Friday, April 17, 2015

WE LOVE OUR PETS & DEWEY: THE SMALL-TOWN CAT

We definitely love our adorable pets. Cats and dogs make excellent companions for just about anyone who's dedicated to taking proper care of these comfort creatures. Properly taking care of pets is a time-consuming responsibility and as the pets get older, veterinarian bills will pile up. Therefore, it is wise to set aside money before pets get too old.

Not only are companion animals treasured, but a very high percentage of citizens in industrialized countries - as high as 99% in some polls - identify their companion animals as family members.

Mark Twain wrote an autobiography from a dog's perspective. In his 1904 book "A Dog's Tale," Twain wrote: "My father was a St. Bernard, my mother was a collie, but I am a Presbyterian. I was the same as a member of the family."

Photographs from the late 1800s show fewer cats and dogs in the yard and more in the living room. Felines curl up on sofas, and canines slumber next to baby cribs. Pets even moved into the presidential mansion.

Abraham Lincoln is known to have been an inveterate cat lover. One story relates that in the 1860's, he spotted 3 kittens in a military tent who had apparently lost their mother. Before leaving the campsite, he instructed that they were to be well taken care of, and he continued to inquire about their welfare on an almost daily basis.

Abraham Lincoln reportedly fed Tabby, the first White House cat, under the table - with official cutlery. "If the gold fork was good enough for former president James Buchanon," he told his objecting wife, "I think it is good enough for Tabby."

Of the millions of creatures on earth, only cats and dogs have become our true family members. They sleep in our beds; they play with our children; they love and they are loved. How does it come about that two members of completely unrelated species can feel such deep affection for each other? There is nothing quite like it in the natural world.
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DEWEY: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched The World

I just read the book "Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat who Touched The World." Cat lovers - and anyone who likes animals - will find a treasure of good reading in this book. "Dewey" is more than a book about a lovable cat - although that would be enough. "Dewey" is a metaphor for the meaning of life itself: a book about the beauty and power of compassion. It is a book about saving a precious kitten's life, and how this cat named Dewey influenced so many people's lives in a positive way.

Contained in this book is an understated wisdom, a strong sense of compassion, and pet enthusiasts can easily relate to the author's love for Dewey. Here is a quote from this charming book: "Find your place. Be happy with what you have. Treat everyone well. Live a good life. It isn't about material things; it's about love. And you can never anticipate love. I learned those things from Dewey of course."


Dewey was cared for by the library staff when he was found in the library's drop box when the temperature outside was minus 15 degrees, and not any warmer inside the drop box.

Dewey's picture was later featured in magazines, newspapers, books, and newsletters from Minneapolis, Minnesota, to Jerusalem, Israel. Dewey became a celebrity! From that nearly-frozen precious kitten left in a library drop box to one of the world's most famous cats - beloved Dewey was a true star.

"Dewey" showcases the wonderful, meaningful exchange of good karma between a cat and his human guardians. The book is a reminder of our own mortality. When we leave this world, what have we done to make it a better place. Every sentient being wants to be happy, and every sentient being cherishes his or her life. Not only did the Spencer library staff save Dewey's life but they let him roam the library as he pleased.

The 17th Gyalwang Karmapa wrote in his book "The Heart is Noble": "The fact that you have affection for your family members or pets is due to the compassion and love that already lie within you. Even your wish to tend the garden outside your window is an expression of love and caring.

As you allow compassion to fill your heart and come to the forefront of your life, everything you encounter can become a condition for compassion to increase. Compassion can permeate your smallest gestures. And whenever the opportunity arises to act to benefit others in larger ways, you will be fully ready to do so - because compassion prepares you with a sense of responsibility for others' happiness and an urgent wish to act to accomplish it."

Page 31 of "Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat" states:

"He was so comfortable in the library and he had no problem falling asleep in public places. He preferred laps, of course, but if they weren't available he would curl up in a box. The cards for the catalog came in small boxes about the size of a pair of baby shoes. Dewey liked to cram all four feet inside, sit down, and let his sides ooze over the edge. If the box was a little bigger, he buried his head and tail in the bottom. The only thing you could see was a big blob of back fur sticking out of the top. He looked like a muffin.

Dewey loved drawers, and he developed a habit of popping out of them when you least expected. If you were shelving books, he'd jump onto the cart and demand a trip around the library.

For decades the library had hosted a special Story Hour every week for local elementary and middle school special education classes. Before Dewey, the kids were poorly behaved. But Dewey changed that. As they got to know him, the children learned that if they were too noisy or erratic, Dewey left. They would do anything to keep Dewey with them, and after a few months, they became so calm you couldn't believe it was the same group of kids."

EXCERPTS FROM the SEQUEL BOOK: "DEWEY'S NINE LIVES":

As the months went on, and "Dewey" topped the national best-seller lists, the letters became more frequent. After a year, I had received more than 3,000 letters, e-mails, and packages, almost all from people who had never heard of Dewey before reading the book.

I knew he had left a legacy, because Dewey had changed me. He had changed members of the library staff. He had changed Crystal the disabled girl, and the homeless man, and the children who came each week for Story Hour, many of whom brought their own children to see him in his later years.

I knew how important he was because people kept telling me their Dewey stories, confiding in me in a way. In the end, he touched more than the town of Spencer. But it was those of us who knew him and loved him and heard his story that he changed. His legacy would live with us.

I thought that was it. I really did. And then something happened. I wrote a book about Dewey, and people around the world responded. I was not prepared for the passionate response. So many of the people who attended my book events didn't just like Dewey, and didn't just enjoy the book. They LOVED them both. They felt touched by the story. And they felt changed.

Dewey's story began quietly, on a brutally cold weekend in January 1988. The temperature was minus 15 degrees, the kind of cold that burns your lungs and peels the skin from your face (or at least it feels that way).

But despite the deep freeze, someone shoved into the book return slot, a tiny homeless kitten. I entered the story when I opened the book return box and found a tiny kitten inside. When he looked up longingly into my eyes, my heart stopped. He was so cute . . . and so in need. I cradled him in my hands until he stopped shivering, then gave him a warm bath in the library sink.

One of the many regular visitors I recognized but never knew was a woman named Yvonne Barry. She liked magazines, and she always checked out books. Beyond that, I knew only one thing about her: She loved Dewey. I could see that in the smile on her face every time he approached her. 

After Dewey arrived, visits to the library increased dramatically. I'm not sure he brought people through the door for their first visit, but I think he convinced them to come back. Yvonne, for instance, didn't visit the library until Dewey was 4 or 5 months old. She had read an article about him in the Spencer Daily Reporter shortly after his rescue, but it wasn't until summer that she decided to stop in. By then, Dewey was half grown. With his bushy tail, brilliant copper fur, and magnificent ruff, he already looked like the pampered, patrolling King of the Library. Which he was. Cool, confident Dewey was completely at ease in his surroundings. The first time Yvonne saw him, he was strutting around as if he owned the place. What a beautiful cat, she thought.

Everyone thought she had a unique relationship with Dewey. I don't know how many times someone whispered to me in strictest confidence, "Don't tell anybody, because they'll be jealous, but Dewey and I have something special." I'd smile and nod and wait for someone else to say the exact same thing. Dewey was so generous with his affection, you see, that everyone felt the connection.

People wrote about their own pet experiences and what the book Dewey meant to them. There were people who had never known Dewey, the strangers who were so touched by his story, they felt compelled to write to me. "I've never written to an author before but I was so moved by Dewey's story . . . " Or, "Dewey was an angel, thank you for sharing him with the world."

" I simply wanted thank you for putting into such eloquent words what many of us who have loved a cat, or any animal, feel every day. They are our family, and we love them just as deeply and miss them just as desperately when they are gone."

"Words cannot express how much the book Dewey meant to me . . . We adopted a stray cat at our church many years ago: 'Church Cat'! She was pregnant and when her babies came, members adopted them. Then a collection of funds got her to the vet to be spayed. She lived in the church until we had major renovations and I took her home."

"I had a cat for 21 years . . . He shouldn't have survived . . . yet he did survive to bring so many hours of joy to my life for so many years. And to this day, you can sometimes feel his wet nose touch your leg as he still waits for my spirit to join him."

Dewey was a fortunate cat. He not only survived the sub-freezing library drop box, but also fell into the arms of a staff that loved him. - from "Dewey's Nine Lives"

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CAT PEOPLE

Michael Korda wrote in Cat People:
"There's no question that conversations with a cat are therapeutic - after all, a cat doesn't argue, answer back, or tell you that you're dead wrong, while a human voice, in the right tone, preferably soothing and praising, is something most cats appear to enjoy listening to in moderation. Also, you can whisper your deepest secrets to a cat in the absolute confidence that they're not going to be passed on to anyone, which is more than you can say of humans, including your best friends. Cats probably hear more good gossip than anybody, including gossip columnists, which might explain the self-satisfied expression and general air of superiority that most cats affect."
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CATS NEED MORE ADOPTIONS

For many, cats and kittens can be an almost endless source of fascination. It's not uncommon for people to spend hours watching cute cat videos on the Internet and sharing cat photos online.

Unfortunately, it seems this online fascination with cats is not translating into real-life adoptions. Every year, an estimated 8 million pets enter U.S. shelters, and approximately 4 million of them are euthanized because there are not enough homes.

A recent PertSmart Charities survey of people's perceptions of cats found that the negative opinions some people have of cats are hurting their image.

 For instance, when asked about the personality and behavioral traits of cats, respondents overwhelmingly described cats as curious, stubborn, moody and aloof. Dogs, on the other hand, were described in much more positive terms, such as friendly, loyal, protective and loving. It's thought perceptions such as these are making it more difficult for cats to be adopted into permanent homes.

Fortunately, there are indications that some people are taking steps to end these misperceptions once and for all. Sixty-six percent of respondents said that too many people have negative impressions of cats and 56 percent said that the stereotypes about cats simply aren't true. Additionally, half of the respondents believed that more people would have a pet cat if the stereotypes around cats were removed. The survey also found that cat lovers may be uniquely positioned to help cats the most - you may let people know about this blog posting, for instance.

Research shows that by sharing more about their cat online, particularly through social media, cat owners can help to overcome the negative stereotypes surrounding cats and show them in a positive light. The PetSmart Charities cat perception survey was fielded via Toluna Analytics to 1,022 U.S.-based respondents during the period from Feb. 11-14, 2015. It has a +/-3 percent margin of error. To learn more, visit:
www.petsmartcharities.org
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UNDERSTANDING CATS: CATS are TRULY AFFECTIONATE !

Cats are truly affectionate beings, but they are emotionally reserved compared to dogs. Compared to dogs, cats are rather shy, quiet beings. Cats are not capable of barking and you'll never see a cat with his head poking outside of a speeding car window. Dogs have facial muscles that give the appearance of smiling whereas cats lack these muscles, giving them a more serious demeanor. Who has not seen a happy, smiling dog, eagerly wagging his tail?

If a cat is unsure about you, she will study you from a distance to determine if you are friend or foe. Cats are much smaller than adult humans, and they need to know that you are safe to approach. And approach they will! For instance, house cats know when you are in a peaceful mood and they will sit on your lap.

Cats love to be petted, but make sure you stroke their fur in the direction that it grows or else your furry companion will scurry away. Cats spend considerable time licking and grooming their fur so it doesn't get matted, clumped or dirty. There are practical reasons for well- groomed fur, including better insulation. Besides, who wants to look like they just crawled out of a dumpster?

Affectionate touch is actually quite powerful. It is a very honest form of communication that is direct, simple, primal and reassuring. It feels good physically while it nourishes the soul of the person doing the petting and the animal being petted. And it's fun to pet dogs and cats! In fact, a child, monkey or puppy may not thrive, and may even die without this loving touch.

Imagine the Akashic Records, or a similar, extremely accurate cosmic record, of all the negative and positive actions that you have ever performed. Near the very top of these positive actions would be caring for your pets: demonstrating love and compassion. Now imagine that you saved, cared for and spent your time and money on abandoned animals that otherwise had no hope of a decent life. The positive karmic rewards that you would incur from these compassionate acts would be a huge dividend in your karmic bank account.

Conversely, injuring and neglecting animals would incur a huge negative karmic debt that must be paid in full. The author of this blog has been rescuing animals - frogs, toads, lizards, birds, cats, dogs, etc. - since he was 5 years old. As a child, I didn't know anything about karma, but I did know that it felt good, it felt right, to protect animals, and these positive ideals have persisted throughout my life. I do not regret a single minute that I spent with my cats and dogs!

Now, there are hundreds of ways to accumulate good karma. Being kind to animals is one way to express concern for these beings, while it fattens a person's positive karmic account.

Of course, there are people who don't give a hoot about karma, or animals, but these people cannot be absolutely certain that karma does not exist. These people cannot prove that karma is a myth.

Some people don’t like cats or they aren’t familiar with them. These people will probably inform you that cats don’t show affection. They may praise how dogs show affection but refer to cats as snobby or aloof. But cats are not dogs - they are two different species with different ways of showing affection.
Individual cats have their own preferred ways of showing affection and there are many ways your particular cat may display affection. Here are some common ways they show their love:

Why do Cats Rub Up Against Your Leg When They Greet You?

Cats are truly affectionate beings and they are always happy to greet their kind and caring guardian. First, he or she will brush against your leg. He starts by pressing the top of his head or side of his face against you. Then he'll rub his flank alongside you and sometimes twist his tail around your leg.

Now, if you reach down and stroke the cat, he will respond by pushing the side of his mouth against your hand or nudging upward with the top of his head. This feline ritual has meaning: basically the cat is implementing a scent exchange between you and him. There are special scent glands on a cat's temples and at the gape of their mouth. Perhaps the cat is saying to other cats: "This human is mine, so stay away!”

Why do Cats like being Petted?


Cats consider their human guardians to be a "mother cat." Kittens are repeatedly licked by their mothers during their earliest days and human stroking has much the same feel on fur as feline licking. Since humans continue this petting routine long after the kittens have grown up, adult cats are emotionally still kittens in many ways. We enjoy caring for pets as if they were our surrogate children!

Why Does a Cat Roll over to Lie on His Back When He Sees You?

When you enter a room where your cat was fast asleep and you greet her with a few words, she will respond by rolling over on her back or side, stretch out her legs and perhaps gently twitch her tail. Yawning is commonly part of this feline ritual. While this routine is performed, she is staring at you, checking your mood. This is a cat's way of offering you a friendly greeting. It is cat language for: "I trust you enough to offer you my vulnerable belly."

It is very unlikely that any cat would demonstrate this behavior to a stranger. This exposed underside ritual makes a cat too vulnerable, so it is reserved for trusted family members. Now, a more active cat will adopt a different routine: He or she will brush against your leg to show affection. But a sleepy feline prefers the lying down, exposed belly roll.

When a feline does this belly roll, do not assume that he wants you to rub his belly. Should you attempt to rub his exposed belly, an irritated swipe of the paw will meet your hand. The cat's underside is a sensitive area, and just by displaying this area to you the cat is showing considerable trust.

Why Does a Cat Knead His Front Paws on Your Lap?

All cats owners have had their cat jump on their lap. After a short while, the cat starts to press down, first with one paw, and then with the other, alternating paws in a rhythmic motion. The rhythm is deliberately slow until eventually the prick of feline claws is felt. At that moment, the owner either shoos the cat away or gently picks him up and places him on the floor.

What does this feline paw ritual mean? The answer is to watch baby kittens feeding at their mother's nipples. Their tiny paws are seen to knead away at their mother's belly, the same basic motion the adult cat displays on his owner's lap. A kitten's rhythmic paw motions stimulate the flow of milk to the nipples and the kitten's saliva dripping is in anticipation of a meal of mother's milk.

Basically, adult cats will mimic a kitten's behavior since they consider a human guardian to be a sort of pseudo - mother cat. Adult cats will often revert to their kittenhood, purring contently while they go through the motions of stimulating milk on their owner's lap.

From a cat's perspective, this kneading ritual is a warm, loving moment. For an adult cat who considers her human companion to be a maternal being, it is unsettling to be placed on the floor or shooed away. Any decent mother cat would not behave in such a way!

Why do Cats Purr?

One of life's simple pleasures is a purring cat, happy to be with us, in complete trust and harmony.
Cats usually purr to indicate: "All is well, and I'm feeling fine." Now, cats purr when they are content, but they have been known to purr when they are injured and/or in pain. More commonly, a purring cat means that he or she is in a friendly, social mood.

Kittens purr to let the mother cat know that all is well and the milk supply is appreciated. A mother cat will purr to signal that she is also content and relaxed. When approaching her kittens, the purring mother assures them that everything is okay, that she is not an enemy.

How Sociable are Cats?

Cats are often described as solitary, selfish creatures who prefer their own company to that of other cats. This is an exaggerated stereotype perpetuated by people who have never spent time properly relating to cats. Also, there are endless excuses to find faults with any animal or human being. While cats and dogs are not perfect creatures, neither are humans perfect. Because cats are rather solitary beings does not make them "bad," or deserving of contempt.

Cats are not pack animals. They can be perfectly content living alone or with minimal feline contact. As far as a social life, cats can take it or leave it. A single cat living in a house with a caring family is very content not to have a feline companion. It is easier to attain a peaceful accord by starting with littermates, or two kittens near in age than introducing a new cat into the household.

Now, feral cats will live alone, but once a kind human cares for them, and has them spayed or neutered, then this once - wild creature can surprise you with their affection. Cats can socialize well with other felines if they have enough room to roam. The same can be said for humans: What person wants to live in an over-crowded tenement?

Consider a house cat living with a human family. These felines are socializing well every day, living with humans, even sleeping on human beds! However, some cats do not appreciate a new cat's adoption into "their" family, and adding more cats can become very problematic. The point is that cats are wonderful companions for humans - if they are properly cared for. - by Scott Palczak
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TREE HOUSE HUMANE SOCIETY: CAT BEHAVIOUR


http://www.treehouseanimals.org/site/PageServer?pagename=caring_ccg_changing_cat_behavior&gclid=Cj0KEQjw2sO3BRD49-zdzfb8iLwBEiQAFZgZfL7WPWut5CYN6cPqysx26lhERJhWxavL0g_8GgPCbAwaAhMt8P8HAQ
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Cats and dogs are similar in several ways:

1.) They both enjoy living with kind and caring human companions.
2.) Dogs and cats will sleep on beds with their human guardians.
3.) Both cats and dogs enjoy being petted and pampered.
4.) Recreation: Cats find pleasure in quiet time, while dogs love to chase other canines around dog parks.
5.) Dogs and cats love outdoor walks.

Consider too, that some people prefer a quiet pet such as a cat. Felines don't bark in the middle of the night and they enjoy quiet time with their human companions. This is not to imply that dogs are inferior companions. Most younger dogs thrive on a certain amount of excitement and stimulation, such as poking their heads out of speeding cars windows, and chasing other dogs around dog parks. Cats, however, find car rides too stressful, and they'd much prefer a good cat nap.
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Walking Cats on a Leash


Some cats will consent to walks with a leash. Accustom your cat to an H-shaped harness (not a collar) by leaving it near her sleeping area. Then attach the harness to her and let her wear it for a few hours. When your cat seems accustomed to the harness, attach a short leash to it and let her walk around the house while under supervision, so the harness doesn't get tangled. Your cat is now ready for a stroll around the yard or even a short walk around the block. Keep alert for dogs!
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Why do Cats Groom their Fur?

Obviously, licking fur removes dust and dirt, but it also helps keep the fur smooth so it provides better insulation. A ruffled, matted coat is a poor insulator, which can be hazardous for a cat outside in cold weather. Cats can also easily overheat in summer, and since they don't have sweat glands throughout their body like humans do, they cannot use sweating as a method of cooling. Panting can help, but it is not enough. Therefore, cats repeatedly lick their fur, depositing as much saliva as possible on it. When the saliva evaporates, it cools in a manner similar to evaporating human sweat.

Anyone who doubts that humans release considerable sweat should sleep under a plastic covering at night. In the morning that plastic covering will be covered with moisture.
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A DOG'S TALE

Below is an excerpt from Mark Twain's book "A Dog's Tale":


Other times I lay on the floor in the mistress’s work-room and slept, she gently using me for a foot-stool, knowing it pleased me, for it was a caress; other times I spent an hour in the nursery, and got well tousled and made happy; other times I watched by the crib there, when the baby was asleep and the nurse out for a few minutes on the baby’s affairs; other times I romped and raced through the grounds and the garden with Sadie till we were tired out, then slumbered on the grass in the shade of a tree while she read her book; other times I went visiting among the neighbor dogs— for there were some most pleasant ones not far away, and one very handsome and courteous and graceful one, a curly-haired Irish setter by the name of Robin Adair, who was a Presbyterian like me, and belonged to the Scotch minister.

The servants in our house were all kind to me and were fond of me, and so, as you see, mine was a pleasant life. There could not be a happier dog that I was, nor a gratefuller one. I will say this for myself, for it is only the truth: I tried in all ways to do well and right, and honor my mother’s memory and her teachings, and earn the happiness that had come to me, as best I could. - by Mark Twain
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WHY WE HAVE PETS: SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN MIND ARTICLE

On my 10th birthday, I got a puppy. I was shocked - I had wanted a dog for as long as I could remember - and so overwhelmed with happiness that I burst into tears. For the next 14 years, Happy, a beagle, charmed everyone he met. And when he passed, all of us who knew him mourned, as we would for any loved one.

More than half of American households have a pet - that is, an animal kept primarily for companionship. And despite the fact that these housemates may bear furs, fins, scales or feathers, people often view their animals as family members. In 2014 we spent an estimated $58 billion on our animal companions and untold hours caring for them.

"It's all about human psychology, " says anthrozoologist Pauleen Bennet of La Trobe University in Australia. "Pets help us fill our need for social connectedness."

Although motivations for pet ownership may very as much as a golden retriever and a goldfish, scientists are finding that some common threads tie humans to their household animals. Some of our attraction to animals may be subconscious, driven by biological and social forces that we do not fully acknowledge.

In addition, the emotional bond between pets and their owners can bring varied benefits, from lowered stress to novel adventures.

INBORN ATTRACTION ?

Part of our attraction to animal companionship is innate. In 2013 psychologist Vanessa LoBue of Rutgers University and her colleagues revealed that toddlers one to three years old spent more time interacting with live animals - whether fish, hamsters, snakes, spiders or geckos - than they do with inanimate toys when given a choice between the two.

Most people profess to wanting pets for companionship. In a study published in 2014 Massachusetts General Hospital veterinarian Lori Palley and her colleagues used functional magnetic resonance imaging to measure brain activity in 14 mothers while they were looking at pictures of their children or their dogs or at pictures of other people's children or unfamiliar dogs.

The researchers found that the brain activation patters evoked by images of the women's own children and dogs were very similar and that those patterns were distinct from those elicited by unknown children and canines, suggesting that maternal feelings may extend to animals. Pets may thus help fill a human need to nurture other living beings.

Yet pets are much more than human substitutes. Many people with no obvious social deficits reap varied psychological benefits from owning a pet. In 2012 Professor Bennett presented preliminary findings from a student, psychologist Jordan Schaan, then at Monash University in Australia, who had interviewed 37 dogs owners who were personally and professionally successful and had an above-average connection to their animals. (The subjects were educated, affluent and had fulfilling romantic partnerships, for instance.)

Among the benefits of dog ownership that these individuals reported were amusement - the animals' antics made their owners laugh - and a sense of meaning from having responsibility for the welfare of another living thing, and an entrée into new experiences or relationships: a puppy can be a great way to meet neighbors.

People felt they could derive unconditional love and forgiveness from their dogs, whereas human beings seemed more likely to disappoint one another. "There's something about animals that's very genuine and honest," Bennett says. "We miss that in our human interactions."

More than half of cat owners described themselves as fond of both cats and dogs. But more than half of dog owners said they preferred only canines.

Most researchers agree that the attachment between juvenile and adult dogs and their owners closely resembles the bond that exists between mothers and very young children.
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DOG WALKING: A HAIR - RAISING EXPERIENCE

I recently had a hair - raising experience as I was strolling along a nature trail near Sedona, Arizona. Hearing loud voices and barking, I turned around and saw two dogs engaged in a rather fierce dogfight. Without hesitation, I ran towards the canine commotion, ordering them to stop.

This canine confrontation could have been avoided if both dog guardians had their dogs on leashes. The ramifications of such a scenario, if it had esculated, could have been trips to the veterinarian, doctor bills for bitten human hands, and possible law suits. Indeed, it would have distressed me to witness a nice, quiet dog walk turn into a major dogfighting fracas.

Now, I realize that dogs love to roam free without a leash, but our society has rules and regulations that are meant to protect people and animals. Using a leash can make the difference between a nice stroll and a nightmare. - by Scott Palczak (5/2016)_____________________________________________________________________

MAKE the JUMP FROM GOOD PET PARENT to GREAT

Having a dog or cat as a family member is not a right, but a responsibility to be undertaken with love, understanding and commitment. It also requires us to be ready to care for the animal its entire lifetime.

Animals require daily care and companionship. There is a financial component, a need to have time to feed, exercise and groom our furry or feathered companion. If people can meet these obligations, then some lucky animal is going to get not just a good guardian, but a great one.

We know there is a special bond between a pet and his or her guardian. This relationship, which can last for many years, is often an important part of the pet parent's life. Many of us consider our loved pets as members of the family; albeit furry members.

What elevates us from being a good pet parent to a great pet parent? Here are some considerations: Good pet parents provide a safe, loving environment for their dog or cat from the beginning. Whether that's providing them with a quiet room in the house, a comfy bed in the basement or a pillow on the couch, making your pet feel welcome at home is essential. Great, and even good pet parents, should be tolerant of their pet's misdeeds. Animals will make mistakes and excessive scolding only increases the problem.

Great parents think not only about how to make their pet feel welcome at home but how to help their pets find a way back home if they ever become lost. This means in addition to the animal wearing ID tags on their collar, the pet is microchipped and that the microchip is registered with the national database.

When an animal is adopted from the Humane Society of Sedona, the animal has already been microchipped. This gives the new adopter added protection in the event the pet becomes lost.

Another distinction of being a great pet parent is providing socialization for the pet. No matter the personality or how much time they will spend around other animals, every pet needs to interact with other dogs, cats and people. This socialization helps them practice training skills and learn new behaviors.

Assume that you enroll your dog "Binky" in Good Manners training class. Your main reason for this is to give Binky an opportunity to improve his social skills around other dogs. When at home, he lives up to the German shepherd reputation as guard dog, and responds accordingly to anyone who walks on "his" street. During class, he accepts the other dogs around him, without the "territorial" attitude. It proves to be a valuable experience for both of you. Positive reinforcement and consistency are important in training your dog and will help him retain new skills for life.

As a good pet parent, we understand the importance of not only providing a safe home, but also a chance to exercise our pet's mind and body by exploring their environment. Exercising keeps your pet in top physical condition. It also helps them emotionally and mentally and prevents them from showing unwanted behaviors due to boredom.

Great parents realize in addition to keeping their pet fit, both physically and mentally, good health stems from proper nutrition, serving the best - quality food for your budget. Sometimes, good pet parents keep their pet's food bowl full at all times. The problem is that dogs and cats often eat more than they need if food is constantly available. Great parents will follow the suggestion on the pet food label, or recommendations from their veterinarian. Feeding your pet at the table can lead to bad manners, and perhaps giving the animal food that could make them sick.

Just like parenting a child, becoming a great pet parent won't happen immediately. It will take time and plenty of effort on the human's part. It will require dedication, but the rewards of a loving, relationship between you and your pet will be worth it. - adapted/modified from article in Sedona Red Rock News (5/2016)

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WebMD: Cat care website:
http://pets.webmd.com/cats/

WebMD: Dog care website: http://pets.webmd.com/dogs/
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ENERGY TIMES: How to Soothe Your Stressed Pets
http://www.energytimes.com/pages/features/0715/pets.html

POSITIVELY: The Future of Dog Training - by Victoria Stilwell
https://positively.com/dog-behavior/

OSCAR - WINNER CHRISTOPHER WALKEN: Advocates Adopting Shelter Cats
http://www.kltv.com/story/32571791/oscar-winner-christopher-walken-advocates-adopting-shelter-cats
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LAMA ZOPA RINPOCHE: ADVICE on HELPING ANIMALS
http://scottsbuddhistiveg.blogspot.com/2015_09_01_archive.html

KILLING is BAD KARMA: EASTERN VS. WESTERN VIEWS of ANIMALS
http://www.scottsbuddhisttveg.blogspot.com/2015/03/this-essay-wasoriginally-posted-on.html
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ELLEN DEGENERES on PETS & ANIMALS: GOOD HOUSEKEEPING (Oct. 2011)

GH: So tell us, what makes you laugh these days?

ED: My animals. I have three kitties: George, Chairman, and Charlie. And then two dogs, Mabel and Wolf. They make me laugh. They make me calm. They fill me with awe. I'm in awe for instance, when my dogs know exactly when it's time to go and get in the car. Even though they speak their own language, they still understand us. I'm in awe of these little tiny moments all the time. Like the other day, we showed a video on the show of a cat and a dolphin interacting. I mean, it was insane! The cat was on the edge of a pier, and a dolphin came up out of the water, and they started nuzzling each other! Amazing!

We can stop and appreciate these things, or we can sit and worry about what's going to happen to us two weeks from now. I'd rather focus on the amazing things that are happening right in front of us. Animals help us do that.

I also feel good because I saved my animals (DeGeneres is a big supporter of animal charities like the Gentle Barn (gentlebarn.org), a sanctuary for abused animals in California, and the Humane Society of the United States (humanesociety.org). So I know I'm giving them security and comfort, and that they're safe. I do wish I knew the stories of who they were before I got them. But to rescue animals or to just have animals in your life, they give you so much more than you give them.
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