In Memory of the Friends We Have Lost
“We need another and a wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of animals. Remote from universal nature and living by complicated artifice, man in civilization surveys the creature through the glass of his knowledge and sees thereby a feather magnified and the whole image in distortion. We patronize them for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate for having taken form so far below ourselves. And therein do we err. For the animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours, they move finished and complete, gifted with the extension of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings: they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendour and travail of the earth.”
― Henry Beston, The Outermost House: A Year of Life On The Great Beach of Cape Cod
Bear Dougherty, Cheetos Marcewicz, Ditto Krupp, Daisy Kircher, Buddy Pease, Morris Morris, Roxy Decembrino, Simba Kasztelan, Copper Roach, Sophie Polsky, Nikki Stoker,Merlin Massaro, Sandy Hinchcliff,Scar Cunningham, Lobi Gamero, Tiger Kruger, Pete Albert, Bailey Dutch, Louise Pawling, Dexter Borrelli, Angel Kinsey, Batgirl D'Onofrio, Walter Badora, Ruby DiFiglia,Gracie Morgandale, Sadie Bilse, Stehanie Blank, Louie Lynch, Ruby Keller, Dodi Evans, Cassandra Lasher-Lutz, Marbles Farber, Samantha Foedinger, Buddy Walsh, Rex Echols, Mazel Robbins, Jag Hummel, Taj Gavin, Floyd Weiner, Taffy Miller, Cassie Green, Baby Doll Lomax, Cassie Menniti, Gryphon Robinson, Osker Kelly, Keiko Sklar, Homer Appel, Coconut Levin, Penny Deutz, Kasha Kaufman, Mack Chrzanowski, Tugger Kolen, Lily Goldberg, Brutus Buchanan, Ginger Millan, Penny Rosen, Yoda McCarty, Rocket Malone, Pawley Crawford, Jade Focht, Jake Barandon, Colette Zolynski, Rosie Pizzi, Brittany Kaplan, Frebby Robinson, Betty Witherspoon, Shadow Fioravanti, Jigs Neas, Maggie Bogrette, Ralphie Landes, Gracie Wilson-Oteri, Munchyk Beyzic, Crusader McCullion, Lily Plaksin, Gibson Evans, Checker Muller, Rhiannon Cunningham, Tucker Lichtman, Jack McNicholas, Max Motto, Peppy Nace, Katy Belle Rupp, Desiree Weiss, Pizzle Paluba.. and our dear friends Tilghman Johnson, Elizabeth "Betty" Smith and Dr. Kevin Harris
The Holidays are upon us once again and how this year has flown by. Is it that life is more hectic, or am I just getting old? Umm, I’ll opt for door number one, thank you. In this issue of our newsletter I wanted to keep it “lite” and asked some of our friends to share their holiday stories with you. They are funny and heartfelt; I hope they help usher in the holiday spirit for you in these oh-so-busy days.
As always, we have included some of our favorite gift ideas for those last minute shoppers (like me). After all, half the fun of shopping is the rush of last minute runs to PetSmart, or midnight cyber shopping, my all time favorite! Actually, Carmen’s big present, a new winter coat, has been purchased and worn, and you can read my review below.
Again, I would like you to be mindful of the hazards that come with strange glowing objects, shiny paper, tempting smells, and the coming and going of holiday guests. Check out the very timely tips from the ASPCA, an invaluable resource and guide.
And last but not least, a very happy, healthy holiday season and the best in the New Year to you and all of those you hold dear.
Happy Holidays!...Kathy, Carmen and Christopher
One Christmas, I decided that we needed to give gifts to the cats, so I went out and bought a fresh bag of catnip for Charlie & Tigger. It was in a little plastic bag and I wrapped it up beautifully in pretty wrapping paper and tied it with a bow. I buried the gift beneath a pile of presents that were already under the tree and went to sleep feeling excited about giving it to them in the morning. Well, Christmas morning came and we hurried downstairs to find the living room rug covered in a thin layer of catnip, and Charlie and Tigger lying on the carpet in an incredibly relaxed state. They remained that way for the rest of the morning, completely undisturbed by our present opening. The bag was found days later, under the couch, still in the wrapping paper but ripped in half and covered in bite marks. Moral of the story - keep your catnip (or other smelly treats) locked in a secured location until the very moment you wish to gift them. Cats are sneaky, and impatient!
Growing up in a house full of 6 children, we always had a lot of animals. Everything from parakeets, dogs, cats, turtles, and basically any stray that "followed us home".
Even though I grew up with different sorts of animals, I have always favored cats.
After I married, I found out that my husband was a true dog lover on the day that he surprised me and brought a black, short-haired pointer home! Of course, I was the last one to know about this new member of the family, but I fell in love with her and I have fond memories of the many years that she was with us.
Our short- haired pointer was followed by a German Shepherd. I had already resigned myself to the fact that my husband loved large dogs and I, too, found a special place in my heart for the Shepherd as well.
We have many fond memories of our Shepherd. After she died, we were pet-less for quite a long time. Although, I always thought that one day my husband would walk through the door with yet another large dog.
Then, one Christmas, after we had opened our presents in our home, we traveled to my mom's house for our traditional holiday dinner. It was a perfect Christmas day. As we were getting ready to leave, my husband came down the stairs with a box and stated that I had forgotten to open a present. Not having a clue as to what it was, I opened the very loosely wrapped package only to find the most adorable kitten! I was shocked! We had never even talked about getting a kitten so it was a total surprise. I named him Sparky as he was a beautiful lively tabby. Finally, in my mid-30’s, I had my own kitten!
You are never too old to be overjoyed with a pet. Getting one on Christmas just makes it all the more memorable.
This Christmas season is shaping up to be most memorable for the Hutchinson-Flacco family as it will be our 3 year old Dobie daughter's first Christmas at Gumey and Gampy's house. What catastrophes await us? Will it be knocking down the Christmas tree while chasing Little P (my parent's cat), jumping on Zuzu (my parent's lovely husky) inciting her to be riotous, or chasing the cows in the backyard? You see Vixen, aka Doodle, is a most active little girl who has only one speed - full speed ahead. She is truly 65 lbs of pure lovable, goofy, and sweet energy. One thing is for sure, we will be going on tons of hikes in the (hopefully) snow covered mountains, visiting and getting tons of attention from doting relatives (especially Aunt Debbie), and eating way too many treats from Gampy. This Christmas may just be the best one yet. Look out western PA, here we come!
When you work closely with unwanted and homeless pets, frustration, sadness and even anger can sometimes creep into your emotions. Stories of abuse and neglect are everywhere. For someone like me whose life’s work is focused on trying to ensure compassionate care and achieve behavioral wellness for domestic animals, the stories can be overwhelming, even defeating at times. This holiday season I would like to share with you the story of Dasher. No - not the reindeer Dasher, the dear dog Dasher. I hope his story inspires you and warms your dog-loving hearts and brings you an early bit of Christmas.
Dasher wasn’t always named Dasher. He had a different name in his former life. Dasher was a hound mix adopted from rescue as a pup. He lived in a nice suburban home. He was a jumpy, mouthy, active normal pup. He loved to take long walks and play with other dogs. He loved people and he loved attention. His energy was boundless. He could run and play for hours. Unfortunately Dasher lived in a two income family and during the day, his parents were at work. Daily crate confinement was part of Dasher’s routine. Dasher struggled with being confined to a crate. It was an obstacle for him and he showed signs of distress and anxiety when he was crated. He was eventually moved out of the crate and temporarily successfully gated in the family’s kitchen while his people were at work.
Dasher also struggled with reining in his energy, much like most young dogs. He jumped on furniture and chewed things that he shouldn’t chew and needed supervision and training, much like most young dogs. Dasher’s parents, in their frustration and attempt to keep their house and belongings intact, started to also keep Dasher in the kitchen when they were home. Before long, except for the times that he was out for a walk or playing with his dog friends, Dasher was confined to the kitchen. His lack of training and enrichment and his parents’ frustrations presented a hurdle for Dasher. It was a vicious cycle which led to Dasher’s frustration and more problem behaviors and, in no time at all, Dasher was a one and a half year old dog in need of a new home. Dasher’s story is similar to the story of many adolescent and young adult dogs in shelters and rescues. Unrealistic human expectations, squeezed schedules and limited available time, and a dog’s need for lots of interaction and training paved the road to relinquishment. Dasher was returned to the rescue from which he was originally adopted. Since there were no available fosters, he was held at the boarding kennel. His social skills and attention seeking behaviors were unacceptable. His jumping and mouthing were out of control. He was difficult to contain since he had generalized his natural disdain for crates to all areas of confinement. Fortunately, Dasher’s love of people and other animals and his friendly personality helped him tunnel his way into a behavioral rehabilitation program called “The Diamonds Dog Program”.
In the fall of 2013, Dasher was accepted as a Diamonds Dog where he would get socialization, enrichment, exercise and learn foundation behaviors and cues for mannerly behaviors. He did surprisingly well boarding in the kennel while he was being trained. He was a quick learner with an insatiable appetite for running and tugging and anything athletic. He was bright, funny, and focused. He very quickly weaved his way into my heart. I worked on Dasher’s training and behavior modification for six weeks. In that time, I grew to love Dasher. He made me laugh. It was hard to watch him run and throw his toy without chuckling. He loved life and he loved training. He also loved other dogs.
As Christmas of 2013 approached, a friend of mine who is an agility trainer volunteered to foster Dasher during Christmas week to relieve him from kennel confinement. He settled nicely into her three-dog family. He was allowed access to the home and all family members and was exercised frequently. He got along well with his foster canine family. His good nature and charm made it difficult for the holiday foster to conceive of returning him to kennel life after a week of Christmas snuggling and fun. The Christmas foster sung Dasher’s praises to her friends in the agility circle and, lo and behold, one of her peers was interested in meeting him. She was interested in adopting a young buddy for her resident lab. She was pulled in by his cuteness and love of learning.
The initial meeting with her lab went well. The adopter, a runner and agility competitor, decided to sign on to foster Dasher with the intention of adopting him if all went well. He and his lab brother became fast friends. He was respectful of his older sibling and loved going for runs with his mother. Dasher flourished. His life became a mix of backyard doggy tag, morning jogs, and evening/weekend training sessions. He enjoyed the freedom to roam the house and chose the softest couch on which to lie with his half-chewed stuffed toys and his brother beside him. As his former trainer, I got email updates with heartwarming pictures and training successes. His new parents were madly in love with this spirited boy. They saw his potential. His new life of social freedom had conquered his former confinement anxiety.
The pinnacle of his success was the impetus for this Christmas tale. It came to me last week in the form of an email with a video attachment. As I viewed that video over and over, tears of joy trickled down my face. On that video, Dasher, the dog who stumbled through the obstacles presented to him in his first year and a half of life, was smiling as he ran like a gazelle through the obstacles of an agility course in his first agility trial. He qualified in three out of three runs. He placed second in two and first in his last run! With training, love and time Dasher had cleared each of his life’s hurdles. His new parents led him to a place where life was fun and he was successful.
Merry Christmas, Dasher!!
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