L.W., Pawcatuck, CT
Oct 22, 2012
I find myself in search of a 1- or 2-year-old dog to adopt and bring into my heart. I have always had purebreds, so I thought this would be the time to help. Well, so far it's for naught. I found a dog on a rescue website and he was a thousand miles away, so I had him driven up, only to find out he had been misrepresented. He had severe separation anxiety and acted like he had never been in a house. He kept trying to get out a window, so I made the decision to send him back and lose the transport fee.
That is my problem: All the dogs advertised locally seem to be in Texas or elsewhere. Is that what it's come to -- having to choose a companion from a photo and phone call? Then the rescue groups expect you to deal with all the animal's issues, and it's your fault if it fails. Dogs in local pounds have not been tested like those in foster homes, so I don't really want to bring in a dog I cannot trust.
Please help. Is there a better solution to my wanting a mutt? This cannot be good for the poor dogs.
L.W., Pawcatuck, CT Oct 23, 2012
First of all, I appreciate your dedication to rescuing a dog. It sounds like your first experience was with a puppy-mill breeder's dog who spent all his or her life in a cage or pen and was never properly socialized. As I document in my book "Inhumane Society: The American Way of Exploiting Animals," these commercial puppy breeding operations are an abomination and should be outlawed. But money rules in this culture of mammon, so I advise all prospective dog owners to adopt from the shelter or visit a local, in-home breeder to see the facilities and the pups' parents. Never buy online or from a pet store.
That poor dog needed a professional behavioral therapist and a veterinary specialist who could have worked in concert and prescribed psychotropic medications such as a light dose of Valium or Xanax while gradually taking the dog out and about. A body wrap that is fairly tight around the dog might also have helped make him feel more secure.
Good luck in your search!
H.C., Trumbull, CT
Tags: cat Trumbull CT
Feb 27, 2012
I have always felt sorry for cats who are kept indoors, never allowed to smell the sweet outdoors, roam over their terrain and come inside the house again when they are ready.
I realize you have given substantial reasons for NOT letting cats outdoors, but the happiness and freedom the cat will have outweigh all of your reasons. One can always get the cat fixed, microchipped and vaccinated.
Even though they are expensive breeds, I have always allowed my Norwegian forest cat, calico Maine coon and mixed Russian blue/Persian/Siamese to roam around the yard and neighborhood. None has been declawed.
H.C., Trumbull, CT Feb 28, 2012
As much as I appreciate your sentiment, vaccinations and microchips will not protect cats roaming the neighborhood from cat-killing dogs, vehicular traffic and, in some regions, rat poison, traps and those who enjoy using cats for target practice.
There are also diseases cats can get from other infected cats that vaccinations do not protect against. Eating rodents can cause toxoplasmosis, which can be passed on to humans. Outdoor cats also bring home ticks and fleas that can transmit other diseases to humans, such as Lyme disease.
While not all cats are hunter-killers, many are. These cats can decimate local songbird populations and negatively impact wildlife ecosystems by competing with natural, indigenous carnivores, like foxes and bobcats, and spreading diseases to them. Furthermore, the domestic cat is a descendant of Felis lybica, the African desert cat -- it simply does not belong outdoors as a free-roaming hunter in North America!
Responsible people do not let their dogs roam the neighborhood. Nor should cat owners allow their cats outdoors except into an enclosed cat home or a properly fenced backyard. Some cats enjoy walking in a harness, and cat walking is catching on.
M.C., Bridgeport, CT
Tags: cat Bridgeport CT diet food
Feb 19, 2012
I am writing to you regarding my concern for my indoor/outdoor house cat. Her name is Lil Bit. She is 8 or 9 years old. I have had her since she was weaned from her mother.
We named her Lil Bit because she was so little when we got her, but she didn't stay that way for long. We started telling people that Lil Bit was short for Lil Bit Bigger Than Everyone Else.
My concern is this: She has always had vomiting issues. In the past it was once every three to four days and usually first thing in the morning. I blamed it on her eating too fast. Recently -- within the last couple of months -- it has gotten worse. Now she vomits just about every time she eats. She has lost quite a bit of weight, and her fur is no longer sleek and shiny like it used to be.
I have tried different cat foods -- canned, dry food with water and various dry food brands. Nothing seems to help. I even thought maybe it was an issue with fleas. She now wears a flea collar all the time, but she is still having vomiting issues. I don't know what else to do. I really can't afford to take her to a vet and have tests run. I am getting very concerned about her health.
M.C., Bridgeport, CT Feb 20, 2012
First, take off the flea collar. Fleas don't make cats vomit.
This "morning sickness" could indicate a serious health issue, like feline viral lymphoma. But it is most likely due to Lil Bit eating too much too fast during her first meal of the day. So give her a teaspoon of food when you get up and a tablespoon when you leave for work.
Be sure there is no corn in her diet -- many cats are allergic to this ingredient, which has no place in any pet food. She may be allergic to, or intolerant of, other ingredients and could benefit from transitioning to Gerber's baby food -- beef, turkey or chicken -- then to one of the better foods, like Organix or Wellness.
You might also try the home-prepared cat food recipe on my website on which many cats are now thriving. Preparing your own pet food means you know what's in it and where the ingredients came from. Let me know how Lil Bit progresses.
E.S., Sandy Hook, CT
Tags: cat CT Sandy Hook
Oct 24, 2011
I would like to tell you a true story about a cat I had.
In December 1999, my father was diagnosed with stomach cancer. Dad was in the hospital for mainly palliative care, and Mom and I visited him every day.
My father really loved cats, and he especially liked my quirky cat, Rainbow. Unfortunately, she would have nothing to do with anyone but me. Rainbow avoided ever going into my parents' bedroom.
About three weeks into my father's hospitalization, Rainbow did something she had never done before. As I walked past my parents' bedroom, I could not believe what I was seeing -- Rainbow had not only gone into the bedroom, but she was asleep on the bed. And it was my dad's twin bed, not my mom's.
Suddenly I had a startling thought, and I called to my mother: "Mom, I think Dad is going to pass away tonight."
That night, just after midnight, my father died. My mom was there, and she said it was very peaceful. I will always wonder how my cat seemed to know and was able to communicate that to me.
Rainbow died from cancer (like my dad) exactly one year later, on the first anniversary of my dad's death.
E.S., Sandy Hook, CT Oct 23, 2011
Thank you for the account of Rainbow's apparent connection with your dying father. It seems highly probable that this was Rainbow's response to "knowing" (by some remote sensing ability) that your father was close to death.
I appreciate receiving letters from readers on this subject because they support my theory of the "empathosphere" -- a dimension of awareness that transcends space and that I have documented in my new book, "Animals & Nature First." I believe that physical, emotional and spiritual well-being are connected in this empathosphere, which in part explains how our attitudes toward animals can affect their behavior and health.
B.D., Danbury, CT
Tags: dog CT Danbury
Sep 11, 2011
Your articles are not only informative but, at times, amusing. Several months ago, a woman wrote to you concerning her dog who behaved like a cat with regard to washing. I can go her one better. My yellow Lab, Scottie, also washes himself as a cat would. However, he does not use his own spittle, but rather he dips his tongue into his water bowl and then washes himself. He "told" me that using fresh water is more sanitary and that he gets himself much cleaner.
I've never had a dog before who can walk through mud and come inside clean.
B.D., Danbury, CT Sep 12, 2011
This is an entirely new addition to the list of canine behavior patterns of which I am aware. Perhaps he developed this behavior through observational learning -- seeing you splash water on your face over the sink, for example.
I would be surprised if any other readers have a dog who washes by first lapping water out of the drinking bowl, but I would welcome hearing of such behavior and any other novel actions possibly acquired by observing human behavior. Deliberate or accidental, I once had a dog who was adept at locking himself in the car. I soon learned never to leave my keys in the ignition.
J.M., Fairfield, CT
Tags: cat Fairfield CT allergies
May 15, 2011
I'm writing for help with my cat's 10-month-long skin condition of two 50-cent-size sores that never heal. She does not go outside and has been eating Wellness Salmon dry and Wellness Turkey moist food. I'm now gradually introducing Natural Balance Duck & Green Pea.
She has had Clavamox and prednisone, and now receives clemastine ointment and Neosporin daily. The dermatologist says it's probably a flea allergy, but there haven't been fleas for months. She wears a Victorian collar and a shirt, but one scratch opens the sores again despite all the protection (which isn't foolproof).
Would omega-3 help her skin? Is there an allergy test for her?
I have nine animals in a split-level house. The dogs are not with the five cats. The cats have four rooms downstairs (vinyl flooring). All the other cats are fine. I put Advantage on them to prevent fleas, although I don't like using it. The vet said that I should use it in case the affected cat has a flea allergy and one bite will cause her distress.
J.M., Fairfield, CT May 15, 2011
Because a conventional approach to dealing with your cat's skin disease has not proven effective and because your cat has been to a veterinary dermatologist (who presumably ruled out any specific fungal or bacterial infection), an unconventional approach is called for.
This means a more holistic, environmental perspective that considers co-factors other than fleabites as contributors to your cat's malady. Several readers with cats showing symptoms like your poor cat improved their pets' lives by avoiding scented cat litter or tissues, cleaners, detergents, room fresheners and other household products. Others found success transitioning their cats onto grain-free or single-protein raw cat foods, or by giving their cats supplements such as fish oil and brewer's yeast. I advise against treating all cats with the Advantage flea-killer drug because that is a shot in the dark, and, without fumigating your home (cats out!), is too risky and costly.
R.M., Shelton, CT
Tags: dog Shelton CT
Apr 24, 2011
About a year after the loss of our 16-year-old golden retriever Minnie, we decided we were ready for another. We fell in love with Zoe the moment we saw her. She was a little ball of energy and friendly.
One thing we noticed, though: Her brother was almost twice her size. Now she is 2 years old and only 39 pounds. She has always been a finicky eater, but what worries us the most is her lack of energy. For the first year, her activity level seemed normal, but now she sleeps most of the day and night. She won't fetch, run, or play with any toys. When we walk her, she walks slowly and will sometimes just stop in the road, refusing to move. However, if two of us go on the walk, she seems to move a bit faster.
We have invisible fencing in our yard, but she only does her business there and then wants to come in. The only other health issue she was treated for was head tilting, which the vet blamed on congestion. She also has some dental issues and will require a cleaning next year.
Her diet consists of dry dog food, rice, carrots and biscuits, but some days she only eats a few treats. I decided to feed her dry food because I had heard it was better for her teeth.
I would appreciate any thoughts you might have on our little Zoe. We just want to do what's best for her health and happiness.
R.M., Shelton, CT Apr 24, 2011
You most probably acquired the runt of the litter -- in other words, the pup who, in competition with other developing puppy embryos in their mother's uterus, was almost crowded out and had a small placenta. So her development became impaired early on, even though she was "a little ball of energy" when young.
I would suspect a congenital/developmental abnormality of the heart or hydrocephalus, which could account for some of her symptoms and dull behavior. She may next develop seizures. The best treatment is tender loving care and appropriate medications as symptoms surface.
J.H.A., Mystic, CT
Tags: cat CT Mystic
Dec 27, 2010
About 10 years ago, a young, semi-feral shorthair female cat selected me to be her provider at a small marina where I am employed. She is mild-mannered but easily spooked and comes to me only. She remains an outdoor cat by choice, but I provide a doghouse shelter, fresh water and three “squares” a day. Her appetite is good, and she grooms herself well.
Recently though, I noticed that her coat was visibly thinning along her spine, about 1-1/2 inches wide from mid-back to tail. There is no wetness, no scabbing and no flea dirt. It’s much like a man’s balding.
I want to spare her the trauma of an animal carrier and vet appointment, but mostly I want to preserve her trust. It was many years before she would allow me to pet her. I would appreciate your advice.
J.H.A., Mystic, CT Dec 27, 2010
I truly appreciate your spirit of the Good Samaritan caring for this cat. You have clearly established a bond, which could be subsequently re-established. I would trap her in a humane and effective box trap and have her condition evaluated by a veterinary cat specialist, carefully coordinating the trapping of the cat with an appointment set up ahead of time. She probably needs to be wormed, and the veterinarian will probably insist on vaccinations. You do not know if she has been spayed, and I would not agree to an exploratory operation to see if she needs this operation because she is getting on in years and her breeding days are probably over.
I doubt she will lose trust in you. She should come around quickly once you release her into her familiar terrain. Perhaps you should seriously consider making her a live-in companion. Unable to escape from a suitable room or indoor enclosure, many cats settle down and come to feel safe and secure, especially when paired with an outgoing, socialized cat.
K.D., Stratford, CT
Nov 21, 2010
Regarding your column "Dogs follow human to the afterlife," I have the following story: Years ago we owned a standard poodle named Heidi. After my mother's death, my father lived with my husband and me for some time. Since we both worked and my father was home alone with the dog, my father and Heidi bonded very much.
About three weeks after my father's death, I was doing something in our bedroom. Heidi rested on the foot-end of the bed. Suddenly I had the feeling somebody had entered the room, but I could not see anything. Heidi stared at the entrance to the room, slowly got up, jumped off the bed and very slowly walked toward the entrance, head extended and sniffing loudly into the air. At the entrance Heidi stopped, sniffed and suddenly wagged her tail -- like she was greeting somebody. Then she sat down, holding her head up like somebody was petting her. I knew it was my father who had come to say "goodbye."
K.D., Stratford, CT Nov 21, 2010
I greatly appreciate you sharing this account of Heidi's apparent alerting and greeting a presence she could sense. It is through reports of animals' reactions such as you describe that we may get a glimpse through the prism of our material existence of the metaphysical realm of being and non-being, enduring love being one of the keys that opens the doors of perception.
I receive many letters like yours, and others relating to the empathosphere, which some skeptical readers either do not feel are appropriate or complain about because they feel that this column should deal exclusively with health-care issues and behavioral problems. However, the content of this column is determined principally on the basis of the number of similar letters I receive that relate to a common topic rather than on some issue or concept that I may wish to publicize or personally promote. Part of our healing as a culture is linked to the healing and well-being of animals -- be they companion or therapy/assistance animals, or the billions who are propagated worldwide for food and other commercial purposes. An integral aspect of this healing process is recognition of the power of love, as compassionate action and kind concern for all living beings. Animals show us something of this kind of love in their trust and devotion. They can and do share, as per the many letters I receive like yours, an empathic, spiritual bond with humans. To acknowledge the importance of addressing their spiritual presence and well-being, as with human patients in busy, depersonalizing hospital settings, is an essential aspect of proper care and recuperation.
E.C., Stratford, CT
Oct 17, 2010
We have two 4-month-old male Siberian huskies, named Tokyo and Tyson. Tokyo has established himself as the alpha dog, never letting anyone pet his brother without coming over to check things out. And Tyson always follows Tokyo. The problem is that Tyson has not warmed up to our family like his brother, and we are concerned that this shy behavior might turn out to be aggressive. We want to keep both dogs, but are in a quandary as to how to socialize Tyson. On the plus side, Tyson does not bite; but again, he is not interested in us.
E.C., Stratford, CT Oct 17, 2010
Siberian huskies can sometimes seem aloof and more interested in other dogs and their surroundings than people who want to pet them. As a breed, they are not known to be aggressive or fear biters toward people; they have a reputation as generally outgoing, pack-loving canines. Clearly, your "pack of two" has an established hierarchy with which I would not interfere. Showing sympathy for and identifying with the underdog, who is probably quite secure knowing his place, could cause trouble between the dogs. Giving the underdog a timeout break -- such as a romp with just the two of you together outdoors -- may make you feel good, but he will have to be checked out and display submission when he comes back to the alpha male of his pack. The pup whom you see as the alpha should, however, be seeing you as the ultimate alpha pack leader and parent figure and, along with his littermate, be undergoing basic puppy obedience/self-control education at this time, which will also help put you in the alpha position.