Archive for the ‘Pets’ Category

Pets-Summer Travel “What, you’re leaving me… again?”

Thursday, May 31st, 2012

Your pets are like your children and having them cared for when you go away is a big concern. Being prepared and talking to your dog sitter or kennel in advance with all your pet needs will help make it a smooth transition for both you and your “loved ones”!

1. Find a reliable pet sitter or kennel.  If you’re using a friend as a sitter, pay them or make some barter situation.  People usually take their pet sitting more seriously if you make it a job.  If you have someone staying in your house, then give them a clean bed and house to sleep.  Ask around for a good kennel, visit before your trip and check it out? Ask questions about how many times the animals are exercised, cages cleaned, fed and petted.

2. Go to the vet before you go and pick up any medicines and vaccinations that your pet requires. Leave the number of the vet and specific instructions for the pet sitter or kennel.

3. Buy enough food and treats for your length of stay, its a pain if they run out of food and need to run out. I like Natural Balance for my dogs.  Have treats, extra litter and a special toy on hand.  If you have fish, clean the water before you go and instruct the sitter on the amount of food to give.  Fish could die if you feed them too much.

4. Let your caretaker know about specific sleeping areas. You don’t want you pet getting into bad habits like sleeping on the furniture while you’re away.  Get a dog or cat bed and train them to sleep there. As you see, I’m not very good at this!5. Encourage the caretaker or kennel to have social time, talk and play with your pet. It’s great when they have a relationship too.  Pets are therapeutic and petting is good for everyone. Marianne ( my girlfriend and excellent pet sitter) takes Fergi for rides in the car without the other dogs.   It makes Ferg feel special!

6.Try not making a big deal out of leaving. My pets start getting anxious when they see a suitcase come out.  So I started leaving one out all the time so they think it’s natural.  I also don’t go crazy with the petting as I’m walking out the door. Animals don’t really have a sense of time.  So one week gone might seem just like a day for them.

7. Make sure they are secure. If they are at home, look into an electric fence or a fence around the yard they can’t escape from.  Everyone is afraid of the electric fence at first but if you have had an animal hit by a hit, you will never to feel that way again.  Usually dogs, train very quickly with them and respond to the beeping sound way before any shock.  Crates are helping in training dogs and if you kennel it will help your pets feel safe in the new environment.

8. Don’t feel guilty and enjoy yourself!  They’ll still love you when you return.

Check out the links below for other recommendations in case of emergencies and Amazon and Petco for some great pet products.

Smarthome products RSPCA recommendations, Sussex England.  Protecting your pet during a disaster or emergency from the federal government.

Lyme Disease On Rise

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

Lyme disease is something that is becoming more prevalent and this spring and summer there are experts predicting a particularly treacherous season!  Please take precaution when you are walking or hiking in tall grass, in the woods, and any kind of woodsy setting.  Don’t forget to inspect pets!

Here’s a list of prevention tips from the Mayo Clinic that everyone needs to heed!


  • Wear long pants and sleeves.
    When walking in wooded or grassy areas, wear shoes, long pants tucked into your socks, a long-sleeved shirt, a hat and gloves. Try to stick to trails and avoid walking through low bushes and long grass. Keep your dog on a leash.
  • Use insect repellents. Apply an insect repellent with a 10 to 30 percent concentration of DEET to your skin and clothing. Choose the concentration based on the hours of protection you need — the higher the concentration of DEET, the longer you are protected. A 10 percent concentration protects you for about two hours. Keep in mind that chemical repellents can be toxic, and use only the amount needed for the time you’ll be outdoors. Don’t use DEET on the hands of young children or on infants younger than age 2 months. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, oil of lemon eucalyptus, a more natural product, offers the same protection as DEET when used in similar concentrations. Don’t use this product on children younger than 3 years.
  • Do your best to tick-proof your yard. Clear brush and leaves where ticks live. Keep woodpiles in sunny areas.
  • Check yourself, your children and your pets for ticks. Be especially vigilant after spending time in wooded or grassy areas. Deer ticks are often no bigger than the head of a pin, so you may not discover them unless you search carefully. It’s helpful to shower as soon as you come indoors. Ticks often remain on your skin for hours before attaching themselves. Showering and using a washcloth may be enough to remove any unattached ticks.
  • Don’t assume you’re immune. Even if you’ve had Lyme disease before, you can get it again.
  • Remove a tick with tweezers. Gently grasp the tick near its head or mouth. Don’t squeeze or crush the tick, but pull carefully and steadily. Once you’ve removed the entire tick, dispose of it and apply antiseptic to the bite area.
  • Amazon sells this cool Tick Key to help remove any ticks from your pet.

    Have fun and be safe this spring and summer!

    HELP…there’s a squirrel on my head!

    Monday, January 9th, 2012

    At 11:45 last night you may have heard a scream coming out of Vermont.  I was dead asleep to be woken up by a little red squirrel leaping right on my head, on to my headboard, into the window, back on the floor…you get the picture.  Sometimes our wild life friends find a way to find shelter in the house either by accident or seeking warmth or food.  I had one of these critters vacationing in my attic last year that could be heard at night scratching away.  Lucky for me I have a friend with a Have a Heart Trap, which is a wonderful solution to this type of situation.  Just a little peanut butter and you set it up to capture  these misdirected creatures and then you can set them free.  

    I have had birds, bats, a rat, mice and even a cat try to set up residence in my house. All require different operations to get rid of them.  The Have a Heart Trap I will admit is my favorite due to it’s humanity and effectiveness, but it is only good for certain creatures .  A broom to direct a bird or a bat out the door can get you dancing like Fantasia’s Mickey Mouse.

    My akita Queeny in her day  could’ve handled almost anything to wander in the house.  But now she is a bit too tired to care.  Certainly a cat is the solution to keeping the mice out.If you don’t have a pet to defend you against mice and other creatures, you may decide to use poison or a mouse trap.  You must be careful with poison as it is also toxic to your pets.  These traps and poisons are easy to find at your hardware store or supermarket which tells you just how common the problem is.

    As far as the neighbor’s cat in our house,   just go ahead and feed him, that is if you want him to stay forever.  He could help with the mice!

    Winter in the Garden… Some Thing’s Lurking Out There…

    Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

    I am back home from Christmas in Colorado where there wasn’t much snow, but I had a few good days of skiing despite the bad conditions. Now back to the garden chores that I left behind.

    We had a fierce wind in early December and I am still cleaning up from that. Raking is a good meditation. You are looking at everything on the ground, like the little volunteer seedlings that you might want to move somewhere else where they would have a good chance at survival.

    If you are renting a house that has a yard, you may find the yard work a nice opportunity to get yourself outdoors. Even in the  winter a nice bit of raking can get your mind out of a rut and the fresh cool air into your lungs.

    Just yesterday I was doing just that. I let the chickens out and stayed near them as just a month ago I had lost a few to a predator and I don’t know how or who got in through my fences and closed gates. I am raking away with my guineas and little chickens clucking around me and I look toward my little buddy Ozzie, and say a hello to him, and as I am talking to him looking at him 5o feet away from me, I see a creature skulk behind him passing on the trail to my house just 10 feet behind my dog OZ. I said “Hey you! What do you think you are doing!?”.

    I couldn’t quite see what it was with it’s head hung low and close to the ground, but I think it may have been a bobcat. OZ was confused by my concern and he could see I was looking behind him. I ran around to see what it was and so did OZ. We didn’t see it but by now OZ had caught a scent.We didn’t find him and I stayed near the girls and kept a wary eye out while I continued my work.

    I have another hour before the chickens will go into the coop on their own at sundown and I don’t want to walk away but I do have to use the powder room and remembered I have the oven on roasting vegetables for the vegetable stock that I want to make. I forgot about that. So I race in, turn off the oven, pull out the almost over roasted almost crisped vegetables and wash my hands and am turning to go back out and I hear the guineas going crazy( they are loud little birds) and the hens clucking in alarm and I ran outside. I see some feathers on the fresh dirt that I just raked two hours before. Fresh feathers then! Sh*T! Not again!

    I race around trying to catch the scoundrel. I don’t see it. OZ is being helpful in scampering around trying to find the mysterious stealth visitor. “Too bad you followed me into the house OZ. Wish you didn’t have to shadow me always and you could have watched after the girls!” I am thinking…

    I count the chickens and whew!… They are all here. It must have been one of the big dark cochins as the feathers that I see on the ground were almost black. I see both of them and I can’t even tell which one is missing feathers! Close Call!

    Well maybe I’ll keep the chickens inside for a while and let the bobcat have a go at the rabbit population. I could use the help of a predator, but come on now little CAT, the chickens are easy prey, the rabbits are what you’re after!

    Super Rich Vegetable Stock

    Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

    I have found that a secret to a most delicious soup is to make it with a rich stock. I always like to have some stock frozen for availability at any time. A meat stock is handy for adding to gravy. A vegetable stock is good to have if you are cooking for a vegetarian friend. You can use it in soup and in risottos.

    Lately it seems I have been making some vegie stock at least once a week. Making a stock of any kind is a good way to use those old vegetables that you forgot to cook… a soggy zucchini or celery… The old carrots that aren’t crunchy any more… A few mushrooms that you forgot to add to the stir fry last week. Wash them and be sure that they aren’t moldy and use them to make your stocks. Wash but don’t peel your vegetables… Remember that so many nutrients are held in the skin. I throw everything into the stock but the things that have been my staples for the stock pot are:

    Carrots

    Celery

    Onion… skin on

    Potato

    Parsley

    Garlic.. Skin on

    Then on top of those,  lately I have been using more variety. The more varieties of vegetables the more trace elements and minerals you will have in your stock. So now my list is expanded to add:

    Root Vegetables such as Turnips(I always have them because I love them raw), Rutabagas, Parsnips

    Large leafy greens such as Chard and Kales

    Bell Peppers of any color

    Shallots… skin and all

    Sweet Potato

    An Apple or Pear

    Cloves

    Bay Leaf

    Add to these anything else you have in the fridge… Broccoli, Cauliflower, Cabbage, Mushrooms, Watercress.

    And Cindy reminded me today about vegetable scraps in the stock pot. Of course! I always saved the scraps for stock. Then I had chickens and a compost pile that I put them into and refrigerator space is tight. In my youth I loved my Vegetarian Epicure cook book and from there I found the Potato Peel Broth. I always had a plastic bag in the refrigerator of potato peels for this purpose.

    Lately, I have been roasting the vegetables for about an hour before putting them in the stock pot to boil( sometimes even longer). I boil them for hours. I start high and after the large pot finally comes to a rolling boil, I turn it down to simmer for HOURS! I go about my day in the garden or go out to the studio.

    If I have to do  quick errand I leave it on… But I am easily distracted and forgetful, so it may be best for me to turn the stove off when I run to town. But with a very very big pot you can add water before you go and leave the stove on very low… Did I just say that? Maybe not the best advice. You know your stove and how long yours takes to cook something down too far. If you don’t know this, don’t even think about it!

    You cook the stock down inches and add more water and simmer it more until it goes down again. Because I cook it down to concentrate it, I like to use the largest pot I have, sometimes the big enamel canning pot. Even if I start with what looks like a lot of liquid, the vegetables displace a lot of it and there isn’t always as much as you hoped for in the end. When you are done cooking them down, the vegetables have almost no flavor left. I like to give the stock saturated vegetables to my dogs with the food as a nice fiber and healthy low fat flavor enhancer to their dry food.

    Then you pour this pot of soft vegetables through a colander and into another smaller pot or large bowl. Let the juices slowly drip off the vegetables to gather every bit of stock before you discard the colander of overcooked vegetables. If you don’t have dogs, give them to the chickens or throw it into the compost pile.

    Now you have a supply of stock to add to any soup you want to make… Mushroom, broccoli, asparagus… A vegetable minestrone… My faro and mushroom risotto style.

    What can I do for my older dog who is itching and scratching all the time.

    Friday, December 9th, 2011

    Take him to the vet and see what they say. Sometimes it is their food. In that case the vet is no help at all. At least mine wasn’t and I like my Vet very much and have been going to the same office for 22 years.  My dog has been prescribed a food by the vet that I just found out has lots of corn in it. Evidently most do. This is crazy as I have recently read that corn allergies are common in dogs and that most dog foods use corn and soy as  fillers…. something to fill your dog up with.

    There are some good dog foods out there that don’t use fillers and are good clean meat. Raw food is also healthy for them. My neighbor told me that raw Chicken Wings are being recommended for feeding dogs  . You may need to go to your farm supply food store to get a good variety of wholesome filler free dog food.

    I asked my vet about the corn, rice and soy high on the list of ingredients in most dog foods. She said that dogs need some grains. That unlike cats, Dogs are omnivores, they eat everything. I still am not happy that corn being high on the list of allergy causing ingredients is the number one ingredient in most commercial dog foods. Why is it so popular? And sugars are high in corn. Is it just a cheap filler or is there a purpose to it?

    Also along with food allergies I have found out that an older dogs irritable skin may be from an allergy to fleas… Fleas!? I said… I don’t have fleas. Well, I was surprised to hear that fleas are everywhere all the time and that the only time you really notice them is when they are out of control and you, your home , your pets and carpets and furniture are infested with them.

    So I have changed my dog food and gotten back on track for flea prevention. It is also tick season in the moderate climate areas. Ticks jumping out of the dried grasses and the leafless twigs and onto your dog and you!

    So now I have a dog on steroids trying to diminish the itchy scratchy discomfort that he is having. I have been told that I can use the topical flea deterrent, such as Advantage twice a month. Frontline is a monthly deterrent for fleas and ticks.

    I want OZ to have a good quality of life.

    We have many years ahead of us still.

    Coyote Sighting… What about the Chickens?!

    Thursday, May 19th, 2011

    OZ isn’t really a watch dog… or a shepherd who wants to protect the animals. He wanted to chase the chickens last fall when I first let them out and then I scolded him harshly… More harshly that I ever ever had and then he avoided the chickens after that.

    These last few weeks OZ has been so annoying… barking at nothing(or so I thought) … a little edgy and skittish. Then just a few days ago I was in the studio building in the middle of my 17 acres and he was doing that annoying barking thing again… as I walked outside to scold him for annoying me, there was a coyote right there 15 feet from my door!

    He started after it, then I called him into the building and to my surprise he came. OZ usually doesn’t hear me when he doesn’t want to… He is my best friend but he is a cat chasing dog and there were times when I let him off leash out of our fenced in property on our morning walk and he ran away from me and didn’t return for 5 to 10 minutes. Now he is older… 10… and I hope has matured… He even ignores the cats sometimes but I never have trusted him off leash on a walk again after that.

    I was so relieved that OZ came to my (frantic) call and didn’t take off after the coyote who sauntered away. I was worried that he would get into a fight with the wild dog and I am grateful that I didn’t have to deal with that.  The chickens have been out and I worry that they are now discovered by the larger predators. Several trees have fallen on the fence in the last few years and I have a feeling the perimeter is compromised and I need to walk the fence line to secure the grounds.  It is my duty and responsibility to protect my pets, my  flock. I have lost chickens and beloved cats in the past to opossums and raccoons, coyotes and bobcats, and maybe even mountain lions.

    So I will keep a closer eye on the chickens and let them out only when I know I can be in the vicinity and I will be more understanding and appreciative of Ozzy’s efforts to protect us all( even not yelling at him when he had been barking for two hours in the rain last night and came onto my bed at 2AM soaking wet).

    GOOD DOG OZ

    Spring is time for Chicks

    Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

    Last summer they were just little… making holes in my lawn while dusting together… Now they have the orchard and a nice big coop and are laying beautiful eggs.

    After a long winter of spending time indoors to stay out of the rain, they are rejoicing in the freedom that I have trusted them with.

    If you have been wanting those back yard Chickens then now is the time to follow through. Build or buy that coop and look to you local Feed and Seed store to see what are available. I have been told that people are finding interesting varieties of poultry on Craig’s List. I don’t have a rooster and a friend of mine said he saw some roosters on Craig’s list. Then I realized that the girls are just fine without one. Although a Rooster will act to protect his flock. He also likes to have his way with his harem when ever he pleases. Doesn’t matter if she is in the mood or not. So I hope that I can keep my girls safe and protected myself.

    Well you won’t feel it a put down when you go look at the baby chicks and realize that Chicks are all so cute… It must be a compliment then when men started using the word for girls and women… CHICK…. We are really cute too… All us chicks are hanging out in the garden together. We are good buddies, but I will have to keep them out of the vegie garden when I plant those little seeds. They will scratch them up in a few seconds. They have been following me while I am weeding and eating the slugs, snails and the rolly polly sow bugs that drop from the roots of the weeds.

    The girls are so happy to be free. I still need my friendly carpenter to finish my large aviary area so the girls will have plenty of room when I am away from home. If you raise your chickens in their nice little cage or Coop then they will go back in in the evening, before dark to roost. They actually put themselves away. It is hard to herd them into it before they are ready though.

    I lost two to hawks last summer and I still see that Hawk flying around me. There are plenty of rabbits to feed the hawk family and just two days ago as I was walking I heard something fall from a tree and when I went to see what it was I was rather disgusted to find a headless squirrel laying at the base of a stately redwood. I looked up and saw and heard nothing after, but the signs that a bird frequents this tree was evident with droppings around.

    So I am careful to shut their door behind them at night and not let them out if I am not going to be home in the evening. I have dogs who seem to deter the coyote and bobcats( even though the bunnies aren’t afraid of them) but they will soon be coming back when they realize the Chicks are running free inside my fence.

    Dogs-they love snow too! Taking care of them in the winter wonderland

    Monday, January 17th, 2011

    Snow days are not just for humans.  All dogs have enjoyed themselves in the winter wonderland.  Treat them like you would treat a child in the cold.  Play, throw snow on them.  Run them around in the deep drifts. Dogs usually love the feeling of the cold soft snow on their faces.

    1. Keep them away from the road while plow trucks and out of control drivers are out there.

    2. Have a lease with you. Keep them safe.  Dogs lose their sense of smell with the snow

    3. Wipe down their paws and legs if you’ve been walking somewhere there was salt, sand or chemicals on the roads

    4 .Bring them inside afterwards and give them lots of water.  They also might need a little extra food if they have been playing outside longer

    5. Trim the fur around their feet so they don’t get icicles on their paws

    6.  Give them a warm place to sleep while inside.

    7.  Most of all have fun with your pet outdoors!

    The Poinsettia … Decorating with the Flowers of Christmas… it comes in many colors…

    Friday, December 10th, 2010

    The poinsettia is the flower of Christmas that most people think of. What an unusual plant! I grew up in southern California and we had a Poinsettia tree that grew tall behind the pool house. I think it bloomed in the summer.

    On my recent trip to Guatemala as I was walking in this nature preserve on Lake Atitlan looking for monkeys and a waterfall, there they were! The poinsettia was growing in the forest! Not such a big surprise to someone who grew up with one behind the pool house, but an interesting discovery all the same.

    Caution with this plant as it is toxic so don’t let a child or a pet nibble on the leaves. If there is a crawling baby or toddler around it would be best to move the plant out of reach even though you may have placed it in the most pleasing spot for the decoration of your room. Think safety when you must.

    They have developed many different colors of Poinsettia from the Christmas Red to the burgundies and speckled Jingle Bells variety that is red with some white spots as if snow had fallen on the flowers. I have liked the White poinsettia and there is a mauvey pinky one that I liked to use with white cyclamen and it looks great with the colors in a burgundy  home and with greens and whites. It keeps a light feel… “Light”  meaning not heavy but also ” Light” meaning bright.

    So then if you are wanting to take a flower as a gift to a friend for Christmas and you know that a Poinsettia Screams CHRISTMAS! and it will add color to the party. You can buy a simple little tin planter to set it in. Now there are some plastic containers that you can pick up even with Christmas decoration on them. The foil that they come in is just not that wonderful and gets messy right away. It doesn’t hold the water and protect your furniture for long, so to make it a better gift think about a simple container that will speak to your thoughtfulness.

    Another possibility with this plant is to get a very Large one and use it as the focus in your room especially if you don’t have the decorations for a tree and you can’t find the time to make them, shop for them, and put them up. Just put some lights up in your front window or in a doorway or two and get the BIG poinsettia and stand it in a corner next to the TV or on a little table. Then you will have the mood that you might be needing for the holiday even though you only had enough time to rush in and out to the local Garden Center.