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Do Pets See In Color?

Do Pets See In Color?

I love this question. What do you think? Today’s Ask Amy topic is Do dogs see in color? What about cats and dogs, do they see things differently?

Do pets see color

Is it the color? Or something else that determines “favorites.”

How do you know? What colors can dogs see? What about your pets, do they have favorites or can you tell?

 

do dogs see colorMagical-Dawg never had a color preference, nor did Seren-kitty. They both had have preferences for texture of toys, though…or in Seren’s case, texture of a sleeping spot, LOL! I tend to choose deep blue colors for the kitty because it looks so good with her eyes.

Shadow-Pup and Karma-Kat also don’t seem to care about color, but they do have their favorite toys. I tend to choose halters and leash color based on what looks good on them, but I choose toys based on what I believe THEY can see best.

Do you have color preferences for your pets’ toys? Does it matter to them? What have I missed in the video, do tell!

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I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? 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 and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Pet Poison Alert! 199 Poison Pet Plants & What to Do

Pet Poison Alert! 199 Poison Pet Plants & What to Do

This month, we celebrate Pet Poison Prevention Awareness Month. Here in Texas, many folks spend this time of year preparing for spring gardens. Two years ago, we dug out old roses (many infected with rose rosetta disease, arg!), and continue to plant new ones, along with other perennials. My jonquils, and other bulb plants now poke shy heads above the mulch, ready for a burst of color.

Shadow-Pup helped! And Karma-Kat will enjoy any cut flowers I bring in later. That’s why I’m so careful about exactly what we plant, and the kinds brought inside for our own and pet enjoyment. I had some lovely patio container plants last fall, and wanted to bring them inside for the winter. Unfortunately, I couldn’t risk plants toxic to pets.

Flowers are gorgeous, and dogs may enjoy them, too–as long as they’re non-toxic!

Poison pet plants can kill cats and dogs any time of year, but spring can be particularly dangerous when new plants pose dangers. While dogs munch, cats more often play and claw plants, and ingest poison when they clean themselves. Check out this post for more about top pet toxins.

That’s why at my house, we love roses, which are edible. Of course, the thorns can be a hazard. 🙂  And if you have neighborhood cats, use these tips to shoo cats away from gardens.

This is a great idea for all public gardens, and perhaps your own. Dogs often enjoy digging in gardens, a problem even if plants are safe.

Poison Pet Plants & What to Do

I received an email from ProFlowers.com a couple of years ago with this great infographic to share. Refer to this helpful poison chart (below) to avoid toxic plants all year long.

Of course, my advice is to keep toxic plants out of the house entirely when you have pets (or toddlers!) eager to taste-test everything. Accidents do happen, though, so this is a handy guide to bookmark (and share!) with other pet parents.

Meanwhile, why not keep an emergency kit on hand? My go-to is the First-Aid Companion for Dogs & Cats not only for poisons but for everything from torn nails to (gasp!) gunshots or snakebite. It’s a good time to “gift” the pet people in your life, too…although my wish for you and your pets is that you’ll NEVER need the emergency advice!

Have your pets ever “snacked” on something toxic? Do tell! What happened? what did you do…and what would you advise others based on your experience?

Poison Pet Plants

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I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? 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 and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Carbon Monoxide Danger for You and Your Pets

Carbon Monoxide Danger for You and Your Pets

Cat and Dog together holding blank cardboard sign to enter your message onto

There’s a major disconnect for me today. While much of the East is dealing with a major blizzard, the past week in N. Texas boasted 60s or even 70-degree sunny days. But that’s predicted to change later today. Deja vu, because this time last year, a similar cold front shut down the whole area for more than a week. But what does that have to do with carbon monoxide danger? It affects you, and your pets, especially during cold weather when we try to keep pets warm.

red Dog and white cat carbon monoxide

CARBON MONOXIDE, THE INVISIBLE POISON!

I hope y’all have taken safety steps to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning–yep, it affects pets, too. Last week, our alarm system gas detector went off–WOOOOP-WOOOOP-WOOOOOP! The pets hated that, and it scared the whey out of me, too. It turns out our detectors were outdated, there was no leak by the water heaters (whew!), and once they were replaced we felt safe again.

You can get carbon monoxide detectors at local home products stores, like this First Alert detector with over 25,000 reviews. But many years ago, my brother’s pet bird, Gumby, saved the family’s life when symptoms alerted them to the danger. When Gumby began falling off his perch, they knew birdy fainting spells were not normal and sought veterinary help. The diagnosis was carbon monoxide poisoning, traced to a malfunctioning heater that could have put the whole family to sleep—permanently.

WHAT IS CARBON MONOXIDE

Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless, tasteless gas. It’s a natural by-product of fuel combustion present in car exhaust and improperly vented furnaces, space heaters, water heaters, fireplaces, and tobacco smoke. It can quickly kill people as well as their pets. Children and pets have died in as little as 15 minutes inside running cars while parents shoveled snow outside the vehicle, unaware of the blocked tailpipe.

The gas causes the same symptoms in dogs and cats as in their owners. However, carbon monoxide is lighter than air, so pets that live at human knee level may not show symptoms as quickly as their owners. Birds are particularly susceptible and like Gumby, may be the first to show signs.

carbon monoxide magic karma fireplace

An improperly vented fireplace can cause carbon monoxide poisoning affecting you, and your best friends. Magic and Karma loved hanging out together!

HOW CARBON MONOXIDE POISONS

Here’s what happens. When inhaled, the lungs absorb carbon monoxide, and it spills into the bloodstream. There it binds with hemoglobin, the oxygen-transporting component of blood. This blocks the hemoglobin from using or carrying oxygen at all, which affects all areas of the body including the brain. The gas creates a kind of chemical suffocation.

The most common symptom of human carbon monoxide poisoning (low doses) in otherwise healthy people is fatigue that clears up when you leave the house. In heart patients, it can cause chest pains. Higher concentrations cause headache, confusion and disorientation, and flu-like symptoms with vomiting. Ultimately, the poison victim falls into a coma. When the victim is asleep during exposure to the poison, the dog, cat, bird or the person may never wake up.

We don’t know if poisoned pets suffer headaches because they can’t tell us about this early sign. But they do act confused, lethargic, and drunk in the same way as human victims. A distinctive sign common to both people and pets are bright cherry-red gums in the mouth.

HOW TO CURE CARBON MONOXIDE POISONING

The body can only get rid of the poison bound to the hemoglobin by breathing it out, or by replacing the poisoned hemoglobin with new. The liver and spleen replace hemoglobin about every ten to fifteen days. When only a small amount of the blood is affected, the victim recovers without treatment as long as no more poison is inhaled.

But high levels of blood saturation will kill the person or pet unless emergency treatment is given. Twenty-five percent saturation level is considered dangerous for people. Usually, though, both people and pets should be treated when the carbon monoxide saturation level is ten percent or higher. Smokers will be more susceptible because they already have an elevated level of carbon monoxide in their bloodstream. In other words, if one family member smokes, he or she may suffer symptoms sooner than other non-smoking family members.

Administering high concentrations of oxygen is the treatment of choice. That increases the amount of gas that is breathed out. Many hours of oxygen therapy may be required. In some cases, ventilation may be necessary.

PREVENTING CARBON MONOXIDE POISONING!

To protect yourself and your pets from carbon monoxide poisoning, get your heating units inspected every year before you start using them. Carbon monoxide detectors are also available to be installed as a warning system.

If you notice any change in your pet’s behavior or your own health that coincides with cold weather or the furnace coming on, don’t automatically assume it’s the flu. Consult with medical specialists for both your pets and for yourself.

Refer to this roundup article with details about five important pet poison issues!

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I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers?  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 giveaways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Celebrating Pets Adoptions with Birthday and Gotcha Day Love!

A pet adoption day is a special event. Eight years ago, Karma-Kat arrived. on January 31, the day before Seren-Kitty, Bravo-Dawg, and my Mom’s birthday. Yes, all three shared the same birthday.

I posted this (with updates) two years ago. It’s time for another update because we’ve lost loved ones–and gained them–over the past years.

cat birthday

HAPPY BIRTHDAY SEREN-Angel!

When a friend discovered a kitten asleep in a flower pot on her back porch about the first week of June, I got the call for help. You see, her four-year-old daughter REALLY wanted this kitten, but my friend was allergic yet didn’t want to take the baby to the shelter. So it was Amy-To-The-Rescue.

cat lifeAs soon as I walked into her kitchen, this tiny baby with blue-jean-color eyes raced across the floor and climbed up my pant leg, put her paws around my neck, and it was all over. I was smitten. I wrote about this in Chicken Soup for the Cat Lover’s Soul. The veterinarian judged her to be about five months old, so we counted backward to give Seren a February 1st birthday, sharing the day with my Mom, a huge pet lover.

So in their honor, purr-haps you’d like to share kitty love by gifting your cat-loving Mom with my latest book CAT LIFE. It’s available on Kindle, and both softcover and hardback is here.

I think the book makes a great Valentine’s gift for cat-moms. Just saying. 🙂 Karma-Kat’s picture is in the book.

KARMA’S GOTCHA DAY

Seven years ago, we prepped for a horrible ice and snow storm set to shut down North Texas for several days. On Friday January 31st, Magical-Dawg(RB) saw “something” dash across the back patio. A hungry, not-so-tiny kitten with blue-jean-color eyes came to the window and paw-clawed to get inside, never mind that a big black doggy face stared and wagged back at him.

He wore a collar, too, so I thought he must belong to the new neighbor. When I opened the door, he ran–I followed, and called for him. He kept running until I meowed at him. He stopped, mewed back, and then can running back to me. And a week later I blogged about him when we knew that Karma was home for good.

The veterinarian guestimated Karma to be about 7-8 months old, so we counted backward and–holy cats!–assigned his birthday in July on the same day as Magical-Dawg’s birthday. Ya can’t make some of this stuff up!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BRAVO-DAWG!

What a blessing our 34-pound puppy turned out to be. I’ve shared how I consider Bravo a Magical-Dawg legacy in this post.  

At first, Karma wasn’t too sure about him. But within only a few short days, Karma had taken his assignment to train this newcomer pup correctly, and they became best friends, tag-buddies, and nap companions until Bravo(RB) lost his battle with osteosarcoma.

We didn’t realize until later that the day we said goodbye to Bravo (March 4, 2021), was also his comfort puppy Shadow’s first birthday. Again, you simply can’t make this up.

WHAT’S YOUR PET’S BEST GIFT EVER?

So what do YOU think? Was there some really kewl karma and serendipity and shadowy magic happening here? For Karma arrived just in time for Seren’s birthday when, frankly, my old lady cat had been so ill that I feared her days were numbered. I know Seren would’ve argued that SHE never asked for a kitten for her birthday, but Karma certainly turned back the clock and gave Seren much needed new energy when he arrived.

dog life coverI have no doubt that Seren-Kitty lived to be almost 22 years old (passing the end of November 2017) because Karma gave her an extra 4 years of energy to get that aggravating @#$%^YU! man-cat out of here! but at last, she fell in love with him, and he with her.

Having Karma around meant Magic suddenly discovered the joys of a kitty playmate that ADORED him. Sadly for Karma, that love affair ended in September 2017 when Magic also moved on to his next adventure beyond Rainbow Bridge.

In honor of all these special doggies’ legacy, purr-haps you’d like to share puppy love by gifting a dog-loving friend with my latest book DOG LIFE. It’s available on Kindle, and both softcover and hardback is here.

My mother passed away on October 30, 2021 at age 93. She gave me my love of pets, of reading and writing, and is the reason I write. So it seems appropriate that my pets and my mom have this connectedness.

Have you ever had new furry wonders arrive at JUST the right time in some weird-and-wonderful coincidence? What’s the best birthday or gotcha-day gifts your fur-kids ever got? Do tell!

In the play STRAYS, THE MUSICAL we included a very short, funny but poignant scene called INAPPROPRIATE PET GIFTS, in which a puppy asks an older dog about the best and worst gifts he ever received. Worst gifts include a hotdog costume for Halloween, and the puppy’s best gift was an old shoe that smelled like the owner–“Heaven!”

“What’s the best gift you ever got?” asks Puppy.

Old Dog answers with two words. “A home.”

So today, as I celebrate the happy accident and magic of pets past, and of Karma-Kat and Shadow-Pup present, I know that there will be a pet future. I’m just waiting for that next paw-step to enter my world.

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I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? NOTE: Some links to books or other products may be to affiliates, from which I may earn a small percentage of sales, but I do not recommend anything unless I feel it would benefit readers. 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 and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Pets Home Alone? Relieve Back to School Angst

Are your pets home alone, now that the kids have gone back to school? How can you ease the transition?

pets home alone

Dogs need their family–and miss us when the routine changes after school starts. Image Copr. MelissaMethamphetamine/Flickr

What do you do when the kiddos return to school? Breathe a sigh of relief? Miss them desperately? All of the above? My in-box is FILLED with all kinds of back-to-school offers for kid clothing, electronics, cameras, and more.

Back to School & Home Alone Pets

What about the pets? For many cats and dogs, the summer vacation (or recent “virtual learning”) means more time spent with their beloved “human-pups” playing and training, and having a wonderful time together. If you got a NEW baby dog or kitty this past summer, the 24/7 time together may be all they’ve ever known.

So what happens when school starts? And if you have a child leaving for college, that can REALLY put the pet’s tail in a twist. Several years ago, when I quit writing (for a while) and taught school for a little over a semester, Magical-Dawg and I both suffered separation anxiety!

Separation Anxiety in Dogs & Cats

Separation behaviors are not unusual when routine changes. These affect dogs more readily than cats. Cats with separation anxiety may end up pooping on your bed…but dogs may try to go through doors, walls or even windows and really hurt themselves. You can find a detailed article on dealing with doggy separation behaviors here.

Providing good alternative behaviors helps enormously. If you know the routine will change, start transitioning pets now. Use products like Adaptil for dogs or Feliway to soothe dog and cat angst, and provide some puzzle toys or cat trees to keep claws and teeth occupied. You can also teach your cats and dogs tricks to help keep them occupied, using clicker training. Check out the newest ASK AMY (below) for more ideas.

What have I missed? Do your dogs and cats get all stressed when school starts? How do you manage? Please share!

For more recommended pet products, visit my Amazon list recommendations here!

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I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? NOTE: Some links to books or other products may be to affiliates, from which I may earn a small percentage of sales, but I recommend nothing unless I feel it would benefit readers. 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 giveaways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Dream Big, Be You: What Do You Want To Be?

Dream Big, Be You: What Do You Want To Be?

I didn’t start out to be a writer, so how the @#$%^&*! did I end up here? I just heard from the Cat Writers’ Association that my fiction book HIT AND RUN just won a Certificate of Excellence Award, with consideration for a Muse Medallion. I always wanted to write fiction, but it only happened when forced to reinvent myself and dream big. What do you want to be when you grow up? What do you want to be remembered for? What will your legacy be?

what do you want to beThe Accidental Writer

I’ve written about my journey several times and have blogged off and on for 20+ years. But the blog only gained traction about ten years ago when I took an Email course on branding and social media from Kristen Lamb (read her blog!). She asked lots of “thoughty” questions:

What do you (want to) write? What are your interests, besides the writing topics—because we are so much more than (fill-in-the-blank). Who do people “see” when they look at you? Is that the BRAND you desire to create? It must be the real you—pretend won’t cut it. People see through the phony-isity of such things. As an actor, someone able to put on a persona for different people or events, that struck a chord with me.

Taking Off the Mask, Being YOU

Okay, she didn’t use those words, but you get my drift. I had an acting coach tell me the same thing, and I wrote about it in another blog, that you are enough. Bring YOU to the table—that’s enough.

And that’s scary! Dang. And it leads me to another question–what did YOU want to be when you grew up? Kids seem to know and show even in the games they play what path they’ll take through life. Me? I wanted to be an actor because they were glamorous, people liked them, and they never laughed too loud or were at a loss for words. I could be whoever I wanted, and if folks rolled their eyes, it wasn’t about me, but the persona. Being real, though–EEEK! Then if they don’t like you (or your work), what then?

writing advice what do you want to be

“I own this content!”

What Do You Want to Be…?

As a kid, my brothers and I put on plays in the basement, and directed marathon “let’s pretend” soap operas. The recurring kid, horses, dogs, and cat characters and stories were so real, they had us in tears—and made my folks roll their eyes.

I never played with dolls, much to the dismay of my grandmother. Nope, it was stuffed animals and best-bud pretend pets who could “really talk!” Mom always said, “When Amy grows up she won’t have babies, she’ll have puppy-dogs and kitty-cats.”

Mom knew.

Write Your Passion—Be YOU, Not Someone Else’s Idea

Early in my writing career, people constantly questioned why I didn’t write about more important topics, like starving children or world peace? And was cautioned, “You’ll never make a living writing about just pets!” Thpbpbpbpbpbpbpb! (insert raspberry sound effects!)

I write about pets because that’s me. It’s what and who I am, and I am enough. No, it’s not ALL that I am, but it’s a big part. I’m not on Broadway–yet! But all my stage and tv experience serves the pet writing causes. I listened to my furry muses. And I have the bling ready for when the big moment comes.

publishing tips

Writing about dogs (and cats) is serious business.

Becoming My Best Self

Something unexpected happened along the path to becoming Amy. I’m no longer at a loss for words—and instead I have to work at NOT jumping into every conversation. The animals taught me that. I don’t need to bark, howl, wag my tail (no wise cracks!) or hiss all the time to get ahead. I’ve never found being a “whisperer” to be particularly effective.

I’ve learned to be a pet “listener.” If you listen with your eyes and your heart, animals tell you what they’re thinking and why they’re acting in certain ways. Works with humans, too.

When I was a kid, I wanted to wear sparkles, tell stories with happy endings, and have bestest-bud animal friends who really talk. As an adult, when a career on the stage seemed out of reach, I turned to writing as a creative outlet, and it turned into an extraordinarily rewarding career. What did you want to be when you were a kid? Are you there yet?

what do you want to be remembered forWhen I Grow Up…

I always wanted to write fiction but at first, only made headway with nonfiction. My childhood dream came true only happened when I lost my grownup nonfiction writing career ten years ago and gave up writing to teach high school choir.

For the first time in years, I had nothing to prove and nothing to lose. So I wrote the novel I’d always wanted to READ in twenty-minute increments: before work, on lunch breaks, and after classes.

I don’t have two-legged kids. My legacy will be my written works, and I hope I will be remembered for helping cats and dogs and those who love them. And now and then, helping fellow writers with tips that helped me, like this webinar on beating writer’s block.

And today, my peers have honored my fifth book, HIT AND RUN, (complete with puppy-dog and kitty-cat characters), something I never could have predicted.

What do you want to be? There’s still time!

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I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? NOTE: Some links to books or other products may be to affiliates, from which I may earn a small percentage of sales, but I do not recommend anything unless I feel it would benefit readers. 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 and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

 

You. Are. Enough! How to Handle Rejection

You. Are. Enough! How to Handle Rejection

I’m feeling philosophical today, after a disappointing experience a few weeks ago. Doesn’t matter what that might be (plenty disappointments come along, that’s life). But I also feel guilty for feeling bad–cuz I’m way more fortunate than many. So I’m revisiting how to handle rejection and deal with criticism.

The creative mind of authors, actors, musicians, and artists takes criticism and rejection so personally, a perceived sneer can quash the muse. I’m an author, actor, playwright, songwriter, musician, and artist, so maybe I got hit with a multiple-dose of sensitivity. Dang gene pool . . .

Those who read this blog know I first started submitting my writing to magazines. I could have papered the walls with all the rejection letters. My husband complained about the cost of snail-mail until finally I won the attention of an agent. Boy, did I build up calluses from all the rejections and criticisms to find the agent, and later, to weather publishing slings and arrows. Since switching to independent publishing, I pay editors for criticism (how twisted is that?!). Everyone needs critical feedback to improve, and keep pushing ahead.

Rejection never ends. I get to publish what I want now from nonfiction to thrillers, to plays. Maybe because of that, I’m a bit out of practice with how to handle rejection. But each time I bravely step out of my self-protective cocoon to take a chance on FILL-IN-THE-BLANK, criticism rolls in.

Bad reviews from readers? Check. Rejected for a role? Checkity-check. Emails ignored? Check-erooonie. Not invited to XYZ event with colleagues? Checkisity. Offhand comment from stranger–or a friend? Checkmate.

*whimper* THEY HATE ME!

how to handle rejection how to deal with criticismRejection Hurts, But Comes With the Territory

I suspect you’re like me, whether you’ve published, performed, created for years or just recently dipped toes into the creative abyss. Dozens of great reviews or performing a fun role leave me with a temporary glow. But it only takes one blistering comment to negate all the positives.

And we LOOK for those negatives, don’t we? The reader who posts a modest review must not have liked the book all that well. The director who cast someone else, the audience that didn’t whistle and guffaw, the show that failed to sell out–they all must hate us! If the artwork failed to sell, art critics and customers hated the artist. How dare we aspire to create something others might appreciate…what were we thinking?

Many artists can’t separate our creativity from personal worth and identity. Outsiders appreciate (or reject) our “gift” as a product, a separate “thing” apart from the creator. Rejection fosters feelings of inadequacy and unworthiness.

I think. Hope. Hell, maybe they really do HATE ME! I’m gonna go eat worms and die.

Nothing’s Personal—Just Feels That Way

It must be in the definition of “artist” to question our own talent and worthiness, even without help from outsiders. Self sabotage destroys more careers than anyone can measure. Because it’s safest to do nothing—pull all the books from the shelves, never write again, put the cello in the case and close the door to theatre. To try and fail feels so painful, we’d rather close ourselves off and stop trying than risk the hurt. Again.

So how many of y’all have shut down the laptop, put away the viola, thrown out paints, or given up thespian aspirations? I’ve made that “decision” dozens of times. Tempting to do so again with the latest hurt.

But it never stuck. Because this is who I am. It’s what I do.

Learning To Be Vulnerable

Years ago I attended an audition workshop with the brilliant Del Shores, who noted that many people have !!@#$%^! -loads of baggage. Nobody gets out of life without some bumps, bruises, and the scars can be visible, deep inside, or both.

Successful performers (and writers also ARE performers!) learn to tap-dance into this wealth of virtual crappiocca, use it to create memorable damaged characters on stage, screen, canvas, music scores—and in our books, essays and other writing. Unblemished, perfect paintings, book characters, photos and music are freakin’ BORING!

how to deal with criticismPerfect People, Perfect Pets = BORING!

In dog and cat behavior (another of my worlds), the perfect pet is a stuffed toy that has no potty accidents, no cost to feed, no need to walk in the rain, and no chewed up shoes or clawed sofas. But real pets also have baggage, seen and unseen—baggage is normal, folks. It’s what makes them special, rather than cookie-cutter same-old-thing. The old days of “punish the bad” have shifted to “reward the good.”

I counsel clients to ignore the bad, and instead catch their pet in the act…of doing something good, and then rewarding with praise, treat, a ball or whatever floats the pet’s boat. We’ve learned that constant brow-beating or (heaven forbid!) actual beating causes pets to shut down.

It shuts down people, too, and it flat-out murders the creative process. Here are some tips to deal with writer’s block.

What floats your boat? How do you reward yourself? You are worthy, ya know! Lift yourself up, stop beating yourself up, and do the same for others. Helping others feeds your own muse!

You Are Enough

Del Shores is fond of saying, “You are enough,” to his actors. No extra bells and whistles required. It applies to all creative people. Lessons learned—and I hope these tips help you, too:

  1. Let yourself grieve the rejection. It hurts. Acknowledge that.
  2. We’re all damaged goods. No blame, we just are what we are. Creatives use that part of ourselves. Mine the gold and let it resonate in your work.
  3. Ignore the bad. Reward the good. Wear the scars as badges of learning and courage.
  4. Wait. Reflect. Breathe. Breathe again. I promise, time heals. Look outside the “door closed” moment for the “open window” that appears. It’s there, if you really look.
  5. Keep challenging yourself. If you get push back, that’s good. Nobody ever succeeded by fading into the woodwork.
  6. You. Are. Enough.

It’ll take practice for me to believe that. But I’m getting better. How about you?

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I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers?  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 and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Furry Prescription: Health Benefits of Pets

Furry Prescription: Health Benefits of Pets

health benefits of pets

Pets help children learn empathy and serve as a social bridge between peers.

Anyone who has ever lived with a cat or dog knows they increase our happiness quotient. But did you know that they actually improve our health? Multiple studies have proven what pet lovers intuitively have known forever. Pets are good for what ails you! The health benefits of pets keep us active, engaged, and happy, stress-free, and so much more.

So do you know all the benefits of pets for human health? Read on!

There are Multiple Health Benefits of Pets: Stress Busters & Heart Attack Recovery

The health benefits of owning pets, especially the ability to calm us down, help enormously during these stressful times. We’re obsessing over the economy, cost of gas, health care, natural disasters, the pandemic, missing family and friends, and so much more. We need all the stress-busting help we can find.

In fact, health insurance companies should give pet owners a cost break on premiums. Studies show that people with pets get sick less often, and recover more quickly than those without animal friends. Infants and children who grow up with furry companions are less likely to develop allergies as they mature.

And those unfortunate individuals who have suffered a heart attack—and own pets—will recover more quickly and survive longer than heart attack survivors without pets. There actually are a few enlightened physicians who prescribe a pet for their heart attack patients.

the benefits of pets for human health

Karma reduces my stress simply by being near me.

Pets Lower Blood Pressure Without Medication

People with a dog or cat experience only half as much blood pressure increase when stressed, as those without a pet. Half! Could you benefit from that kind of stress relief? The research shows that your pet doesn’t even have to be present for this “pet effect” to work. It’s simply enough to know he’s waiting at home.

Petting and stroking any friendly dog or cat also lowers blood pressure, so if you’re pet-less, you could volunteer at the shelter or get your fur-fix at a neighbor’s home. Petting is especially effective, though, when it’s your own animals.

Sometimes pets even lower blood presser more effectively than medication. That’s because the act of speaking dramatically increases blood pressure, and drugs don’t block this effect. The only thing that counters elevated blood pressure that results from talking is focusing on something outside yourself–like a pet. Simply sitting quietly with your dog or cat each day can soothe your soul.

the benefits of pets for human health

Dogs love us back–and the benefits work both ways!

Pets Increase Our Exercise

Part of the pet effect has to do with increased exercise. I know that my exercise increased when I have a dog to walk. Magical-Dawg demanded a game of fetch outside several times each day, and that got me up and moving. After he died, my outside activity decreased and weight went up. But even a kitty can get us exercising more–after all, trips to the store to tote cat litter and food home requires me to leave the house.

Our best intentions to sign up for a class at the gym may come to naught. But dogs like Shadow-Pup won’t take “no” for an answer. And cats like Karma-Kittywon’t let me sleep late, if the food bowl is empty.

Exercise relieves anxiety, boredom, and depression. While others may look askance at goofy-acting humans, it’s “legal” to play and have fun with your pets–which is as good for our own mental health as it is for the cats and dogs. Set aside time every day to play like a cat or dog–and you’ll feel better for it. That’s probably why, when the pandemic kept us apart, many folks adopted pets to snuggle and interact with.

healing power of pets

Pets Are A Social Lubricant

Pets keep us connected socially, too. Walking the dog or talking “cats” at the pet food aisle at the grocery encourages contact that keeps us interested in life and other people. That’s great for people of any age, but especially helpful for seniors who might otherwise become reclusive. They have to get out to care for the dog or cat (or bird or hamster) even if they might neglect their own needs. And if worried about outliving a pet, seniors can adopt senior pets to mutual benefit.

Just to show that I’m not making this stuff up, here’s a “hard science” example. Positron emission tomography (PET scan) is an imaging test that helps physicians to detect biochemical changes used to diagnose and monitor various health conditions. These tests show that touching a pet shuts down the pain-processing centers of the brain. Petting your dog or cat relieves your own pain and also buffers anxiety, all without the side effects of Valium. A cat or dog on your lap can ease the pain in your ass-ets.

The Bond of Love Makes A Positive Furry Difference

People talk about “the bond” all the time when referring to the pets we love. It’s nothing magical, although it may seem so. But science can actually measure this pet effect as well. There are many health and psychological benefits of bonding with a pet dog or cat.

In fact, changes in brain chemicals influence our thought and attitudes. These chemicals prompt feelings of elation, safety, tranquility, happiness, satisfaction, even love. Blood tests that measure these chemicals reveal the levels increase for people–AND for the pets!–when bonding takes place. There’s a reciprocal benefit to bonding with your fur-kid.

Don’t discount the pet effect in your life. I’ve lost weight since the Shadow-Pup arrived, chasing after him and walking the 13+ acres of our place. (Karma cat has also lost weight since playing with the pup. Learn more about fighting obesity in pets here.)

The Karma-Kat always seems to know when I have a headache and helps purr it away. A furry prescription costs only a handful of kibbles. There’s no insurance premium to pay, and everyone qualifies for the benefits. And that’s a wagging, purring blessing for everyone.

How do YOUR pets help you? Does the dog get you up-and-at-’em in the morning? Do tell!

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I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? NOTE: Some links to books or other products may be to affiliates, from which I may earn a small percentage of sales, but I do not recommend anything unless I feel it would benefit readers. 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 and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Dog Allergies & Soothing Itchy Dogs

Dog Allergies & Soothing Itchy Dogs

Spring is the SNEEZE season for humans, complete with runny eyes and sinus issues.(Learn about dealing with pet allergies here).  For dog allergies, itchy skin is the more common sign of discomfort. And it can hit in the fall, too. Just ask my Bravo-Dawg, now trying to balance with only three legs to scratch his itchies.

Bravo (and the other furries) get monthly parasite preventive meds, so it surprised us when he began incessantly scratching and chewing last week. We live on 13 acres, and we speculated the long grass in the field led to irritations and bug bites. But even after mowing, his itchiness continued with head and back scabs, and foot licking. Benadryl helped, but after Bravo’s cancer journey and chemo treatments, we wanted to be careful with giving him anything.

Yesterday, the vet diagnosed allergies–as if Bravo didn’t have enough challenges! Dr. Clay noted he’s at the age when allergies can develop (about 1 in 3 dogs suffer). He also noted that Benadryl is one of the safest and effective meds, and recommended we up the dose (dogs get a much higher dose than people). He weighs 101 lbs, so Bravo gets up to 100 mgs three times a day–and the itch has abated. But what about other kinds of allergies?

dog allergies

dog allergies

I’ve been told by some veterinarians that West Highland White Terriers “put their kids through college…” because of the allergy issues the breed is prone to. Image Copr. Amy Shojai

It’s less common, but runny eyes also may develop–and of course, my Magical-Dawg had to be one of these unusual cases. His eyes began watering back in January, and combined with his acral lick foot itchies, he was miserable. Thankfully, he didn’t suffer from the all-over itchy skin, hair loss, and worse that our first shepherd suffered. But here in North Texas (and other parts of the country), it’s helpful to understand dog allergies and how to soothe our itchy dogs.

This is simply an overview of the kinds of allergies. For more details, you’ll want your veterinarian to diagnose your dog, and explain what’s needed to help your pet. You can also find more details about pet allergies in my DOG FACTS book.

DOG ALLERGIES CAUSES & CURES

Pets suffer from the same kinds of allergies that people do. Food allergies (probably the least common in dogs) happen when dogs react to certain proteins in the food. Major culprits are meats like beef or chicken–and even lamb, if the dog has eaten it before and become “sensitized.” It can be complicated.

Food Allergies

How do you cure dog food allergies? Well, you don’t…but you can manage them. The first step is diagnosing exactly WHAT causes the reaction and only a veterinarian can do that. See, commercial foods contain a smorgasbord of ingredients, some in tiny amounts, and while you MAY find one your dog tolerates more than others, switching around can be hit-or-miss. It also may confuse things when you’ve then exposed the dog to bunches more potential culprits and reduced the “safe” alternatives that he’s never before tasted.

Flea Allergies

Flea allergy is the most common of all. Dogs (and cats) sensitive to the flea saliva can itch all over after a single bite from one of these tiny vampires. Flea allergy also is one of the most easily managed, usually through one of the modern safe flea prevention products. I use Revolution (from the vet) on Magical-Dawg because it takes care of heartworms, fleas and a number of internal parasites, too.

dog allergies

Fleas are more than itchy aggravations and spread tapeworms as well as cause skin disease.

Inhaled Allergies

Atopy–or inhaled allergies–can be due to pollens, molds, and even dander. Hay fever in people that makes us sneeze instead causes itching in pets. That’s what our first shepherd developed. After we moved from the Ohio Valley region (and its airborne fungus and other “schtuff”) and were in Texas, his health drastically improved. Dogs with inhalent allergies often have itchy ears, too, and may develop ear infections.

Could a dog be allergic to himself, or to the cat? Theoretically, that’s possible! But more typically it’s the springtime/summer allergens that drive pets nuts. Wintertime when the furnace comes on for the first time can stir up household dust and set them off again.

Atopy can be the toughest control. It’s seasonal so the signs can lessen during the winter. Dogs absorb grass and dust allergens through the toe webbing in their foot pads, so simply rinsing off poochie feet after the dog’s been outside can help enormously. Also, dogs (and cats) are furry dust mops that collect and carry allergens in their coat–so rinsing ’em off weekly also helps.

Get all the dog allergy facts!

Natural Cures for Dog Allergies

There’s a difference between HOLISTIC veterinary medicine and HOMEOPATHY (click this link for some details). For example, omega-3 fatty acids are a holistic/natural treatment that aid skin health and also have some anti-itch properties–so does bathing the pet in an oatmeal-based anti-itch shampoo. A flea comb to get rid of fleas is about as natural as you can get! Homeopathic medications attempt to “wake up” the pet’s own body to deal with and manage the health challenge.

Some dogs benefit from allergy medications like antihistamines. Magic’s runny eyes resolved once we began giving him Benadryl, recommended by our veterinarian. Please check with your pet’s practitioner for proper dosage and what’s safe for your fur kids. And for atopic dogs, simply rinsing them off with water (even just their paws) can help.

Here are some videos that offer some more comments and discussion (yes, they’re a couple year’s old!). There’s also info on OTC treatments for pets. For folks reading the blog, what has worked for your itchy dog? Any further tips you can share? Do tell!

 

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I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? NOTE: Some links to books or other products may be to affiliates, from which I may earn a small percentage of sales, but I do not recommend anything unless I feel it would benefit readers. 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 giveaways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Easter Candy Caution for Pets

Easter Candy Caution for Pets

Easter candy fills the aisles at grocery stores these days. There are plenty of toys, too, including stuffed bunnies–a far better gift than real live rabbits that need special care. Here’s my yearly caution about Easter candy and other goodies around pets. Refer to this post about other Easter dangers for pets.

easter candy chocolateI’m a sucker for Easter candy, especially those chocolate bunnies. Many folks love to fill the kid’s Easter baskets with sweets. But chocolate indulgence can turn your Easter candy celebration into a pet-astic calamity. It happens with Halloween chocolate, and chocolate on Valentine’s day, too.

Cats aren’t poisoned as often with Easter candy because they are a bit more discriminating about what they munch. But dogs often smell the candy right through the packaging, and eat it wrapper and all. Swallowed objects like foil or paper wrappers or the sticks off of suckers can cause intestinal blockage or damage, too.

easter candyEASTER CANDY CHOCOLATE TOXICITY

Any Easter candy indulgence can pose digestive upset with messy diarrhea results and a need for you to invest in a carpet cleaning service for the stains. But chocolate toxicity can actually kill your pet. Chocolate contains theobromine, a stimulant related to caffeine. Eating too much chocolate shifts your pet’s heart into overdrive.

Milk chocolate usually doesn’t cause life-threatening problems because it takes nearly two pounds of milk chocolate to poison a seven-pound pet. Baker’s chocolate can be deadly, though. It contains ten times as much theobromine as milk chocolate, which means a seven-pound pet only needs to eat two ounces to be poisoned. Licking chocolate frosting, lapping up cocoa mix, or gulping truffles—a very rich dark chocolate treat—causes vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, seizures, coma, and even death.

Puppy Pen

Puppy pens keep baby out of trouble! Image Copr. D.Garding/Flicker

MAKE HIM VOMIT!

If you catch your pet snacking on such things, induce vomiting as soon as you can to get rid of the poison. You can make her vomit up to an hour after she’s eaten the chocolate, but sooner is better. After an hour, the toxin has probably moved out of her stomach into the intestines, and vomiting won’t get rid of it.

It can be dangerous to induce vomiting if the dog or cat acts woozy. They can inhale the material on its way up and suffocate. As long as she’s alert, there are several methods you can use to get rid of the chocolate. Call the veterinarian for further instructions after the pet has emptied her stomach. If you can’t induce vomiting after a couple of tries, prompt veterinary care is even more important.

Better yet, don’t bring dangerous treats into your house. Here’s a thought—you could give the extra chocolate to me. I’m willing to make the sacrifice and dispose of the deadly sweet treats to protect your pets.


 

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I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? NOTE: Some links to books or other products may be to affiliates, from which I may earn a small percentage of sales, but I do not recommend anything unless I feel it would benefit readers. Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe to the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and sign up for Pets Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give-aways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

 

Puppy Diarrhea, Home Remedies & When to Call The Vet

Puppy Diarrhea, Home Remedies & When to Call The Vet

We love snuggling baby dogs with sweet puppy breath, Frito-smelling toes, lap snuggles, and then–OH NO, puppy diarrhea! What’s a pet parent to do about dog loose motion? We’ve already had this issue with our new pup, Shadow, and had to deal with it.

Of course, adult dogs also suffer from the occasional loose stool as well or they pass gas (flatulence). At any age, dog diarrhea can be a sign of something serious that needs immediate attention to prevent pet dehydration. This is not about puppy accidents during house training, but an illness your dog can’t control. Knowing home remedies, dog first aid, and when to call the vet about puppy diarrhea could save your pet’s life.

If your dog is also VOMITING, click here to get the free tips sheets.
puppy diarrhea

Puppy diarrhea ranks near the top as a common puppy problem, and being familiar with dog diarrhea treatment is important. Mild cases may be treated at home and get better but diarrhea can be deadly especially for puppies.

When you have a dog, poop happens. Knowing what to do is key, and it’s vital to recognize the difference between an aggravation and an emergency, and what to do with both.

Diarrhea isn’t a disease. It’s a sign of illness and may be caused by many different conditions.

Shih Tzu puppy, 3 months old, sitting in front of white background

Causes Of Puppy Diarrhea

Diarrhea can be associated with viruses such as parvovirus and distemper. It also can be caused by intestinal parasites like whipworms, hookworms; protozoan such as giardia, bacterium like salmonella and E. coli. Some types of intestinal parasites can be very difficult for veterinary tests to detect and it can take many tests over weeks to obtain a diagnosis.

Puppies also may develop diarrhea from a sudden change of diet, or even swallowed foreign objects. The stress of coming to a new home could prompt loose stools or vomiting. Overfeeding or eating out of the garbage also causes tummy upsets. Without knowing the cause, the right treatment can’t be suggested.

sick dogKinds of Puppy Diarrhea to See The Vet Immediately!

Diarrhea can point to conditions that could kill your puppy. Don’t wait—the resulting dehydration can make puppies even sicker.

A couple of years ago, Magic suffered from a bout of explosive diarrhea. I’d been called for jury duty, so I was gone–and discovered his illness when I returned home after the first day of service. Yikes! Magic had been drinking from the water-filled tank (aka man-made pond) on our property, and we suspected the run-off infected him with some type of parasite. It required a couple of weeks of medication for him to feel better. Had he been a baby, the situation could have been life-threatening. See the veterinarian immediately if your puppy’s diarrhea:

  • Looks black with a tar-like consistency
  • Smells extremely foul
  • Contains large amounts of red blood
  • Diarrhea is accompanied by vomiting, severe pain, fever, appetite loss or lethargy.

Depositphotos_18034765_originalHow to Treat Dog & Puppy Diarrhea At Home

It’s always best to get a vet check first. But your vet may recommend milder forms of diarrhea be treated at home. For instance, if it’s been less than three days, the dog or puppy still feels and acts well, and the diarrhea has a pudding-like appearance, home care may help.

Make sure that water remains always available. It’s very easy for puppies to quickly become dehydrated. Ask your vet about electrolyte replacement solutions like Petralyte. A sudden watery diarrhea can spill large amounts of fluid and important minerals out of the body.

  • Withhold food for 24 hours to let his tummy rest
  • Then offer bland meals (one-part boiled egg with two parts rice or cooked macaroni) in four to six servings for several days
  • Gradually transition the meals to regular food. Mix half/half, gradually increasing to regular food by end of the week.

It often takes a couple of days for your puppy’s tummy to calm down, and a bland diet can help. You’ll find all the must-know puppy-licious info in the book COMPLETE PUPPY CARE (much of it applies to adult dogs, too!).

Are you also dealing with vomiting? Learn more about dog vomiting and what you can do in this post about puppy and doggy vomiting. Or click below to get the quick tips list for treating vomiting at home (or making your dog vomit, in case of poisoning!).

CLICK to get TIPS: TREAT VOMITING AT HOME!

Has your dog ever suffered from diarrhea? Seems like it always happens on a holiday or weekend, too! What did you do? Although dealing with diarrhea stinks, knowing what to do can ensure that everything comes out all right. Literally.

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I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers?  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 and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

It’s National Holistic Pet Day! But What Is Holistic Pet Care?

It’s National Holistic Pet Day! But What Is Holistic Pet Care?

Have you ever considered holistic medicine for your pets? There are many questions about what is holistic pet care. Is it the same thing as what your regular vet offers? There are many names for offering traditional medicine for pets. Some call it alternative medicine or natural healing. But are there specific definitions, and is holistic pet care a good choice for your cats and dogs? August 30 is National Holistic Pet Day, so it’s a good time to revisit asking these questions.

PupInGreen-D-Garding

This gorgeous pup has fun in the “natural” undergrowth…but poison mushrooms are natural, too! Image Copr. D. Garding/Flickr

WHAT IS HOLISTIC PET CARE?

Is natural veterinary medicine that different than a conventional approach? Many pet products companies have joined the “natural” revolution including offering herbs for pets, but is this because they truly feel that’s better for our cats and dogs–or is it simply a marketing ploy? And how can pet parents decide what’s best for their cats and dogs, and see through all the hand-waving hype?

I write about holistic care in both of my CAT FACTS and DOG FACTS books but never would have done so before researching a much earlier work. New Choices in Natural Healing for Dogs & Cats is available in all print & Ebook formats, including hardcover.

You can even get the audio version for FREE with a trial membership to Audible at this link.

holistic pet

NATURAL HEALING FOR DOGS & CATS

Before researching the book New Choices in Natural Healing for Dogs & Cats, I really didn’t know a lot–or think very much of–the “natural” wave of pet care since I’m a prove-it-to-me-with-science kind of person. But after interviewing dozens and dozens of scientific-type researchers and veterinarians who embraced some or all of these new-but-old-fashioned modalities (more than 70 for the book!), I not only learned a lot but began to respect the alternative viewpoint.

As with any trend, though, there are those who take advantage and dish up quackery alongside the quality options, so it’s still very much up to us to “vet” our pet care. The same is true for conventional medicine, too. There’s a reason they call it the PRACTICE of medicine–it is as much an art as a science, and what’s the best choice for my animal companions may be the wrong one for yours.

Conventional vs Holistic Pet Care: What’s the Difference?

Veterinarians provide the latest in terms of advanced diagnostic technology, cutting-edge drugs and surgery but many pet parents—and veterinarians—also embrace holistic medicine they feel is more natural. While traditional “western” medicine can’t be beat for addressing first aid and emergencies like broken legs and acute or critical health issues, holistic approaches may work better to prevent and treat chronic health challenges.

Here’s a broad example that compares “conventional” treatment to a holistic medicine approach. In mainstream western medicine, a drug can be given to stop the puppy’s diarrhea. But that’s like putting a cork in a bottle and may stop the symptoms without getting rid of the cause, so when the drug wears off the diarrhea returns. Instead, holistic practitioners seek to treat the patient as well as the symptom. Mainstream veterinary medicine does that, too, of course, but the approach is a bit different.

What Is Alternative Medicine?

The word holistic refers to a whole-body approach that addresses the health of the pet’s physical and emotional being. Alternative simply means “in addition to” and not specifically “instead of” other modalities. Learn about homeopathy in this post.

Rather than treating the “symptom” of disease, the holistic practitioner looks at the entire animal: diet, exercise, behavior, emotions, and even the environment. Conventional “western” medicine tends to focus on the disease, while holistic medicine focuses on the patient.

Other terms are used to describe holistic medicine, including “natural” and “alternative.” My favorite term, though, is “integrated medicine” because that means the best of all worlds—a combined approach of conventional partnered with holistic for the ideal help for your dog and cat.

Why A Natural Medicine Approach?

Holistic veterinarians would rather try to prevent problems like hip dysplasia and to support the body’s immune system to fight allergies rather than scramble to fix problems after they happen. They believe once chronic problems develop they continue to get worse even with ongoing conventional treatment.

This frustration with conventional western veterinary care inspired them to look for other options. Holistic or “natural” alternatives for many became the answer. Once they started to look, veterinarians found and began experimenting with therapies like herbal remedies, as well as flower essences and homeopathy. They looked at natural medicines and treatments that had been used in human medicine for decades or even centuries.

They found out treatments like massage and acupuncture not only worked in people but equally well in pets. Some of these treatments raise eyebrows, such as sticking needles into your puppy to help relieve pain until scientists proved acupuncture can relieve pain and nausea and even help boost the immune system. Holistic vets have found that garden herbs and Grandma’s home remedies work as well or better than many modern drugs. They often contain the exact same ingredients, but don’t cause the side effects.

You Don’t Have to Choose: Use Integrative Veterinary Medicine

An integrated approach offers your pets the ideal care specific to his needs. Alternative/holistic veterinary medicine works great alongside much of mainstream medicine.

Conventional medicine can’t be beat when it comes to diagnosing problems, so X-rays or blood analysis can reveal a tumor or fracture before the veterinary chiropractor provides a treatment. If your puppy chews through an electrical cord and stops breathing, acupuncture resuscitation can start his heartbeat again until you can reach conventional trauma medicine help. Homeopathy can’t perform surgery, but may help a traumatized pet survive surgery and heal more quickly afterward.

Evaluating Claims

Be sure to evaluate the claims of different holistic treatments before rushing into therapy. Sadly, when the term “natural” became very popular, some companies simply slapped on the label to increase sales. Just because something is “natural” doesn’t mean it’s safe or effective—poisonous mushrooms and venomous snake bite is natural, too.

It’s difficult sometimes to figure out odd-sounding therapies that work from quackery, so ask questions and do your research. Look for studies that back up the claims of a treatment’s effectiveness. Your holistic vet will provide proven science when it’s available. In fact, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) studies alternative care options for people and many of these apply to pets as well. Veterinary journals also publish studies and measure the effects of different techniques.

When a technique or product is very new there may not be scientific studies available. Because some of these therapies are “natural” there’s not much money to be made and so costly evaluations may not be embraced by drug companies. In these cases, testimonials from other pet owners and veterinarians may provide convincing “anecdotal” evidence. Just take some claims with a grain of salt depending on who makes the claims—someone with a monetary gain could be suspect. But other puppy owners and animal health professionals able to recognize true health improvements are more credible.

Choosing A Credible Holistic Veterinarian

When choosing a holistic veterinarian, look for doctors that have training in natural and alternative treatments. Professional veterinary associations or holistic organizations offer study and accreditation. Some of these organizations include:

Do you use natural, holistic or otherwise “alternative” veterinary options with your pets? Heck, I used herbal remedies for myself now, as well as herbs specifically for my pets.  Do tell! And if you decide to get the newly released NATURAL HEALING pet care book, please post a review and let me know what you think!


I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? NOTE: Some links to books or other products may be to affiliates, from which I may earn a small percentage of sales, but I do not recommend anything unless I feel it would benefit readers. 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 and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Doggy Moans, Groans & Itchy Ear Zones

Do your dogs make weird sounds? What do all those moans and groans mean? Do they mean the same thing–even pleasure?

I’ve found some past YouTube posts and decided to update and share them. I have to admit, Bravo-Dawg talks the most of any dog we’ve ever had, and he yodels, moans, groans, and happy-snarls when he wants attention. What fun! To anyone else, he might seem to be threatening–but we’ve become used to his special way to express himself.

How can you tell whether the noises mean he loves it — or is in pain? What sorts of sounds does your pooch make when he’s enjoying himself? Perhaps he enjoys having his ears rubbed and expresses his pleasure, as in this Ask Amy video. What other ways do your dogs have to express themselves?

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I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? NOTE: Some links to books or other products may be to affiliates, from which I may earn a small percentage of sales, but I do not recommend anything unless I feel it would benefit readers. 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 and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

The Dog Heroes Of September 11

The Dog Heroes Of September 11

Our pets are heroes to us every day, in so many ways, but the service dogs and their human partners who served selflessly in the aftermath of the 9-11 tragedy deserve special recognition.

I published this post first on September 11, 2014, and it’s time to share again.

dogs of September 11

A German Shepherd Silhouette on a US flag. Not all of our heroes were people.

With heartfelt thanks…May we never again need your service in such a capacity, but bless one and all for such a wonderful gift! Learn more about AKC initiatives DOGNY for SAR canine support here. 


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I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? NOTE: Some links to books or other products may be to affiliates, from which I may earn a small percentage of sales, but I recommend nothing unless I feel it would benefit readers. 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 giveaways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Thanksgiving the Pet Writer Way: Giving Furry Thanks

Thanksgiving the Pet Writer Way: Giving Furry Thanks

It’s nearly Thanksgiving and I’m updating my annual blog. It’s 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 (relatively) healthy.

thanksgiving for pets

THANKSGIVING, FOR HEALTH & COMPASSION

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 compassion of caregivers, strangers, family and friends who lift us up when we fall into wells of pain or despair. I’m thankful that my 6-day hospital stay last month offered hope, if not complete resolution–it could have been so much worse! I’m thankful for the animal welfare volunteers who do the work of the angels when others somehow let pets down.

THANKSGIVING, THE PET WRITER WAY

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 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

THANKSGIVING, THE PET PARENT WAY

I’m thankful that I found a dumped kitten 22 years ago and brought her into my home and heart. I’m thankful that Seren-Kitty still has c’attitude, and rules the house like the queen she is.

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 finally accepted the Magical-Dawg and allowed him within sniffing range in the past few 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

Today, Seren asks for head-lick grooming sessions from Karma! Wow! Image Copr. Amy Shojai, CABC

I’m thankful that Karma-Kat dodged coyotes, cars, and who-knows-what to find our patio the last day of February 2013. 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 became 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

One week after they met . . . .    Image Copr. Amy Shojai, CABC

THANKSGIVING, THE BITTERSWEET MEMORY WAY

I’m thankful for responsible breeders who ensure purebred dogs like Magic and pedigreed cats have a healthy paw-start in life. I’m thankful that Magical-Dawg shared his love with us for 11 years–although the time was not long enough.

I’m thankful for the memory of water hose tag and tennis balls, stolen socks and stuffed teddy bears, Frisbee-Fetch and Karma-Kat playing chase with Magic. I’m thankful my roughneck dawg had only a few weeks of frustrating mobility issues, and that he didn’t feel pain at the end. And I’m thankful his joyful attitude through everything, his intelligence, his love inspired the “Shadow” character in my thrillers–where he’ll live on in fun exciting adventures–even as I miss him forever. And I’m thankful Magic finally had a cat-friend his last years willing to allow butt-sniffs. Ahem.

THANKSGIVING, THE HEY-HONEY WAY

I’m thankful that although he never grew up with pets, my hey-honey loves Seren-Kitty, Karma-Kat and mourns Magical-Dawg as much as I do. I’m even more thankful they adore my husband back (that could get awkward!). He’s already making plans for when we welcome our next furry wonder into our home.

THANKSGIVING, THE FRIENDSHIP WAY

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.

I’m thankful for students eager to learn, teachers inspiring the next generation, and being a part of sharing my experience to help young Thespians in their next-step-dreams at the Texas Thespian Festival. I’m especially thankful for my partner-in-play-writing-crime who helped make our theatrical dreams come true with musicals like STRAYS (trailer below) and the forthcoming auditions and production of STARZ, THE MUSICAL.

THANKSGIVING, THE AUTHOR WAY

Finally, I’m thankful to you—yes, those who read this blog, or the nonfiction dog books and the cat books, the folks who have “adopted” my dog-viewpoint fiction, 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!

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I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? 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 and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Have You Howled Today? Why Dogs Howl & What it Means

Have You Howled Today? Why Dogs Howl & What it Means

Do your dogs howl? Lately, Magical-Dawg has begun howling more often. For northern breeds, dog howling comes very naturally, but for my aging German Shepherd, his howls are more unusual. Oh, he’s always howled when I sing certain notes (everyone’s a critic!), and the coyotes sing a chorus when the tornado sirens sound. This was different.

WHY DOGS HOWL

Magic began a low “ar-ooooo-woo-woo” and slowly cranked it up. This happened early in the morning, before we’d got up. My husband and I figured he needed out–he did–and didn’t pay that much attention to it. But then Magic also howled outside the bathroom door when my husband showered. He came into the room and howled during my shower, too.

This went on for three or four days, just prior to his yearly veterinary exam. We’d been a bit worried about some of Magic’s aging issues anyway (read about his check up in this post). And I now realize I never mentioned the howling to the vet.

But…once Magic was given medication for his achy 10-year-old arthritic issues, the howling stopped. Lesson learned–howling may be MORE than the “usual suspects,” which I cover in the short Ask Amy video, below. Enjoy!

Dogs bark and howl to communicate–so what’s he saying?

Do You Speak Dog?

Dogs know how to communicate. You gotta go “low tech” to really connect with doggy wags, growls, whines and more. Do your dogs howl? When do they howl–and why? Have you howled today? Try it–for a terrific stress relief (and you might get your canine’s singing along). Lately the tornado sirens have stirred up the canine chorus at my house.

Learn about barking communication here, and what tail wags mean in this post.

Ask Amy Shojai: Why Do Dogs Howl?
Ask Amy Shojai: Why Do Dogs Howl?

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I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? NOTE: Some links to books or other products may be to affiliates, from which I may earn a small percentage of sales, but I recommend nothing unless I feel it would benefit readers. 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 giveaways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Thoughty Thursday: What’s YOUR Bliss?

Thoughty Thursday: What’s YOUR Bliss?

MagicKiss blissI’ve had a lot of jobs over the years, all why searching for my own personal bliss. Some were glorious adventures while others hit big numbers on the suck-ometer. That happens, when you follow your muse…in my cases, a furry one.

Jobs, Careers & the Bliss Factor

I’m a college graduate (woo-woo! thanks Mom and Dad!) with a double major in music and communication (aka theater/writing/fill-in-the-blank). So what’s my work history with such credentials?

Cashier, actress, newspaper delivery person, optometric associate, legal assistant, TV news reporter/anchor, voice teacher, vet tech, bank compliance officer, author, behavior consultant, spokesperson, middle school and high school choir teacher. For a while, I wondered if my folks had wasted their money sending me to college when it seemed my “just a job” treading water (to put, you know, bread on the table) had little to nothing to do with my original aspirations. Along with each came a boatload of shoveling crappiocca (and dodging what was lobbed my direction).

Grubby paws can mean you’re digging for gold!

Being Grateful For Crap

Would I change a single day? Well yeah…there are a few I’d give anything for a do-over. The worst times made me that much more determined to reach that shiny brass ring. And some days, I made enough headway to see it up close and personal.

I think without the bad times, I wouldn’t be as appreciative of the not-bad-times. The contrast makes each stand out more stark and bright and distinctive. It’s a struggle sometimes to be that optimist especially when the world around us has lost it’s sparkle, and the darkest portions seem to catch the spotlight attention, drowning out the goodness that I know is there.

For me, I gotta focus on the good stuff or I’ll drown in the pessimism. Goodness doesn’t always come in a spotlight, either–it rarely attracts the hand-waving LOOK-LOOK-LOOK that media wants. No, the goodness comes quietly, without fanfare, and sort of sneaks up on you: A grocery store clerk going out of her way to help find an elusive product. A stranger in the car ahead paying for a Starbucks. Prayer chain at church making a difference. A car stopping a line of traffic to let a mom-duck and ducklings waddle safely across the road.

If the “big bad” throws a large shadow, each of these tiny pinpricks of light are cumulative. You don’t need one big GOOD THING to throw the darkness back where it belongs–taken together, those individual star-shines out-shout the sun.

Finding Bliss Means Watching For Star-Shine Moments

No more dwelling on doom and gloom for me. Today, I resolve to take stock on a daily basis. Watch attentively for the tiny sparks of goodness that together banish the bad. Oh, and to add my own tiny flame to help fan that ember to full light.

Some folks-in-charge aren’t nearly as classy as this lil’ fellow. 

We all make excuses. It’s the human thing to do. But if something or someone tried to keep me from my fur-kids, from writing my heart, from shiny objects or my music, my God-gifted bliss—I’d by-heaven find a way over, through, or around. And shame on me for letting anyone try to take that away!

“Bliss is a ball . . .”

There’s a rush, a natural “right-ness” and physical Snoopy-Dance-‘O-Joy feeling in doing what is meant to be. It never gets old, but there’s no real destination, either. It’s a moving target that makes you reeeeeach just a bit beyond comfort level time and again.

I’m ready to stretch a bit. How ‘bout you? What is your bliss? What’s kept you from reaching out for that brass ring? Are you ready to join your spark to the light shining just over the horizon?

Magic says…”Bliss is Frisbee-Fetch!”


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I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? 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 and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Pet Holiday Visits? 10 Tips to Keep Tails Wagging

Are pet holiday visits in your travel plans? Family gatherings are a big part of the holidays, and pets double the fun—and the stress. Here are tips for keeping your cat calm during the holidays, and read on for more tips.

If you’re thinking about furry gifts for the holidays, check out this post on how to give pets as gifts.

pet proof holidays to keep pets safe
Most cats hate strange environments and going on vacation, so a pet sitter is usually the best choice for kitty, maybe even a service like Rover. Learn about the different options for taking pets with you–or leaving them behind.

If you know your cat does well on the road and during visits, plan ahead. Set up a “cat central” room in Grandma’s house with all the important kitty paraphernalia (litter pan, scratch post, etc.). Cats often require many days or even weeks to accept “new” pets, so for shorter visits, giving your visiting cat a private room away from the resident critters offers the best chance of a happy holiday.

10 TIPS FOR HOLIDAY PET VISITS

Many dogs love new places, though. Taking him along can save boarding costs. Besides, pets are part of the family, so we want to share our furry loves with relatives.

But when your King meets Grandma’s Sheba for the first time, how do you keep the fur from flying? How would you like a stranger sleeping in your bed, eating from your plate, or (ahem) using your toilet? Pet introductions can take days, weeks, or sometimes months to be successful, so don’t expect overnight miracles. Follow these 10 tips to keep the pets happy and safe, and stay on speaking terms with your relatives.

  1. The Resident Pet “owns” the house and yard. Therefore, give him continued access to his territory.
  2. Confine the Guest Pet in one room. Provide familiar bowls, beds, litter pans, and toys in the room where the owner sleeps. The owner scent helps keep the Guest Pet calm even when he’s alone, and confinement provides a familiar home base where he’s safe from the Resident Pet. Confining him behind a closed door also tells the Resident Pet that only part of her territory has been invaded. (This works for visiting kitties, too!)
  3. Create good associations. Feed the pets on opposite sides of the closed door, or offer favorite toys or games. This helps each identify the other pet’s presence with “good stuff” and helps relieve tension.
  4. Use baby gates. The see-through barrier allows the Guest Pet to be part of the gathering without trespassing on the Resident Pet’s turf. A baby gate also gives curious, friendly pets (especially dogs) a safe way to meet. Moveable baby gates can divide a hallway or stairs to segregate whole sections of the house when necessary.
  5. Leash the guest dog. This keeps him under control around the resident pet. That’s especially important with a resident cat.
  6. “Potty” dogs separately. Distract the Resident Dog with treats or a game out of sight when the Guest Dog must leave his room.
  7. Supervise yard interactions. Once dogs experience friendly meetings through the door for a couple of days (no growls, or elevated fur—whines are okay), a nose-to-nose play meeting is possible. Be sure each dog’s owner is present.
  8. Leash both dogs. Bring the Resident Dog out first because he “owns” the yard. Remove any toys, bones or other resources they might argue over.
  9. Walk the leashed dogs parallel to each other on opposite sides of the yard, back and forth, slowly bringing them closer. Stop if you see tucked tail, growls, or fluffed fur—they aren’t ready to play. Play bows (“elevator butt” posture) buy the dogs a 5-10 minute off-leash game before separating them. Play time can be extended if they do well.
  10. Don’t force interactions. When an adult kitty visits, she’ll be happy to stay in the room and wait for your visits. A resident cat also may simply disappear to a safe place in the house to avoid contact with strangers (human or furred).

It’s hard to predict first meetings. You don’t love everyone you meet—(especially weird Cousin Cylene!) so why should your pets be any different? If pets will only be together a few days, aim for management or tolerance. There will be time enough over future visits for pet-to-pet love to blossom.

For more information, refer to this post on how to successfully travel with pets.

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I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? NOTE: Some links to books or other products may be to affiliates, from which I may earn a small percentage of sales, but I recommend nothing unless I feel it would benefit readers. 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 giveaways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

 

AAHA: THE STANDARD OF VETERINARY EXCELLENCE

AAHA: THE STANDARD OF VETERINARY EXCELLENCE

Female professional veterinarian doctor examining a mixed breed dog that is wearing a plastic medical protective cone around her neck

Image Courtesy of DepositPhotos.com

While I was at the BlogPaws conference last month, I attended a special session sponsored by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA.org). Having previously worked as a vet tech, I’m familiar with this organization and learned even more during the presentation by Dr. Heather Loenser. If you’re not familiar with this wonderful organization, here’s what you need to know.

What Is AAHA?

The American Animal Hospital Association, founded 82 years ago, is a voluntary accrediting organization for small animal hospitals in the United States. That’s right…accreditation is VOLUNTARY, and it is not required by law. Only 12-15% of animal hospitals have gone through the rigorous and stringent evaluation process to attain this distinction.

That’s not to say that animal hospitals without AAHA-accreditation don’t offer great care from talented and dedicated veterinarians. Dr. Loenser noted that to achieve accreditation requires cooperation and dedication from the entire staff, from veterinarians and technicians to front desk staff and everyone who has a “paw” in the success of the practice.

It’s not particularly easy to achieve AAHA accreditation, or to maintain it. So when you see the red logo on your hospital door, website or their educational materials, you know they’ve gone the extra mile. These folks hold themselves to a higher standard.

Once accredited by AAHA, the animal hospital gets reevaluated every three years, measured against 900 standards. Some of these standards are mandatory, while others have a bit of wiggle room depending on circumstances.

For example, having a single-use surgery and ventilated isolation area are mandatory. hospital design can vary quite a bit depending on the location, type of building, size of practice and other parameters that are not so black and white.

A few of the other standards include issues related to medical records and even mentoring new graduates, as well as pain management, dentistry, radiology, infectious diseases, anesthesia and surgery. You can see some of these AAHA-recommended guidelines online, too.

Young female veterinarian with a cat in her arms

Image courtesy of DepositPhotos.com

Value Added Information

AAHA also lists 27 position statements covering everything from analgesics and dangerous animal legislation to declawing, animals in research, wild animals as pets, and THIS:

The American Animal Hospital Association supports the concept of animals as SENTIENT BEINGS. Sentiency is the ability to feel, perceive or be conscious, or to have subjective experiences. Biological science, as well as common sense, supports the fact that the animals that share our lives are feeling, sensing beings that deserve thoughtful, high-quality care. The care that is offered should provide for the animal’s physical and behavioral welfare and strive to minimize pain, distress, and suffering for the animal.

For pet parents of human kids, there’s a “pet owner resources.” section, too. Check out the resources for teaching dog bite awareness and safety, as well as helping kids (and yourself, perhaps) through the loss of a special pet. Be sure to check out the AAHA Pet Owner resources section, too.

Is My Vet Hospital Accredited?

aahalogoMy veterinary hospital has a website, and on the “about” page it includes the AAHA logo and says this:

“We voluntarily sought accreditation by the American Animal Hospital Association. This means that we regularly have our practice evaluated by an expert to ensure that we comply with veterinary care standards. And it means that you can be sure your pet is receiving the best possible care, using the latest procedures and technology. Ask us about our AAHA accreditation and how it affects your pet.”

You can also check the AAHA-Accredited Vet Hospital Locator and do a search to see if your vet–or a clinic in your neck of the woods–is listed. If you’re moving to a new home, this is also a great way to help you find your ideal veterinary clinic, one that’s focused on compassionate care and that puts your pets first, just like you do.

If you don’t see the AAHA logo, why not ask about it? Maybe your hospital IS accredited and will make more of an effort to let clients know, when they know how much we care. Educated pet parents and clients make the best advocates for their companion animals, and your veterinarians want to know how much you care. In fact, your interest may be all that’s needed for your clinic to seek accreditation.

Now then…post in the comments. Is your veterinary hospital AAHA-accredited? Do tell!

Note: I was not compensated for this post, and AAHA is not responsible for the content of this blog. From time to time, when I feel information about a cause, product, company or organization is so important for the well being of our special animal companions and those who love them, I simply must share. Opinions expressed are my own.

Stay tuned–the VOTE comes this week for NAME THAT DOG and NAME THAT CAT!

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I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? 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 and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

New Years Resolutions for Pets

New Years Resolutions for Pets

KarmaSerenSandwichIt’s almost 2015, wow. A new year is a time for reflection on the past, and resolutions for the future. This year has been incredibly rewarding on the pet-writing front. I’ve published three new nonfiction pet books including COMPLETE PUPPY CARE and two short-tips guides, the sequel to my dog-viewpoint thriller HIDE AND SEEK, and produced/directed/wrote with my partner Frank Steele the show STRAYS, THE MUSICAL.

My furry crew has increased this year, too, with the addition of Karma-Kat. They tell me it’s a good time to take stock of the past year from a pets’-eye-view, too, and the year to come.

The Magical-dawg romped through the year and had only one “issue” with licking his paws nekkid. Thank goodness, the veterinarian’s prescription worked even better than expected and that has resolved. Magic is now eight but he shows little sign of slowing down.

Seren-kitty has reached the grand age of 17 and noticeably slowed down. This year she continued having problems with schnorkles. She sleeps more, her black mask has turned nearly solid gray, but the arrival of Karma gave her new energy and zest for life—first, staying out of his reach, and then making sure he knows she’s the boss. I pray that the years will touch me as lightly as they have my little Siamese wannabe.

Karma has grown from a lanky adolescent kitten into a hefty man-kat eager for a game of tag, chase and treats. He’s the delight of Magic, makes Seren grumpy, and keeps us humans laughing.
So here are New Year’s Resolutions from Magic, Seren and Karma with commentary by Amy.

MagicToyMagic: “I will train my humans to spend more time playing.”

Amy: He insists on fetch. All the time. I mean ALL the time! both inside the house and out. So I resolve to keep breakables out of tossed-ball-range, and use only the soft stuffed toys to cut down on household damage.

Karma: “I will train my humans to leave open the pantry door so I can help myself.”

Amy: He’s actually learned to open the pantry door himself, where he chews through packaging to spill dog food et al across the floor where Karma can taste. So I resolve to Karma-proof cupboards and offer only cat-healthy treats to (ahem) trim down his waistline.

Seren: “I will stand on table tops, hassocks and Amy’s lap and cry and yowl to get the (spit) Karma-Kat in trouble.”

Amy: She’s used to being the “only” cat and now must compete for our attention. I resolve to keep Karma and Magic otherwise engaged so that Seren can enjoy her teasing perch antics for as long as she continues to want to harass the other pets.

Magic: “I will kill all squeakers and chew sticky-out wrong parts on toys.”

Amy: He amputates teddy-bear ears, and SQUEEEEEKS toys forever to drive us crazy. I resolve to find a Magic-proof squeaky stuffed toy—been looking for years now.

Karma: “I will stalk and tease and pounce at Magic so he chases me—and makes the humans yell, what fun!”

Amy: Karma takes great delight in teasing Magic and getting him into trouble. I resolve to play interactive chase games with Karma each day to give him the exercise, attention and fun he craves and deserves.

Magic: “I will train Amy to play with the Frisbees—all 12 of them—ALL THE TIME!”

Amy: Magic obsessed over the Frisbees. He’s learned to catch and retrieve them, if Amy can throw them correctly. And yes, he’ll stack and carry as many as I throw. I resolve to keep a supply of fresh Frisbees handy for the times Magic loses them (or they’re stolen by coyotes).

Seren: “I will sleep more, hiss less. Except around the *spit* other cat.”

Amy: Seren’s blue bed rests on the dining room table under a stained glass lamp shade. Karma likes the bed, too, but it’s too small for him and he squashes Seren when he tries to climb inside, too. I resolve to invest a larger cat bed so Seren and Karma can maybe-sorta-kinda share.

Magic: “I will go for a ride forever!”

Amy: Magic continues his love affair with the Magic-Mobile. I resolve to give Magic a car ride at least every other day, pending good weather.

Seren: “I will train Amy there’s more to nine lives than paw-tapping and staring at a boxy computer-thing. Like catnip. And whisker-kisses.”

Karma: “I will train Amy that playing with cats is more fun than anything else.”

Magic: “I will train Amy that naps together are a good thing. So are tummy rubs.”

Amy: I resolve to listen to my furry wonders. What about you?

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I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? 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 and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Getting Cut: Bleeding Is Good For Writers & Pets

Getting Cut: Bleeding Is Good For Writers & Pets

SunBirdBathLast week my writing routine (and income) took a major hit. Getting cut from my puppies.about.com site and getting cut or fired, in effect told you’re not wanted or needed, is pretty dang high on the suck-isity scale but BLEEDING IS GOOD FOR WRITERS — and by extension, bleeding is good for pets (figuratively speaking, of course!).

Anything truly beautiful and worthy of our passion has the power to cut. And anyone truly open to change and growth must be willing to sacrifice for their art–and yes, bleed.

SunBirdBath2It’s very easy to fall into a routine *cough* RUT *cough* and for creatives, that’s deadly. For me, time is the most precious commodity in both my work life and outside life. Wait, who am I kidding? My work life and “outside” life are joined at the hip and that’s not always such a good thing. There is always MORE to do. Those who are FB friends are familiar with my to-do lists, and self-promises of “once THIS is done, then THAT will happen” and…as long as the About-puppy-schtuff demanded more and more time, those reward-end-goals on the list wouldn’t have ever happened.

My husband commiserated with me about the lost opportunity and then surprised me by saying, “I’m glad it happened. You never would have quit. Now you can…(all those things on my list).” After about 10-seconds of surprised silence, I took a breath and simply said,

“You’re right.”

So what has happened this last week? Did I get through all the “wanna-do” wish list?” Not really. In fact, not much happened on the writing front other than a few more to-do lists (I now have a list of the next 6 books to write!) I messed around with SEO, wrote a blog post and newspaper column, read a lot of blogs, a couple of wonderful books, and finally–finally–admitted the need for a REBOOT.

TableTopThose who regularly read this blog know I love shiny objects, so it should be no surprise I love art glass. My home is filled with stained glass panels and lamp shades, and even the rose garden boasts half a dozen glass mosaic pieces.

GlassNookI even created a character in my Lost And Found and Hide And Seek suspense thrillers who works in stained glass. You know that stained glass table in September Day’s kitchen? It’s in my kitchen, and yes, I made it. By the way, the latest stop on the Hide And Seek Blog Tour posted here today.

PedestalTableThe garden and the mosaic work has been neglected. It also needed a reboot. So I spent the past several days cleaning, repairing and re-cementing a couple of bird baths and garden table and I count that as valuable writing time. I’ve found over the years that any creative endeavor feeds across into other aspects of my life. Playing music inspires acting endeavors, designing glass feeds the writing muse, playing new games with the fur-kids offers a rich abundance of song material. So over this past weekend, I wrote nothing–instead, I heeded the call of shiny-brilliant-glass, and ended up bloody but smiling for my efforts. When working with glass you must expect to be cut.

Magical-Dawg doesn’t hesitate to go all out to chase down, leap high, and snatch Frisbees from the air. He’ll turn eight years old this month, and I fear he’ll injure himself and so keep the toys low to the ground. Seren-Kitty at 17 weighs less than half as much as the kitten, and could be severely injured by him, but her newest joy is teasing and then reprimanding the young whippersnapper. Karma-Kitten has discovered the joys of (eeek!) stalking, chasing, leaping to catch WASPS, and again I try to get to ’em first. Magic, Seren and Karma risk bleeding because the rewards outweigh the potential cut.

Hell, our cats and dogs take risks every day, just by loving clueless humans who may leave their hearts broken and bloody with disappointment — but oh, the risk is worth it when they can celebrate that Gotcha Day connection when dreams come true.

BrownBirdBath2Yesterday I spent all afternoon putting together fun bios and questions for this weekend’s Thrillerfest when I’m a Panel Master on Saturday, and get to paw-tograph my dog viewpoint fiction next to best selling thriller authors. (stay tuned for video & pictures!). Meanwhile, all the getting cut and bleeding over the past week has done its job–sores are still a bit raw but healing commenced, and with it, oh-so-much new energy, inspiration and joy to come!

BrownBirdBath3Maybe September Day needs a stained glass bird bath–or perhaps Macy and Shadow should deal with a new kitten in the next book SHOW AND TELL. Hmmnn.

Do you “bleed” for your passion? Have you had to do a career (or life) RE-BOOT? Do tell!

Magic-Karma

(All images Copr. Amy Shojai, CABC)

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, check out weekly PUPPY CARE must knows, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter.

 

 

GOT STRAYS? Celebrating Pets with Musical Info-tainment!

KarmaStraysI’ve been grinning and doing the HAPPY-DANCE for two days now, ever since Monday night the Sherman Community Players Board voted YES to allow STRAYS, THE MUSICAL be produced as a full-fledged show, November 6-7-8, 2014 at the Honey McGee Playhouse in Sherman, Texas.

YEE-HAW!

My co-author (co-conspirator?) Frank Steele and I began this journey more than two years ago when we conceived the notion of a musical theater show from the cats and dogs point of view. For some of y’all who have read my dog-viewpoint thrillers, this probably sounds familiar. 🙂 We’re both passionate about proper pet care, and I’ve carved a career out of helping to educate pet lovers.

Strays Logo2-LoRezWe wanted STRAYS to be a hopeful and funny show that also shines a spotlight (literally!) on how cats and dogs lose their homes, and celebrate the heroes who make it possible for the lucky ones to be chosen and have forever homes. Our fondest wish is that STRAYS helps rescues, shelters and pet lovers everywhere with info-tainment that inspires, offers hope, and maybe even raises funds for furry causes.

The best way to reach the widest audience is to publish. In theater, publishers require that a script be performed before they’ll even consider it.

So as we wrote the script and score,  with the help of talented local actors, STRAYS took baby paw-steps in a preview performance of sample songs at the national 2013 Cat Writers Association Conference in Dallas. And this past March, we were granted a “staged reading” of the entire show (script/music in hand), thanks to Webster Crocker, administrative director of Sherman Community Players (SCP). He agreed to our request to mount the full show in the fall under the THEATRICKS umbrella (children’s theater program), and June 23, 2014 the SCP Board approved the proposal.

Auditions will happen sometime in September–so if you’d like to “channel your inner cat/dog” please come out! Frank and I can’t wait to work with the Supporting Cast members, the young thespians who participate in Theatricks programs. But there are parts for singers, dancers, and actors of every age and type because, after all, cats and dogs are as unique as snowflakes, too. Wouldn’t it be PAW-some to have whole families perform in the show together?

You can learn more about our STRAYS journey on the Strays Page by clicking here, see video of the CWA preview performance, and links to the Cast Recording of the 12 songs.

And I’ve created a Facebook Group Page for STRAYS Fans here, to stay up to date on auditions, songs, and more. Please join our furry throng and spread the news!

Did I mention….YEE-HAW!

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. Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, check out weekly PUPPY CARE must knows, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my  THRILLERS WITH BITE!

 

Bra Klepto Cat!

KarmaShoesKarma has a new toy. I’ve already told you about his shoe fetish. But now he’s discovered my bras and become a bra thief. Is there such a thing as an underwear fetish in cats?

CatBraHe waits until I’m in the shower, having set out clean clothes, and then performs a grab-and-dash, carrying the prize away with high held head. I should be glad, I suppose, that he’s not stashed it under the bed out of reach. Yet. And also that he only targets brassieres that aren’t being worn. Ahem. Tiny tooth punctures in the delicate fabric, and tug-games with elastic bits, seem to be the allure.

KarmaBraI shouldn’t be surprised. Magic targets my husband’s socks and carries them around like a child with a blanket. Lots of dogs target undies. And Seren loves to lounge in fresh-from-the-dryer laundry and will un-fold clothes given half the chance to sneak into the wardrobe.

Karma has just taken it to the next level. I hate to think what’s next. It can’t be on the same level as my friend Jenny Hansen’s Undie Chronicles (for some insanely funny reading you should check that out!).

Do your pets target your unmentionables? Do tell!

WEEKLY UPDATES

Thanks again to all my Sweet Peeps and Sweet Tweets for the support and encouragement to take some “Amy Time” away from blogging. This the first of what I plan to make a weekly update/post and from time to time will include what I used to call “Monday Mentions” roundup.

Magic8WeeksPUPPY-LICIOUS! The About.com group of 800+ sites will soon launch an update to the design. So for the past month I’ve spent lots of time updating my puppies.about.com articles (about 400 or so) with the new requirements which include SQUEEE! even bigger, more scrumptious cute puppy pictures. Oh, there’s lots of other “hidden” updates on the back end that have to do with SEO schtuff, too. One ongoing project is an alpha-list of puppy breeds-at-a-glance! I’ve finished the “A” puppy breeds and the “B” puppy breeds and have begun the “C” list. Let me know if you have a darling doggy pix you’d like included of your fav breed!

Shakespeare SHAKESPEARE IN THE GROVE I’m having a ball rehearsing (pix here!) for the first annual Shakespeare In The Grove production in Sherman, Texas. This first show is a favorite for adults and kids alike–A Midsummer’s Night Dream. And get this…my character, as an Amazon Queen, Hippolyta, I get to wear BLING! Hope to see y’all there, we open next Friday and it’s FREE FREE FREE to the public!

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. Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, check out weekly PUPPY CARE must knows, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my  THRILLERS WITH BITE!

 

Taking A Breather

MagicKarma

“Come play with us…please? when’s quitting time?” Image Copr. Amy Shojai, CABC

I need your understanding, Sweet Peeps. After several years of blogging three times a week, along with the weekly newspaper columns and the 8+ monthly articles for puppies.about.com, my frazzle-icity has reached new heights. Or is that depths? More likely a brick wall. 😛

This is my 675th blog post. Yay!

But it’s been a struggle to maintain this pace, while also writing the next book in my September Day thriller series. I’m also about 1/3rd of the way through the rough draft of COMPLETE PUPPY CARE companion volume to my kitten book. But at this rate, neither book will get done any time soon and even the short writerly schtuff feels like I’m giving it short shrift. I hate that!

SerenStormOh, and the cats and dog want attention, and–hubster too. They’re funny that way! 🙂  This past month, it hit me pretty hard that I probably won’t have Seren-Kitty for very much longer so I want to enjoy her good days while she has them.

I get to “see” and interact with many of y’all on Facebook anyway. Actually, I was so torn about this decision and then I posted a vague mention of it yesterday and the outpouring of love and encouragement made me feel so encouraged! Thank you, thank you, a million times–I can’t tell you how wonderfully helpful that was. I don’t want to disappoint but really need to figure out how best to spend my time and focus my efforts. If you’re not already following me on Twitter or my Facebook Fan, or a Friend (or Follower) now’s your chance–message me to say you came over from my blog.

I’ve got the BEST Sweet Peeps evah!

Starting next week, I’ll be dialing back my blog posts to one a week, probably Thursday or Friday. I still accept select “sponsored posts” — stay tuned for a fun one this Friday–but for the most part any product reviews will appear over at my puppies.about.com site. I’ll be sure and share all the new puppy schtuff here, of course and any breaking news will get a post, too. That way I can keep y’all up to date on the fictioning progress and any SQUEEE! puppy-licious and cat-astic info. Instead of three weekly lame blog posts, you’ll get one (hopefully) PAW-some post! I’ll try to send out more regular Pet Peeves newsletter updates, too.

Thanks for being such great supporters and followers of the blog! I’m not stopping, really I’m not, I love this BLING, BITCHES AND BLOOD BLOG–just taking a breather to hopefully give y’all more and better content in the books. I hope you’ll understand and still check back in here every week for more writer-icity and pet-astic edu-tainment.

woofs & purrs and ever-so-grateful virtual hugs,

amy

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