Fur Family & Friends

The Right Dog

By Kelly Goodin,
Executive Director, Second Chance Humane Society, Ridgway and Telluride

[November 2019 | San Juan Silver Stage]

Making a decision to adopt a dog is a serious process resulting in a lifetime-commitment and responsibility. After pushing through the ping ponging whirlwind of doubt and clarity and signing the adoption form most new dog parents discover that they have made one of the best choices of their lives. But for some “adopter’s remorse” can set in, like waking up with a big hangover in the wrong bed wondering “what have I done?!?”

You diligently reviewed your checklist prior to adopting a new dog. You carved out the time to exercise, socialize, train and nurture your new dog. You created the financial wiggle room for food & routine vet care. You determined that your home and work schedule can accommodate a furry family member. You researched and selected what you feel will be the type of dog to best fit your lifestyle. Then you adopted a new dog with all the excitement and expectation of a smitten lover.

Then reality smacks you down. You thought you adopted a couch potato like yourself but soon discover you have the energizer bunny on your hands. Or you thought you adopted a shy and reserved dog but are finding that she is an attention demanding diva. Perhaps you wanted a dog that would be a great travel companion and it turns out she gets car sick. Regardless of the discovery, it is accompanied by disappointment.

But is this the “wrong” dog for you or is this kismet? Does the concept of “opposites attract” apply to dog/human relationships or is that just a romantic notion reserved for the human species?  Can the “wrong” dog truly be “right”? Is this the wrong dog for you or some kind of twisted divine intervention?

Are the unexpected hidden qualities that your new dog is presenting ones that you really needed to embrace in your life? Are these reflections of your own personal challenges that you have been avoiding? Is your dog pushing you to extract dormant aspects of yourself that you have forgotten, avoided, resisted, or perhaps never even discovered? If you tweak established aspects of your life to respond to your dog – could it possibly enhance your life?

Can the experience of integrating a new dog into your life be paramount to a metaphysical experience? Ok I will stop asking questions. But yes indeed, some people do see dogs as true teachers of the transformative, as paradigm shifters and initiators of Truth. Just saying…

In conclusion, I ask all dog parents to consider what I have laid upon your feet like a chewed up slipper. Just a few alternative reflection when fretting over if you have chosen the “right” dog.  Perhaps consider why your dog has chosen you, Grasshopper…

Second Chance Humane Society’s Animal Resource Center and Thrift Shops have been servicing San Miguel, Ouray & Montrose Counties for 25 years. Call the Second Chance Helpline at 970-626-2273 to report a lost pet, learn about adopting a homeless pet, or about Spay/Neuter, Volunteer, Feral Cat, or other services. View our shelter pets and services online: http://www.adoptmountainpets.org

Holiday Feast and Furry Friends

[November 2019 | San Juan Silver Stage]

Do you have a four-legged beggar at your house? I do and if yours is like mine they love the holidays when the table sags with the abundance of yummy dishes and the house smells like a foodie’s version of heaven. Just like us, your pets can eat themselves into a coma if they are allowed to. When Auntie Bee, Cousin George, and three of your grandkids all sneak tidbits to Fido or Fifi—even after you’ve asked them not to—someone is going to pay the price and it will probably be you.

That gorgeous, perfectly golden turkey is not meant for your pet. Neither is the stuffing, especially if it contains onion or garlic, which are toxic to pets. The same goes for those rich side dishes. The spices that make them taste delicious can cause havoc with your pet’s GI tract and could cost you a trip to the vet, or mean cleaning up an unwanted mess. So forgo the trauma food-sneakers can cause and be firm about not feeding your four-legged friends table scraps, instead have special pet-friendly treats handy just for them or sequester them in another room while you eat. You’ll be happier in the long run and so will they, even if they may not realize it.

Leaving Home Without Them

[November 2019 | San Juan Silver Stage]

Holidays may mean you’re traveling, which also means your four-legged family members need to have someone looking out for them while you’re gone. Many vets and animal hospitals, Alta Vista in Montrose, also provide boarding services. Boarding kennels and pet sitters are another option. No matter which option you chose, get references, find out exactly what services they will and will not provide, ask for a written agreement (this protects both you and the boarding provider), and visit to the site or with the provider to see if it/they fit your pet’s needs.

If using a pet sitter, give them a list of habits, eating times, potty habits, current immunizations, medications, treat allocation (to avoid your furry friend getting sick on treats), emergency numbers, and—really important—where pets hide (or run off to) if traumatized or feeling threatened. Have the sitter come a few times before your trip, so they can visit with your pet and get to know one another. Be there the first few times, then leave for an hour or two a couple of times, so your pet doesn’t panic and suffer from separation anxiety the minute the pet sitter walks in the door.

If you have certain concerns or your pet has unusual habits or behaviors, make sure the provider is made aware of those to avoid a 2 A.M. phone call to come and get your crazy dog or coming home to find your normally mellow cat is perched on the top of a curtain rod hissing at the world.

Many of us swap pet sitting with family and friends, which can work out for everyone unless they have “the pet from hell.” You know, the one they claim is house-broken but leaves puddles or piles everywhere for you to find with your bare feet. Or the one that is so traumatized they want to sleep on your face or whine all night even when you leave a nightlight on. Then, when it’s your turn to pet sit, your own fur-baby now has to share your attention and may act out as a consequence. They might suddenly become extra-needy, over-stimulated, or hide under the bed the whole time.

Pets are like kids—a couple of days without you and they’ll welcome you with open arms (or paws) when you return. If you’re gone to long, you may have to do some re-training when it comes to your house rules. Leaving home and leaving your pet behind is a tricky prospect, but once you find the best solution—board, paid pet sitter, or pet sit swap with friends.

Fennie enjoys Thanksgiving Dinner, her cat-healthy, “special food” from Chow Down. Notice she is peeking at the people plate, but happily consuming her own food, so still part of the festive meal. © Kathryn R. Burke