That’s not stink, that’s love.

It’s that time of year when the garden is producing, even after all of the rain we’ve been experiencing, so canning is a big part of our summer activities. With all things our animals are an integral part of every activity. Part of canning is done inside on the stove, with the pressure canner, and part is done outside with hot water bath canner using the turkey fryer. But before we get to that point, the produce has to be gathered, cleaned and prepared. Long time readers will remember stories of my special needs dog, Jack. He was always with us, and loved to lay in the kitchen, right in the middle of where we needed to walk to get our tasks accomplished. Moose has taken over Jack’s spot. There is something about having a 100 lb white dog underfoot in the kitchen that is the norm in our house and we simply can’t function without it. That doesn’t make the job easy but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Moose has become the ultimate farm dog and goes with daddy to bring in the harvest, never straying far. The other bubs had to stay in the dogs yard because they liked to wander and couldn’t be trusted not to visit the neighbors when we weren’t paying attention but Moose is satisfied to be right here so he is allowed to just be. Sometimes that means when we aren’t looking his being is rolling in something dead and stinky that’s outside of our normal view (this is farm country, after all) and our first indication is when his bright white fur is streaked with an off color or an offending smell is noticed as he walks by. Yesterday it was a conversation we had as we sat on the deck, peeling beets, and I noticed Moose had yellow streaks running through the fur across his face and down his shoulders. Since he’d been helping daddy I thought perhaps daddy would have an idea what would be yellow that would stain his face like that, but no he didn’t have a clue. He had a suggestion for me, though. Lean over and take a sniff. Now just how stupid do you think I am? This ain’t my first rodeo and I’m well versed on stinks outside the catbox, and I’m not bending over to check out a stink just to ascertain what it may or may not be. He’ll just have to rub it off on the clean bedspread like the rest of the animals so we can enjoy it until I go “what the” and remember the day, wash the bedding, and remember it’s about the love, not the stink. If stinks bothered me there’s an entire side of life I’d miss out on, beginning with my children and being married, but that’s another post. Later in the day Moose brushed up against the cooled water bath canner that had soot on its side from using the turkey fryer flame outside, so he now has a black hip on his white fur which even with the most deliberate scrubbing refuses to come clean. I’ve noticed even without my attention the yellow that was so apparent on his head and shoulders yesterday is no where to be seen today so I understand it’s rubbed somewhere inside the house, maybe on the bedding, maybe on the sheets I use to cover the furniture, but who knows. When I smell it, maybe I’ll remember beet canning day, maybe not. The one thing I’ll know is it won’t matter because in our house, it’s about the love. It’s always about the love. We don’t have nice furniture or nice carpet because because we have 6 cats and 2 dogs that keep it real. And when they’re not doing their thing I look over and find my grandson is sitting on the couch in the same boots he just wore checking out the piggies in the pigpen, so it’s good I was trained in the art of joy in the moment by my beloved animals. Someone that cares about things like carpet and furniture would probably get upset, I just laughed. It’s just another day in paradise, and I’m grateful to be here, stink and all.

And never forget, it’s only through you the Randolph County Humane Society continues to save lives, one by one.

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Save Your Pets from Peril on the 4th of July

The 4th of July will soon be upon us, a day anyone with anxiety-driven dogs looks upon with dread. I was pleased to find this timely article on Pedigree.com that speaks to how to deal with our overwrought beloveds. This day can be a travesty waiting to happen, but with proper planning and work you can get through it unscathed. But be aware, this is the one day of the year when more pets go missing than any other day simply because the noise is so distressing so take nothing for granted. Be aware, and be safe. From Pedigree.com:

Ahh, the good old 4th of July—backyard barbeques, family time, and an excuse for a day outdoors with the dog you love. But when darkness sets in, and neighbors start launching their star-spangled display of lights around the block, your dog will likely want to run for the hills! Much like thunderstorms, the loud, vibrating noise of fireworks is both unfamiliar and frightening to our dogs. But look on the bright side—there are ways you can help keep their fears at bay.

The key is to gradually get your dog accustomed to the sound he associates with a negative experience. The easiest way to introduce him to the idea is to play videos of fireworks—with good sound quality—on repeat until he slowly begins to welcome the experience. Simply go on YouTube and do a video search for fireworks. Start off using a lower volume, and give him a treat, so he can begin associating fireworks with positivity. If he starts to panic at any point, turn the volume down and take a break. Depending on his comfort level, turn the volume up when needed.

Something else to remember is dogs smell fear. Make sure you react positively to any fireworks display when in your dog’s presence. Act as if you would any other day and try not to baby him because this may actually reinforce his fear. Instead, try drowning out the noise with a loud fan, background music, or your favorite T.V. show.

You may also want to consider the latest anti-anxiety inventions—the Thundershirt or Anxiety Wrap. Both products use pressure to “hug” your dog and calm him, reducing anxiety from loud noises, separation, travel, crate training, hyperactivity, and more.

Some of your dogs may react more seriously to a fireworks display than others. If your dog suffers from a serious phobia of fireworks, your vet will be the best source for guidance and answers. He or she may want to prescribe your dog medication or suggest sessions with a trainer or behaviorist.

Your dog may never fully welcome the sound of fireworks, but the good news is there is such a thing as making progress. With a little patience, anything is possible!

To make your own body wrap, follow these instructions from Ehow.com:
Place the middle of an elastic bandage (wide for larger dogs, narrow for small dogs, medium-wide for mid-sized dogs) across the dog’s chest. Bring both ends up and cross them over the shoulders. The wrap will touch and connect the front, back, right, left, top, and bottom parts of the dog’s body. Cross the bandage over the top of the shoulder blades. Cross the loose ends of the bandage under the abdomen. Tie the loose ends over the top of the lower back. Or wrap the middle of the bandage around the front of the chest. Then cross over the back and then under the belly and back up around the chest and secure. As the wrap presses down on the dog’s fur, re-tie the wrap to make sure it fits snugly. The wrap should remain snug, but not tight, so check it periodically to be sure it doesn’t obstruct movement or circulation. When finished, the figure-8 wrap will surround the dog with uniform calming pressure. The wrap may only be needed for a short time or it can be left on as long as necessary to relieve fear, tension, or anxiety.

Using a Shirt as an Anxiety Wrap
Alternatively, a very snug shirt or a spandex tank top will work well as a pressure wrap. Put the t-shirt or tank top backwards on the dog, with the tail poking through the neck opening. Snugly tie the ‘shirt tails’ across the dog’s chest. Some people sew parts of ace bandages onto the shirt so that the bandages can be wrapped around appropriate parts of the dog. This will allow you to focus pressure at points that seem most soothing for a particular dog.

Special Instructions:
Start by putting the wrap on your dog when she is in a relaxed state, so your dog associates the wrap with relaxation. Eventually, or in some cases immediately, the physical sensation of wearing the wrap will provide the dog with a feeling of safety and comfort and will distract the dog from focusing on her fears. A pressure wrap often successfully calms a dog the first time you use it, however some animals require more experiences wearing the wrap before symptoms are reduced or eliminated.

NEVER leave a dog unsupervised while it is wearing clothing in which it may become entangled.

And never forget, it’s only through you the Randolph County Humane Society continues to save lives, one by one.

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Letters from Doggie Heaven

Doggie Heaven Message

Doggie Heaven Message

I read a story that I need to share, not because it’s informative, not because it’s news, but because it’s just so special in speaking to the kindness of strangers that it becomes important.

A little boy who so missed his dog he wrote letters to heaven for months got a special surprise when he received a touching reply in the mail from his beloved pet.

Since Moe, their dog, crossed the Rainbow Bridge, May Westbrook and her 3-year-old son, Luke, began writing messages addressed to their cherished pet and “sending” them to him from their Norfolk, Virginia, home.

“Because you can’t fool a three-year-old, we take the letter to our mailbox,” Westbrook said, adding that they address the letters to “Moe Westbrook, Doggie Heaven, Cloud 1.”

Normally Westbrook retrieved the letters from the mailbox so her son thought they’d been delivered. One day she was late to collect their note and found that it was gone from the mailbox. “I assumed the post office would throw it away—or that someone might even laugh at it, or us,” she wrote in a blog.

Westbrook was stunned to discover a response letter from “Moe” in their mailbox.

“I’m in doggie heaven. I play all day. I am happy. Thank you 4 being my friend. I wuv you Luke,” the message read.

“The kindness of this stranger gutted me. I’ll give the note to Luke tonight, but I’m keeping it by my desk for now,” she wrote. “Moe came into my life 13 years ago and he made things more complicated and smelly — but also, well, wonderful. I still miss him every day.”

Westbrook said she hasn’t figured out who wrote the letter, but was happy to see her son smile at the touching response. “They were real buddies,” she said of her son and Moe.

“Receiving the note reminded me of the goodness of people and just how big a small gesture can really be,” she wrote in the blog. “Here’s to Moe, in doggie heaven, and thoughtful postal workers everywhere.”

Never can take for granted how your simple kindness will affect the lives and well-being of others. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end. Be the change you need in the world today.

And never forget, it’s only through you the Randolph County Humane Society continues to save lives, one by one.

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Be a doer, not a complainer, if you want your world to improve.

I have a request of the community, and it’s time for people that love animals to do more than just stand on the sidelines and appreciate their own. The Randolph County Humane Society (IL) is in desperate need of volunteers. I’ve listened to complaints long enough about how they don’t do enough and I’m tired of it. The same group of people have been doing the job for years now, and if you want it done better I have some advice for you. Do it. Do it for the animals that desperately need you. The Shelter should be open from 9 AM to 1 PM but we don’t have volunteers to staff the office. Do you have the time and the ability to answer the phone and take messages? Then we need you. You don’t even have to pick up poop to do this job. If it bothers you to see the animals that have no one to love them, you don’t have to walk into the back to give them your love, you can stay up in the office. You’ll hear them but you won’t have to see them. But you’ll still be of service. When I adopted my last love monkey, Mooselle, it was from a shelter the next county over. We walked in and there were people everywhere. I looked around in awe. I asked them if they had any trouble finding volunteers and they shook their head no, no issues finding volunteers to staff their shelter. I could see by the abundance of bodies but I thought I was losing my mind and perhaps a bus had broken down and people were just waiting for another ride to pick them up, but no, those were in fact, their volunteers. What is the difference between the people of Randolph County and the next county over? I have no idea, I wish I did. But let me tell you, the animals in our county, the ones abandoned here, by the people here, that didn’t love them here, need YOU. They need YOU today. Because I’m sick and tired of listening to YOU complain about how the people that are in there every day doing the job aren’t doing it to your specifications. If you aren’t the ones complaining, the please, come in and help so we can get those that love to find fault off their backs. The animals need you and they need you NOW. This is about the animals, after all.
In the words of Teddy Roosevelt, I would like to offer this homage to the great volunteers that have made the shelter what it is today and continues to be. Without your selfless acts I hate to think of where these animals would be:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
And never forget it is only through you the Randolph County Humane Society continues to save lives, one by one.

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Cat behaviors. Who knew?

I’ve been the parent of 6 cats for years now and after reading this article from Modern Cat Magazine I realize I had no idea about the origin of the many behaviors my cats were exhibiting, or all the things I was doing incorrectly in responding to these behaviors. Since I am one of the masses and I’ll bet you’re just like me, I thought it would be as informative for all of you catlovers as it was for me. To find out more, go to ModernCat.com, but for now here’s everything you didn’t know but really need to understand about your feline family members:

Cats are such agile, stealthy, and athletic predators. The same characteristics that allow a jaguar to ambush prey permit house cats to jump with precision off the sofa. We only need watch cats play to gain an impression of their predatory prowess. And yet many people are unable to get their cats to play at all. This is not actually so remarkable if you watch how they’re playing with their cats. In short, they’re doing it wrong. Many cat owners tell me they have “tried everything” and have had no luck getting their cats to so much as bat at a toy mouse. And those cat owners that can get their cats to play often find that play culminates in nothing more than frustration for

both cat and owner. During such scenarios, the cat’s tension and stress build, and the appetitive behavior (that which fulfills a need or compulsion to hunt, for example) may not be fulfilled, leaving the cat dissatisfied. In my practice, I try to help the cat owner get inside the mind of their cat to help them help their cat fully express all of his instinctual behaviors, including the hunting motor pattern sequence. This sequence includes the eye stare, the stalk and chase, the grab and bite or pounce and bite, and even the kill bite.

Cats are Lone Hunters

Really, with the exception of lions, cats are solitary hunters. Instinctively, our domestic cats do not hunt together. Because of this, if you have a multi-cat household, it’s important to avoid creating group playtime with your cats. Countering your cats’ instincts by trying to get them to take turns pouncing on a wand toy that you’re maneuvering can backfire. You can inadvertently encourage competition and spur on territorial disputes that can lead to ongoing hostility among cats. I’ve seen many cats blossom into confident players once other cats were removed from the scene. Relationships can improve between cats once you stop the group playtimes. It’s really amazing how issues resolve themselves when you create an environment that fits with your cat’s natural instinctual behavior.

What Toy to Choose

Wand toys are some of the best toys to help simulate a “real” hunt for your cat. These are toys that require the owner to maneuver them. My favourite is the new Playful Panther, a wand toy designed to simulate erratic prey-like movement like no other toy I’ve seen. It really helps stimulate your cat’s inner wildcat instincts. Da Bird is also an excellent wand toy.

How to Play with your Cat: From Eye Stare to Kill Bite, the Complete Sequence

You are essentially the life of the prey target. Be cautious of the following, as I state in my book, The Cat Whisperer:

Don’t wiggle the toy in your cat’s face or move it toward your cat. This won’t make sense to your cat and it might frighten him. Real prey moves away. Real prey hides. Your cat also needs the mental stimulation of strategizing how he’s going to ambush that mouse behind the couch. It’s not all about chasing and pouncing and biting.

That being said, cats love the chase! This is their utopia. In fact, “the chase” is often preferred more than actually catching their prey or eating it. Most cat owners have heard of cats “halfkilling” their prey and then releasing the prey only to catch it over and over again. When the injured prey runs behind a bush or flops around incapacitated behind a fallen tree where the cat can hear it, but can’t see it, a feeling of eager anticipation sets in and really gets the feel good brain chemicals going. Be sure to hide the toy for several seconds behind some furniture (making flopping and scurrying sounds) before presenting it again. If you’re like most cat owners, chances are you’ve looked under the sofa or refrigerator only to find a stockpile of cat toys from yesteryear. What most cat owners don’t know is that cats often bat them out of reach on purpose to create this feel good experience. Your cat’s menacing stare is the beginning of the sequence, as he orients himself to the toy. Watch him stalk or chase it…the stalk or chase may be brief. Then, depending on your cat, he may assault the toy immediately, biting into it, or he may signal an impending attack by wiggling his behind. After grabbing and biting, many cats will play with their “prey” by purposely releasing it, repeating the stalk-and-chase and grab-and-bite steps over and over again. Let your cat repeat this stalk, chase, bite, and release scenario over and over again and let the “prey” slowly die just like it would out in nature. Don’t make the game impossible or too easy for your feline family member. Let him decide how many stalks, chases, grab-and-bites, etc. he needs. You may also witness something that looks like the Kill Bite. That’s when your cat won’t want to let go of the toy and may even try to carry it off. Or he’ll roll onto his side and kick against the toy with his back legs while biting into it. Letting your cat “finish the kill” can be very satisfying and rewarding to him. I’ve seen cat owners frustrate their cat by stopping far too soon, putting the toy away mid-hunt when the cat is completely revved up to chase and grab over and over again as a cat would in the course of weakening real prey. I recommend at least one play session a day that lasts about 10 to 20 minutes, using an interactive wand toy. Some cats might do better with more frequent playtimes that are shorter in length—play around with time and duration to establish your cat’s particular preferences. In addition to interactive toys that you maneuver for your cat, it’s also important that you let him play on his own so he doesn’t become reliant on you to stimulate his prey drive every time. There are some great battery operated toys such as the Undercover Mouse and the Panic Mouse 360 and a wide variety of toys he can bat and chase by himself. Make sure your cat always has several toys out available to him. Rotate toys each week to help ensure the play environment doesn’t become mundane. It’s okay to offer cat food or treats after the playtime to further satiate your cat, but because eating and hunting are independently controlled behaviors, it’s not imperative to feed them afterward. Remember that cats enjoy different types of toys, but they also enjoy different types of play. Variety and experimentation is the key to keeping kitties happy. Have fun!

And never forget, it’s only through you the Randolph County Humane Society continues to save lives, one by one.

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