There have been numerous headlines recently regarding Salmonella in various types of pet food. Merrick Pet Care recalled one lot of its Doggie Wishbones -- chews made of dried beef tendons. Two raw food producers – Bravo and Primal – had products recalled for Salmonella. Then there were the pig ear incidents: Bravo, Boss Pet, Blackman Industries, Keys Manufacturing, and Jones Natural Chews all announced recalls of dried pig ear chews due to Salmonella contamination.
Is it just us, or is this the worst year for fleas in a long a time? Or should we say, “best” year for the fleas, and worst year for cats and dogs? Just about everyone we know is suddenly battling flea infestations, and several dogs we know have been tortured by enough bites that they’ve chewed or scratched themselves raw, instigating some awful secondary infections or “hot spots.” And this is in an area not usually plagued by that many fleas.
The stars backstage at my local shelter are the six Basset puppies (and their doting mama) that the staff saved from coccidiosis (an illness caused by a nasty single-celled parasite). A guy brought the two-week-old litter to the shelter, signing over the whole lot, saying “they were just pooping too much.” Well, they were pooping so much because they had diarrhea; one puppy died within minutes of arrival. But our brilliant vet tech whipped into action and saved those dang puppies – mama, poop, and all. And they have just gotten cuter and cuter and cuter.
I had this thought on Tuesday, July 5, and I’ve been thinking about it on and off since then: Is any progress being made at all in the world of dog ownership? This was prompted by my brief custody of two small stray dogs, the ones I found trotting down my street the morning after fireworks were going off all over town. Fortunately, Otto was with me in the yard as I watered our roses and azaleas, and the dogs came in my gate to greet him; I was able to close the gate behind them. They wouldn’t come to me at first; once they realized the gate was closed, they trotted up and down the fence line a few times, to confirm they were, in fact, trapped in my yard.
I’ve been having a nice dialogue with a reader who objected to my promotion of the word “cue” over “command.” He made some good points – but something Otto did the other day gave me ammunition for one more point in support of why I prefer “cue.” Copying their mama, the last two of my foster kittens (now MY kittens) have developed a classic behavioral response to Otto (and every dog, to be fair to kind, patient Otto): they puff up, spit, growl, and flatten their ears every time they notice him in the room. Frankly, they are often so occupied with play that sometimes this “noticing” happens when they actually run into his sleeping body, but whatever.
This evening, I let Otto into the backyard to go pee. I heard the usual volley of barking from the back fence as Otto strolled around my yard. I was actually turning to go back in my own house to get a glass of water when I heard an odd noise. I turned just in time to see an entire plank of the back (wooden) fence plunk to the ground in my yard, and the biggest of the three dogs, a black male pit-mix-type, charge into my yard toward Otto.
On Friday night, I picked up my brother’s dog, Hannah, from his house (about an hour away). Keith, his wife, and their darling almost-two-year-old daughter went out of town for the weekend, and Hannah came to stay at our house. It struck me at some point during the weekend how much taking care of a relative’s dog is similar to taking care of a niece or nephew. You love the dog, because she’s “family” – after all, you said you would take her if anything ever happened to her!
I doubt that WDJ readers need to be reminded to leave their dogs home, rather than allowing them to accompany them on driving errands or shopping trips, at this time of year. When it’s hot, leaving a dog in a car –even with all the windows fully down – can heat a dog to the point of heatstroke or even death within a shockingly short amount of time. Dogs are much more susceptible to heat-related illness than adult humans; due to their smaller body mass, their internal temperatures rise much faster than ours do.
This past week, I’ve been working around the clock to get the July issue done. In the process Otto has been seriously neglected in the areas of exercise and focused attention. I skipped our Thursday night agility class. I took him for only one short walk, from our home to my office (about two blocks!) and back. (This only made matters worse, because I didn’t let him stay with me at the office for long; he’s so obsessed with wanting to kitten-watch that he whines and paces when I close the door between him and the foster kittens.
Late last week I read a news story about a dog who was lost for more than six months – and then found on the streets of Salinas, California, more than 1,200 miles from his home in Boulder, Colorado. He never would have been identified and returned to his owner if not for his identification microchip. It’s the kind of story that warms the heart of every shelter worker and volunteer, and highlights the value of the tiny implanted chips.
So, for years, I’ve been hearing about the “Furminator,” some sort of super-powered dog brush. I just couldn’t imagine there was all that much to it – and it was wildly expensive. FIFTY dollars for a dog brush? Or, as the company’s literature refers to it, a “de-Shedding Tool,” complete with that completely random capitalization. This year, though, I finally got desperate enough to shell out the money, in hopes of getting a handle on the copious amounts of hair that my darling dog Otto is shedding.
So, I’m fostering a cat and her five kittens. Poor Juno (I just named her, a teenaged mom) was abandoned by some former neighbors, who moved away about two months ago. I hadn’t known they didn’t take her with them when they moved out of the apartment building that’s two doors down from my home; I hadn’t seen her since they moved. But Otto found her -- and her five new kittens – in the ivy that grows on the fence between our house and the empty (foreclosed) house next door. Oh, the economy.