Sweet Seniors

Puppies are cute, but give me a loyal, reliable, old dog any day. When people decide they want a dog, most go for puppies, which is understandable. Puppies are adorable but, they are a lot of work. They need to be house trained, and should learn other commands too. They have a lot of energy. One good thing is if you train your puppy right, it will have good behaviors as an adult.

Senior dogs are often overlooked in favor of younger dogs, which is also understandable. Sometimes they come with bad behaviors that can be hard to train out, but most of the time (if you go through a good rescue) you can easily find a senior dog that is a perfect fit for you. A lot of senior dogs are already house trained and have learned other commands. They also don’t have as much energy, which is perfect if you don’t have a large backyard or aren’t able to take them on a long walk/run everyday. I think senior dogs also understand that you rescued them and they are grateful for it. Some people are worried that adopting a senior dog will mean more vet bills, but if you get a puppy, that puppy will eventually be a senior anyway and need the same vet care.

If you ever consider adopting a senior dog (it’s worth it!) I recommend checking out Bob’s House for Dogs. (http://www.bobshousefordogs.org/) They take in senior dogs and find homes for them.

 

 

 

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Home for the Holidays

I dot not have a lot of experience with cats. I’d like to get one someday, after I’ve done all of my research, and all of that, but not anytime soon. I know a lot of people don’t like cats because they’re too aloof, but personally I really appreciate their independence.

What I’m getting at here, is Portage County Humane Society has a lot of cats that need homes. They have so many, in fact, that they are waiving the pet adoption fee for all cats from now until December 31st. This program is called Home for the Holidays. Some of these cats have been at the humane society for half a year.

So if you have been considering bringing a cat into your life, now might be the time to take the plunge. The humane society sorts the cats into personality types so you can find the perfect cat for you. Do your research and make sure you are ready to take responsibility for another life. 23472752_1498475453534104_4986770480054002547_n

Nappy Nala (cont.)

We were absolutely devastated when we found out the dog that we had only had for a day had less than a year to live. We could not take her back to the rescue. Very few people would adopt a dog that would need so many vet visits and had an expiration date. We also already loved her so much. We set up an appointment with our regular vet to see what we could do to help Nala.

We brought Nala into the our regular vet for her appointment. Knowing how she reacted at the emergency vet, we decided to muzzle her right away so she wouldn’t nip anyone. The vet, a vet tech, and my fiance all worked together to get a muzzle on her, but they couldn’t. The vet told us to wait another week or two so she would be more comfortable with us, come back, and they would sedate her right away to do the check up.

We came back a week and a half later. The vet had given us some calming treats for Nala, because she seemed to have a lot of anxiety with people and for giving her before we took her in for the appointment. The vet gave her the shot for sedation in the car, so she wouldn’t have time to freak out. The vet took drew blood for tests, and we waited about a week to get the results.

It turns out, Nala did not have early kidney failure. Her levels were artificially high from being stressed about having a new home and new people on that first day with us. She could easily live a full life.

Nala did however end up needing four teeth pulled, having kennel cough (which turned into bronchitis), epilepsy (turns out that fainting episode she had on the first day was a seizure), seasonal allergies, and anxiety. Four of her teeth were practically rotting away in her mouth when we got her and causing a lot of pain. This pain was probably causing a lot of her nippiness. Now that the teeth are out and the holes are healed she’s a pretty different dog. She’s just getting over bronchitis, so she’s still coughing a little, but she’s mostly healthy. There is not much we can do for her epilepsy. Her seizures aren’t severe enough for medication and she seems to have less seizures as she gets more healthy and less anxious. Unfortunately, a lot of the medications that could help her anxiety would also make her seizures worse, so we’re still working on that.

Adopting a dog has been a very expensive and difficult process, but it has been very rewarding. Nala has come so far in trusting and bonding with us, and she’s even starting to trust strangers. She spends most of her days sleeping (she is a senior after all) and also enjoys her daily walks. When we first got her, we called her Nippy Nala, now we call her Nappy Nala.

Nippy Nala

There are two ways most people get their dogs: adopting or purchasing. There’s a lot of people that believe you should “adopt, not shop” but adopting a dog is not for everyone. Sometimes an adopted dog has no health or behavior issues, but most do. Adopting a dog with health or behavior issues can be very challenging, but it is also very rewarding. I’m going to use my adopted dog, Nala, as an example of why adopting is not for everyone.

When we first adopted Nala, the rescue that had her got her from a high kill shelter, who got her from the streets. So, we knew nothing about her past. We knew from the rescue that she was timid and between 8-10 years old, but what we didn’t know (and the rescue may have or may not have known) was the myriad of health and behavior problems she had.

The first day we had her, she hid under the bed most of the day. Which is fine, it was a new place, she was scared, and we’re pretty sure she hadn’t been treated gently in the past. She was also quite mouthy if she felt threatened, which happened a lot. Putting on the harness we bought for her (her head is narrow, so a collar could easily come off) took something like 2 hours, because she could not stand being handled. When we tried to put the harness on, she would mouth us (grab us with her teeth, but not actually bite down or draw blood), so we had to put it on little by little. We got it over her head, which was the hard part, and then had to slowly tug it into place. Putting the harness on right away was so important because she was a runner. Given the chance, she would run away, and since she was so scared of people, getting her back would be difficult, so we had to keep her leashed when she was outside.

The second day, she got a little more used to us, so we decided to take her to Belts for a pup cup and to see how she handled crowds. While waiting in line she suddenly seemed, dizzy, fell over, and lost consciousness for a few seconds. We carried her to the car (and were fairly amazed she wasn’t trying to mouth us for handling her that way) and drove to the emergency vet clinic in Mosinee. She was fully conscious when we got there, and just seemed a bit tired, but we wanted to know what was going on. After hours of waiting at the emergency vet, we finally got to talk to the vet. We were told that our 20-pound dog had caused quite the fuss in the back. They had to muzzle her because of her mouthiness, and it took three vet techs to do so. We were also told that she was in early kidney failure and had less than a year to live.

 

 

I’ll continue Nala’s story in next week’s post.

Darling Dogs

Dogs are probably one of the most popular pets, but a lot of people don’t know what they’re getting into when they get one. Depending on the breed, they can have high energy and need a lot of exercise. Some breeds are friendly, others are guarded. Some breeds have a lot of health issues, others don’t. Unfortunately a lot of people just purchase or adopt a dog because its “cute” without seeing if the breed’s typical characteristics fits their lifestyle or not. It’s a safe assumption that this is how my dog, Nala, ended up in the rescue we adopted her from. Nala is a shiba inu, which are notoriously stubborn and difficult to train dogs, not to mention high energy.

Another more common example of a dog that people purchase/adopt without knowing what they’re getting into is the husky. Huskies are a very popular, gorgeous dog breed, but they also are very high energy. People will purchase/adopt them because they like the way they look. Unfortunately, a lot of huskies end up in shelters and rescues because owners don’t give them the exercise they need, and they end up destroying something in the house to get their energy out.

Chipper Chinchillas

Chinchillas are a slightly unusual pet. Most people have heard of them, but never seen or touched them. Chinchillas have super soft fur, which is one of the good things about them.

The Good:

1. They are adorable

2. They are very intelligent and can learn commands and to use a liter box.

3. They have little to no odor.

4. You can develop a bond with them.

5. They make very little noise.

6. No shots needed, but a yearly vet visit is recommended.

7. They have dynamic personalities.

The Bad:

1. They can be very sassy.

2. Most don’t like snuggling or being held, but will let you pet them.

3. If you want two, they won’t always get along with their cage mates, and you may have to separate them. You cannot keep a male and female together because the female will get pregnant and chinchilla pregnancies are difficult.

4. They have very specific diets. They can have hay, chinchilla food, and very few treats such as cheerios, and rosehips. Suddenly changing the brand of their food will make them very sick.

5. You cannot have plastic in their cage, or they may eat it and get it stuck in their stomach, which will kill them. Kiln dried pine is best for ledges, metals are also fine. Many woods are also toxic to them.

6. They’re fragile. They have floating rib cages so you have to be careful how you hold them.

The Ugly:

1. They’re expensive. Chinchillas are sold for as little as $75 and up to $200. A good cage will cost at least $70, a house and toys (they need toys or they will get bored and depressed) will probably cost another $50. They need a larger cage with ledges for them to jump on. They cost $30 a month for food/bedding.

2. They do chew and will destroy things in the room you have playtime in if you’re not careful. You need to have a “chinchilla safe” room to let them out in that has no wire or things such as couches that they could hide under and you wouldn’t be able to get them out.

All of that being said, my fiance and I love our chinchillas. They’re more interesting but also harder to take care of than hamsters/guinea pigs, but they’re still easier than a sugar glider or fennec fox.

Beautiful Bettas

Bettas are a very popular fish. They’re relatively cheap, you can find them in almost any pet store, and they’re beautiful. Besides all of that, they’re really easy to take care of. All you need to do is throw them in a bowl of water, add a plant, and they’re a wonderful living decoration that you don’t need to ever touch again, right? Wrong. A lot of people do keep bettas this way, but bettas are not going to be their healthiest or happiest in these kinds of conditions. One thing that people do have right is that you should not keep two males together, but most everything else that people think they know about bettas is just a myth.

Myth: Bettas live in mud puddles in the wild, so half a gallon of clean water is absolute luxury to them!

Fact: While the water that wild bettas live in is a muddy color, bettas actually need about 5 gallons of water in their tank. Responsible breeders will keep them in tanks as small as 2.5 gallons, but they often have superior filtrating systems, and check the water parameters often.

Myth: Bettas don’t need a filter.

Fact: This myth is built off of the “wild bettas live in dirty water” myth. In the wild, there will be plants and microorganisms that clean the water. In a bowl with no filter, waste will just keep building up no matter how many water changes you do.

Myth: Bettas are fine at room temperature.

Fact: Bettas are actually tropical fish from Southeast Asia where the average temperature is 86 degrees. A betta’s water temperature should be kept at 78 degrees or the fish will become lethargic and/or die.

Myth: Bettas will eat the roots and leaves of plants in their tanks.

Fact: Bettas are carnivores. If starving they will nibble on vegetation, but they need a high protein diet to keep them healthy.

Myth: Bettas die easily and don’t live very long.

Fact: Bettas can live for up to 7 years if properly taken care of. This myth perpetuates because bettas (like any other living creature) do tend to die if you don’t properly take care of them.

This is just a small insight into the world of bettas. If you’d like to learn more about caring for bettas, check out this link: http://www.seriouslyfish.com/species/betta-splendens/.