Archive for December, 2009

Introducing Your Pooch to a New Pooch
December 27, 2009

I’ve been asked many times what I look for when adopters bring their dogs to meet the dogs we have here.  Well, it’s pretty easy to tell you first what will result in a no-go and work my way back up to where I’d be happy with a placement.

First is the worst scenario.  Two dogs meet, one or both either snarls, growls, snaps or actually lunges.  Posturing, or stiffening up, is also a sign of non-acceptance of the other dog.  One dog may walk stiff legged or put it’s hackles up to show the other one who’s boss or one may mark the territory over and over again to “claim” it.  There may be varying degrees of this – either with one dog or both dogs but, in any case, there is definitely not a match here.

The second scenario is that either or both dogs LOVE the people but completely ignore each other.  Now, some may say that’s ok but it actually isn’t.  Dogs are much like children.  Each will vie for the owner’s attention, and if there’s a competitor for that attention, that dog will act out.  Often times it’s soiling the house or doing damage at some point.  This is not a love match, but a parallel existence.  The other dog doesn’t matter and they will probably not be great friends.  I’d still say no on this type of meeting.

The third scenario, and actually the one we look for, is the I LOVE YOU scenario.  Each dog acts as if the other dog were its life-long buddy that has been away for Sooooooo long. There’s a lot of tail wagging, happy wrestling, ball sharing and spit swapping going on.  Each dog’s posture is relaxed and playful and it’s an obvious match.

Now, there are variations of each of these scenarios, but in the end, we look for the last one to be the most prevalent. Some dogs take longer to warm up which is why it is a good idea to plan on about a half an hour for the dogs to be together (unless you see obvious aggression).

So happy meet-and-greets!!!


Pet Promise
December 18, 2009

Dear Liz – My kids have really been bugging me to get a puppy for Christmas but how do I know they’re ready for this kind of responsibility?


Concerned in Coventry

Dear Concerned –

Some friends of ours had the same concerns a few years back.  Their kids were younger and they were concerned that the kids would not be responsible enough for taking care of a pup, so they came up with a great plan.

Have the kids take care of a stuffed dog / cat for the next month.  Have them “feed” it, “walk” it, etc.  Take a dark towel and put it in the yard every day and make one of their jobs to “pick up” after the dog.  If that towel stays in the same spot, you know they’re not doing it.  Or, if it’s a kitten you’re thinking about, put pieces of paper (label them “poop”) in a box (simulating a litter box).

Do as much “pretending” as you feel is necessary to assure you that they’re ready for a new pet.  Having a pet is a huge responsibility, so in addition to the month-long project, try having them sign a “contract”.

This is a contract that everyone has to sign and it’s binding!!  It’s called a Pet Promise and it can be found on (or just click on it below)

It’s a way that you and the kids can see the realities of owning a new pet, and it’s a way to make sure that pet is taken care of!

So if they DO pass the test and they’ve agreed to abide by the rules of the contract, I think you can be assured they’re ready for a new pet!  Good luck!

Pets For Christmas
December 11, 2009

Dear Liz, My kids have been bugging me to get them a pet for Christmas.  I know you’re against it, but what should I do?


Tired Mom in Monroe…

Dear Mom, yep – I am completely against getting a pet for anyone for Christmas!  These pets, so often purchased as last minute gifts, often end up in shelters when the newness wears off and the reality of caring for them sets in.

I will tell you what I tell anyone who calls me looking for a pet as a gift.  DO NOT DO IT!

Instead, wrap up a bowl, a leash, a collar or a toy representing the animal you want to give.  Write a note or some sort of certificate that states that you and the recipient will, AFTER Christmas, go together and pick out a new friend.  This will be a wonderful day for both of you and one you’ll never forget.

Remember, a pet is for life, not just for Christmas!!!

Non-Profit Donations
December 4, 2009

Dear Liz – Last week you talked about giving to animal rescues in honor of someone for Christmas.  Can you tell me how to tell if a rescue is reputable?


Santa’s Helper in Simsbury

Dear Santa’s Helper:

There are basically three things I want you to look for.

  1. Is the rescue a registered, non-profit organization?  Check their web site, call the IRS or ask them.  If you don’t get a clear answer, move on.

Being a non-profit organization means that they’re registered with the IRS.  It means that they’ve fulfilled all the requirements set forth by the State of CT (and there are a lot!) and that they’re not just one person running the show.  The state requires that there be at least (I think!) 5 people involved in running the organization.

  1. Call the animal control officer in the town that the rescue is based on and ask if there have been any complaints against them.

Most times they will be able to tell you.  But make sure you ask!  If the animal control officer says wonderful things about them, it’s generally a good thing!

  1. Can you actually talk with someone from the organization and are the animals they have actually here, in CT, or are they somewhere in another state?

I always shy away from an organization that I can only talk with via

e-mail.  If they don’t offer a phone number to chat with a real person, I wonder why.  I also wonder about a group that doesn’t actually have the pets here, in CT.

Hope that helps!!!