Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Sad news from Zoo Atlanta

I got an email from Zoo Atlanta today with some sad news.

Dear Zoo Atlanta Members and subscribers,

We are very saddened to report to you the sudden and unexpected loss last night of 26-year-old African elephant Dottie. Many of you have been following her pregnancy during the last several months, and the sudden loss of this wonderful animal and her unborn calf is tragic and heartbreaking for us all.

Dottie's health had begun declining last week, and she was on antibiotics to treat unexplained weight loss, cloudy urine and decreased protein levels in her blood. Her health and behavior were closely monitored, as with all of the Zoo's animals, but her death last night was unexpected. As recently as October 24th during a routine ultrasound Dottie still had a viable pregnancy. The exact cause of her death has not been determined.

Dottie was one of three African elephants at Zoo Atlanta. She has been at Zoo Atlanta with Tara and Kelly since November 1986. "I know our veterinary and animal management team worked diligently to ensure she received the best care and treatment possible. This is especially sad for us because Dottie was pregnant with her first calf," said Dennis Kelly, President and CEO. "We will miss her here at Zoo Atlanta."

As our greatest fans and supporters, we wanted you to know as soon as the news was released. We share your grief and thank you for keeping us in your thoughts.

The Zoo Atlanta Membership team

You can read more on Zoo Atlanta's work holding website here. Also you can see some pictures that I took earlier this year here and here.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Lewis and dinnertime

Lewis must have been born starving. And for some reason, he's afraid he'll never get another meal.

I don't get it! It's not like I have ever "forgotten" to feed him. But starting about an hour before his mealtime, he cries incessantly for his food. I try not to ever give in so as not to encourage the behavior. It doesn't help that my computer is right next to his dinner bowl. Today I was looking online for an unlocked phone (since I dropped my cell phone in water and now it doesn't work), and he continually meowed pathetically and climbed all over the desk and the chair. He acted all cuddly - rubbing against me, putting his paws on my chest and rubbing his face on my nose or chin - but it didn't work. I remained steadfast about the 5:00 feeding time.

I've thought of a few things. One is to set an alarm and always feed him when the alarm goes off. That way, he won't think that his crying is getting him fed. Or perhaps he'll think that his crying will make the alarm go off faster. I don't know, but it's probably worth a try.

One thing I've also done is get out the spray bottle. We fill a bottle with water and spray the cats when they get on things we don't allow - the counters, the dining room table, and the back of the couches. This time I sprayed him when he meowed. He ran away, and stayed quiet. My husband is concerned that this method is going to confuse him - that Lewis will think I'm punishing him for being near me, and not for crying.

Does anyone have ideas? Is there a way I can communicate to Lewis that I WILL feed him today, and he doesn't have to remind me for an hour straight? Do you think the spray bottle is a good idea, or do you think it just will confuse him?

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Kittens and toilet paper

I saw this adorable video today on Cute Overload.

It reminded me of my cat Misty, when she was a tiny kitten. Shortly after we got her, I got a bad cold. We were living overseas at the time, and boxes of tissues were hard to come by, so we just got used to carrying around rolls of toilet paper when we got colds. I didn't have a nightstand so I had to keep the toilet paper on the floor next to my bed at night, and I found it really annoying having to bend over and get it. Since I was the bottom bunk of bunkbed, I decided to string up toilet paper to the slats of the bed above me. This allowed easy access during the night! It worked great, but one morning my mom woke me up and pointed at the toilet paper. Misty had discovered it during the night and the entire thing was shredded. I don't know HOW she managed to have so much fun on top of me without waking me up!

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Sunday, October 19, 2008

More frustration

I've talked about being frustrated with my cats peeing everywhere here.

We moved a few weeks ago, and I was really concerned that they would mess up the new place. We bought some Feliway and put it in the main room (the living/dining room). It seems to be working; no messes to report!

HOWEVER... the bathroom is another story. For the first time in my post-college life, we have a bathroom that doesn't have carpeting! We also have a perfect alcove for the litter box. We try to keep it clean and change it daily because I know cats are fastidious.

At one point, we had three bathrooms so we had 3 bathroom rugs leftover from that. We had put two in the closet and had the one down that matched our shower curtain, towels, and other bathroom accessories. However, the cats peed on that several times and pooped once - completely destroying it. (We thought we'd go replace it, only to discover that it cost $35!!) Then we put another one down, which they peed on. We washed it and put it down again, and they peed twice more. Then we put a third down and they peed on that one several times too. We finally just threw it away.

Today we noticed that they peed in the same place, just right on the linoleum. (Or vinyl. Or whatever the non-carpet-material is in our bathroom.)

I'm frustrated because we've never had trouble with them peeing on the bathroom rugs before. I have the second rug in a plastic bag and when we get back from vacation I'll research the best way to clean it so it gets rid of the pee completely. Perhaps some green products will have the enzymes necessary to kill that smell. I also will need to wash the shower curtain, as they have peed on the bottom of it several times. (It touches the floor when it's hung from the rod.)

I also want to try and find a bathroom rug that's plastic - something that we can step on when getting out of the shower.

Argh!! I love cats, but... so frustrating!!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Misty's birthday

Yesterday was Misty's birthday. (Misty was my first cat, that I got in 1993.)

My mom was here visiting, and we spent some time reminiscing. Misty would be 15 years old now, if she were alive. It's weird to think that if she hadn't have gotten feline leukemia then she still could be alive! My life has changed so much since the last time I saw her in 1996.

Though both my parents had had cats while growing up, she was the first cat we'd had as a family. She was overall a good cat, but we did make a few mistakes with her that we didn't repeat with subsequent cats. Misty was sweet and cuddly, but we discovered when we got her as a 6 week old kitten that she loved to PLAY! Most kittens do love to play, of course. We - and my dad especially - played very rough with her. We would let her chase our hands which was cute when she was a tiny kitten but got more painful as she grew older! She loved to attack our hands and we'd just be very rough, almost wrestling with her.

In retrospect that wasn't a good idea. She was overall a nice cat, but could be very mean - especially when she was tired of being stroked! We've learned that you shouldn't teach a cat to play-attack your fingers, hands, or any body part - because when they get older it can hurt! It's better to play with a string attached to a stick or something else that won't be so painful. Our other cats were not NEARLY as vicious as Misty could be.

We loved Misty, though. I have fond memories of my first kitty, the one I thought about and dreamed about for so long! I was heartbroken when my parents informed me that we would not be able to take Misty with us when we moved to another country. My aunt very graciously gave Misty a wonderful home. I always expected to see her again, but I never was able to before she passed on. I will always wonder if she felt abandoned by me.

Happy 15th birthday, Misty!

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When you have to give up an animal

I got an email from a friend today. Her husband decided to surprise them with a puppy, which of course the kids were very excited about. However, they soon discovered that their daughter is allergic to dogs and has been having a lot of trouble breathing. So my friend is trying to find a new home for the puppy.

I emailed her back with words of advice. I've done the give-away-a-puppy thing. I am a firm believer in keeping your dog (or any kind of pet) for its lifetime instead of only when it's convenient for you. However, life happens and the ideal isn't always possible. You don't know when a family member might be allergic, you unexpectedly have to move, or it might be a case like ours where the dog's personality just doesn't fit with our family. (Side note: if you're thinking of getting a dog and don't know for sure that no one is allergic, then I'd recommend doing a "test drive" before actually committing to a dog. You can borrow a friend's dog, or do a trial of the specific dog you're interested in, or go stay with a friend who has a dog. These also might be great for learning about the responsibilities in caring for a dog, if you've never had one before. This will all help prevent a situation where you have to turn around and give the dog away.)

So, life has happened, and you have a dog that needs a new home. What do you do? Well I highly recommend Craigslist if there is an active one in your city. Another option is Petfinder.com. One side note: we were unable to list Zoey (our 5-month-old beagle puppy) on Petfinder because she hadn't been spayed yet. We were waiting until she was 6 months old (which is recommended) to spay her, and we had some financial issues that prevented us from going ahead and doing that. I was frustrated that they wouldn't let us list her, but it all worked out in the end.

I'm hoping that even though you're looking to find a new home for your dog, you're concerned about the dog going to a good home. I'd recommend charging an adoption fee in order to ensure that the dog goes to a good home. Most people who genuinely care about the dog won't mind a fee. (We asked for $40, if I remember correctly.) I also screened the people who were interested. I called them and talked about Zoey and asked about their home life (whether they had a yard, etc.) at length before I felt comfortable saying "yes". I was very impressed with the family who ended up taking Zoey. I was looking for a family with a fenced in yard and experience with dogs as pets. If possible, go visit their house and check it out. In my case, that wasn't possible due to distance but I looked up their address on Google maps and saw that they weren't lying when they said they had an acre of land! I was also impressed that they had had dogs before and raised them from puppies until they died of old age. It seemed like the perfect home for Zoey! And even after meeting them, I felt very comfortable with them. The only thing that makes me sad is they have not returned any contact to update me on how Zoey was doing. They did send me a picture last Christmas, but other than that nothing. They had never promised contact, even after I hinted at it, but I was hoping! It's okay though. I still feel confident that they were the best family for her.

If you are giving away a dog that isn't spayed or neutered, make sure the perspective owners aren't planning on using the dog for breeding (this of course is more of a concern if the dog is purebred). One option you could consider is asking for a more significant adoption fee (like $200), which is refundable upon proof of spay or neutering. Ideally, it would be best to go ahead and have the procedure done before giving the animal away, but often financial issues make that almost impossible.

Hopefully you'll feel as confident with your dog's new owner as I felt with mine! And if you're in the Atlanta area and interested in a 9-month old male Pomeranian puppy, let me know!

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Flight of the penguins!

I know this is kinda old news now, but I did want to mention it on this blog! Mostly because the pictures are just adorable, if penguins are adorable.

(Insert quote from Madagascar: "Cute and cuddly, boys, cute and cuddly.")

In Brazil, over 300 penguins wandered away from their usual hunting grounds in search for food. There wasn't much food, and they were starving to death. So a group of animal activists helped out by getting the penguins back to their normal territory. They loaded them up on a cargo plane and transported them to southern Brazil and let them go.

One neat thing that has come from this is that scientists were able to really observe the penguins and learn more about their habits and livelihood. They have bands on their flippers so that scientists can follow them and chart their migratory patterns. I think it's great that we as humans are able to learn more about these birds.

Also, the article gave me warm fuzzy feelings! You can read about it on CNN.com here. I also HIGHLY recommend checking out the great pictures they got of the penguins.

The Magellanic Penguin is native to coastal Argentina, Chile, the Falkland Islands, and some on the coast of Brazil (where these penguins were). They are related to the African Penguin, who are on exhibit at the Georgia Aquarium (where I saw them in 2005). Until I visited the aquarium, I kinda imagined all penguins to be the same as Emperor Penguins! So it's neat to learn about different kinds, with their own unique markings and job descriptions.

Cute cat mug

I saw the cutest mug today:

The description says:
"This charming mug is the cat's meow! Featuring two adorable felines playing with a string of pink yarn that tangles into a heart and a curling black 'tail' handle, this cup is the perfect gift for a great friend, cat lover or coffee drinker!"

Okay don't you just love the tail for a handle? And the little pink ball of yarn... I'm also a huge fan of the overall design of the mug.

Of course I have so many mugs - cat-themed and otherwise - that I really don't need another one. Too bad! Maybe I'll keep my eye out for it and if I ever see it for a price I can't refuse then I'll get it. :-)

You can find this mug and other cute stuff here. (That isn't a sponsored link - I just saw it, loved it, and wanted to share!)

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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Natural pet food

I recently moved to a new area, and I have been trying to learn all the new stores around me. One thing I'd like to do more is shop at local businesses as I can, so I've been keeping an eye out especially for those types of places.

Yesterday I was driving and noticed a store that said "Pet food". Intrigued, I stopped in to see what it was all about. I was greeted warmly by two little dogs - a poodle and a 6 month Yorkie (SOOOO cute!) and the worker. I told her why I was there, and she took me to the cat section and explained all the foods that they carried.

I really appreciated the fact that she took the time to explain everything, and also that all the foods there were natural without all the added yucky stuff (animal by-products, corn, etc.) that really isn't very healthy for the animals. I was excited to see the variety they had because I have been disappointed with Petsmart's selection. My cats don't seem to like very much the taste of the Blue Buffalo pet food (though I have been really impressed with the ingredients! I wish my kitties gobbled it down as much as they did their other food!). So, when this food runs out I have been considering switching brands again.

The woman at the pet food store gave me samples of three different kinds of food she recommended. So I'll try them and in a week or two when I finish their current food I'll go back and pick up a bag of whatever brand the kitties seem to like best. Currently, I have samples for:
* Nature's Variety Prairie Lamb Meal and Oatmeal Medley
* Chicken Soup for the Cat Lover's Soul Adult Cat Light Formula
* Advanced Pet Diet Select Choice Lite Chicken & Salmon

I'm eager to try a brand that the kitties will like better and to help Lewis with his weight loss. Also, if you're in the Roswell, GA area you should check the store out. The side says "Dog Gone Green Pet Food", but I found their website which call themselves Red Bandanna Pet Food, so I'm not sure what their name is. :-) But definitely check them out to get a good variety of healthy pet food for your animals!

YouTube videos

I can't remember how I came across these two videos... But I hope you enjoy! :-)

For the cat lovers out there:

And for those who prefer the canine variety:

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Me and Ebony

I love this picture because it's so Ebony. Forget that I've lived with her for 4 years - she always regards me suspiciously whenever I go to pet her or put my hand near her.

Me and Ebony

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Canine flicks

I came across this link online today, and thought it was really cute. It listed the six favorite puppy flicks. Here they are:

1. Homeward Bound
2. My Dog Skip
3. Beethoven
4. The Adventures of Milo and Otis
5. Air Bud
6. Best In Show

I have only seen two of them - Homeward Bound and Beethoven - but they were both definitely favorites of mine when I was younger. Especially Homeward Bound - that movie was full of hilarious (to a kid) lines! (Hehe I'm reading through some of them here, and it's making me laugh all over again.)

I'd have to add a few more movies to the list.
101 Dalmations - I know it's a cartoon, but it was one of our favorites!!
Lassie - I haven't watched anything Lassie-related in years, but I LOVED the tv show as a child!
Old Yeller - Okay it just makes me cry
Where the Red Ferm Grows - Yeah another tear-jerker!
Wishbone - What's the story, Wishbone?

What are your favorite dog movies?

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