wildlife, people, and other predators are obvious dangers. Our aging feral cat, Echo, had been shot with a hollow-point bullet, shattering her rear leg. Again, we were able to rescue and rehab her. We gave her a permanent inside home with dignity. But, she lived her golden years on three legs, never quite understanding she was safe.

Now, add to all of these seen outside fears the unseen parasites from hell: Cuterebra. It is one more very real reason to keep pets, especially cats, inside the safety of your home. May your pets never meet a Cuterebra. May their dreams always be sweet. 

~Sweet Kitten Dreams, Clyde~

Life Lessons from My Dogs: Velvet

 Velvet

As a young child, I was not allowed to have a dog. Growing up in Chicago apartments, it seemed landlords just did not allow them. However, as far back as I can remember, I wanted a dog.

When I was eight years old, I entered a contest with Cap’n Crunch cereal.  The entry involved naming Cap’n Crunch’s dog. The grand prize would be a puppy. The winner could even choose the dog breed. Here was my chance! In my little girl’s mind, I reasoned that if I won the contest I would have to be allowed to keep the puppy. After all, I won; it was only fair. Well, needless to say, I didn’t win.

            We did have other pets, though. From the very beginning, there were pet turtles. My favourite was a Red-Eared Slider. She had been injured when she was accidentally caught on a fishing line. She was blinded in one eye, but I loved her dearly. I named her Snoopy; that is how badly I wanted a dog.

We had a variety of rodents, too. Not counting the ones who were native to the apartments, there were also hamsters and gerbils. We even had a guinea pig. However, their warm soft fur is no substitute for a dog’s. It is not the same.

            Right after my tenth birthday, we moved to Ohio. We lived in a Duplex apartment, where I was able to “sort of” adopt a stray Siamese cat. I fed him and sneaked him inside when no one was looking. It didn’t last long, though. Suddenly, we were moving to Texas. I was dead set against the idea of moving yet again. I was happy in Ohio, out of the big city…and, now I had a cat…sort of.

I voiced my concerns and dissatisfaction in no uncertain terms. In response, I was told that in Texas we would be living in the country. I was promised that I would be able to finally have a dog. Shortly after we settled into our Texas home, I was taken to the Houston Humane Society and told that I could choose any dog that I wanted.

I took this offer very seriously. I went through the entire facility. The center of the building was a huge open area. It was the activity hub. Hallways went off at angles like spokes on a wheel. Each hallway was for specific breeds or needs of dogs. Along the walls of the big, open area were cages of mixed-breed puppies. At the very center of the room was a giant, walk-in cage, similar to one at a zoo. It was the exercise area for puppies. The barking and whining was almost deafening. I was amazed and thrilled.

It was there that I saw her: my dog! Sitting in a very large, empty dish was the puppy for me. She was silently looking at me. When I approached, she wagged her tail. She was solid black and very shiny, with short, soft wavy fur. I was told that she was a cocker spaniel-beagle mix. I immediately chose her and named her Velvet. I had no doubt that she was the one. She was perfect.

Velvet playing frisbee

At the time, we lived out in the country, southeast of Houston. I taught Velvet to walk on a leash, but also to be able to go without one. She followed me everywhere and did everything with me. She loved to play Frisbee, though she had her own style. She would usually wait for the Frisbee to land, and then pick it up upside down. In her very nonchalant way, she would carry it back to me.

Velvet had no faults. She never was naughty, in any way. She was sweet. She was gentle. She was wise beyond her years. Trust was mutual. We were both old souls, and inseparable from the start. I had a very difficult and painful childhood. Velvet knew all of my secrets. She went through all of it with me, suffering right alongside me. She tried her best to keep me safe. She was always there to comfort me, and she also gave me hope and purpose.

When Velvet was two-and-a-half years old she had an unplanned litter of puppies. The father, a neighbor’s rat terrier, got into our yard. The pregnancy and delivery were hard on her. This was when Velvet’s face turned grey, almost overnight. I stayed with her for the labour and delivery. I named each puppy and helped her raise them.

We had many pets and various assorted rescued critters. Velvet was loved by and patient with all of them. But, one was a constant source of frustration for both of us. John Henry, our pet squirrel monkey, was incorrigible. He would ride on the backs of the puppies like a circus act. The puppies thought he was a lot of fun. Velvet and I thought he was naughty.

As the puppies got bigger, one failed to thrive. Missy, who looked just like a beagle, was fading away, no matter what we did. Velvet sensed this and fretted over her. She would not give up on her littlest puppy, and was with Missy as she took her last breath. As we buried Missy, Velvet was there, too. She stayed at the grave for hours. Her love was obvious. It broke my heart to see her grieve.

When the other puppies were old enough, I put an ad in the paper to sell them. I figured if people paid for them, they would be more inclined to want to take good care of them. Even at twelve, I cared about forever homes. I wanted someone to love the puppies as much as Velvet and I did.

The puppies inspired me to teach Velvet more things, too. I taught her to sit up and to shake hands. When I fed her, I would ask where her manners were. She would sit down and shake hands. She was very smart and eager to please. Our bond of trust and love strengthened.

We moved back to Illinois when I was 14. I was able to bring Velvet and some other pets came with us. But, through my teens, Velvet was the one who was always there to share everything with me. She knew my struggles and she gave me a constant purpose.

Velvet and I left home when I was 18, after my high school graduation. We did some traveling by car and plane together. Wherever we went, Velvet was welcomed and loved by everyone she met. Her manners and behavior were exceptional. She fit into whatever experience she encountered. But, we were a pair. One of our favorite things was to go to the Lake Michigan lakefront to watch the sunrise. We often went to a remote beach to enjoy this peaceful time. As we would sit on the bluff overlooking the lake, I would make a crown of wildflowers for her to wear. We were free-spirits and liked it that way. We were finding our path in life.

Velvet the Flower Child
As she aged, it became my turn to be there for her more and more. She developed bladder stones and liver problems. That was the first of several surgeries. We were forced to make some changes for the good of her health. She needed medication and special food, now. I got her sweaters to wear when the weather turned cold. I would do anything for her.

At 21, I became engaged. I said, “Love me, love my dog.” And, he did. Bill became Velvet’s “Dad”. He actually told her that immediately following our wedding. Soon after, the three of us took off on a road trip. We traveled out west in an old Ford van. Velvet went fishing in Minnesota, and exploring in the Black Hills and Badlands of South Dakota. She ran around the lava-beds of Moon Crater National Park, in Idaho, and walked in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. She enjoyed every place in between, too. She loved it!

After several months, we eventually settled back in northeastern Illinois. We rented a cottage on a small lake where we could fish regularly. I found Bill and Velvet outside one day, digging. I had never seen Velvet dig! When I asked him what she was doing, he said, “She’s helping me dig for worms.” She was 13. It was a satisfying thing to her dig a hole. One hot day that summer, she dug a nice hole and then laid down in it. It proves that you really can teach an old dog a new trick. You never stop learning, as long as you want to. After a lifetime of being guarded, Velvet was relaxing into old age.

That same summer, we asked Velvet to help us raise a puppy. We knew that she was getting tired, but we hoped a puppy would help keep her going. I also hoped she would teach a pup how to behave. For our first anniversary, we added Grits, a yellow lab puppy, to our family. He truly saw her as a mother-figure. He tried her patience that first year, too.  When she got enough of him, she would let him know it.

Velvet and her baby brother, Grits

One time we left them alone for a short time, just to see how Grits would behave. We came home to a house in chaos. He had scattered record albums everywhere. The trash was knocked over and tossed around. Grits was nowhere to be seen, though…or so he thought. He was hiding in his favorite place, behind the sheer window curtains, watching our reactions. Velvet was in her bed under my desk, trembling as if she had barely survived the apocalypse. She was not impressed with his behavior.

As calm and well-behaved as Velvet was, Grits was wild and energetic. She was small and dark; he was big and light. They were like night and day. There was a real bond there, though. She never chose to be the alpha-dog, but she took the job of raising this wayward puppy seriously. And, he loved her for it.

Velvet’s health continued to deteriorate as she aged. At 14, she developed a tumor on her knee. Her veterinarian removed it, but told us that it would most likely grow back. At her 15th birthday, we were told she had inoperable cancer.

By now, her heart had grown very weak. Her kidneys were also failing. She never lost her spark or her joy in living, though. We were the sad ones. We were forced to make final plans for her as she approached 15 ½ years of age.

Tried and True, Velvet

She had always been there for me. She gave me companionship when I had no one. She was my friend when I couldn’t even be a friend to myself. I knew she loved me even when I questioned that anyone did. She endured numerous moves with me several times throughout my childhood. When I became an adult, we traveled in tandem. I wanted her to have a final place to rest, one where she would never have to move again. I wanted her to be safe. I strongly felt that I owed her that.

We found the perfect place. Velvet was buried in a pet cemetery, under a big shade tree at the edge of the woods. In her casket, we placed her bed, her sweaters, and her bowls. She was tucked into her bed with her special blanket. Along with her name and dates, her grave-marker says “Love surpasses death”. I am sure of this. Even now, decades later, I love Velvet just the same as I did so long ago. She will always be a part of me; I know this to be true. I see her in every animal that I bond with. I remember what she taught me and why it is so important.

 Velvet taught me unconditional love. She also taught me inner strength. She taught me how to be strong and take what life gives, but without giving up myself. Velvet taught me dignity in the face of despair, and grace in spite of fear. She taught me to always have hope and to never stop learning.

Velvet helped me through my childhood and she eased me into adulthood. I helped her through aging, and eased her into a heavenly afterlife. I am sure that dogs go to heaven. Velvet was an angel on earth, and heaven is where she belongs.


The dog who started it all…my Velvet

Wrapsit

Kenzie & Stella

When we were asked to review “Wrapsit”, I had never heard of this pet product. I looked into this “slipcover-crate” with eager curiosity. After reading about how it works, I enthusiastically agreed for us to review this wonderful invention.

We have two Shelties, both are rescued dogs. We always like to take them with us when we travel. Whether we go fishing, off to visit friends or relatives, or on a road-trip north to the U.P., our dogs go with us. Stella is a trooper, just knowing she is included. However, Kenzie needs a space of her own, but as close to us as possible. Wrapsit is ideal for Kenzie.

Kenzie in her Wrapsit

The design of Wrapsit is both practical and convenient. It is created to be used specifically with your own folding quad-chair. The quad-chair sits onto the waterproof floor of the opened slip-crate. Once the chair is fully opened, the crate is fastened onto the bottom portion of the chair. The crate is mesh sided, with zippered opening for easy handling of your furry friend. When ready to leave, the entire Wrapsit and chair combo folds up into one unit, with straps to hold it together.

Stella and Kenzie, relaxing

After one use, we all love this wonderful pet product! Kenzie immediately took to it, coming and going easily. Stella was relieved to be able to see Kenzie inside the crate, too. This will be something that will get a lot of use in our family.

Kenzie, safe and sound

With all of the outside activity on the horizon, this may be a good way for you to safely include your small furry friend. Kenzie highly recommends it.  


For more information, please check out Wrapsit on their own website. Use the special code: MCGUFFY20, for a 20% savings off the purchase of this very original pet crate! 

Friendly Fill-Ins: Week 22


Welcome to “Friendly Fill-Ins”! You can find the fill-ins here or at 15andmeowing.com each Thursday. The first two fill-ins are provided by my co-host, Ellen. The final two statements are offered by myself. We have posted a link so we can all share the completed fill-ins.

Your participation is very important. We thank you for joining us each week. Sharing with you and getting to know you better through your answers is what it is all about. Please remember to visit everyone on the list, even if it takes awhile, it is always appreciated!

Here are my completed fill-ins for this week:

1. My favorite store is a bookstore. I especially love a bookstore that is independent, or even a small chain that is unique to an area or region. I love Schuler’s Books in Michigan, and there have been many small bookstores that I have enjoyed visiting.


2. An unanswered prayer I am thankful for is wanting to stay in Colorado when I was 20, when I had to move back to Illinois. Illinois was not what I wanted. I do believe things happen for reasons, though. Back in Illinois, my friendship with Bill grew, we married, and have been together for over thirty-five years. We have been through a lot, but always together.


3. At Halloween, I am always very careful to keep all critters safe. I am especially sensitive to the safety needs of black cats. However, trick-or-treaters, scary costumes and sounds, chocolate and other people treats are all potentially serious threats to critters. We need to make sure that our furkids have a fun, safe holiday, too.


4. believe in the supernatural, because there is so much unknown to man. I believe the universe consists of infinite complex mysteries. Some of these mysteries are natural phenomena within the heavens and the earth. Some mysteries, however, are of a more intangible, spiritual nature, such as angels. I firmly believe in angels and feel a deep connection to them. Of course, some say there are other unexplained, supernatural beings, too. Sometime I will share my Great-Aunt Rachel’s story.


~Grab some Halloween funbut, be very careful!~


Now, it’s your turn. Please link up with us here. Or, you can answer in the comments.

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