Merry Cat-Mas! How to Create A Pet-Safe Howliday

Yowl_19316291_originalHave you decked the halls yet with your howl-iday decor? What do the pets think? Have they joined in the spirit of ho-ho-ho and wreaked havoc? Or do they ignore the festivities?

The Christmas tree might as well be an early holiday gift to your cats and dogs. Pets can’t resist the urge to sniff, claw, water—and scale the branches to reach the highest possible perch. Don’t blame your cat or dog. It’s normal for cats to compete for the top spot (literally and figuratively) to secure their place in kitty society, and dogs may want to “mark” the convenient indoor doggy signpost.

GirlPaintPet_17890973_original-1CLUELESS PUPS & ACROBAT CATS

Magical-Dawg was born in July, and he came to live with us in early October. So when it came time to put up that year’s tree, I weenied out. We didn’t put up a tree until he was three years old and had sorta-kinda-in-a-way learned to control himself. I already had practice from dealing with the Seren-kitty’s tree love affair.

For puppies, the Christmas season can be a challenge for owners. Your puppy may believe the Christmas tree is a special gift just for his entertainment. The attraction is natural, with puppies wanting to chew branches, pull off decorations, or worse. The result is a holiday that’s anything but merry.

Youngsters won’t care about social standing, but high energy kitten play turns the holiday tree into a jungle gym. Tree encounters of the furry kind not only risks breaking your heirloom ornaments, your pets can be injured by chewing or swallow dangerous items.

Puppies turn everything into a toy. The branches beneath the tree create a great puppy hideout. Tree ornaments that move or make noises lure puppies to grab and chase, garland offers a great game of tug-o’-war, and the twinkling lights draw them to investigate or even chew. That can lead to electrical shock (check out The First-Aid Companion for Dogs & Cats for tips that can save your pets’ lives). Trees end up toppled, presents and decorations damaged, and sometimes pets are hurt.

DAMAGED MEMORIES

Holidays mean memories and damage to “things” may matter more at this time of year than others. My grandmother always displayed a gorgeous white porcelain nativity each year. That nativity symbolized for me all-good-things about Grandma’s house and Christmas–good food, happy reunions, presents, and love shared by our close-nit family. So when Grandma died, I was blessed to keep her Nativity and continue to display it in my own home.

When Seren-kitty arrived, I was nervous about her rambunctious behavior around the Holy Family. But it wasn’t until three years ago that the worst happened while my husband played his nightly fetch game with the dog–it could have been me, so there’s no blame here. The Magical-Dawg’s ball ricocheted off of the delicate nativity and managed to behead Joseph and lop off Mary’s hand. Sounds funny, right?

I had a melt down. You probably could hear my scream for miles and the sobs lasted days. It wasn’t just china, a THING damaged. It was my personal Christmas, my Grandma, childhood happy times–shattered.

Eventually I stopped crying. There was no question of replacing the pieces–they’re hard to find and besides, it was THAT nativity that meant everything to me. We eventually found a restoration expert able to give Mary back her hand and re-attach Joseph’s head. I’m just grateful Grandma’s Nativity continues to be a part of our personal traditions and holiday happiness.

Since that time, we’ve curtailed Magical-Dawg’s games of fetch, especially around the holidays. Hey, it wasn’t the dog’s fault. But it’s up to us humans to protect what’s important to us–not just our pets but our memories.

christmas cat and dogHOW TO PET PROOF THE TREE

Place “tacky mats” under the tree to shoo away pets. These can be found at pet products stores used to keep throw rugs from slipping, and pets don’t like to walk on the sticky surface. Alternatively, get some Sticky Paws (double sided tap) and apply to place mats or other moveable surfaces and place in strategic locations.

Put small trees inside a baby playpen to keep small pets out. Or use baby gates to keep the pets out of the tree room. Keep breakable or dangerous ornaments out of paw-reach (or better, don’t use at all!). Put only pet safe décor within sniffing range on lower branches.

Ditch the lights, and any “fake-snow” flocking that can be chewed or swallowed. Instead, decorate with cotton balls or pillow-stuffing fleece for that snowy look on branches or around the base. If you’ve chosen a real tree, water with plain water and no additives in case pet decides to drink.

Strings and garland look great on the tree, but prove deadly inside a cat or dog when swallowed. Dried flowers like baby’s breath look lovely and are nontoxic even if clueless pets nibble.

CREATE A PET-SAFE TREE!

Rather than fight a losing battle to keep them at bay, create a second pet-safe tree with these tips, so the fur-kids can enjoy the holidays as much as you do.

Put yourself in your pet’s “paws.” Satisfy her desire to claw, lounge on (or under) the branches, and trust that it won’t tip over under her assault. Match the tree size, sturdiness, base (perhaps add guy-wires for steadiness) to the activity level and number of pets.

To increase the fun factor, insert a few sprigs of dried catnip—but be prepared for the cats to dismantle the tree! Offer some doggy treats under the pet tree for legal dog chewing enjoyment.

Catnip toys make great kitty tree decorations and won’t be destroyed during the feline assaults. Use “orphan” socks (singletons without a mate), fill with the ‘nip, and knot the open end.

Don’t forget the “cheap thrills.” Empty boxes, wads of holiday paper, and even paper shopping bags thrill cats and dogs. Remove bag handles so the pet won’t get hung around her neck.

Toss a few special treats in the boxes or bags. The smellier the treat, the better pets like them.

Be prepared to re-decorate the tree after the cats and dogs have fun. But a “Pet-mas” tree not only answers your pets’ Santa Paws prayers, it means she’ll be more likely to leave your formal tree and decorations alone. That promotes a merry Christmas for the whole family, furry and otherwise.

So how do you handle doggy interest in your yule plans? Are your puppies ho-hum or holiday happy over the change in scenery? What do you do to keep your Christmas memories safe from kitty and doggy damage? Does the baby-gate-of-despair keep the tree and poochie free from harm? Have you ever “lost your head” over holiday damage? Do tell!

And check out more dog and cat care advice in time for Christmas gifts (for your friends or yourself!).

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered–post in the comments. Be sure to visit my PetHealthyStore for paw-some products for your furry wonders! Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways, kewl product offers, and appearances related to my  THRILLERS WITH BITE!

#Thanksgiving the Pet Writer Way: Giving Furry Thanks

animal

Image courtesy of Deposit Photos

It’s three days before Thanksgiving and time again to count my furry blessings. This year I’m thankful to be home with my family—furry and human—rather than on the bumpy road and bumpier plane. I’m thankful my human family, though miles away, remain close-nit and loving. And I’m thankful all remain healthy.

I’m thankful for veterinarians who make life better for the pets we adore. I’m thankful for researchers who work to find diagnoses, treatments, and cures for our ailments, both for pets and for people. I’m thankful for the animal welfare volunteers who do the work of the angels when others somehow let pets down.

I’m thankful that I have the best job in the world, sharing information about the cats and dogs that have become so important to our emotional and physical health. I’m thankful for publishers, editors, magazines, newspapers, TV and radio shows, websites, community theaters, bloggers and email lists that share these important resources (including my books) to benefit cats and dogs and the people who love them. I’m thankful for pet products companies that care most about the pets and pet parents, and thankful to be part of the PetHealthyStore family. And I’m thankful to writing organizations, teachers, agents and all those who promote the craft of good communication and help others pursue this rewarding craft.

seren

Image Copr. Amy Shojai, CABC

I’m thankful that I found a dumped kitten eighteen years ago and brought her into my home and heart. I’m thankful that Seren-kitty still acts like a kitten and mostly stays healthy (curse those schneezles!). I’m sure my veterinarian also is thankful Seren remains spry, since she is not a happy patient and the clinic staff likes to keep their fingers intact. I’m thankful she’s given up playing “gravity experiments” with my fine breakables, and has decided my lap is a very-good-cat-place. I’m also thankful that she’s accepted the Magical-Dawg is here to stay, and even allows him within sniffing range now and then. It only took eight years! And I’m thankful she’s sorta-kinda-in-a-way accepted Karma-Kat, although he continues to press her furry buttons.

Karma-Seren

Image Copr. Amy Shojai, CABC

I’m thankful that Karma-Kat dodged coyotes, cars, and who-knows-what to find our patio last February. I’m thankful that Magical-Dawg heard his meow-SOS, and that the little dumped kitten trusted me enough to come when I meowed back. I’m thankful that nobody claimed Karma—although shame on whoever dumped him!—and that he and Magic have become best buddies. I’m thankful that Karma has turned back the age-clock for Seren, and she’s acting more youthful and spry than ever.

Magic-Karma

Image Copr. Amy Shojai, CABC

I’m thankful for responsible breeders who ensure purebred dogs and pedigreed cats have a healthy paw-start in life. I’m thankful that Magical-dawg at age eight has become a bit…just a bit…less driven. I’m thankful for water hoses, and tennis balls, stuffed teddy bears, Frisbees, and Karma-Kat that wear Magic out without exhausting me at the same time. I’m thankful my roughneck dawg had only a brief bout with acral lick sores and that they’ve resolved more quickly than expected. I’m thankful Magic is smart, funny, a comedian, and a wonder to train—and doesn’t argue but has accepted that Seren is the boss of him. And Magic is thankful he now has a cat-friend willing to allow butt-sniffs. Ahem.

I’m thankful that although he never grew up with pets, my husband loves Seren-Kitty, Magical-Dawg and Karma-Kat as much as I do. I’m even more thankful they adore him back (that could get awkward!).

I’m thankful for my church family—pet lovers or not—who also support my furry notions. I’m thankful for the gift of music I get to share with colleagues who have become wonderful friends, and especially thankful for my partner-in-play-writing-crime who helped make our theatrical dreams come true this past month when STRAYS was finally born.

Finally, I’m thankful to you—yes, those who read this blog, the folks who have “adopted” my dog-viewpoint September Day thriller series, and all those who offer awesome applause and support any of the other venues mentioned.

Without you, I would not have a career, and my life’s passion would remain unfulfilled. Without you, your pets wouldn’t have the wonderful love and care you provide. Without you, there wouldn’t be any reason for this heartfelt—THANK YOU.

Now it’s YOUR turn. What are YOU thankful for this year? Please share!

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered–post in the comments. Be sure to visit my PetHealthyStore for paw-some products for your furry wonders! Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways, kewl product offers, and appearances related to my  THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Solve #Cats Potty Problems: Fixing Hit or Miss Litter-ary Mistakes

Little Kittens

Cats and kittens don’t read the “rule book” so it’s up to us to show them what’s wanted. (All images this post provided by DepositPhotos.com)

One of the top complaints I get as a cat behavior consultant has to do with elimination problems and how to deal with cat potty problems. I’m sharing tips from my book, ComPETability: Solving Behavior Problems in Your Multi-Cat Household, but the suggestions work equally well in a single-cat home.

A sudden loss of litter box allegiance means either the litter box is unacceptable, the cat feels bad, or the other cats make her avoid the bathroom. More than one-third of cats with elimination problems have an underlying health condition and if Sheba refuses to use the box to urinate (or defecate) but not both, look for a medical problem.That’s one reason I now use and recommend Perfect Litter, since it will change color (pink-to-red) when the cat’s urine pH goes too high, which can indicate a urinary health issue. (You can try Perfect Litter free for a month, too!)

When cats won’t use the litter box, punishment won’t work. You must first identify and then remove the cause, re-establish good habits, and prevent a return to the scene of the crime.

Small gray kitten in blue plastic litter cat isolated on white

Gorgeous picture–BUT how many things are WRONG in this photo? (Hint: SIZE MATTERS!)

HOW TO SOLVE LITTER BOX PROBLEMS

Cats like routine, even in potty duty. Typically, a cat will defecate once or twice a day usually at the same time — and urinate two to six times a day. However, it’s not unusual for some adult cats to urinate only once every 36 hours or so. You can use this information to monitor and manage your cats’ bathroom activities. Here are some tips that may help return your cat to proper potty behavior.

  • Keep the toilet clean by scooping waste and discarding it at least twice a day. The more cats you have, the greater the amount of waste and ensuing smell which offends you and the cats.
  • Be sure to empty and clean the entire box at least once a week. Use scalding hot water but no harsh-smelling disinfectants, because the detergent smell can be just as off-putting to the cats.
  • Many cats don’t want to “go” after another cat. Others demand a separate box for urine and another for feces, and some dominant cats guard the facilities and won’t let the others use it. Use the one-plus-one rule to solve litter box woes: provide one litter box for each cat, plus one (that’s three boxes for two cats, for example).
  • Adding an automatic litter box helps enormously, because the litter ALWAYS stays clean. However, it may take some training to teach cats to use this facility. We had a LitterMaid for many years, and Seren loved it!
  • Clean soiled areas thoroughly or the scent will draw Sheba (even innocent bystanders!) back to the scene of the crime. Avoid using ammonia-based products, which cats think smells like the ammonia in their own urine.
  • To find hidden urine accidents, invest in a quality “black light” and shine it around after you’ve turned off lights in the suspect areas. Cat urine glows under the black light. Here’s a black light kit designed for finding litter-ary mistakes!
  • If your cats target plastic or rubber-backed bath mats, toss out the mats. The backing hosts various microorganisms designed to keep the carpet stain-resistant, but it smells like urine to cats, and many felines eliminate on these mats because they already smell like a litter box.
  • Cats prefer certain kinds of texture, granularity, and coarseness in the litter. Offer a “smorgasbord” of litter substrates for cats to choose their ideal. Offer sand and potting soil mix for cats used to doing their “duty” outside.
  • Change the depth of litter (increase or decrease) or remove the plastic liner to make the box more attractive. Cats that scratch to cover their waste may dislike catching their claws in the plastic liner.
  • Once you find a litter your cats like, don’t mess with success. If your cats prefer the linoleum, wood floor, or bathtub, offer an empty litter box, and then gradually add litter. When changing a litter to a new one, always transition gradually with a top-coat dusting of the NEW on top of the OLD and add a bit more of the new litter day by day.
  • Buy a new box. Plastic holds odor and smelly old boxes offend cats even when you’ve scrubbed them. Cats that “blame” the old box for a scare or discomfort often eagerly embrace a new facility.
  • Covered boxes help contain litter when energetic diggers throw sand everywhere, but they hold odors, and your shy cats may fear being trapped inside and avoid using them. Offer different types of toilets — uncovered or covered — to encourage kitty to choose one. Very large cats may not be able to pose in a standard size box without dropping deposits or urinating over the edge. Offer a much bigger container such as a clear plastic storage bin to accommodate these cats.
  • A storage bin type container works well for up to three small to medium cats willing to share, so you can reduce the total numbers of boxes. I use a huge sterilite container for my cats — and it’s clear so they can “see” if someone is coming and aren’t surprised or trapped.
  • Very young, elderly, or ill cats have trouble reaching the box in time. Provide a toilet on each floor of multi-story homes, or at each end of single-story floor plans to give these felines a better opportunity for a pit stop. I also offer a low-sided but very large box to accommodate Seren’s arthritis so she can easily climb in and out.
  • For tiny kittens, or very arthritic older cats, a regular box may be too large for him to climb in and out, so offer a cookie sheet or cut down the sides of the box.
  • If you know or suspect one of your cats guards the toilet from the others, be sure to position litter boxes in more than one location. Sheba can’t guard them all at once, and that way at least one is available to the rest of the cats at all times.
  • Be sure boxes are in a low traffic area, and quiet location such as a closet or storeroom. Laundry rooms where a dryer buzzer frightens the cat in mid-squat, may be less than ideal.
  • Sometimes placing the new litter box right on top of the soiled area encourages cats to use the box in that location. Once they again use the box, gradually move it to a more appropriate area a foot or so a day.
  • Make the illegal location unattractive so they willingly use the proper toilet. Give the soiled area a different connotation by placing favorite cat toys, food bowls, bed or scratching post on top of the soiled area, once it’s been cleaned.

The longer house soiling goes on, the harder it is to correct. To reestablish good habits, temporarily confine the problem cats to a small area with a litter box whenever they can’t be supervised. Usually cats prefer to use a box rather than having to live with the accident. Behaviorists recommend one week’s confinement for every month Sheba has been soiling, but that ratio can be decreased if the problem has been in existence more than six months.

Have your cats ever “missed the mark?” How did you manage the problem? Was it a health issue or something else? Do tell!

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered–post in the comments. Be sure to visit my PetHealthyStore for paw-some products for your furry wonders! Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways, kewl product offers, and appearances related to my  THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Veteran Love: 8 Reasons to Adopt Senior #Cats & #Dogs

Dog thinking outside the box

(All images this post from DepositPhotos.com, used with permission)

This time of year, the holidays can prompt yearnings to adopt a new furry wonder. Nothing beats puppies and kittens for fun. But senior citizen pets offer many advantages. Remember that small dogs and cats often live into their mid- to late-teens or early twenties, while larger dogs remain happy and vital at least a decade. Old fogey pets often have lots of love to share, so think about it.

November is Adopt A Senior Pet Month, and I’ve recently updated my two “aging dog” and “aging cat” care books in honor of the event and recently blogged about DIY tips for aging pets.  Here are 8 benefits I hope will convince you to take a chance on a golden oldie.

Less Initial Cost. A mature dog or cat has already been spayed or neutered, and had routine vaccinations. Puppies and kittens are magnets for trouble, and suffer more injuries through nonstop play and exploration than sedate older pets.

Predictable Health. By the time a dog or cat reaches mature status, health or behavior problems will be apparent. That helps adopters plan and provide ways to keep seniors happy and comfortable rather than being surprised by an unexpected issue. For instance, a Dachshund with a history of back problems can be offered steps and ramps to reach the sofa and a beloved owner’s lap. Even with a health challenge, old fogey pets make wonderful companions.

CatDogOnBack_40214727_originalKnown Personality. Puppies and kittens are works-in-progress and hard to predict adult personality. For instance, lap-snugglers as babies may snub cuddles once they grow up. But what you see is what you get with an adult pet. The senior dog or cat personality has been established, making it easier to match your perfect pet requirements. You can choose a dog-loving feline, an active rugged dog, or a pet willing to lap sit.

Already Trained. Older dogs often have already been trained basic obedience. They know how to “sit” and walk nicely on leash, for example.

More Polite. The mature dog has fewer urges to act like a juvenile delinquent. They may still have bursts of energy and enjoy playtime. But older dogs won’t be as likely to jump up, “hump” your leg, or knock down the kids trying to race them out the door. Mature felines won’t be as interested in using your head as a launch pad, or your pant leg as a moveable scratch post.

Fewer Behavior Problems. Puppies and kittens only learn by making mistakes. But a mature pet already knows the rules of the house. An older dog knows not to chew the TV remote or your shoes. She’s been house trained and tells you when she needs to “go.” The mature kitty understands litter box etiquette, no longer climbs the Christmas tree, or swings from the drapes. He knows not to excavate the potted palm or play ping-pong with the parakeet.

boy with white catKid Friendly. Older pets that have been around babies, toddlers and young children already know how to interact. They can be a wonderful choice for a child’s first pet. Dogs especially may “adopt” your human baby, and shower the infant with attention, gentle play, and protective care. They put up with toddler tail tugs with a patient purr or doggy grin. Countless children have learned to walk while grasping the furry shoulder of a canine friend, or reaching out for that tempting feline tail. A mature pet can offer the child a special friend who listens but never tells secrets, a sympathetic purring or wagging presence that acts as a stabilizing influence. Older pets are less fragile than puppies and kittens and can teach responsibility and empathy for other living creatures.

senior woman and dogSenior Citizen Friendly. Many older people have loved and lived with pets all their lives. But they may worry what might happen should they outlive a newly adopted puppy or kitten. A mature dog or cat offers just as much love but a more manageable number of years that can be more attractive to older owners. Mature cats and dogs have fewer energy needs—they won’t need owners to take them jogging when rolling a ball down the hallway will suffice. Older owners who have fragile skin can also choose mature pets already trained to be careful with claws and play bites. And the older dog—even if not leash trained—isn’t as able to drag the owner around.

Dogs and cats don’t know they’re old. They only know they are loved. There are many advantages to adopting an “old fogey pet” and these special animal companions return your love in unexpected and glorious ways.

Do you have a “golden oldie?” Did you adopt them when they were seniors, or did they grow up and grow old in your home? Magical-Dawg is now 8 year’s young and Seren-Kitty is 17. Even my thrillers include older pets–there’s something extra special about these lovely old timers. Why did you choose a mature dog or cat? Do tell!

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered–post in the comments. Be sure to visit my PetHealthyStore for paw-some products for your furry wonders! Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways, kewl product offers, and appearances related to my  THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Listen To Your Muse: How #Pets, #Music & #Theater Make a Paw-sitive Difference for Animals

LeaseOfThese

Gotcha day adoption during STRAYS. (All images courtesy of Mike Marlow, used with permission)

I call myself the “accidental pet writer” because I had plans to be a New York Broadway star…and instead my career went to the dogs (and cats). There were very few jobs available in a small town in Eastern Kentucky where my husband and I first lived after we got married, and so I interviewed with a veterinarian for an office manager position.

My interview took place during a Chihuahua’s C-section, with the vet asking me questions while handing newborn puppies for me to resuscitate. I think I got the job because I didn’t pass out!
There were so many amazing experiences as a result of working with veterinarians and I used to share them with my mother. She finally said, “Amy, you’ve got to write those stories down!”

And so I did, and my nonfiction pet-writing career was born. A few thousand articles and 30 nonfiction pet books later, my dream of writing fiction became a reality by combining the cat and dog expertise with fast-paced emotion-driven stories in novels. My debut thriller LOST AND FOUND introduced animal behaviorist September Day and her service dog Shadow, and my most current release HIDE AND SEEK continues her story.

But I never could have imagined that writing about cats and dogs would lead me BACK to the stage—to the Honey McGee Playhouse as a playwright/composer with my partner-in-thespian-crime, Frank Steele.

Kaitlyn-Christina-DreamCat

DREAM CAT song, sung by “Queen Cat” Christina Childress (above) and danced by “Pariah Cat” Kaitlyn Casmedes

THE THEATER CONNECTION

We’d already collaborated on other scripts, including KURVES, THE MUSICAL, but both of us are passionate pet people. I think Frank first brought up the concept of a pet-centric show, with actors portraying cats and dogs in funny or poignant scenes to not just entertain, but explain these behaviors. We didn’t want funny animal makeup or elaborate costumes, though. Our characters, we decided, would be developed strictly through the actor’s skill—so they’d need to love pets themselves.

STRAYS was born over countless glasses of iced tea and scribbled notes, developed through back and forth emailed lyrics and dialogue, written and revised music, recording the orchestration, and finally polishing with the help of two different volunteer casts, setting up a “cast recording” and three preview performances. Truly, the show was written in “kitty litter” with final polishing help from the cast.

The generosity and support of SCP Theatricks made the performance possible–how often does your own hometown get to debut an original theater production? PLEASE support the arts in your community–Frank and I hope this experience opens the door for other local artists. It’s been quite a journey.

PuppyMonologue

“PUPPY MONOLOGUE” was the first scene written in STRAYS, with “Puppy” performed by Kate Carson.

THREE YEAR PROJECT

The first scenes were written in August 2011. Now, after a 40 month gestation, STRAYS has been born this week, thanks to a brilliant cast and crew of local talent. Mee-WOW!

STRAYS was written to be performed for (and by) animal rescue organizations as a fund raiser. Frank and I never intended to write a “kids show” and STRAYS was designed for an all-adult cast. Through the review-style performance, the various scenes and a dozen songs highlight the many ways cats and dogs lose their homes—mostly because of “normal” behaviors—and also offer tips to solve problems and preserve that most special loving bond between pets and owners.

ItsNormal

Our youngest cast members shine in “NORMAL” chorus.

Because of the venue and its wonderful support, we’ve cast the show not only with experienced adult performers but also talented young thespians from the Theatricks program. Their own “furry muses” are featured in the curtain call, too!

Muse

“THE MUSE” song, led by MacKenzie Kozak (center) with slide show above illustrating how our cats and dogs inspire us every day.

Last night was OPENING NIGHT of STRAYS, the MUSICAL. The amazing cast of 30 performers prompted laughter, cheers, and perhaps a few tears in the generous crowd gathered for the event. What a feeling! To have the words and music come to life–and take on a furry life of their own–is every creative’s dream-come-true.

If you’ve never visited the lovely Honey McGee Playhouse, now is your opportunity. STRAYS takes the stage again tonight and tomorrow, 7 pm. on November 7 & 8. Tickets are $10 general admission at the door, or reserve online at www.THEATRICKS.org on the STRAYS page.

There’s even a fund raising program to benefit Animal Refuge Foundation and Red River SPCA during the show. At last night’s event, we gave away a big basket of dog food and a cat-care basket with fun toys, pet CD and cat care books. Pet carriers, more books and pet food, a “well pet vet package” and waived adoption fees are also offered!

Here are a few more photos from the show, taken by the amazing Mike Marlow. He also videotaped the entire show last night, so DVDs and photos from the show will be available to the cast. We may be able to make it available to theater groups interested in producing the STRAYS show.

PuffPuff

“Puff Puff” (Jim Barnes) and “Mom-Cat” (Marty Burkart) discuss how litter-ary mishaps lost them their homes.

CuzImADawg

Theresa Littlefield sings the dawgie blues to “Show Dog” (Jesse Childress) about the normal behaviors that got her kicked out of her home.

PetDebate

Lew Cohn (left) and Susan McGinn (right) in the Pet Debate….”why dogs roll in “schtuff” etc.

No, I never intended to be a writer. I never planned to be an animal behavior consultant. For sure, I never thought I’d be a choir teacher, or a composer, or heck…never imagined I’d live in Texas…But I did all of that. Sometimes, the unexpected turns into something wonderful.

StraysProgramPlease come share our “something wonderful” celebration this week, as our STRAYS cast makes our dream comes true. And don’t forget to dream up your own “something wonderful.” You just might discover an unexpected, glorious dream-come-true of your own!

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!