Welcoming a New Puppy – Are You Really Ready!?

Are you really ready to bring a furry little friend home? I mean, do you think you’re really, really ready? I know it all sounds wonderful in theory, but before you run out and take home the first puppy you fall in love with, there are some things you’ll need to carefully consider.a new puppy

Do You Have Time? Puppies need very special, focused time, and lots of it. If you’re constantly rushing to get everything done, you may want to seriously consider whether bringing a new puppy into your home is a good idea. A puppy is a new creature in this world, and he will need your time and attention to learn how to properly live in it. Your puppy is going to need help learning how to potty train, how to be social, that is, how to behave properly around other pets and people, as well as lots of your attention for playtime. Do you have that kind of time to devote to a deserving puppy?

Is Your Family in Agreement? This new family member is going to affect everyone in the family. That’s why it’s a good idea to make sure everyone in the family agrees to accept this new family member into its fold. Being on the same page will ensure your puppy comes into a completely welcoming home and that you don’t create any unwanted issues and tension between family members that will affect the puppy, too.

Are You Ready For The Work?  Puppies take a lot of work. Are you ready for that? Are you prepared to have mop and paper towels in hand constantly?  Are you ready to get up in the middle of the night to tend to your puppy’s needs, to play even when you don’t feel like it, to make vet trips, and to make trips to the store to buy pet food? Are you ready to handle emergency situations with your puppy? Are you ready to spend the hours and hours it takes to physically care for your puppy; training, bathing, brushing, feeding, and so on?

Can You Afford a Puppy? Puppies cost an ever increasing amount of money. Even if you get your puppy absolutely free, your puppy is not going to be free for long. Maybe you’re buying a purebred pup or adopting from your local animal shelter. Either way, the expenses don’t end when you take the puppy home, they just begin there. You’ll need money for food, bowls, toys, treats, bedding, crates, leashes, collars, grooming, shots, neutering or spaying, licenses, training or obedience classes, routine medical bills, unexpected vet bills, pet insurance and more. Be prepared for this and honestly decide if you really can afford that furry friend.

Do You Have Support? We’ve mentioned that it’s hard work taking care of a puppy. Will you have any support to help you when you need a break? Think about this before you take a puppy home, and you’ll save yourself a ton of stress. Support can come in many different forms; the neighbor down the road who walks your dog once in a while, the family member who’s willing to dog-sit when you go out of town, the friend who can offer puppy potty training advice and help.

If you’ve honestly answered these questions, then you’ll be in a very good place to make a realistic decision about whether you can adopt a puppy or not.

If the answers show you’re not quite ready for a puppy and waiting until the time is right is the proper thing to do, you and your future furry companion will be much better off. If the answers show you are ready, congratulations! It’s an exciting time as you venture into a whole new world of pet parenting!

To Your Dog’s Good Health!Chloe at 17

Cheryl Major

 

Not Ready Yet…Adopting A Dog

Wow…Tough one.

I miss Chloe so much.  It’s been almost 4 months since she died.  The memories are everywhere, and Rob and I still tear-up when we talk about her.Chloe at 17 - Adopting a Dog

Along with missing Chloe, I also miss having a dog.  The best parts of my day can be when I see my neighbor’s dog, Jake.  He is always so happy to see me.  I miss that total love feeling; no matter what kind of a day you’ve had, or whether you screwed up at work, you’re the best thing to ever walk through that door.  I miss that.

When do you know you’re ready to adopt again?  I’m not sure.  I’ve always said it’s the greatest tribute to how much you loved your dog to go out and adopt again.  So many homeless dogs in need of good, safe and loving homes.  But, I’m not ready.  I thought I would be ready much sooner, and I confess to be more than a little disappointed in myself.

I’m tired, I’m sad and I’m not over Chloe.  About a month after we lost her, I went to the shelter where I’m a volunteer and a Board member.  I knew it was a dangerous thing to do, but I went.  I saw a great dog who had just been surrendered.  She would have been perfect, but Rob said he wasn’t ready, and truthfully, neither was I.Ginger at Buddy Dog - Adopting a Dog

My dogs have always seemed to find me, and I guess that will happen again.

To Your Dog’s Good Health!

Cheryl Major

Hey Dog Lovers…Your Dog’s Feet Smell Like…

Your dog's feet smell like corn chipsHey dog lovers…Did you ever notice your dog’s feet smell like corn chips?

I know that sounds crazy, but it’s true!  I never noticed it myself.  I was listening to Air America on AM radio quite a few years ago.  I think I was listening to Rachel Maddow who was filling in for Stephanie Miller at the time.

While I’m busy rambling here, I found out about Air America from my endodontist when I went in for a root canal.  Her rescue dog, Jack, was dressed up for Halloween.  As I recall, he was a pumpkin.  Well…not even a root canal can stop me from my love of dogs, and my doctor and I started talking about Air America; I started listening, and I became a devotee.

That particular day, Rachel had someone on who was a dog lover, as was Stephanie Miller (who can forget when Stephanie’s St. Bernard died?).  I can’t believe she was on the air, but she was.  I couldn’t have done it.  Rachel’s guest was talking about dogs and mentioned that a dog’s feet smell like corn chips.

I thought that sounded crazy, but made a note to check as soon as I got home to my Chloe.

I did, and I couldn’t believe it, but my dog’s feet smelled like corn chips.  Close my eyes and sniff, and I could swear I had my nose in a bag of Fritos!  Now, if you’re going to try this, and if you are a true dog lover, you will, you need to smell the bottom pads.  It’s not the top of the foot.

Check it out for yourself and leave me a comment below.  Dogs are amazing in so many ways; nothing about them should surprise us!Chloe at 17

To Your Dog’s Good Health!

Cheryl Major

Buddy Dog Humane Society… adopting Chloe.

Buddy Dog Humane Society...adopting Chloe at 4 years oldThis is so personal, that I’ve wrestled for several weeks whether to write it or not.  Because I can’t seem to stop thinking about this blog, here it is…

When I adopted Chloe from the Buddy Dog Humane Society back in January 2000, I didn’t know a lot about her…about her first family that is.  Privacy issues and all that.  Even though I was a volunteer there, the shelter is very careful about who knows what information.

I did know she was a mixed breed, billed as a cockapoo, although she really looked as though someone shrank a Wheaton Terrier; Her face and beard were even trimmed like a Wheaton.  I always assumed she was Poodle (smart!) and Wheaton Terrier . She had that terrier attitude and strong will; oftentimes, you could just see her looking at you and you could bet she was thinking, “You want me to do what??”  That was part of who she was and why she was so incredibly special and integrated into our lives.  Chloe was never on the sidelines, never an observer; she was an active participant in our group of three that lived together for over 13 years.

I also knew she had come from a family that had kids and that her family was undergoing change of some sort that was the reason for her surrender to Buddy Dog.  Living place, marriage/divorce, a death in the family.  I didn’t know what, but could glean that was part of the surrender decision.

Some years after we adopted Chloe, I was at the shelter (still volunteering), and one of the staff mentioned to me they had received an email from a boy who was in Chloe’s first family.  He had written to Buddy Dog because he understood one of the volunteers had adopted Chloe.  He wanted to know if she was still ok and still living with the same family.  Because of privacy, all the shelter would tell him was that Chloe was still living with the same volunteer who had adopted her and was doing fine.

I asked to have his contact information so I could share her with him, but they had deleted the email.  I felt so badly for this boy who probably came home from school to find his beautiful dog gone forever.

And so, this child I never met and never knew became “Chloe’s Little Boy”.

Years later when I would mention him to my husband, Rob, he would say, “You do realize he’s in high school or college now, Cheryl.”  True, but he was always “Chloe’s Little Boy” to me.Chloe at 17

As the years went by, and Chloe turned 16, I renewed my efforts to find her Little Boy.  I desperately wanted to share our special dog with him in the last years of her life.  I never found him.

If, by some chance, he should read this, I want him to know we treasured Chloe and gave her everything she could have ever wanted or needed.  Rob worked from home, so Chloe was rarely by herself.  The few times we went away, we took her to her own doggie resort where she had an acre of fenced yard and other dogs to romp and play with.  She was our girl, and we gave her everything you would give an adored child.

To Your Dog’s Good Health!

Cheryl Major

Volunteering at an Animal Shelter…Can You Do It?!

volunteering at an animal shelter will help these two dogs find a homeBack in 1999, I decided to give myself a Christmas present…the gift of volunteering at an animal shelter.

Because of my love for animals, I went to a nearby shelter, The Buddy Dog Humane Society in Sudbury, MA. It is a long-time “no-kill” animal shelter (founded in 1961)and has a wonderful reputation for the work it does in the community to benefit our homeless animals.

I signed in and walked through the dog kennels. Then I left. I decided I just couldn’t do it; it would be too hard. The homeless dogs just broke my heart. I went home.My Buddy Dog, Chloe

I kept thinking about how I wanted to volunteer and make a difference, and I kept thinking about all those dogs in their kennels waiting for a family and a home. About a month later, I went back. Frankly, I decided that if I truly wanted to make a difference, I’d have to deal with my personal feelings and I’d better suck it up and get over it. I did.

I have been a volunteer there ever since; that’s fourteen years and counting. I began walking the dogs once a week for two hours on Wednesday mornings, and my involvement grew from there.

Among other things, I was invited to join the Board of Trustees in 2008 and am now an Executive Board member; I was on a regular TV segment on New England Cable News for over 10 years; I’ve been involved with the passage of two major bills of animal protection legislation and have lobbied and testified at the State House on a number of occasions.

There are so many different ways you can contribute and volunteer.  These are just a few.  I understand there are people who wouldn’t be able to get past the sadness of the homeless animals; I understand that.  I’ve been there. When you are involved with animal sheltering, there are days that will break your heart, and there are days that will be some of the best of your life.

Don’t let anything stop you!  You can help with so many other aspects of keeping a shelter running; contribute your time and your energy.  You can help with office work…mailings, holiday donation solicitations.  Once I even dressed up in tropical gear and handed out flyers at a local mall to get a donation for my efforts from the vendor to the shelter.  Sometimes we have done gift-wrapping of presents at holiday time at a major book retailer.

Don’t let fear stop you.  You can start with small peripheral contributions and let your involvement grow.  You really can make a difference!

To Your Dog’s Good Health!

Cheryl Major

 

Moving with Your Dog…Healthy Dogs World Wants It To Be As Stress-Free as Possible!

Moving With Your DogHaving been a full time residential real estate broker for almost 30 years  (hard to believe…),  it naturally follows that I should write a blog that includes a few basic tips for moving with your pets.

Combining Real Estate with My Love of Dogs!Moving is stressful and exhausting for everyone, and moving with your dog is no exception.  While cats tend to gravitate to a familiar area, your dog is all about you and being with you.

When I was growing up, our next door neighbors were always going across town to their old house to retrieve their two cats, Biscuit and Muffin.  Dogs have been known to travel many, many miles to find their people again.

With this in mind, how do you make a stressful process easier for you and your dog?  The first thing to acknowledge is that our dogs pick up on our stress very readily.  Remember the look on your dog’s face when the suitcase comes out at vacation time?  Just imagine what he’s feeling when you start packing up his entire world!

While you can’t completely save him from the process, there are some key steps you can take to help.

When you’re packing, put his things…toys, blankets, etc. in an open box where he can sniff them and know they’re there.

Give him plenty of reassurance and attention.  While they pick up on our stresses, they can be soothed by a kind word or a few minutes of attention.  Keep in mind that petting your dog relieves your stress and can even lower your blood pressure.  Not a bad thing to do on moving day!

Make sure you know where your dog is.  This may sound silly, but especially on moving day, the doors will be open; this is an invitation to many dogs to strike out on their own adventure.  A missing dog is not something you need to add to your moving stresses.  Sometimes asking a family member or neighbor to keep your dog for moving day is a good way to prevent any mishaps.

When you get to your new home whether it be a house, condo or apartment, give your dog plenty of attention.  Give him time to walk around outdoors and mark his new territory…let him claim it for his very own new territory.

Make sure his bed and toys are out in a comfortable area inside the new place, and take some time to reassure your dog.  A few minutes together is a good way to end the day for both of you and will do much to make your dog feel confident and comfortable in his new home.

To Your Dog’s Good Health!

Cheryl Major

Cheryl and Chloe

Sign up for FDA alerts about dog food!…(Healthy Dogs World Wants Your Dog to Stay Healthy!)

Sign up for FDA alerts...Are you feeding me bad dog food?Forewarned is Forearmed!

Sign up for FDA alerts about dog food!  You will receive updates on recalls to stay tuned for problems with food, medication etc. for your dog and for you!

Back in March, 2007, when melamine contamination in cat and dog food was causing renal failure in our pets, we considered making Chloe’s food ourselves. We did not want to run the risk of having her exposed to the potential dangers associated with some commercial dog food (even high quality foods) at that time.Sign up for FDA alerts to stay on top of issues with dog food and keep your dog healthy!

At the start of the apparent problem, the recalls were associated largely with the consumption of mostly wet pet foods made with ingredients from a single company in China. After more than three weeks of complaints from consumers, the recall began voluntarily. Dogs and cats were getting sick and were developing renal failure (kidney failure); too many died.

This was very frightening, and in an effort to stay on top of this issue and other problems like it, I signed up with the FDA to receive updates on problems and recalls. The problem became so severe and so widespread, that we took Chloe off purchased dog food, and started making her food until the problem was resolved. So many pets were harmed by this disaster that it just makes sense to have a quick way to stay tuned to find out if there are other problems so you can make adjustments quickly in your life and in your pet’s life.

I’ve included the link to the sign-up are for the FDA alerts below as well as some of the information and choices you can expect to find there:

http://healthydogsworld.com/fdasignup

Our free e-mail alert service allows you to receive important FDA news and information as they become available. To sign up, please select the topics that interest you below. To subscribe, all you need is a valid e-mail address. Your e-mail will only be used to deliver the requested information or to give you access to your subscription preferences.

One of the catagories you can select is Animal and Veterinary Health, but you can sign up to receive Consumer Health Information, Recalls and Safety Alerts and more. I strongly suggest you sign up for these alerts to stay on top of recalls and problems.

Information is power. We have to manage our health and the health of our pets. You would be wise to take control and be informed so you can take appropriate and timely action should the need arise!

To Your Dog’s Good Health!

Cheryl Major

Identification chips…(Should you have your dog chipped?)

 

Identification chips for dogsShould you have your dog chipped?  Yes!

That was easy.  Shortest blog I’ve ever written.Chloe at 17

Seriously, volunteering at a shelter as I have for so many years, I can tell you, it’s the best thing to have your dog chipped.  We have seen many dogs come in who are returned to their homes because of it.  They end up at animal control as strays, are scanned for an identification chip and then go home.

Collars with tags are great, too.  They can help a lost dog skip the trip to animal control.  A tag with a phone number is great; someone who sees your dog wandering can approach carefully, check for a phone number and call you to come get your lost pooch.

I have mixed feelings about putting your dog’s name on the tag however.  Because people steal dogs, I tend to prefer to have the “owner’s” name (don’t like the term “owner”, so let’s call them dog parents) on the tag with a phone number to call.  This way if the person “finding” your dog is up to no good, they can’t call the dog by name and make them feel more comfortable to go along with a stranger.

When ID chips were first introduced, there were some incidences of the chips migrating and causing problems.  That problem has since been solved.  The chip is about the size of a grain of rice, and what they did to anchor the chip is to put a small hole in it.  The tissue grows around the chip and into the tiny hole anchoring it so the danger of it migrating is solved.

Important to note is that you need to update the contact information on the chip.  If you move, or if you re-home your dog, be sure to update the name, phone number and address.  For example, my neighbors adopted a dog, went to their vet to have him chipped and found out he had a chip (they adopted him from a private source or a shelter would have scanned for a chip and found it), but the contact information was no longer valid.  No need to chip him again; they just needed to update his information with their contact name and number.

Chipping your dog is the best way to ensure he will come home if he becomes lost.

To Your Dog’s Good Health!

Cheryl Major

 

Chloe…the best dog…moving on after 13 years is so hard…

 

Chloe...the best dogChloe was the best dog.  I knew this would be hard, but it’s even more difficult than I imagined.

Life without a dog is tough enough, but life without Chloe is proving to be very, very difficult.

I went to Buddy Dog last week (the local animal shelter where I have been a long-time volunteer), and the sweetest little dog had just come in from animal control.  She looked like someone shrank Chloe, and I was drawn to her immediately.

The request from the home front was not to just show up with another dog (Who, me?), so I didn’t bring Tootie, as they had named her, home.  Instead, I took pictures and videos home and tried to convince Rob and, in truth myself, that the time was right.

It’s been two months with a quiet house, and I miss having a dog here.  Even more than that, I miss Chloe’s smart, sweet, determined little presence.  Over thirteen years of having her as one of our “3 Musketeers” thing.  If Rob hugged me, Chloe would bark in protest; she would not tolerate being excluded.

She was 4 ½ when we adopted her, and right away she was a perfect fit.  Smart and sweet but determined.  We never owned Chloe; rather, we gladly and gratefully shared our lives with her and she with us.  She was a gift, and we were richer, and now poorer for that gift…  gone now except in our memories.

Rob nicknamed her “Poody” at some point, and it stuck.  She responded to it, and it was universally accepted in our house that “Poody owned the world”.  Everything belonged to Chloe, and she influenced our lives and our decisions…probably more as she got older.  Maybe because she was needier, but I suspect because we just fell more in love with her with each passing year.

She went for a daily walk on “Poody’s Path” and played with “Poody’s Potholder” (my failed attempt at spinning, knitting and felting a dog toy from our sheep’s wool).  Ironically, this turned out to be her favorite, and she would chew on the wool for hours.  If she pulled any yarn loose, we would just tie it back together and she would have a go at it again. She had a lot of real toys, but this was her favorite.  Kind of like the kid who gets a great toy and would rather play with the box…

To have loved a dog like this is a gift.  I hope it will happen again, but if it doesn’t, I will still consider myself lucky and graced by a force I don’t yet understand…

May you love your dog this much…

To Your Dog’s Good Health!

Cheryl Major

Chloe at 17

 

Dog Adoption…When you Lose a Dog…When are you Ready to Adopt again?

 

Dog Adoption...When are you ready to adopt again?Dog Adoption. This is a very touchy topic.  I am living it right now.  It’s not fun.  We lost our 17 ½ year old Chloe almost 2 months ago.  She was in 24 hour emergency care for a week before we lost her, so we have had a “quiet house” for a full 2 months now.  We had to place her in emergency care to try to stabilize her elevating kidney values, and because the Blizzard of 2013 was about to hit us; our vet feared, and was very honest with us, that they would not be able to be open and provide her the care she would need to try to have a chance to make it.

We all did our best, especially Chloe; a trouper to the end.  She tried to rally, and there was a bright day when she was better, but age won out in the end.  I remember calling in to check on her and hearing a dog barking in the background, “Is that Chloe?!”  My husband said my face lit up like a Christmas tree.  It was music to my ears…but I never heard it again.  She went downhill from there and started having seizures even though the kidney values were normalized.  A brain tumor was suspected.  We did everything we could, and so did she.  In the end, we had to make the hard decision to let her go.  Her quality of life was gone.

We light a candle for her several times a day, and she is always on our minds and in our hearts.

My husband and I differ greatly on how to proceed.  He is not ready to adopt again. (he wasn’t ready when I brought Chloe home from the shelter 13 years ago…)”don’t you dare bring that dog home…”  yeah, right…   Best thing I ever did.

Yesterday, I had had enough of being in my office and headed down to Buddy Dog to drop off some things people had donated.  I always arrive at my desk to find dog toys, blankets, etc. left by my coworkers for my Buddy Dog friends.

I hadn’t been able to go to the shelter since Chloe died, and when I went in, the staff, whom I count as friends said how sorry they were I had lost my girl.  I couldn’t talk about it, except with Marie, who is the vet tech.  Don’t know why, but I was able to tell her what happened.    Marie has a quiet sadness about her that speaks to the plight of the animals.  I picked up and held her little rescue, Lila.  Sweetie.  Talked to Marie about the 10 year old dog there with Lila who had been surrendered to Buddy Dog.  She had never been taken to the vet and now has a serious heart condition.  Her prognosis is not good.  People really can be so disappointing.

I decided to stroll through the shelter and fell in love.  She had just come in that morning.  Why did I go to the shelter?  Just like when I found Chloe…

They named her “Tootie”, and she came in as a stray from animal control.  I bonded with her…she looked like a shrunken version of Chloe.  Smart…did the nose thing rooting and lifting up your hand

I took her out for walkies and then sat on the curb at the front of the building enjoying her and feeling the warmth of the sun.  She jumped up and licked my face relentlessly.  I laughed and was happy without effort.  First time in more than 2 months… dogs are part of who I am…

I can’t stop thinking about her.   I don’t feel I’m ready to adopt another dog.  I’m so tired, and still mourning Chloe.  The last month or two with her  was exhausting.

On the other hand, I can’t stand life without a dog.  It’s in my dna.  Part of who I am.  Not just a pet. Part of me…

What to do…I long to see that little dog again and feel her little/big presence.  I need to have a dog in my life…

To You Dog’s Good Health!

Cheryl Major

Chloe at 17