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Please Fence Me In: Creating Good Neighbors & Keeping Dogs Safe

Do you have a dog fence? Magical-Dawg used to take off after “critters” every so often, racing around the 13-acre spread (or beyond). We eventually trained him to stay with us, even when off-leash. It would have devastated me if Magic disappeared. He was microchipped, but folks would need to catch him first.

Bravo was a very different dog. He was so good off-leash during most morning rambles and didn’t want to go too far away from us. He’d chase and play with his “big-ball” in the field, and baptize every tree and grass tussock. And once he lost his leg, he couldn’t get out the back fenced area even if he’d wanted to.

 Shadow-Pup, though, takes after Magical-Dawg. He’s so small, not even the fenced back area keeps him contained. He also likes to dig, so we needed to address possible escapes. Refer to this post for more help with digging dogs. Until recently, we had to keep him on a leash anytime we went outside, and that’s no fun for him–or for us. A fence is a dog’s best friend!

Dog Training & Cat Training: How to Clicker Train Pets

People often ask when to start puppy training, and training a kitten or cat training is no different. Pets can learn at any age. January is “Train Your Dog Month” so it’s a great time to revisit clicker training. Clicker training pets offers a great way to teach pets to learn, think, and please you. Pets—and people—will repeat behaviors that reward them and naturally avoid behaviors that offer no benefit. Owners don’t have to be master dog trainers to use this technique, and dogs and cats learn quickly how to behave. You can even trick train cats! Read on to learn how.

Submissive Wetting and Why Dogs Pee When You Come Home

Does your dog whine, wiggle, and pee when you return home after a long day? Or does your dog pee when you pet him? Ever wonder why dogs pee when you come home?

Dogs pee when excited, and puppies pee when scared. It also can be a sign of deference, especially in puppies, and this normal display happens when the dog declares you as the “boss.” Of course, you don’t want your dog to be scared. We want our dogs to offer deference to us, but the wet floor ratchets up YOUR stress levels, too. After all, the dog is house trained and knows better, and you’ve shamed him so he understands wetting isn’t acceptable.

What’s a caring pet parent to do?

Feral Cats, Community Cats, TNR & New Research

Some of my earliest bylines as a “pet journalist” appeared in Cat Fancy magazine. I got my first book contracts because a NYC editor read and liked a couple of my Cat Fancy articles. But the magazine sold in 2013, and published a final issue in 2015. Much of the content remains important and share-able. The last article I wrote for Cat Fancy (updated below) covered feral cats and TNR.

Feral Cats, Community Cats, TNR & New Research

There are an estimated 60 to 100 million free-roaming feral and community cats in the United States. They caterwaul from alleyways, give birth in woodpiles, and slink beneath dumpsters, eking out a meager existence on the scraps of civilization. Nobody knows how many live homeless and unloved, but wherever cats gather, controversy soon follows.

Caring cat lovers tried many “solutions” and opinions abound regarding the best way to deal with un-owned and feral felines. In the last decade, a small army of dedicated and caring cat advocates, including Riverfront Cats, and the Feral Cat Project (which lists several success stories!) believes that TNR is a viable and ethical answer.

New strategies are needed that move beyond trap/neuter/release programs. “The importance of finding viable, safe, humane and cost-effective techniques for nonsurgical sterilization in community cats cannot be overstated,” said Dr. Kathy Tietje, Vice President of Scientific Operations at Morris Animal Foundation. Two studies recently approved by Morris Animal Foundation addresses this issue with nonsurgical methods to control reproductive capacity. “We’re excited about these innovative projects and their impact on population control of this specific group of cats.” The projects begin in 2023 and should last 12-24 months.

Reducing the number of cats entering the shelter system and improving overall feline health outcomes are the primary drivers behind these new studies. An additional benefit will be reducing the environmental impact of free-roaming, community cats through humane population control. The project at the University of Georgia is aimed at developing an oral vaccine to decrease male cat fertility by reducing reproductive hormone levels. The Tufts University project focuses on decreasing hormone levels in female cats through an injectable medication. Until then, TNR continues to lead the charge for feral cat welfare.

2023 New Year Goals–from the Pets

Each year, rather than making New Year resolutions, I plan for goals—and hope that the journey along the way proves equally rewarding. Rather than say, “lose weight” I instead want to strive for good health. This year, I made some changes and they’re starting to pay off. For 2023, I plan to continue that trend, concentrating on what gives me and my family joy, letting go of past angst, and challenging myself to grab for that next shiny object.

I have new books planned, at least one and maybe two thrillers for 2023. Perhaps another nonfiction book, too. And I just finished a fun and exhilarating run performing in WHITE CHRISTMAS at the local theater and also had the first experience of playing bass (on keyboard) in the Rocky Horror show band. Many things remain outside human control, but if you don’t DARE to try something new, you never know what might be possible. I’m looking for new possibilities for 2023, building on the joys of the past with hope for the future.

I treasure my resilient family—my husband, y’all know as “M,” my brothers and their families, including a delightful great nephew and great niece, and my young-at-heart 95-year-old artist father. He still struggles with losing Mom—we all do, but him especially. Now we more often remember with smiles of the happy memories.

We have high hopes for 2023—and the hope shines strong in part because of the special pets of our past, our present, and sometimes the surprise pets that show up when you need them most.

It’s also become a tradition to take stock of the past year from a pets’-eye-view, and the year to come. Throughout the challenges, our pets keep us laughing even through tears. Look for the surprise blessings that bring joy despite the heartache. So here are New Year Pet Goals from Karma-Kat, Shadow-Pup, and a couple from the spirits of Bravo-Dawg, Magical-Dawg, and Seren-Kitty, with commentary by Amy.

New Puppy Introductions: New Pets Enrich Furry Lives

Did you adopt a new pet over the holidays? New puppy introduction to pets — in my case, dog to cat and puppy to dog introductions — is one kind of dog school that everyday dog obedience classes may not teach. While dog to dog introductions are a bit easier in some ways, puppy to cat introductions work very well when both pets are supervised. Puppy school starts in your home with basic dog training. When it involves a smaller pet like a resident cat, safety is also an issue.

On Sunday, May 31, 2020, a stray puppy showed up at our house. We didn’t plan on a new pet, especially since Bravo-Dawg developed major health challenges. As it turned out, Bravo adopted the new baby as his very own comfort-pup. Here’s how to introduce pups to adult dogs so they become fast friends.

Why Tabby Wears An M–A Christmas Cats Story

It’s become a tradition on the blog (and in my PETiQuette newspaper column) to share my favorite Christmas cat story this time of the year. This touching legend, included in Complete Kitten Care book, tells the story of a simple Tabby cat, and her gift on the very first Christmas day to a special mother and child. My own special tabby boy honors this page–notice the “M” on Karma’s brow…Enjoy!

Please be safe if you’re traveling. And help keep your cat calm during the holidays with these tips. May your holidays be blessed.

Merry Cat-Mas & Doggy Ho-Ho-Ho! Here’s How to Create a Tree for the Pets

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

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

Protect your precious memories by pet-proofing to prevent breakage (yes, this happened to me!) And give your pets something “legal” to enjoy. Here’s how to create pet safe holiday fun for cats and dogs.

Cold Weather Pet Protection Tips

Cold weather pet protection becomes more in winter weather. Here in North Texas we’re bracing for temps to drop. Forecasts predict dangerously cold weather all over the country. Wind chill makes it even more uncomfortable or even dangerous for our dogs and cats.

Outside animals, like feral cats or stray dogs, suffer greatly from hypothermia or frostbite. House pets used to warm indoor temps need extra help, too. It seemed like a good time to remind everyone about cold weather pet protection.

Remembering Seren with Holiday Sparkles, A Cat-Mas Story

Seren arrived at a time we’d been pet-less for many years. A friend called to tell me she’d found a kitten–and could I help? The wannabe Siamese baby climbed up my leg, wrapped her chocolate paws around my neck, and purred her way into my heart. It was, indeed, Serendipity that we found each other.

That was more than two decades ago. She inspired my cat writing, hated and finally tolerated “that !@#$%!!!-dawg” when Magic arrived (and outweighed her even as a pup!). And Seren tolerated and ultimately loved her pesky cat brother, Karma. Seren’s tiny frame packed a powerful presence for over 21 years, and now the house echoes with her absence. We mourn, oh how we mourn . . .

But at Christmas time, we remember and we smile. You see, Seren had a way about her, to win over even the most reluctant cat lover–with holiday sparkles. Read on!

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Amy Shojai CACB is an award winning author.  You can find all her publications and book her to speak via her website. 

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