Tag Archives: pets

Make Halloween a treat, not a trick, for animals

Lilac looks so frou frou in her Halloween boa…

But wait… Lilac!!!!! No!!!!

Jett, Rose’s brave little man, plays short stop this Halloween! pics:R.T.

By Lindsay Pollard-Post

During a recent afternoon walk, my normally easygoing canine companion, Pete, suddenly froze in his tracks. The hair on his neck shot up, and he let out a low, wary growl. It was as if he’d seen a ghost. And he had, sort of. Three of them dangled from a neighbor’s tree, their gauzy, white material rippling and dancing in the breeze. After some reassuring words, Pete decided that the specters were just a spectacle and went back to sniffing trees. But the encounter was a reminder that to animals, our Halloween festivities can be scary, indeed—and sometimes even perilous.

A parade of costumed goblins, princesses and superheroes at the door can make even the friendliest dogs and cats skittish and prone to bolting outside—or even biting a child they mistake for an intruder. Prevent real-life horror on Halloween by keeping your animals in a quiet room away from the front door during trick-or-treat time and staying with them as much as you can. The same applies if you’re hosting a bash. And do your dogs a favor: Walk them earlier in the day, before the streets fill with kids on a quest for candy—don’t drag them along trick-or-treating. They can be easily frightened by the commotion and even get loose and run off.

Always ensure that your animal companions are microchipped and wearing collars with current ID tags, just in case. But please don’t subject them to the stress of being dressed up. Many dogs and most cats feel nervous and uncomfortable when forced to wear clothes. Costumes can impair their ability to see, move and breathe, and they can even choke or strangle if they attempt to eat small parts from costumes or become entangled in them. Leave dress-up to the kids (or adults, if you’re so inclined), and let animals be their naturally adorable selves.

Decorations help set a festive mood, but they can be hazardous to curious noses and paws. Jack-o’-lanterns and candles can burn animals (and kids) or start fires if tipped over. The ink that is used in some brightly colored decorations, such as orange streamers and paper pumpkins, is toxic to animals—and swallowed balloons or party favors can block their digestive tract—so keep all these holiday accoutrements out of reach.

Many animals can’t resist sampling treats—wrappers and all—that contain toxic ingredients such as chocolate, raisins, xylitol or macadamia nuts. Keep all candies and other Halloween treats out of their reach, and make sure that kids and guests know not to share such goodies with them. If you suspect that your animal companion has swallowed something toxic, contact your veterinarian or an animal poison hotline immediately so you’ll know what to do if you see any symptoms, such as vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, not defecating or straining to defecate, agitation, increased thirst or seizures. Time is of the essence when it comes to treating for poison, so don’t delay getting to an emergency veterinarian if it seems warranted.

While most people enjoy Halloween in fun ways, real evil does lurk outside, especially this time of year. People have intentionally let dogs out of backyards, poked at them through fences and even pelted them with eggs. Black cats are unfairly associated with dark forces and frequently targeted by cruel people. Protect your animals by keeping them indoors on Halloween (and always) and letting them out for fresh air and exercise only on a leash and harness or in a safe, fenced area, under supervision. If you see stray animals, take them to an open-admission shelter or call animal control for help.

A good scare on Halloween can be fun, but no one wants to be haunted by the memory of a beloved animal companion who was sickened, injured or even killed during the festivities. Following these simple precautions will help ensure that Halloween is a treat, not a trick, for everyone.

Elegy for Mollie

By Edith Morgan

She passed away quietly, after a shudder, several raspy breaths, and a faint “meow.” And so Mollie, my cat of more than 10 years, gave up the last of her nine lives, cradled in our arms and kept warm and stroked for several hours.

I have always been “a cat person.” Working full-time teaching, caring for a house, and mothering numerous foster children, I could not realistically care for a dog who would have needed daily walks. So cats always seemed the perfect companions for us.

I never went out looking for a cat – they always seemed to come to me; usually it was someone who had had to move to a new place that did not allow pets. Once I received two stunningly beautiful pure Persians, who came to me in a duffle bag, cuddled up together and zipped up, for the trip from Manhattan to Worcester. They seemed to be very comfortable in their new home with me, and spent most of their waking time arranging themselves and posing at the head of the stairs. They spent several happy years here, but as they were already older, I did not have them too long.

So I have over the last few decades been home to Siamese, long-haired orange cats, alley cats, and strays of various hues and dispositions – some sleek, some more rotund (like the one the kids called “fat cat”).

But the one that was with us the longest was Mollie. We did not name her – I would have hoped for a more interesting or unusual name, but we stayed with the name she had when she arrived here, in the company of a long-haired orange cat – who was a hunter and outdoor roamer. But right from the start, Mollie was an indoor cat – and definitely NOT a hunter. She spent the first two or three years here confined to my niece’s bedroom, out of the mainstream.

But when my niece moved out, Mollie suddenly found herself with the run of the whole house: three floors, a basement, and several adults who could pick her up, pet her, speak to her and provide lap space whenever she wanted it.

It took a long time for Mollie to warm up to other people: having spent so much time with just one person, she had to have time to get used to the stream of visitors to her world. But she eventually started to come down and “mix” and even selected her special visitors who were to be graced by her deigning to sit in their laps and allow them to per her.

There was not a question in our minds as to who owned the house: Mollie’s attitude was always that it was hers, and she allowed us to stay there, feed her, clean out her kitty litter box, and tend to her needs as she made them known to us.

This past year she developed an exploratory yen: she found her way into the space between the bathroom ceiling on the second floor and the kitchen ceiling on the first floor and spent several days in that space, refusing to come out. After we finally coaxed her out of there, didn’t she do it again TWICE!!! She also sniffed out where our kitchen mouse used to run across the floor, but of course it was below her dignity to chase it.

Mollie loved to sit on our shoulders when we watched TV or perched on my neck when I was reading. She always knew where I was trying to read the paper and plunked herself right down on that page. But she always rewarded our efforts with purring loudly and steadily!

We will sorely miss her – she was really a family member, independent and full of surprises.

Sleep in peace, Mollie.

Don’t let Halloween be a scary time for pets!

Salty Gnome
Chef Joey sent us this cute pic of his friend’s dog modeling her Halloween costume!

Halloween is a fun and festive night for families, but it can be downright dangerous for pets.

During the week of Halloween, the Pet Poison Helpline reports a 12 percent increase in calls, making it the call center’s  busiest time of year.

In addition, Halloween is the second most common holiday for dogs to go missing, just behind Fourth of July.

Prevention is the best way to avoid an emergency. By using caution, you can ensure a safe and happy Halloween for pets.

Use these tips to keep them safe this Halloween:

Don’t share your treats with your dog or cat! You probably know that chocolate and raisins are toxic to pets, but so is xylitol, an artificial sweetener used in many sugar-free candies and gum.

Be sure to properly dispose of candy wrappers. If ingested, these can cause life-threatening obstructions to the intestinal tract, which may require surgery.

Keep a close eye on pets for vomiting, diarrhea and lethargy – all signs they have eaten something dangerous.

Consider keeping dogs or cats confined in a quiet room on Halloween night. This will shield them from the noise and the frenzy of trick-or-treaters and prevent them from bolting out the door.

Make sure all pets have proper identification, including an up-to-date ID tag and microchip, which will help your chances of reuniting should they go missing.

If you decide to dress up your pet for Halloween, choose a costume that is loose-fitting, comfortable and doesn’t cover the eyes, ears or nose, which could cause anxiety.

Keep pets away from glow sticks. Cats especially have an affinity for chewing and puncturing these products. While not life-threatening, the liquid in glow sticks can cause pain, irritation and excessive salivation.

Shhhh… Don’t tell … . These toys are Jett’s Christmas presents from his “Auntie” Kathy …

Aren’t they cute? 


But he’s so spoiled! I don’t know if he’ll be impressed!

Impress yourself! Adopt a wonderful pooch (GORGEOUS mixes and purebreds) at the Worcester Animal Rescue League on Holden Street, Worcester! (I got Jett there!)

These beautiful dogs need homes for the holidays! CLICK HERE to see the awesome pups and pup-ettes  available for adoption at WARL!

Isn’t this baby cute?! Ready to go at WARL! 


Remember: Always adopt!

Never buy a dog or puppy from a breeder (there are a ton of homeless purebreds!) or pet store (they sell sickly puppy-mill puppies!)

– R. T.

The Catmobile comes to Worcester!

Catmobile, which offers low cost spay/neuter for cats only, is coming to the Worcester Animal Rescue League on August 12.

It is operated by the Merrimack River Feline Rescue Society and staffed by a licensed veterinarian and two veterinary technicians.

The package consists of spay/neuter, rabies vaccinations, exam, nail trim, and treatment for fleas and ear mites.

Microchipping is available for a $20 fee.

The spay package costs $120 and the neuter package costs $80.

The deals are available to anyone and there is no qualification process. Reservations are required, however, and can be made online at www.catmobile.org or by calling 978-465-1940

Thank you!!!

Sky blue Jett

By Rosalie Tirella

I named him after “JETT,” a Paul McCartney and Wings tune. Cuz my little husky mix (my vet said he had a smidgen of coyote in him!) was fast and streamlined, like a jet airplane. Cuz he had non-stop energy on our walks. Cuz when I’m with him, which is 90% of the time!, I feel kinda … high. Dogs can make you feel that way: pull you out of your safe human routine and plop you into in-the-moment fun, joyfulness, high-spirited high jinks. If they are young, they are ready for all sorts of tail thumping adventures. Every day is truly a new day, a rebirth, for young dogs. Young turks, even the girls, but especially the boys, so full of themselves, they are!

Then our dogs get older, all of a sudden, just hits you from behind! Like my beloved Jett. As I write this post, he’s by my side, lying down, but with his Husky head errect, at attention. I see, for the first time, my older Jett. My older dog. I want to cry.

He looks serious! And purposeful, like the middle aged fella he is. His teeth are good and strong but his canines are not their pearly white of yesteryears! He has no grey whiskers around his muzzle, but a few will pop out soon enough. And then his snout will become snowy gray, and I will caress the back of his ears and kiss the top of his head and call him my “sweet old boy.”

Jett’s my third dog. I’ve been down this wistful road before. I once cried to the Old Injun Fighter, as I watched my old retriever Bailey fight his cancer: WHY CAN’T DOGS LIVE AS LONG AS WE DO? WHY DO THEY HAVE TO LEAVE US SO SOON?! The OIF understood. He’s had 10 or so German Shepherds in his life. When they die, he has them cremated and put into an urn, which goes on his bedroom bureau, along with the other urns that contain the ashes of his other beloved German Shepherds. Somewhere amidst the dusty containers sits a small white vase with plastic flowers in it. He retires his late dogs’ collars, too, and never ever forgets the day on which they died, a solemn anniversary during which he stays subdued, quiet.

Looking at my calendar I see April is almost here. I adopted Jett from the rescue league four years ago, in April. He was a frisky eight months old when he entered my life. Now he is almost five. Five years old, for most dogs, is middle age. You notice the difference! They don’t run as fast. Their walks don’t need to be as long. They like sleeping by your side, little naps by their mommy or daddy! They don’t have the forgiving ways of puppies. They get set in their routines.

But here comes the great part: If you have even been a half-decent owner, THEY LOVE THEIR LIVES WITH YOU. You have become the loopy planet around which their pure, pure canine hearts revolve. They sing their doggie love song only to you. A love song sung to you in yips, yaps, laps, licks, snorts, snarls and farts. HEAVEN!!!!!

And then there are their eyes. They too will start to fade, even grow cloudly with cataracts, just the way it happens with us humans. But, if you look deeply into their gaze, the way I am looking into Jett’s eyes now – not too long cuz dogs interpret this as a power grab – you see the pup, or the memory of your young dog in his or her eyes. I look into Jett’s eyes – one is sky blue, the other chestnut brown. Two different colored eyes; it’s a fairly typical Siberian Husky trait and does not mean he is blind. I fell in love with Jett’s blue eye and brown eye almost four years ago! To me then – and to me now – they were so unique, so strange, so mysterious. Like a coyote slipping along the edge of the woods, just when the sky grows dark blue. A most beautiful blue …

Make sure your holiday travels are merry – not scary – for animals

By Lindsay Pollard-Post

If you’re heading home for the holidays—or just using your time off to travel somewhere sunny and warm—you’re in good company: During Thanksgiving alone, some 25 million people will be flying. Since holidays are about spending time with the ones we love, many people want to take their animal companions along. If your furry family members will be joining you on your journey, it’s important to plan ahead in order to avoid a holiday heartbreak and ensure that everyone arrives safely at your destination.

Air travel can be perilous for animals. Last October, Air Canada reportedly lost a dog named Larry between flights and then informed its employees—via a leaked e-mail—that they should “just ignore” the situation. Larry was being sent to a new family in British Columbia after his guardian had died of cancer. When an Air Canada employee let him out of his crate in San Francisco during a flight delay, Larry bolted. A good Samaritan later found Larry on a highway. He had been hit by a car and was so badly injured that he had to be euthanized.

Larry’s case is not an isolated incident. A recent analysis by a San Francisco–area TV station found that 302 animals died, were injured or disappeared on commercial airlines during a six-year period. Cargo holds are designed for luggage, not living beings, so they usually lack the ventilation and climate control found in passenger cabins. Many animals have died of heat exhaustion or hypothermia after being shipped as cargo. Even if they survive a flight, the experience of being tossed among the luggage in a loud, dark, strange place, far from their guardians, is extremely traumatic for animals.

If you must fly with your animal and he or she is small enough, take him or her in the cabin with you. Use a sturdy, well-ventilated carrier that is designed for animals and will fit under your seat. (Pre-trip, ensure that the carrier is large enough to allow the animal to stand up and turn around comfortably and slowly introduce him or her to the carrier by placing treats, toys and blankets inside.) Always keep the carrier upright and steady—swinging carriers, banging them into chairs or doors or holding them at awkward angles will likely make your animal friend nauseous and nervous before the plane even leaves the ground.

If your animal companion is too large to fit under the seat or unsuited to flying, it’s less risky and stressful to drive him or her to your destination. Cats should ride in carriers that are lined with a towel and a small litter tray and secured with a seat belt. Dogs are safest in a carrier or restrained with a canine seat belt, available from pet-supply stores and catalogs. Be sure to stop often to give dogs a chance to stretch their legs and relieve themselves.

Even the calmest cat or dog can become startled and bolt in unfamiliar surroundings. Countless animals have been lost at toll booths and rest stops this way. Be sure your animal friend is properly secured at all times and is wearing a collar with current ID tags, including temporary tags for each place that you will be staying during your travels. It’s also a good idea to have your animals microchipped before you leave.

For many animals—especially those who are elderly, shy or skittish—there really is no place like home for the holidays. Staying in their homes with a trusted caretaker gives animals the security of familiar surroundings and a consistent schedule.

Traffic jams and lines at airport security may be unavoidable during holiday travel, but by planning ahead and taking a few precautions, we can ensure that our animal companions arrive safely home sweet home, no matter how far away we roam.

There is no greater therapy than the love of a dog

By Deb Young

There is no greater therapy than the love of a dog.

This animal/human love bond is demonstrated every day in millions of homes around the world. It is also the basis for what is becoming a powerful, common mode of therapy in many facilities.

A therapy dog is a dog trained to provide affection and comfort to people in hospitals, nursing homes, schools and hospices, people with learning difficulties, and stressful situations, such as disaster areas.

Therapy dogs come in all sizes and breeds. The most important characteristic of a therapy dog is its temperament. A good therapy dog must be friendly, patient, confident, gentle, and at ease in all situations. Therapy dogs must enjoy human contact and be content to be petted and handled, sometimes clumsily.

A therapy dog’s primary job is to allow unfamiliar people to make physical contact with it and to enjoy that contact. Children in particular enjoy hugging animals; adults usually enjoy simply petting the dog. The dog might need to be lifted onto, or climb onto, an individual’s lap or bed and sit or lie comfortably there. Many dogs contribute to the visiting experience by performing small tricks for their audience or by playing carefully structured games. In hospice environments, therapy dogs can play a role in palliative care by reducing death anxiety.

There are three types of Therapy Dogs. “Facility Therapy Dogs” and “Animal Assisted Therapy Dogs” assist physical and occupational therapists in meeting goals important to a person’s recovery. The most common Therapy Dogs are “Therapeutic Visitation Dogs”. These dogs are household pets whose owners take time to visit hospitals, nursing homes, detention facilities, and rehabilitation facilities. Therapeutic Visitation Dogs help people who are away from home due to mental or physical illness or court order. These people miss their pets, and a visit from a visitation dog can brighten their day and lift their spirits. For some, it helps motivate them in their therapy or treatment, reminding them of their own pets waiting for them at home.

The presence of an animal can help facilitate a discussion with human counselors or simply provide wordless emotional release.

In situations like the Newtown shootings, it makes a lot of sense that dogs would be an effective form of comfort. Dogs are social creatures that respond to us quite sensitively, and they seem to respond to our emotions.

The response was extraordinary, Nearly all of the dogs came over to nuzzle or lick the crying person, whether it was the owner or a stranger.

To some, the idea of sending a dog to a grieving person might seem too simplistic. But that very simplicity is part of what makes the connection between humans and canines so powerful.

When humans show us affection, it’s quite a complicated thing that involves expectations and judgments, But with a dog, it’s a very uncomplicated, nonchallenging interaction with no consequences. And if you’ve been through a hard time, it’s lovely to have that.

Indeed, there is no greater therapy than the love of a dog.

Keeping exotic animals as “pets”

By Deb Young

It may be hard to resist that exotic pet at the store. However, the importance of researching and preparing ahead of time for a new pet cannot be overstated. If you are thinking of getting a new pet, there are many factors you must consider before deciding on an exotic pet. You will have a much happier time with your pet if you choose one that meshes well with your lifestyle and needs.

Once you are sure an exotic pet will be well suited for you, you can set up a good home for your pet well before bringing him or her home. The transition to a hew home is stressful, and having a good environment ready and waiting for your pet will help your pet settle in with the least amount of stress possible.

Even though being drawn to the beauty of exotic animals is natural, remember extreme caution is necessary. Many exotic animals do not make good pets since they can be unpredictable and difficult to handle. The resources and commitment to care for an exotic maybe more difficult for the average owner to manage. The line between exotic and domestic is hard to define, especially when it comes to reptiles and amphibians. However, sticking to captive bred and easy-to-manage animals is the best choice for the majority of people.

There have been several incidents in recent years where owners were killed by their large constricting snakes. Since the feeding drive is so strong even tame snakes sometimes instinctively start constricting when something triggers a predatory response. If you own a large constrictor, you should always have a second person present when handling, feeding, or cleaning the tanks of your snake (someone who can help you or at least call for help if necessary). Even experienced owners can get into trouble unexpectedly since these snakes are so strong, so this is a guideline that can save your life.

The phobia related to the fear of snakes is called ophidiophobia . Fear of reptiles in general is Herpetophobia. Both are very common, so walking down the street with your snake around your neck is probably not a good idea.

Know your laws, in Massachusetts : No person may possess as a “pet” a wild bird, mammal, fish, reptile or amphibian unless the animal was owned prior to June 30, 1995. This group is defined as any undomesticated animal that is not the product of hybridization with a domestic form and not otherwise contained in the exemption list.

Being a responsible exotic pet ownership is good for you and your pets, but is also means being a good ambassador for exotic pet owners everywhere. Given the increased attention to incidences of injuries and illness from exotic pets, and invasive species resulting from irresponsible owners releasing their exotic pets, responsible guardianship of the animals we choose to keep as pets is more important than ever.

I can’t say this enough: never release an exotic pet into the wild! There are several problems with this, both for the pet and for the ecosystem. If you can no longer care for your pet, the responsible solution is to find another home for your pet or turn it over to a shelter or rescue.