Smart Pet Photography Tips

4 Ways to Cope With the Guilt
of Your Pet’s Death
Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen -

Coping with the death of your dog or cat is heartbreaking - and it’s even worse if you feel guilty about your pet loss! Here are four ways to cope with the guilt of your pet’s death…

“If there is a heaven, it’s certain our animals are to be there,” says Pam Brown. “Their lives become so interwoven with our own, it would take more than an archangel to detangle them.”

4 Ways to Cope With the Guilt of Your Pet’s Death

1. Remember that it’s normal to feel guilty. Whether your guilt is real or imagined, know that it is a normal grief reaction. Even the most “innocent” of pet owners feel guilty about the death of their dog or cat. I cringe when I recall how angry I was at my beloved cat, Zoey, for scratching the basement door (I didn’t realize the door to her litter box was shut tight, and she couldn’t get in). That was over 12 years ago, and I still feel guilty! Some pet owners feel guilty about their cat or dog’s death - or how they treated the pet while alive.

2. Identify “real” guilt. Real guilt may spring from your feelings that you neglected your dog or cat’s annual vaccinations, daily food intake, exercise habits, and “quality time” with you. If you’re struggling with real guilt, remember that you had reasons for doing what you did. The stress of money, work, kids, marriage, and daily life may have taken precedence over how you treated your pet. Maybe you didn’t make the best choices. Dealing with the guilt of your pet’s death involves accepting that you wish you would’ve done things differently - and talking this through with your family, friends, or loved ones.

3. Remember what you did right. Your dog or cat loved you beyond all reason - so you must have done something right! How did you love and take care of your pet? Balance your real guilt with the real ways you loved your pet. You took good care of your dog or cat in many ways; don’t wave that away. Coping with pet loss isn’t just about mourning; it’s about cherishing the best parts of your life with your dog or cat.

4. Identify “imagined” guilt. Not recognizing that your Yorkie, cockapoo, or Siamese cat was ill doesn’t mean that you weren’t paying attention or taking good care of her! This is imagined guilt. Animals can’t always communicate their physical health; we can’t see inside their bodies and brains. If you’re dealing with imagined guilt because of your animal’s death, remember that sometimes illness or disease overcomes our dogs, cats, and other beloved pets…and there’s nothing we can do. This loss of control is a very painful part of life; unfortunately, it permeates everything we experience.

Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety, also known in the dog training world as owner absent misbehavior, is one of the most frequently encountered problems in the world of dog training. Separation anxiety can manifest itself in many different ways, including chewing, destroying the owner’s property, excessive barking, self destructive behavior and inappropriate urination and defecation.

Dogs suffering from separation anxiety often whine, bark, cry, howl, dig, chew and scratch at the door the entire time their family members are away. Well meaning owners often unwittingly encourage this misbehavior by rushing home to reassure the dog, but it is important for the well being of both dog and owner that the dog learn to deal with extended periods of separation.

How the owner leaves the house can often contribute to separation anxiety issues. A long and drawn out period of farewell can make matters worse by making the dog feel even more isolated when the owner finally leaves. These long types of farewells can get the dog excited, and then leave him with lots of excess energy and no way to work it off. These excited, isolated dogs often work off their excess energy in the most destructive of ways, such as chewing up a favorite rug or piece of furniture.

Excess energy is often mistaken for separation anxiety, since results are often the same. If you think that excess amounts of energy may be the problem, try giving your dog more exercise to see if that eliminates the problem.

If separation anxiety is truly the problem, it is important to address the root causes of that anxiety. In order to prevent separation anxiety from occurring, it is important for the dog to feel happy, safe, secure and comfortable while the owner is away for the day. It is important, for instance, to give the dog plenty of things to keep it busy while you are away. This means providing it with lots of toys, such as balls or chew toys. A pet companion is often effective at relieving separation anxiety as well. Giving the dog a playmate, such as another dog or a cat, is a great way for busy pet parents and pets alike to cope with the stress of being left alone.

Setting aside scheduled play times, during which the pet is given your undivided attention, is another great way to alleviate boredom and separation anxiety. Playing with the dog, and providing it with sufficient attention and exercise, is a proven way to avoid a stressed and anxious dog. A happy dog that has been well exercised and well conditioned will generally sleep the day away happily and patiently wait for the return of its owner.

It is important to schedule one of these daily play sessions before you leave the house each day. It is important to give the dog a few minutes to settle down after playtime before you leave.

For dogs that are already experiencing separation anxiety and associated misbehaviors, it is important to get him accustomed to your leaving gradually. Be sure to practice leaving and returning at irregular intervals, several times during the day. Doing so will get your dog accustomed to your deparartures and help him realize that you are not leaving him forever. Dogs that have been previously lost, or those that have been surrendered to shelters and readopted, often have the worst problems with separation anxiety. Part of treating this problem is teaching the dog that your leaving is not permanent.

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Gary Bogue: Can Illness Cause
a Personality Change in a Pet?
By Gary Bogue - Contra Costa Times

"I purr, therefore I am."
— Jasmine Bogue

Dear Gary:

Can illness in a cat cause a personality change?

Our 10-year-old cat, Abbey, recently had a serious constipation problem. Without going into gory details, he spent two stressful days at the vet getting de-pooped and receiving a lion shave to rid him of the extremely long hair that was causing the constipation problem.

Anyway, glad to report that he is fine now and on a steady diet of daily pumpkin mixed with his food.

My husband and I have noticed some changes in his personality. He is SOOOO affectionate (I'm not complaining). Every night he sleeps almost on my head and during the day he'll jump up on us and purr and want to be petted. He dives under the covers to sleep during the day if I don't make the bed soon enough. He's never done this before but I am guessing he might be cold due to the lion cut.

I wonder if the extreme affection is his way of thanking us because we spent tons of money to make him feel better? Or maybe he wants to cuddle more because he has no hair and is cold. Your thoughts?

Lee Anne, cyberspace

Dear Lee Anne:

I suspect it's because Abbey feels so much better now that his pain is gone.

He may actually have been in pain for a lot longer than you think. Cats are good at hiding their hurt. They'll purr when they don't feel good, fooling you into thinking they DO feel good.

But when that long-term pain suddenly leaves, they sometimes respond with great affection. It'll be interesting to see how long his "personality" change lasts.

Lost & Found

A desert tortoise found near John Muir Hospital in Walnut Creek was taken to Animal Services in Martinez. Give them a call if it's yours at 925-335-8300.

A cocker spaniel I reported lost Tuesday in Livermore has been found. The owner is overjoyed.

A final note

I was working in our backyard garden last night when I heard a noise. I turned around and saw a mama skunk waddle out from under the deck "... followed by her six tiny babies. Uh-oh.

In seconds those black-and-white balls of fluff were milling around my legs "... sniffing my shoes, nudging my ankles with their noses "... as mom stood back and proudly watched her kids playing with the trembling man.

Several loud THUMPS made us all pause, look around and see my orange kitty Jasmine batting on the inside of the sliding glass door with her paws. The six little fur balls bounced over to the glass door and started sniffing noses with Jasmine through the glass. That gave me the opening I needed to sneak off and into the house through another door.

By the time I got to my office, Jasmine's buddies had gone. "Thanks for the distraction," I said as I scratched my little kitty's head. "I thought Mom was getting ready to teach them how to spray."

A few minutes later the skunk babies were back, so I got down on my hands and knees and we both bumped noses with them through the glass together.

Aging Pets -- 9 Signs Your Pet May Have Arthritis
By: Tina Clark -

We love our pets and treat them just like family members. And the adoration and attention we give to them is beyond reciprocated, as any pet owner will attest. When we walk in the front door, Fido greets us with more focused energy than the most ambitious doorman at the Ritz Carlton and with an equal amount of enthusiasm, whether we’ve just gotten back from a ten-minute jaunt to the post office or returned from a 21-day Mediterranean cruise. Moreover, studies have shown that pet owners live longer than their “petless” counterparts.

One of the saddest truths of pet ownership, however, is seeing our furry friend come to the end of its life much sooner than we expect and, certainly, much earlier than we care to acknowledge. It’s crucial that we, as caretakers of our beloved pets, do our utmost to ensure that the health and happiness of our animals is maximally tended to during their short stay in our homes and hearts. One very common ailment that our pet may experience during its lifetime is arthritis. According to the Arthritis Foundation, here are 9 signs that your pet may be suffering from this degenerative disease:

1. Difficulty sitting or standing
2. Favoring a limb
3. Weight gain
4. Decreased activity or less interest in play
5. Sleeping more
6. Hesitancy to jump, run or climb stairs
7. Being less alert
8. Attitude or behavior changes
9. Seeming to have stiff or sore joints

If you feel your pet is exhibiting any of these signs or symptoms, a visit to your veterinarian for an arthritis evaluation would be well-advised. The best thing you can do for your pet is to get a diagnosis and begin a recommended treatment plan as soon as possible. In so doing, you just may be extending the life and/or quality of living for your pet. And for that, they will be eternally grateful.

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Dog Training Techniques: Clicker Training
David James -

There are various dog trainer techniques, but it's difficult to find which one will work best for you and your pet. Sure! The majority of techniques will work, if done properly, but you need to find one that's comfortable for you.

One technique that you may of heard of is Clicker Training. What the heck is Clicker Training? Clicker Training has been around for some time now and began being used to teach marine mammals tricks for performance.

So Clicker Training isn't some magical item that makes dogs listen. It isn't a gimmick either. The key to making it succeed is to use the click noise with food. It pretty much works as a bridge between dogs finding out that the click means they did something good and is rewarded for it. It's best described as an event marker and lets the dog know what they did right. Within time, you won't need the clicker for your dog.

Dog Training Techniques: The Recall Game
I found this one on the internet and found it interesting. It was written by Rebekah Pless. A way to teach your dog to run to you every time you call them is, for starters, is never call your pet unless you can enforce the command. Every time you call your pet and they don't immediately receive a food reward, then they won't come to you. Always give them a treat. Keep treats in your pocket all the time. Every good act deserves a reward.

Also never call your pet over for something unpleasant. If you need to groom your dog, don't call them over to you. Go to the dog instead of calling them over.

Now what you need to do is get 2 people involved in the training. Have the person point to the person calling them. Have them clap, whistle or call the dog. When the dog comes, they get a reward. Use the dogs name every time you call them, so they will become familiar with their name. You only tell the dog to come when they are coming to you.

Once the dog comes to you, hold them by the collar and give them their treat. This prevents them from grabbing the treat and leaving. After they receive the treat, point them to the next person they need to go to and repeat the same process. Not only will the dog learn to come when called, they will also learn to respond to pointing where they need to go too.

Dog Training Techniques: Crate Training
One last technique that you may of heard of is Crate Training. Providing your dog with an indoor kennel crate can help your dogs need for a type of den enclosure. It works as an excellent housebreaking tool, because it helps the dog from not soiling their sleeping place, plus it will also help reduce separation anxiety in puppies, also prevents chewing shoes and furniture and keeps puppies from getting into hazardous things around the house.

Furnish the crate with treats and toys. Make sure the toys are large enough to prevent them from eating them. Also be sure to put water in the crate and bedding. You want your dog to be as comfortable as possible.

Place the crate next to you when you are home. This will help the dog feel more comfortable with the crate. Every now and then, put dog treats in the crate. This will make the dog think of the crate as a positive thing.

Remember to only put the dogs in the crate for short periods of time in the beginning. Puppies have small bladders and usually need to pee over 12 times a day. If your dog has an accident in the crate, don't punish them.

This technique doesn't always work, especially with dogs who were bought from pet stores due to their having been forced to eliminate in their sleeping area.
Eventually they will be potty trained and will no longer have separation anxiety.

9 Pet Photography Tips

This guest post on Pet Photography was submitted by Antoine Khater at All Day I Dream About Photography.

Pets fill very quickly their place in our hearts and families and we enjoy having their pictures framed on our desk or wall! However taking pictures of your best friend is not always easy. Pets, unlike humans, do not understand what we are trying to do and won’t just pose for the camera! Here are 9 tips that will help you help you get the most of your photo session

1. Use Natural Light
If possible always use natural light when taking your pet in picture. Avoid flash, as flash burst can, not only cause red-eye, but also frighten the animal. Instead try to go outside or, if it is not possible, in a room well lit by a large window.

2. Keep the Eyes Sharp
Having sharp eyes is important in any kind of portraits photography. As they say, “Eyes are the Window to the Soul” and pets eye can be very expressive. So make sure to focus on your pet’s eyes and keep the tack sharp

3. Go to Them
It is very important that you pet feels comfortable and at ease, so instead of forcing him to come to you go to him. Most important is to get down to his level; We all know how a dog looks when viewed from above, this is the way we always see them. Show us the way they see world! Sit on the floor or lie on your belly and remember to shoot from HIS eye level or below.

4. Give Value to their Character
You know your pet better than anyone else, and a successful picture is one that conveys the character of its subject. If you have a lazy cat show him yawning, if your animal is of a playful type show him in action performing his favorite trick.

5. Go Macro
Put on that long lens and fill the frame with your pet’s face and fur, close up shots often make beautiful animal portrait.

6. Surprise Them
One of the most difficult things is to let your pet hold still. An easy trick is to let him play quietly and, once you have everything ready, let someone call for him or whistle. This will surprise him and caught his attention and you will have a few seconds to capture him in a nice and alert posture

7. Schedule your Session
If you are longing for a formal pet portrait shot, try to schedule the photo session when you’re animal is somewhat sleepy or has just woke up it will be much easier to keep him still then. If you want a more dynamic shot then pick up a time when your pet is energetic. If he is sick it is better to just postpone it for another day.

8. Be Patient
Pet photography requires a lot of patience. No matter how excited your furry friend is, if you are patient enough, he will end up by relaxing and you will have the opportunity to get a decent shot.

9. Experiment
Take your time and enjoy the session, try different approaches, angles and compositions. Shoot a lot you will have time to worry about the results later.

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Do Not Disturb Occupied Bird Nests
By Pete Mongillo -

I’d like to get some advice from you regarding a bird’s nest on the porch of my home, which is causing lot of problem for us. Who can help me remove the nest?


If the birds are a protected species, such as swallows, then you have to wait until they leave for the season before you can remove the nest. There are several companies, including Austin Wildlife Control, 577-4454, that can help you remove the nest after the birds leave for the winter.

If you do have barn swallows, which make nests out of mud and can cause a mess, you can wait until winter and then block the area where they nest with chicken wire. Another option is to try to encourage the birds to nest elsewhere next year with an artificial nesting cup, available at Wild Birds Unlimited, 3267 Bee Cave Road, 328-9453.

Tropical Fish Care
by Leslie Patton -

Tank maintenance is one of the most important parts of having an aquarium. The tank must be vacuumed at least once every two weeks. You need to do a 10-20% water change every week. Once a year you should completely start over. Drain all water, clean the tank, and rinse the gravel.

Aeration in your tank is crucial for having healthy fish. The filter will not provide enough oxygen. You should have at least one device for a 10-20 gallon tank and two for a tank that is larger than 30 gallons.

Something that most people don’t think of is how long you have the lights on in the tank. Fish need to rest too. Turn the lights out at night so they can sleep. They need about 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness.

Try some variety when feeding your fish. Fish like different types of food. First you need to find out if your fish are insectivores, carnivores, herbivores, omnivores. Then you can feed them different things according to their preference.

There is four groups of fish food. The most common flake food and frozen food, live food, and household food. Be careful with the live food because they can carry diseases that can infect your fish.

Algae can be very annoying to the fish enthusiast. Algae growth can completely take over your fish tank in a short amount of time. Some things to try to decrease your algae growth are try some algae eaters, buy some aquarium plants, decrease the light in your aquarium, scrap the glass of your aquarium, and do water changes more regularly.

When buying fish for your tank for the first time be sure to buy hardy fish. Sometimes is takes awhile for your tank to adjust and to get your water tested the way it needs to be.

There is three different types of filters for aquariums. They are a box filter, an under gravel filter, and an external power filter. The under gravel filter is a good option. It requires less maintenance and provides more aeration for your fish.

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