5 Amazing Animal Photography Tips (Photos)

Warm Weather Tips for Your Pets
By Linda Goldston - MercuryNews.com

Ahhhhh, spring is here — finally — and we can spend a lot of comfortable time outdoors. For many, that means taking your pets with you, so make sure to take the same precautions you would for your children.


Fleas and ticks and other critters flourish in warmer temperatures, and you really need to pay attention to make sure your pets don't have them. Fleas and ticks easily can take over your home and be a nightmare for pets.

Check with your vet about which topical treatment is safe. Don't use one intended for a dog on cats; because the dosage is stronger, it can kill them.

Chemical Lawn fertilizers

These are toxic, so make sure you store them where your dogs, cats and children can't get to them. Check the label to see how long you should safely wait before allowing your dog back on the grass after you've fertilized.

Cleaning products

If you find yourself in a spring-cleaning tizzy, make sure you pay attention to product labels, especially if they warn "keep pets and children away from area until dry." Keep them stored away from pets and children, too.


Try for flights early in the morning or at night, when temperatures are the lowest. Pets too large to fit in a carrier under your seat must fly as checked luggage in the cargo section, which has no temperature guarantees. It's better to leave your pets with a sitter at home or safely housed in a kennel.


An annual checkup for a cat or a dog is about the same as going to the doctor once in seven years, according to the American Animal Hospital Association. Exams and screenings are great at catching problems in the minor stage; wait too long and it could be fatal for you and your pocketbook.

Sources: American Veterinary Medical Association and American Animal Hospital Association

Contact Linda Goldston at 408-920-5862.

Dog Pack Attacks Gator In Florida

Nature can be cruel, but there is also a raw beauty,
and even a certain justice manifested within that cruelty.

The alligator, one of the oldest and ultimate predators, normally considered the "apex predator," can still fall victim to implemented 'team work strategy, made possible due to the tight knit social structure and "survival of the pack mentality" bred into the canines.

See the remarkable photograph below courtesy of Nature Magazine.

Note that the Alpha dog has a muzzle hold on the gator preventing it from breathing, while another dog has a hold on the tail to keep it from thrashing. The third dog attacks the soft underbelly of the gator.

WARNING: Not for the squeamish!

Thanks to Al in BHC, AZ

Animal Friends:
It's Ida's World, and We Just Live in It
By Linda Goldston - MercuryNews.com

The black-and-white cat had been at the San Jose Animal Care Center more than two months, and no one could understand why someone hadn't taken her home.

"She was really cute, young and energetic," says Betty Skatoff of Los Gatos. "But there she sat, while others around her were finding their new forever homes."

A volunteer at the center, Skatoff stopped by to visit the cat every time she went to the shelter and "promised her that I would protect her," she says.

Well, the time came for Skatoff to make a decision — although Skatoff and her husband, Larry Sferra, weren't quite ready to take in another full-time cat. They already had two dogs and two cats, but Skatoff thought that if she fostered the cat for a while, a rescue group might take her in.

But, "as it happens so many times, I became one of the 'foster failures,' " Skatoff says, "and sweet Ida is a permanent member of the family. From her point of view, her staying was never in question."

The cat no one else wanted came into Skatoff's household "and basically just took over," she says. "We're not quite sure how it happened but within days, this adorable little girl had transformed our household.

"First of all, she had no fear of the dogs and the cats already there. In fact, she went right up to say hello."

The family also quickly learned that Ida is a "total food hound." Soon after devouring her food, Ida will aim for the other cats' food and then go for the dogs'.

"Her appetite seemed insatiable. So we had to set up a system whereby we protected everyone else's meals after Ida was done with hers."

So no more free feeding for the other cats, where bowls of dry food were left out for them to eat at their leisure. "They learned quickly that they now had to pretty much eat their food when it was first served," Skatoff says.

Then there was the bed situation.

The couple has two dog beds in their bedroom, and when Ida decided she'd like to sleep in one of them, "she would stare down one of the dogs until they relinquished their spot and she could plop herself down. Then the dog without a bed would come up to me and just sit there waiting for me to intercede," Skatoff says.

So the couple bought another bed. Ida still kicks out the dogs from their beds when the mood strikes her, but "at least they have another bed to go to and my night is not disturbed," Skatoff says.

Then Ida took note of the favorite bird-watching spot of Daisy, the couple's shy cat.

"She had a perfect spot for watching birds and that was 'her place' for most of the day," Skatoff says. "Well, no more. Ida just sits near the spot, and poor Daisy has to give it up. So we got another cat tree. You probably get the picture by now."

This cat is cracking me up. I love the way she targeted one "special place" after another in the household, using her mental will and not her claws to take over.

How about Skatoff and her husband?

Ida "loves to be near and will sit next to us or if we're not available, she will snuggle next to the dogs or our cat, Starbuck," Skatoff says. "Daisy, of course, wants no part of her."

Despite having to change the entire feeding schedule for her pets, buy a new dog bed and fork over for a new cat tree, "we think Ida is a special girl who has won over our hearts," Skatoff says. "All in all, she has rounded out our family nicely."

What they would have missed if Skatoff hadn't given a chance to the black-and-white cat no one else wanted.

Gary Bogue:
Cats: There's More Than Enough to Go Around
By Gary Bogue - Contra Costa Times

If cats could talk, they wouldn't. — Nan Porter

Multifamily cats

Thursday we talked about cats living with more than one family, often without the other families knowing. Some responses:

So what's the problem? Since we cats have nine lives, the least you can do is let us live with nine families. Otherwise: BORING! (Twinkletoes, San Mateo)

My cat, Mishu, was an indoor/outdoor cat going outside at will. She lived for 22 years. Pretty amazing for an outdoor cat.

One summer night I ordered pizza for dinner and when the delivery girl came, my hands were full so I asked her to come in and put the pizza on the kitchen table. She saw my cat and said "Hi, Mishu." I said, "You know my cat?" She told me she lived about 10 houses down the street and Mishu would visit her regularly.

She told me they had shared stories of their aches and pains as they were both pregnant at the same time. And, I made a new friend. (We let Mishu have one litter before fixing her as many of our friends wanted one of her kittens. She was a very tiny cat.)

The other story is of my friend Pat's Siamese named Sam. He also was an indoor/outdoor cat.

He was gone for a week one time and when he finally came home, there was a note tied to his collar. It explained they'd taken Sam in and wanted to keep him but soon realized how much his owner would miss him. They asked if they could share him. My friend, Pat, wrote back, via a note on Sam's collar, and not only did she share her cat, she eventually became friends with the other couple. (Diane Curtice, Fremont)

Dear Gary:

We have had a hummingbird feeder outside for years. We love watching them drink and fight for their food with each other. They are our little friends.

The past few weeks they have stopped coming around. Nothing in our area has changed at all. What do you think has happened to them? Could a larger bird have eaten them?

I am so very, very sad about this. We miss them to very much. It is amazing how much happiness, joy and love you receive from watching nature.

Michelle, cyberspace

Dear Michelle:

Relax, they'll be back.

There's a lot going on for birds, right now. Spring is just around the corner of the back fence, and it's nesting time and mama hummers have lots more to do than sit around sipping nectar out of your feeder. A whole flower bed of tasty nectar producing blossoms could also be blooming just down the block. Temptations are everywhere.

But as I said above, they'll be back. After all is said and done, there's no place like home.

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Ask a Vet:
How Do I Tell If My Pet is Depressed?

Have a non-emergency question about your pet's health? Dr. Heather Oxford of L.A. veterinary hospital California Animal Rehabilitation (CARE) is here to help! In this installment of Ask a Vet, Dr. Oxford offers some advice to reader Allie about identifying and treating depression in dogs and cats:

Allie's question: What are some signs of depression in cats and dogs? I've heard stories about dogs being treated with antidepressants. What are your thoughts on animal psychiatry? What other options are available for sad pets?

Heather Oxford, DVM: Veterinarians have the most extensive training in animal behavior of anyone working in the pet industry, and I doubt any one of us has ever prescribed antidepressants as a first-line for animal depression.

The reason is simple: There is a language barrier between us and our patients that does not exist in human medicine. Animals don't come into our offices and tell us that their hearing or vision is failing them, that they've had a chronic headache for weeks now, or that they've been having stomach or intestinal pains that just won't go away. They just look sad. It is our first responsibility to rule out causes of depression that are endocrine/internal, neurologic or orthopedic in origin. A lot of medical causes of depression can be treated, avoiding the unnecessary use of prescription antidepressants.

For the small population of animals whose depression truly can be traced to behavioral origins, I like a natural anti-depressant called S-adenosyl methionine (SAMe). This is a naturally occurring compound found in every cell of the body, made from the amino acid methionine. Although SAMe has many uses, there is evidence for its short-term use in treating major depression by assisting the body in producing neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin. For cats, Feliway diffusers are helpful as well. There are also floral essences and homeopathic remedies that are useful for depression disorders. For animals that need stronger antidepressants, there are prescription-strength drugs available at your veterinarian's office; however, I reserve these for last.

Missing Dog Found 600 Miles from Home

A dog-loving Virginia family got an unexpectedly happy if somewhat perplexing ending to their missing-hound mystery last month, thanks to a microchip.

Two weeks before Christmas, Deacon, an 85-pound German shepherd, went missing from the home he shared with the Holt family in rural Stuart, Va.

For the first couple of days, Pamela; her husband, Keith; and their daughter, Brooklyn, 3, weren't really worried because they figured their nearly 2-year-old pet was exploring in the fields behind their home.

"We have a lot of land, and thought Deacon might be enjoying the outdoors," Pamela Holt, a bank teller, tells PEOPLEPets.com.

"But we soon got worried and called the area dog warden, the pound and the sheriff's office. After two weeks, we gave up, fearing he had died or was stolen."

Deacon, a gift from Holt to her husband, Keith, a teacher and football coach, had become a beloved family member, and everyone was upset. But a curious call in late February from a man in Deland, Fla., changed everything.

"The male voice said he thought he may have Deacon," Holt tells PEOPLEPets.com. "I was angry at first and thought he was a prankster trying to play a joke on us ... I nearly hung up on him."

The man, who said he was from Animal Control in Deland, told Holt he was looking at her dog. Holt said she thought Deacon was dead. But when he asked her if the dog's name was Bruno, Holt went crazy with joy.

"I was speechless," she says. "The dog was originally called Bruno when he was microchipped, so I knew this was not a hoax.

"When the man," Animal Control Officer Gary Thomas, "emailed me a picture, and I knew it was Deacon, I called my husband. We were so thrilled that we drove 10 hours to Florida to pick him up."

The Holts believe Deacon was stolen by people who had hoped to breed him, unaware that he had been fixed. Somehow, the dog ended up in the Sunshine State for the holidays.

"Deacon was in a pen with another dog when he saw us," Holt recalls. "He trampled the poor thing to get to us. He ran to my husband and jumped on him. He was so excited."

The following day, when they got back to Virginia after the 600-mile drive, Deacon ran directly over to the outside window of Brooklyn's bedroom, hoping to see her.

"He cried and cried until she got home," Holt says. "Once he saw her, he was so happy!"

Even though there's no leash law in their area, the family has vowed to tie Deacon in the yard so he doesn't vanish again.

"We are blessed to have Deacon back," Holt says, "and will do what we must to keep him safe and sound."

Cat Survives for 4 Weeks
in a Freezer by Eating Frozen Peas

LONDON: In a bizarre incident, a cat survived in sub-zero temperatures of a warehouse for four weeks by eating frozen peas and licking frost.

The black-and-white feline, which lost both ears and his tail to frostbite before being rescued, is believed to have entered the frozen food distribution centre in Northamptonshire in a lorry.

The cat - named Frosty by rescuers - was seen by staff early last month but beat several attempts to catch him. It was finally captured with a humane trap and is set to find a new home with one of the workers, the Sun reported.

A spokesman for the warehouse said: "He's a very lucky boy. He was very frightened and obviously freezing cold."

The year-old feline is recovering at the RSPCA Woodside Animal Centre in Leicester.

RSPCA spokesman Steve Sellars said: "He would have been able to get moisture by licking ice frost, and ate the odd frozen pea he found."

Another RSPCA worker Rachel Allcock said: "He was very shy but has become playful."

5 Animal Photography Tips
For Creative And Funny Pet Pictures
Written by: Photoble Team

Animal photography can be really fun, especially if you are lucky enough to capture that special moment where animals express their emotions, do something crazy or just look funny.

Here are some tips that may help you to shoot more creative pictures and get more fun out of the process.

1. Look for funny facial expression
You think only humans can do the faces? No! You can’t imagine how full of emotions can be face of an animal – focus on capturing these emotions with your camera.

Oh, no – she’s BACK! by annkelliott

A Hoot by doug88888

Laughing Donkey by jaxxon

2. Funny poses
Just like with facial expressions you may get lucky and catch your pet in funny pose – make sure your camera is with you! Also if you know your pet very well you maybe know some interesting things it usually does – why not to try capture them?

What you’re laughing at? by geedorama

Yep, I Think It’s Time to go On a Diet! by njchow82

Holiday Eating!… by skipgoforth

3. Look what they are doing
Sometimes animals do funny stuff, try to be always there with you camera and I bet you will get some amazing pictures. This may take long time when you catch something but it is worth it.

Gorilla Baby Hug Party by Sloth-in-a-Box (DOaZOO)

Ring tailed lemur by floridapfe

Food Fight! by Tad 20D

4. Make them do things
You look at the pet for hours and it’s nothing interesting? You may want to take things in your own hands – try to create some interesting situation, design the scene.

Grimlock vs Munkzilla by Fanboy30

Hamster in egg – Chmurka hatched! by pyza*

Polly Babysits 2 by Woupidy

5. Dress up
Dressed up pets look really funny, especially if you think about some specific character to make. Try to express not just your fantasies – think about what character may suite to your pet best. What clothing and accessories works best? Try dresses, hats, glasses.

Funny Little Frog – Bułeczka by pyza*

Ready for Take Off by vyxle

Roxie’s New Dress by Yer Photo Xpression

Hope you find inspiration with these tips!

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Animal Friends:
Cunning Dog Adds to His Tricky Repertoire
By Linda Goldston - MercuryNews.com

Remember Simon, the cunning canine who would steal cans of dog food from grocery bags his owner left on the floor and bury them outside for a rainy day?

He's still at it. And he's added something new since I first wrote about him last April.

"The last time he did it, I heard him pull the bag with the cans onto the floor of the laundry room," said Renee Child of Atherton. "He was gone when I got to the laundry room, but I saw some cans on the floor. He came in with a guilty look and a muddy nose, so I investigated."

Child found a fresh pile of dirt in the front garden and dug up "a granola bar!" She has yet to find the cans of food the 70-pound mixed-breed dog, a rescue, buried.

The whole thing started when Simon, who is now 9, got a little pudgy, and Renee and her husband, Mike, put the dog on a diet. Clever dog that he apparently is — especially being a rescue dog who knows what it's like to go without — Simon started stealing cans of Mighty Dog dog food whenever Renee set bags of groceries on the kitchen floor while she put things away. Her husband caught Simon slinking around the side of the garage one day with a muddy nose and a muddy can of dog food in his mouth.

As the couple looked around for more, Simon actually led them to some cans and some empty holes.

This time, it's hard to know if Simon heard Renee coming and grabbed what he could — including the granola bar — and quickly stashed it in the front garden or if he has been converted and actually wanted the granola bar.

Child told me another good story about her family's cat, Ollie, who was adopted from a friend's ranch in Big Sur.

"He was quite the hunter and would bring giant dead rats home and put them in his food dish," Child said. "Disgusting."

On the other hand, Ollie stepped up to the plate and was a hero one day.

Child's daughter had wanted a kitten very badly, and the family found a litter of kittens listed in the local want ads in East Palo Alto and adopted one.

"The kitten got 'lost' on the fifth day we had her. My daughter, and frankly the rest of us, were frantic. We could not figure out where she was. Our old cat, Ollie, 18, who had been just sleeping in my husband's study for months, came out of hibernation to help us look for the kitten.

"He walked through every room slowly sniffing everything and finally stopped at a bookcase and growled. The kitten was under it! Ollie went back to his corner and died shortly afterward, but we will never forget his help."

Kitten season alert

The time of year that every animal shelter and rescue group dreads is here: kitty season. And they're all bracing for the thousands of homeless kittens too tiny to be adopted.

Many are too young to survive without their mother and will require 24-hour care until they can eat on their own. Without a chance to thrive in a foster home until they're older, the kittens would not survive.

So all of the shelters and rescue groups are calling upon the kindness of their communities to help give these kittens a chance. The need is overwhelming.

Jon Cicirelli of the San Jose Animal Care Center said his shelter takes in more than 11,000 cats and kittens ever year, and more than 2,500 of them have to be euthanized because there just isn't enough staff to give them the care they need.

So think about it: Can you help give these babies a chance to grow a little older and have a shot at adoption?

Some of the kittens come in with their mothers, and the whole family needs a foster home until the babies are older. The mother cat does the hard work; you get the pleasure of watching them grow.

If you would like to volunteer as a foster home, please call a shelter near you. And if you've worked with a rescue group, call them. Everybody is going to need help.

Area shelters include:

San Jose Animal Care Center Foster Program at 408-578-PAWS (7297) or view www.sanjoseanimals.com.

Peninsula Humane Society & SPCA: 650-340-7022, extension 370, or asingh@PHS-SPCA.org.

Fremont Tri-City Animal Shelter Foster Program: 510-790-6640 or aservices@fremont.gov.

East Bay SPCA Foster Program: 510-563-4632 or www.eastbayspca.org.

Oakland Animal Services: 510-535-4883.

San Francisco Animal Care and Control: 415-554-9414 or www.sfgov.org/acc.

Contact Linda Goldston at 408-920-5862.

Hints From Heloise

Head Away From Danger

Dear Heloise: I would like to applaud your advice to dog owners to apply the WINDOW LOCK when traveling with their dogs to ensure that the window doesn't close on their pet.

I would like to take the suggestion a bit further. When driving, dogs should not be allowed to stick any part of their head out of the window. The danger to the animal is significant, both from flying objects as well as quick stops or accidents. There also are cases where dogs have jumped from moving vehicles to pursue squirrels or other critters. The best approach is to keep the animal fully in the vehicle in a protective crate or other appropriate travel restraint. -- Curtis, via e-mail

"Woof, woof!" Cabbie, our miniature schnauzer, agrees, too. Although dogs like to stick their heads out, it's up to us to keep them safe. -- Heloise


Dear Readers: We received a photo from Mary Cooper of Augusta, Maine. The photo showcases her backyard and the three ducks (a drake, with a green head, and two hens) that enjoy feeding underneath her bird feeders. She named the ducks "Nana's." They visit her every day, and she says she enjoys having them around!

To see Nana's ducks, visit www.Heloise.com. -- Heloise


Dear Heloise: To painlessly remove tar or pine pitch from a pet's paws (my cat climbed a tree and got pine pitch on her coat), use salad oil. Just soak a spot on a folded paper towel, rub the area, then wipe dry with another paper towel or cloth. Voila -- all the pitch was gone, and kitty and family both were happy! -- Patty, via e-mail


Dear Heloise: Curious cats can climb into the washer and/or dryer. Please leave the doors of these appliances closed. Our cat was lost, and we ultimately found her in the washer. Check these machines if your indoor cat is missing. I don't mind the cat sleeping on top of the dryer, because she likes the warmth of it and the rhythm of the humming dryer. I just make sure to keep the doors closed. -- R.D. in Texas


Dear Heloise: In our home, we have three dogs and five dog beds. Dogs, as you know, shed, and the hair sticks to the dog beds. I used to wash and dry the beds, but they'd still have hair stuck to them.

Now, I toss them in the cold dryer for 20 minutes first, which knocks off the hair -- it gets caught in the lint trap. By then, they're ready for the washer, there's hardly any hair on them, and when they're finally dried, there's none! -- Elliott Mitchell, Nashville, Tenn.

5 Iguana Facts Many People Don’t Know
by Pet Health

Iguanas are a well known and are generally well-liked among the human population. However, unless you are a lizard lover or basically a iguana lover, there are some things you may not know about this interesting creatures. Listed below are five facts about iguanas that you may not know.

1. Iguanas are herbivores. This means they do not eat meat but rather plants. Some sources cite that iguanas are omnivores. Yet, iguanas should not eat animal product because their metabolism is better adapted to absorbing the proteins of a plant. Animal proteins are too multifaceted for iguanas, it won’t be used right. Basically, the proteins that animals have cannot be absorbed into the iguanas’ bodies for nutrients.

What, then, happens to the proteins not absorbed? It turns into uric acid that is very dangerous for an iguana. When a build up for the uric acid happens in the iguana, it turns into a gout. Animal proteins can be very hard for iguana’s digestive system to get rid of, putting pressure on the reptiles’ kidneys. In turn, causing the reptile to have kidney complications. Feeding an iguana animal products will indeed shorten the lifespan of the iguana.

2. Iguanas Are Trainable. For those who think iguanas would be nice to have but are pretty stupid, you might be surprised to learn that iguanas are just as smart as a dog or even a cat. An iguana can be taught to things like human beings. Some people have taught their pet to use the bathroom while others have trained their iguanas to do many tricks. If lost, some iguanas can find their way home.

This is just to show you that even reptiles can learn things, provided their trainers take the time to teach them. People often are too quick to judge other animals because they are lower than other animals.

3. Iguanas do grow. Just because you bought your iguana’s cage to fit him does not mean, he will always fit in that cage. Some iguanas have grown to six feet long. This is especially true if the iguana has a loving habitat and environment that will more than adequately let the iguana grow. When debating the size of the iguana’s cage, a person should always keep in mind how long the iguana can grow for and plan accordingly to avoid future issues.

4. Iguanas are arboreal. What does this mean for its owner. Remember that iguanas in the wild spend a good chunk of time in trees. To stimulate growth of the iguana, an owner should stimulate its habitat as well. Place some type of climbing material in the iguana’s home although you do not need to place “real” trees to create the official effect. Just something as simple as a post can let your iguana feel like they are back in the wild, perched on the tree.

5. Iguanas crave sunlight – Like most things that grow, iguanas need sunlight too. Not only to have the light but to also absorb it. An iguana will utilize UVA and UVB light so they can absorb nutrients correctly. The UVB light will trigger a chemical reaction in the reptile’s skin which will help make vitamin D3. What does D3 do? It processes the calcium within the bloodstream.

As you can see, care for an iguana is no easy feat. Yet, by learning more about them, you can assure your iguana will live a full and happy life.

Tips Before Purchasing Your Hermit Crab Pet
By Peter G Williams - ezinearticles.com

For many families, the hermit crab as the first pet is a fantastic choice. Your crab pet is relatively easy to care for, doesn't smell, and can be very entertaining to watch these little critters crawl around their tank and even over each other. These little guys don't understand how to go around each other, so you'll usually see them either run into one another or crawl over each other.

Prior to purchasing and bringing home your hermit crab pet, there are some important things to factor to make your selection the best. The two main kinds of pet crabs include the land hermit crab (also known as the Purple Pincher) and Ecuadorian hermit crabs - named after the location they are most prevalently found.

Most new crab owners start with the purple pincher variety since the other species requires more intensive care and is traditionally a bit more delicate. These types of crabs are a bit more popular and are less expensive too.

While at the pet store making your exciting decision for your new crab, be sure to check out the crabs which are most lively and active, and stay away from crabs acting more lethargic. You can usually test the health of a crab by picking up their shell so they come out to say hello and to ensure they come out of their shell. Be sure to show a little patience as these guys can be a little on the shy side. You'll want to visually evaluate their health, as you aren't sure the conditions of the pet store or how long they have been in this temporary tank.

You'll want to be careful in selecting your pet. These crabs are available at more and more pet stores and fairs and are becoming more popular as pets. There are also certain options to purchase on the Internet that can be returned if there are any health issues. Also exercise a bit of caution in buying online, as it may be more convenient to visit your local pet store and select the crab yourself.

One other major health factor to consider when purchasing a crab as a pet is mites. Mites are known to infect hermit crabs from time to time, and look like little brown and white grain spots. When mites infect one crab, they tend to spread to many other hermit crabs within the tank. Be sure to check for mites at the pet store when selecting your new little crabs, as you don't want to infect your entire tank.

Selecting a new pet crab and then long term care is a rewarding and enjoyable experience, but you just need to be mindful of some of these factors such as disease, illness, or injury to ensure you are selecting the healthiest crab possible. Naturally it's best to understand the needs of your new pet. Be sure to bring home the best pet hermit crab possible by being mindful of these behavioral and appearance factors of your new crab.

Peter Williams is a hermit crab enthusiast and author of hermit crab care books. For more information on selecting the perfect hermit crab pet, visit http://www.hermitcrablovers.com

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Peter_G_Williams

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Guiding Your Child
Through the Loss of a Pet
by Judith Crane - PawNation.com

You just returned from the vet's office where they told you there was nothing more they can do for your dog and the time has come to put him down. You may be in shock, you may feel numb or maybe you've already been upset for days and this news is nearly unbearable. Moments later, one overwhelming question takes hold: "What am I going to say to my child?"

As a marriage and family therapist in private practice, I have helped many people deal with issues of grief and loss. The death of a beloved family pet is certainly a major life stressor. It is important to honor this event by giving it the time and attention that it requires in order for the family to heal. Here are some guidelines to help you and your child deal with this event.

1. Communicate honestly and clearly. Children need to be told what has happened or what will happen to their pet. Talk in clear, direct terms that do not create confusion. For example, many people use the term "put to sleep" in lieu of euthanasia. It is important to use direct language to describe what is happening so that the child does misinterpret this information and think that when he goes to sleep he may die as well.

2. Meet your child at their level of understanding. A two-year-old or three-year-old has no concept of the permanence of death. You may find yourself answering again and again the question about when the dog is coming home, whereas a ten-year-old can understand that their pet is not coming back.

Here are several books, geared to all age groups, that you can read with your child to help encourage understanding and acceptance of death of pets:

Pre-School and Early-Elementary-School Children:

"When Dinosaurs Die: A Guide to Understanding Death" Laurie Krasny Brown and Marc Brown (1998)
Through its bright and colorful illustrations and answers to direct questions such as "What does dead mean?" this book explains death in a way that engages pre-school children.

"Lifetimes" Bryan Mellonie and Robert Ingpen (1983)
Beautifully illustrated, this simple book describes beginnings (birth), endings (death) and life in between as a natural cycle. Lifetimes that have been shortened due to special circumstances are described as well.

Elementary-School Children:

"Jasper's Day" Marjorie Blain Parker and Janet Wilson (2002).
This tender portrayal shows how Jasper's family prepares for the death of their terminally ill dog by deciding how they will spend their last day together before Jasper goes to the vet.

"The Accident" Carol Carrick (1976)
In this story a little boy grapples with his anger after his dog is run over by a truck. Reading this book together is a valuable way to allow your child to talk about his own feelings through the experience of the character.

"Mustard" Charlotte Graeber (1982)
Mustard is a cat who ages and eventually dies in this realistic and sensitive tale.

3. Draw on your own traditions, beliefs and experience. Do you believe in heaven or an afterlife? Have you experienced the death of a close relative recently? Think about how you handled that loss and what worked for your family. Is a funeral or memorial service important to you? Ask your child what they would like to do with their pet's body. They may have strong opinions and wishes. Make sure you understand the regulations of your city before you agree to a burial in your backyard as many cities prohibit it. Many people who have experienced a death of a pet have memorialized their animals in some way be it a memorial service or by making donations to animal shelters in the pet's name,

4. Allow your child to express their feelings about the loss. This means taking the time to really listen to what they say or do. Often young children do not have the words or the ability to identify their feelings and may express their sadness as anger or hostility. Sometimes children will act out the death through their play, creating a mock death scene and burial using action figures, blocks or favorite toys. Make sure their teacher knows about the death as well. Teachers can be a great resource and support to your child at this difficult time, especially for elementary and pre-school children.

5. Be a healthy role model for your child. Children learn how to deal with death from watching their parents. Accept your grief as a normal reaction to death. Feel your feelings and experience the pain of the loss. A pet's death will inevitably stir up other losses that you have experienced in your life. Notice what happens for you. Talk about your feelings with people who are accepting and supportive of you. Don't change the subject if pain or grief comes up in a conversation. Get plenty of rest, eat well and get exercise.

6. Move on. Maybe it seems like yesterday that your family dog was curled up at your feet. Perhaps your child has been walking the neighbor's dog for many months and talks about having a new puppy, yet he sometimes shares his dreams or tears about your old pet. How do you know when it is the right time to adopt a new animal? To answer this question, I consulted Jill Winters of Cage Free Canine in Los Angeles. She is an animal rescue specialist who has placed many animals in new homes. Winters says that timing for getting a new dog "depends on the person. We have no set rules about it." She reports that sometimes families with two pets seek a new companion for their remaining pet within two weeks after the other dies. "Sometimes," she adds "it's been years."

Your child and your family will be changed forever by the experience of the loss of your pet. Finding ways to incorporate that loss into the story of your lives will be a significant and healing process in grieving. However you choose to honor your pet's memory, do it with your child participating by your side.

California Considers Tracking
Animal Abusers Like Sex Offenders
By Judson Berger - FOXNews.com

The California state Legislature is considering a new proposal to establish a registry of names -- similar to widely used sex offender databases -- to track and make public the identities of people convicted of felony animal abuse.

A pit bull seized from a home in Tecumseh, Neb., in a multistate dogfighting raid July 10, 2009, is seen at the Nebraska Humane Society in Omaha. (AP Photo)

Animal abusers would be tracked like sex offenders if California lawmakers have their way.

The state Legislature is considering a new proposal to establish a registry of names -- similar to widely used sex offender databases -- to track and make public the identities of people convicted of felony animal abuse.

The registry, which under the law would be posted on the Internet, wouldn't just include names. The bill calls for photographs, home addresses, physical descriptions, criminal histories, known aliases and other details to be made public.

Supporters say it's a way to notify communities and local police that animal abusers are living among them and to warn shelters to watch out for them if they try to adopt.

"In part, it's an attempt to give law enforcement a heads up when people like this are in their communities, so they can cut off problems at the pass," said Lisa Franzetta, spokeswoman for the Animal Legal Defense Fund, which is leading a national campaign to get states to establish the registries.

California Senate Majority Leader Dean Florez, who introduced the bill last month, was the first to take a crack at it, though Tennessee has considered something similar. Franzetta said lawmakers from six states have contacted the group to express interest in launching animal abuser databases.

Florez said the bill, which if passed would be the first of its kind, falls in line with other animal protection bills California has pursued. He said the registry is aimed at helping animal control officers do their jobs and animal shelters make sure abusers "don't walk out with an animal they can torture."

But not everybody in California, which also maintains a database of arsonists, thinks a brand new public database of unsavory persons is what the state needs, particularly given its budget troubles.

The tool is estimated to cost between $500,000 and $1 million to launch, and to pay for it, the bill calls for both fines on animal abusers and a new tax on pet food -- in the neighborhood of a few cents per pound. That doesn't sit well with the pet food lobby, since it argues the tax punishes the very people who are trying to help, not hurt, their animal friends.

"We generally don't think that this is a very good proposal," said Ed Rod, vice president of government affairs for the American Pet Products Associations, though he called the idea a worthy goal.

"Making one group of people, the pet owners, pay for something that's going to benefit everyone doesn't seem fair," Rod said. "It's not pet owners in general who are abusing the animals. They're trying to take care of the animals."

The Fresno Bee published an editorial in opposition to the bill Friday, saying the new "state bureaucracy" would be funded by an "unfair tax" on pet owners.

"We also question the registry's effectiveness. We would rather see the penalties and fines substantially increased on those convicted of animal cruelty," the paper wrote. "We have no problem with private groups creating registries. ... But we oppose another state bureaucracy."

Florez, though, said that once launched, the registry would probably only have one employee attached to it and an annual cost of $60,000 to $70,000.

"We don't see this moving into some kind of large bureaucracy," he said.

Franzetta said that the database would only be to flag the worst offenders, like people who hoard hundreds of animals under poor conditions or "sadistic animal torturers" who pick up their prey at shelters. She said recidivism for felony offenders is high and that animal abuse can be a gateway to more egregious crimes -- she said communities should know "who's living among them" just like they can with sex offenders.

"The same logic applies," she said.

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