Archive for the ‘Dogs’ Category

Oh breeder what hast thou wrought?

Thursday, October 8th, 2009

I was watching a program one evening about the history of various dog breeds, including the Standard Poodle (naturally). One of the spotlighted breeds that I knew little about was the French Bulldog. I learned that through selective breeding of smaller dogs with a more smushed-in face, the modern Frenchie lives a short life complicated with respiratory and heart problems, some even pass out from physical exertion. In fact they are so debilitated that they cannot procreate naturally. They MUST be artificially inseminated and the puppies are delivered by cesarean section because the female hindquarters are too small to deliver naturally.

French Bulldog

French Bulldog

I don’t know about you, but I was stunned by this information. Why would you continue breeding an animal with severe health problems, doomed to a life of discomfort, if not outright suffering, that cannot even procreate without assistance? I have heard of other breeds that are so allergic to grass that they must live on concrete. How have breeders gotten so off track that they believe it is good practice to continue this way? Isn’t the whole point of selective breeding to improve the breed?

Of course a huge part of the problem is consumers who do not educate themselves and purchase debilitated animals. When you think about it, that’s extremely shortsighted. Who wants to end up with a pet they adore that runs up vet bills (so high they have to remortgage their house), and then dies at an early age anyway? When you bring a pet into your family don’t you want that pet to live a long, robust, life and create lasting, precious memories?

When you take a step back and look at the big picture, French Bulldogs are an abject lesson in Darwin’s theory of evolution and natural selection. Left to their own devices they would never have evolved in this manner and if they had, they would be extinct.

Please do your part to encourage higher standards in breeding. Research the breed you want. Then deal with reputable breeders who do health and temperament testing. Find out whether they are involved in improving the breed or catering to silly whims such as those that produced the poor French Bulldog.

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Is my pet psychic?

Friday, September 25th, 2009

Often people observe behaviors in their pets that make them wonder if their pet is psychic. Dogs, in particular, prompt this question.

Our dog, Saphyre, is no exception. Usually twice a week my husband calls for me to pick him up after work. The time varies and sometimes the day varies but she knows it’s him on the phone and gets all excited about “going to pick up daddy.”

The term interspecies telepathic communication refers to the way in which animals of various species are able to successfully communicate, and that includes humans.

Animals don’t have all the cares and worries that we humans do, which leaves their minds open to allowing telepathic communication. It’s as natural to them as breathing. They are constantly communicating with us and sometimes we even listen.

Humans, on the other hand, usually have too much chatter in our brains to “hear” the telepathic messages. Too many of us spend our days multitasking, simply overwhelmed, just trying to get through the challenges as best we can. It’s only when we stop the noise, clear our minds, and focus that we are able to communicate with our four-legged friends.

It takes time and practice to become proficient, as with most skills. That’s where animal communicators enter the picture. We are so passionate about interspecies telepathic communication that we have taken the time to develop our ability and will happily function as translator between you and your pet.

So the simple answer to the question “Is my pet psychic?” is yes. But let me toss the ball back to you, dear reader: Why do you ask? What is it you really want to know? Are there certain behaviors that prompt the question? Is there something specific you want to know? Are you concerned that your pet is reading your mind? Please comment below or email me so that we may continue the dialog. I really want to know.

It’s a toxic world, especially for our pets.

Thursday, September 10th, 2009

Toxins surround us to the point that it is nearly impossible to avoid them. Even those fillings we got as kids are toxic, leaching into our systems causing who knows what damage. Our water is so toxic that we buy bottled water hoping it’s pure, but that’s not necessarily true either.

I try to avoid toxins as much as possible and that practice carries over to my pets. As is so often the case, this enlightened attitude came about as a result of life with my four-legged friends.

My beautiful mare, Misty, developed vaccinosis after just a few years at a boarding barn that required semi-annual 7-way vaccinations. It began as an elevated temperature accompanied by swelling at the injection site. Each successive round of vaccinations brought with it a worse reaction until she developed a full-blown case of laminitis.

During this time I was diligently researching options trying to find an acceptable alternative to meet with the barn owner’s approval. (Moving wasn’t an option at that point.) Finally I found my own vet who concurred with my assessment that it was vaccinosis and prescribed no more vaccinations ever for this mare.

With that battle behind us, I expanded my research into detoxing and better nutritional alternatives to the junk food typically served at barns. It took six months to bring Misty back to health from that last set of shots, but we got there. Thankfully it wasn’t long after that I was able to purchase my own place and bring her home, safe at last from the dangerous, out-dated, ideas of that barn, no matter how well meaning.

I was reminded of this episode recently when I read the account of a beautiful, standard poodle who died horribly, painfully, after being sprayed with weed spray. From what her owner was able to piece together, she approached the fence, probably barking, to protect her puppies who were all playing in their private yard. The person spraying turned the spray directly on her in an act of incredible cruelty and stupidity. Unfortunately this part of the story was only pieced together after the fact and after her suffering had ended. It’s unlikely she could have been saved, even with immediate treatment, as those powerful toxins were inhaled and absorbed through her skin to begin their destructive work on her entire system.

RIP beautiful girl

RIP beautiful girl

Would this person have sprayed the dog in the face had he known it would kill her? Perhaps, but I’d like to think he would have made a better choice had he been educated on the dangers of the toxins he held in his hands.

Shortly after hearing this story, I came across a post from Dr. Mercola’s site about summer time dangers to our pets. While a bit late in the season, the information is still valid and worth sharing. I hope you’ll take a moment to read and educate yourselves and please spread the word. You just might save a life.

Blessings to you dear pet lovers.

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Pet Identification: Microchip vs. Tattoo

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

My pet is missing!

That is the worst nightmare of a caring pet owner. When our old border collie, Joshua, was spooked by fireworks and ran off, we thought we’d never see him again. He was twelve at the time and infirmities were setting in.

We searched the neighborhood, put out flyers, contacted the SPCA, posted to online groups and anything else we could think of. Joshua was wearing an ID tag from North Shore Animal League where we had adopted him from, but he had lost it somewhere in his blind panic. Fortunately for all of us, a kind woman found him and alerted the SPCA who then called us. Three days later we had our precious boy back and were blessed to have another two years with him. We were very lucky.

According to the American Humane Organization’s website:

  • 56% of dogs and 71% of cats that enter animal shelters are euthanized. More cats are euthanized than dogs because they are more likely to enter a shelter without any owner identification.
  • Only 15% of dogs and 2% of cats that enter animal shelters are reunited with their owners.

When Saphyre, a standard poodle, joined our family, we wanted to have her permanently identified so if she were ever lost we would have the best chance at recovery. The options we considered were Microchip and Tattooing.

First I researched microchips, the popular choice. Once implanted they are permanent and shelters will check for them. Vets, shelters and some rescue groups offer chipping for a range of fees. There is no battery involved. All that’s required is a scanner and Pet/Owner Identification is easily retrieved.

However, I also learned there is anecdotal evidence that chips can migrate from the injection site and they may cause cancer if a sarcoma forms around the chip. Owners are advised to regularly check the area of the implant for tenderness or swelling. Hard to do if the chip has migrated.

Chips are not visible to the naked eye. The pet must be taken somewhere that has a scanner and that scanner must be the universal type that can read all kinds of chips.

Logic tells me that inserting a foreign body into an organism could lead to problems. There have been reports of nerve damage and even death from improperly inserted chips. These cases are rare, but that is little comfort if it is your pet that dies.

Veterinary Oncologists quoted in an Associated Press article, Chip Implants Linked to Animal Tumors, concluded that more study was needed and that anyone considering a chip should be apprised of the risks.

Next I researched tattoos. I learned there are two main registries: Tattoo A Pet and National Dog Registry. They are easily identifiable from the lettering of the tattoo. Authorities are familiar with these registries and call the appropriate one and the registry supplies contact info for the animal’s family.

Tattoos can be applied by a vet or someone authorized by the registry (often they are groomers). The tattoo is applied either in the ear flap or along the rear inner thigh. There have been reports of dogs having their ears cut off to eliminate tattoos so the thigh has become the more common site.

The procedure takes just minutes and requires no anesthesia. Once applied it is easily visible to the naked eye. The drawbacks are that darker skin may be harder to read, the area should be kept shaved for best visibility and the tattoo may fade over time. Fading can easily be addressed by reapplying the tattoo so that issue is negligible.

For Saphyre we opted to go with a tattoo. I contacted the registry and got the names of some local tattooists, made the appointment and vóila, Saphyre was permanently identified as part of our family.

Our Saphyre

Our Saphyre

The procedure really did take just minutes. The tattoo instrument reminded me of an engraving pen. Each letter and number were simply drawn on leaving a large blotchy spot. Saphyre never whimpered or otherwise indicated discomfort beyond being restrained on the table. When the ID was complete, the area was swabbed, revealing an easy-to-read code that uniquely identifies our Saphyre. Filling out the paperwork actually took longer than the tattooing.

If you choose to have your pet permanently identified, I encourage you to take a little time and research your options. Choose the best one to meet your needs. Then you can rest easy knowing should your pet ever get lost, there is a greater likelihood you will have a happy reunion and beat the statistics.

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My foray into fostering

Monday, August 24th, 2009

His name was Beau. He was purportedly a shepherd mix. Maybe, but there was definitely some Bull Mastiff in there. He had a huge head which I was soon to learn he used most effectively.

I had decided to try fostering dogs after reading repeated pleas in my local paper. Our county SPCA had closed down and local rescues were doing their best to fill the gap, but they needed foster families to house them.

I also thought it would be a great way to see if a second dog would fit with our family. You see we have this wacky, hyperactive, standard poodle, Saphyre, who we absolutely adore, but her antics can sometimes be a bit much. A companion for her could be exactly what we all needed. Fostering seemed like the perfect way to find out.

Beau was about 80 lbs of sweetness and love. He wanted to kiss everyone and was just happy to be part of a family. He and Saphyre hit it off immediately. They wrestled with intensity and then collapsed until the next time. Yesssss!

Saphyre & Beau wrestling

Saphyre & Beau wrestling

However, like with all things there was good and bad. Beau did not like being confined, even in our generous fenced yard. He immediately began digging under the fence and escaped repeatedly. Once he was loose there was no catching him until he was done with his adventure. Worse, Saphyre escaped with him so there were two dogs running around wildly.

Luckily we have a lot of rocks which I immediately began hauling and placing around the fence. With all the rocks in place and the yard appearing secure, I let the dogs out again. Beau very shortly put that big head of his to good use pushing the rocks! The ones he didn’t push he flung, some as much as two feet, as he went to digging past them!

After more chasing down loose dogs, and some very scary moments involving the road, they were once more captured. This time I hauled small boulders. These were large enough that I had to use a lever and tractor to gather and place. At last, success!! The dogs were now safely contained and we could begin to enjoy our foster boy.

One thing I noticed was that Beau did not respond to his name. I checked with the rescue group and learned that he had been found wandering the streets. The shelter had given him the name Beau and he had lived primarily in a kennel before going into foster care. Little wonder he didn’t respond to the name. (Being an animal communicator comes in handy at times like these.) I asked him what he would like to be called and heard Sampson. But he didn’t answer to Sampson so I tried Sammy. That was it! When I called him Sammy he visibly relaxed and came to me.

We had a really nice couple of weeks before Sammy found his new family. They made sure to reinforce their fencing before his arrival, and by all reports, he is a perfect fit.

Don’t you just love happy endings?

Farewell little poodle

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

I’ve previously posted about Nyla, the little poodle who went to live with the draft horses. Little Poodle finds home with Giant Horses and Update on the Little Poodle

Nyla had a great life and lived each day to the fullest. She was adored by her family and never taken for granted. She made it her mission to rid the farm of ground hogs and excelled at the task. Much to her chagrin, she had even begun having short “rides” on the horses. Her guardian delighted in seeing Nyla sitting on the back of the gentle giants.

Sadly, Nyla was recently killed in a trailer accident when she decided to go visit her friend, Noella. Her family was devastated and asked me to communicate with her. They needed answers and some closure and I was privileged to be able to act as their conduit.

When I contacted Nyla, she was spending time with two dogs (Princess and Mystery) who had previously lived with her family. They had been there to meet her when she transitioned. Nyla communicated with me both in words and pictures. What Nyla shared with me is below in bold blue. Her guardian’s comments are interspersed in italic green.

She’s hanging out with Princess and Mystery. They are swapping stories about the horses. Mystery particularly wants to hear about the ground hogs. Sitting under a shade tree just relaxing and visiting.

It’s just like Mystery to enjoy hearing about ground hog hunting. She always stood by and cheered Princess while she hunted. It’s fascinating to know Princess and Mystery teamed up on the other side – just like they did in their life with us – to help Nyla.

Nyla says she’s sorry. She just wanted to see Noella so badly and wasn’t as careful as she should have been. She didn’t feel pain. There was just a thud then dark and floaty. Next thing she remembers is being in this new place. Princess and Mystery were there when she woke up and explained what happened. That helped because she was confused. She’s not sorry she crossed over, she rather likes it there. But she is sorry that she broke your heart. She treasured your time together and would not have deliberately hurt you like this.

Nyla’s choice of words, “break your heart”, is significant. I have not said those words to anyone, but Nyla. When Princess and Mystery passed, my heart was broken, but not by them. However, this time, it feels as though Nyla directly broke my heart with her abandoned recklessness.

I appreciate and accept Nyla’s apology. My pain is soothed knowing she, too, treasured the life we shared.

She loved sitting in your lap. It made her feel so special. She wonders if you understood how important that was to her?

Nyla was so undemanding, so perfectly independent – I never refused her need for cuddles. She was irresistible. I’m so glad it meant something special to her. It seemed as though she was here to make everyone she met feel loved and needed.

She says please don’t be sad. She would like you to remember how happy you were and hold onto that. Don’t let the sadness block out the good memories. It’s ok with her if you get another dog but pick a good one so you will be happy together for a very long time.

Our hourly joys were so intense, they easily out shine the pain of my loss. As for my next dog(s), I am already scanning the possibilities.

She says she’ll come back to you if you want. She would enjoy another lifetime riding on the quad and sitting in your lap. It was a good life and she appreciates that you gave her a chance at such a good life.

Nyla will always be welcome in my life. She knows my breed, age, gender, size and price specifications. I wouldn’t want to bore her by asking her to return with the same temperament and personality. Instead, I  challenge her to find a way to improve on her already perfectly perfect self.

As soon as she is ready, I want her back in my life.

Her thoughts are still a bit jumbled from the shock so there wasn’t much else but she will fully come back to herself in time and be capable of more fruitful conversation. She’s sorry to be so slow but that’s just the way it is right now.

I will continue to talk to her and enjoy her presence, no matter where she is.

Thank you, Debbra, for giving me such a beautiful message from Nyla, my perfectly perfect poodle.

With gratitude,
Gayla of Serenity Equestrian Center
Photos of Nyla, Princess and Mystery

Wild dogs thriving in Moscow

Wednesday, August 5th, 2009

Having recently blogged about my chickens demonstrating Darwin’s theory, “survival of the fittest,” I was fascinated to read about Russia’s wild dogs.

It seems that when the old Soviet Union collapsed, homeless dogs relocated to the suburbs along with the industrial complexes they inhabited. However, their main food source was in the city. Gotta have a place to sleep. Gotta eat. What’s a dog to do?

These clever dogs quickly deduced that they could simply commute, just like the humans. According to scientists who have studied the phenomenon “Dogs are surprisingly good psychologists.” Not only have they worked together to solve a problem, they are having a good time doing it. Observers have noted that they make a game out of jumping onto the train at the last minute, barely escaping getting a tail caught in the closing doors.

The full story along with pictures comes from Britain’s The Sun.

Law of Attraction, Bojangles, and a burned out headlight

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009

For a couple of years I’ve been contemplating getting a feeder calf or two. Problem is lack of pasture. I’m already feeding the horses hay year around which is a budget buster. Ideally organic, grass-fed beef is the way to go.

Last week I attended an auction planning to pick up a couple of goats to help keep my fence rows clean. There were no goats, but there were four young calves. (I’ve been to this particular auction a number of times and never seen calves.) Intrigued I thought if they went for less than $50 I should get one. But these were very young and looked to be Jerseys. Jerseys are great for milk production but are they good beef cattle? What does one feed such a young calf? By the time we got home it would be far too late to shop. While I was contemplating all of this, all four sold for bargain prices.

Then I began thinking that perhaps I could talk to the seller to see if he had any more available. If yes, I could pick one or two up at my leisure and be prepared for their arrival. My daughter, who was with me, went over to the holding area to look for the farmer. A short time later she returned and told me that one of the buyers had changed his mind and would be happy to sell his calf, which turned out to be the best of the four and not a Jersey.

That’s the short version of how I ended up with a Texas Longhorn calf in the back of my XUV. Thankfully he fit, but boosting him up there was a challenge.

I marveled at how Law of Attraction (LOA), had delivered what I wanted at a great price and the right time of year. But LOA had still more to deliver that night. On the way home I realized that one of my headlights was out, a good way to attract a ticket. So I set my intention to be invisible to police and expected the best.

Up ahead on the road was a mandatory sobriety checkpoint. Lots of police. I repeated my intention and pulled up. After answering the basic questions and explaining that we were heading home from an auction with a calf in the back, we were sent on our way without even a mention of the headlight!!

We arrived home safely and tucked the little guy in with some warmed milk. He’s temporarily residing in the play yard with Saphyre, our standard poodle. Which brings me to yet one more aspect of LOA.

Bojangles & Saphyre

Bojangles & Saphyre

The little guy, dubbed Bojangles, is getting plenty of exercise because Saphyre insists on rousing and herding him several times a day. They’ve become fast friends and thanks to Bojangles, Saphyre is significantly less hyperactive. That amazing Universe takes care of even the smallest details.

Are animals sentient beings? What’s wrong with anthropomorphizing?

Thursday, June 18th, 2009

Anthropomorphism… attribution of human qualities to nonhumans.

I find it disturbing when people espouse the opinion that animals do not have feelings. As an animal communicator I know for certain that they do, as they regularly share their feelings with me. Why is it that some people are so insistent that we not anthropomorphize animals? Could it be that ascribing emotions to animals means we would have to acknowledge they are sentient beings?

When my beautiful mare, Misty, lost her new filly she had tears running down her face. I had never before seen a horse cry, but that day Misty cried. She had so looked forward to being a mommy and she was devastated. She grieved her baby for months. Her usual spark was missing, so much so that she allowed two of the geldings to boss her around, effectively moving her down from second to fourth ranked in the herd. Her normal personality was very much an alpha mare so it was astonishing to see this change.

Later that year she started looking pregnant. The only stallion she had contact with was our mini, Arlo, who at 31 inches could not have done the deed… unless she laid down. Uh oh. Suddenly I started hearing stories about minis who had bred full-size horses.

That very cold and snowy December as her udder filled and began to wax I was checking her every two hours round the clock. This went on for two weeks with all the signs of impending birth. Then one day everything stopped. She had just gone through a false pregnancy!! She wanted that baby so badly that she imagined herself pregnant and manifested all the physical signs. If animals have no feelings then why did Misty grieve and experience a false pregnancy?

How many times have you heard about cats who suddenly stop using their litter box and soil the house? Often they are upset about something and are acting out those feelings desperately trying to communicate with their guardians.

I recently communicated with a cat who felt displaced by new family members and began to withdraw. As he withdrew further and further he left himself vulnerable and was eventually killed by predators. If he had no feelings he would likely still be alive.

Dogs are even more demonstrative, displaying a wide range of feelings. Is there any doubt about the joy they exhibit when their person comes home? My new puppy, a standard poodle, is one of the most demonstrative dogs I’ve ever met. She is filled with exuberance and loves to clown around for our amusement.

How many times have you seen a dog dreaming, talking in their sleep with their limbs jerking to and fro? Why would they dream if they have no feelings? What would be the purpose? And haven’t we all heard stories about dogs who gave their lives to save their person? Is that not love?

I haven’t even touched on their sense of humor. Some are sarcastic, others more thoughtful wisecracker types like a George Carlin, some are raucous, others have a dry wit. They run the gamut. One stallion I communicated with bragged about how “well endowed” he was. I think he got a kick out of the shock value. See, there’s another category: twisted humor.

This post could get very long with many anecdotes about all manner of animals who have expressed their feelings during communication sessions, but by now you probably get the idea.

So just why are some people convinced that animals lack emotions?

The only conclusion I can come to is that believing they are “dumb” animals allows for treating them like inanimate objects, just another piece of property.

What do you think readers? Is that a plausible explanation? If yes, what can we do to change this misperception?

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Remembering Joshua, the dog of a lifetime.

Tuesday, June 9th, 2009

It’s been a year today since my incredible dog, Joshua, departed this world. I cannot believe he has been gone an entire year. I still get emotional when I talk about him, but  I wouldn’t trade our fourteen years together for anything.

Joshua was very much a part of our family. He came to us from North Shore Animal League at just eight weeks. A border collie mix, he was super smart and incredibly sensitive to our feelings and needs. He loved treats and quickly learned a number of tricks. Show him a treat and he would start going through his entire repertoire before you had decided which one to ask for.

He was phobic about thunderstorms. Even minor storms threw him into a panic attack from which he could not be distracted. So when I awoke this morning to a torrential storm, complete with thunder and lightning, it somehow seemed as if sent from Joshua himself to me.

He’s now beyond such worldly cares, but it was the perfect way to remember and celebrate the life that he so generously shared with us for an all too brief interlude.