Archive for December, 2008

Pooch Pickins
December 26, 2008

On behalf of all the animal shelters across CT, THANK YOU for waiting to get a pooch until AFTER Christmas! You followed our advice and gave the Petfinder’s adoption contract to the recipient and now that Christmas is over, you’re ready to go pick out that great companion! Whether it’s a dog, cat, bird or iguana that you’re going to pick out, the advice we’re going to give you fits!

Now that you’ve decided to get a pet, let’s go over some basics. First, you’ve weighed the good and bad and decided that yeppers, you really want one. Wonderful! Your next step is to do some research on what you want. For ease, I’ll just stick to dogs…

Do you want an active breed or a breed that will just be a potato, like you! Do you like big, small, medium, long haired, short haired, male or female? Do you want one that will be protective or one that will greet with slobbering kisses? Need help? Click on this web site and take the test.. Which Dog Is Right For You | Lifescript.com

Ok- don’t have a computer? Get this book from the library – “The Encyclopedia of the Dog”. Browse the book (or any book like this) and look at all the breeds. Then READ ABOUT THEM…. Like two breeds? Wonderful! This will be discussed later…

Now that you’ve picked a breed you like, call your local kennel club and ask for a breeder. WHAAAAAAAT????? Go to a BREEDER????? Yepper. Go to a breeder and ASK QUESTIONS! What’s this dog REALLY like? What kind of lifestyle does this dog require? Does this dog require grooming frequently? Some breeds have waxy coats (Rottweilers, Beagles and other hounds can have waxy coats that might not be to your liking)…does the breed you’re looking at have one? How long does this breed typically live (the smaller they are, the longer they generally live. The larger they are, the shorter they live).. Does this breed have any health issues? Great Danes can have bad hearts. German Shepherds can have hip and elbow issues. How hard is it to housebreak this breed? Generally, the smaller the breed, the harder it is to housebreak.

Oh, and by the way – if it IS a pure-bred you’re looking for, most breeders have rescue dogs, too….or they know where to get one!

Ok, you’ve had your questions answered. Now it’s time to look! This is where the comment about the two breeds comes in.

Go to http://www.Petfinder.com and on the left side there will be a few things to fill in. Put in the breed you most like under the “breed” category. When you hit the “enter”, a bunch of dogs will come up – most will be mixes, but all will have your primary breed listed.

Then CALL the places that show you dogs you like! ASK about these dogs – Why were they turned in? DO THEY HAVE A BITE HISTORY??? Are they up to date on vaccinations, etc? Are they spayed or neutered (altered)? IS THERE A RETURN POLICY (do NOT forget this one!). What’s the adoption fee (some are outrageous and some are great – but ASK before you say YES). Are there any requirements for obtaining this dog? Most will have applications that need to be filled out. Don’t freak.

As a rescue, I need to have you fill out an application to ensure that the dog you’re looking at will fit into your lifestyle and family. Be HONEST when filling the application out. I don’t want my dog coming back to me because you weren’t honest on the application and ended up getting a dog that won’t work well for you of both our animals and you in mind.

And remember this – the dogs that are in rescue are not perfect. They’ve been dumped because someone didn’t train them well enough, someone ignored them, someone beat them or someone just didn’t have time for them. There are as many reasons for dogs getting into pounds and shelters as there are dogs.

We, as rescues, try our hardest to help these dogs overcome their issues but you won’t get the perfect dog by any means. What you WILL get is an incredibly grateful animal who will jump through fire for you if you show it love and give it time.

So whether it’s a dog, cat, bird or iguana that you get from a shelter, with a little love and patience you will soon have a friend that will love you forever. So happy searching!

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Pets As Holiday Gifts
December 20, 2008

Ok – say it with me now …. “I will not give a pet as a holiday gift”… Repeat until it sinks in that giving a pet as a holiday gift is NOT a good idea!!! Need help getting this point into your head? Call me!!! Want an option that won’t make you nuts? Read on!

“A pet is a lifetime commitment – not a holiday gift” – so reads a bumper sticker given to me by a good friend. And it’s a point I’ve been trying to drive home every year… year after year after year…Hopefully with some success!

Now why, you ask, is it not a good idea? Well, think about it – tinsel, toys, gift wrap, wires, food, relatives, drinks, plants…. All the things a new pet would LOVE to get into.
And veterinary bills you just DON’T want to go near!!!

I can’t pick out a pet that would make you happy any more than you can pick one out for me. It is a very personal thing to pick out a companion that will be with you for up to the next 20 years (yep – 20 years is a possible!)…

Even though Grama Mary may like (or even LOVE) your cat / dog, it doesn’t mean she wants one of her own! She may be very happy loving your pet while she’s visiting with you. Remember that pets can be a burden (boarding, vaccinations, walking, etc) that Grama might just rather leave to someone else.

Kids and puppies or kittens do NOT make a great combination! Many adoption agencies have a rule of not adopting out where there are kids under a certain age. And it’s with great reason! They don’t go together well! Kids like to pull, poke, squish, throw, hug, squeeze and lock pets in drawers. Puppies and kittens, on the other hand, like to scratch, nip, bite, chew on and run away from children.

So want an alternative to bringing home a new pet for the holiday? Go for a Pet Promise Certificate! Click on the link below and wrap THAT up for a gift!

http://www.petfinder.com/petpromise

I’m not saying that bringing a new pet home is a bad idea; I’m simply saying that bringing it home for the holidays is a TERRIBLE idea! Picking out a new friend is something that should be done when things are calm and relaxed – not as a frenzied attempt to complete a holiday shopping list.

So if you really, REALLY want to get that special someone a new buddy, give them a certificate that says you’ll do it together. Give them that, a new leash or food bowl (ok, a kitty litter box is a bit tacky so don’t go there!), a collar or a cat toy. Then, when the holidays are over and things are back to normal (and the decorations are back in their boxes), spend time together finding just the right pet. It’s an experience that you and your gift recipient will both treasure and remember for years to come.

Oh the Weather Outside is Frightful…
December 4, 2008

Ok, it’s “that” time of year again…. Surprise! It’s COLD outside! And it’s not going to warm up for at least a few months….. That having been said…..

I get about 100 e-mails a day for Bandit’s Place. As the weather becomes colder and colder, more and more e-mails come in for pets (usually dogs) tied out in the cold. “Please help this poor dog – tied out all day and in the cold”…. Did no one see this coming? Ok – getting sarcastic here…..sorry!

Anyway…. The point is this – and I say this every year – pets do NOT belong outside during the winter. They simply can not tolerate the cold. Now there are a few breeds that CAN tolerate it – as in huskies, malamutes or any of the “northern” breeds, but for the most part, dogs can not. They simply have evolved too far to have the physical makeup necessary to survive the cold.

So the State of Connecticut put into effect laws to protect these animals. Per the State, these animals are to be given, among other things, proper shelter from the elements. Cold is an element.

When an animal is exposed to the cold for a prolonged period of time, it uses its caloric storage (aka body fat) to keep it warm. If a dog is already thin, it won’t take long for hypothermia to set in. This is also true if the animal is old, very young or infirmed. Ad in any wind and this cuts the time it takes to become hypothermic way down.

Ears are also a very delicate area on a dog. Frostbite can happen very quickly as there is a good blood supply there and little fur. The ends of the ears will die, turn black and fall off. A bit graphic, I know, but it needs to be said.

Feet are also susceptible as are tails. The pads on a dog’s feet are only so good at keeping warm and frost bite can occur there as well as on the tail (with the same results as the ears).
And the temperature doesn’t even have to be artic for this to happen. (If your dog’s water freezes, it’s too cold for the dog to be out there) Again, any prolonged exposure to the cold or wind can bring about these things.

So what do you do? Well the obvious thing would be to keep the pets inside! Other things are to move the dog’s kennel into the garage or basement.

If, however, the dogs MUST stay outside in a kennel or pen, make sure that the dog’s bed or dog house is raised up, off the ground, about 6 inches. This will allow for a warm air pocket to form between the dog and the ground or floor. Keep the opening facing south, where the most sun exposure is. Take bales of straw and put them around the dog house, forming almost an igloo. Make sure the bales extend out beyond the front of the dog house so that the dog is more protected from the wind. Make sure the dog has straw inside the dog house to rest on – again, this forms a bit of warm air and helps.

Now if you see a dog being kept outside in what appears to be conditions that are too much for that animal, please call your animal control officer. Every town in the state has one and they can be reached through your local police department.

If you do not want to call the local animal control officer, the State Department of Agriculture can also be contacted. They over-see all animal control officers in the state and can also investigate any complaints.

This applies to horses and other animals as well – If you’re concerned, call someone! Animal control officers are there to ensure that animals are well taken care of. If they don’t know there’s an issue, they can’t help!!