Here for a Few Days, in my Heart Forever

I have a mission and this blog is part of it. I love animals and abhor their mistreatment. I am so miffed that this problem is so rampant. You hear horror stories in the news all the time. I can’t get those sad little faces out of my mind.  I know thousands of you out there are in sync with my views. We have to do something to remedy the problem and find new foster homes for these wretched creatures who have been abused for no reason at all. They need love and attention. Thus, I am building a network or interested people. If each one of my readers adopts a dog, gives money to a shelter, or just protests the problem, we will make considerable progress. I am not just a voice for an important issue. I put my money where my mouth is. In fact, I regularly donate funds and often foster needy animals.

This past weekend, I was home to a dog who needed to learn to live in peace with people without threat of being tortured or beaten. His history is tragic. I hoped to acclimate the pet who had been residing too long in a cage so he would be ready to be transferred to a new family environment with children. It would be wonderful for all concerned and I was supremely happy to be involved. I loved the dog and the problem was that I would be sad to see him go. He is sweet and loving and perfect for any owner who wants a loyal companion. Some animals are reclusive but this one could take as much doting as you could give him.

When the dog left, I noted some telltale fur on my couch as evidence of his short-term visit. I have often encountered shedding animals and am well-equipped to handle the problem in a jiffy. Long ago I bought a lightweight vacuum after reading about them at https://www.thecleanhome.net/the-best-lightweight-vacuum-reviews/. There are attachments for carpets, wood floors, upholstery and window blinds. It is a nice little easy-to-use machine. I wanted something I could lug around and store without fuss. I wondered if such a light device would do the job on stubborn pet fur. The testimonials I read online regarding the product raved about its great suction capability.

The fur was gone and the dog had departed and there was a hole in my life, even after just a few days of his presence. Animals are like that. You can bond quickly or not at all. This was the kind of dog I would want for myself. Amazingly, he didn’t seem to have ill effects from his mistreatment. He would wag his tail and approach me for treats as soon as I brought out the box. He is cute with great coloring and the loveliest big brown eyes. I have an album of photos of animals I have loved and cared for over the years. This one is my latest addition.

Swim dogs

There is a TV commercial in which dogs turn on all the faucets in the house causing an overflow of water and flooding of the living room. It is for Farmer’s insurance, and the faux agent in the ad says we cover everything, even “mermutts.” It is a play on mermaids, but they are dogs. It is a cute ad and we enjoy watching them frolicking in the water which is as high as the top of the sofa and chairs. I enjoy anything that is playful about animals. They are a gift to mankind and it is fun to humanize them and make them into troublemakers. It reminds us that you never know what you can expect from your pets. They do like to snoop around and play and use your personal belongings as toys. You have to keep puppies in particular amuses as they get bored easily. You can play catch of course and chase them around the yard. If you run out of things to do, on a hot day, dogs love to swim in the pool. I have two of them who can attest to it as super canine fun.

I have a nice above ground pool and it has a small ladder you can use to climb in. This is primarily for children who are too short to hop over the side. The dogs learned this trick quickly and have been found to swim vigorously, especially during the summer. Their fur gets warm and they crave a dunking. It is not good enough to spray them with the hose. They lie in the shade if the pool is taken by adult swimmers and members of the family. If they are allowed to jump in, they join in on the fun and splash around just like everyone else.

Dogs are adventurous by nature and when they discovered that they can swim, they went crazy. They approached the pool, sat quietly, and looked up at me for permission. Once I showed them the ladder, they were game. Any time was a good time for a swim. The pool was the right size and used salt water. The chlorine would have been too toxic for them or I would have surely nixed the whole idea. I am happy that the dogs are happy and they often sit close to me when I am in the house on the sofa as if to say thanks. The only problem is the issue of whether or not having animals in the pool is sanitary. Probably not. As a result, I have taken on the chore of keeping the pool clean. I use a special pool vacuum cleaner system suitable for water and I also put in an additive in the water that destroys bacteria. Between these two processes, it should take care of cleanliness. If someone, such as a neighbor, hesitates to swim in a pool frequented by dogs, they can decline.

New Volunteer

I adore being a volunteer who helps abused and mistreated animals. Sometimes I feel so much for these victims. After all, some of us like animals more than people. They can break your heart, however, and I do what I can to provide support which most often means locating a foster home for them. Kind people are all around who are willing to lend a hand. We have a list of them so it is pretty easy to find a home. A friend of mine took in a three-legged cat. The cat could walk by limping along and when she ran, she was more efficient and looked normal. I will never leave this volunteer job. I have met kindred souls. Volunteers come and go but some are rather special. There is a core group that includes a stand up paddleboard instructor. Now this is something I know little about. He explained that he uses an inflatable SUP like these and it provides for a great water adventure. “Would you like to come along on my next trip,” he inquired. I was quick with my positive reply. A lesson or two should have me riding on the board upright and not falling off. I have pretty good balance so it should be a good sport for me. I love the outdoors and water recreation. This will add to my stable of choices.

He brought the board to my house so I could see what it looked like and how it was constructed. He said paddle boards are getting more common, especially with the casual thrill-seeker. He had a 10-foot board with a rounded hull which would make paddleboarding easy on calm water as in a river or surf. All skill levels he said would enjoy this model. It is all about balance. Some people have been known to use yoga on a river or lake. There is a sturdy handle in the middle of the front he explained so I could easily carry it around. I asked what it was made of and found out that it is military-grade PVC put together with a kind of drop stitch technology. It is virtually unbreakable he said and I didn’t need to worry about mishaps or deflation on th4e water. It is interesting that the inflatable paddle board is just as rigid as the non-inflatable types. If you want to buy one, he said, you can store it deflated in the trunk of the car or at home. It doesn’t take much space.

I looked it over careful and noted the textured foam deck pad. This minimizes slipping and sliding while it is in use. It has four front stainless steel D-rings and includes a bungee cord connecting them. In this area you can stow extra equipment and a paddle, which is made of lightweight aluminum. Talk about high durability. This particular set of paddles that the instructor brought were adjustable which means they expand in length to suit your needs. I like that they fold up for storage. Somebody thought of everything. There is also another D-ring near the back so you can attach your board to a boat or dock. I absolutely love it and want the same model if it turns out that I like the sport. I also love the nylon fins which improve control and help maintain your desired direction. They are removable for transport. Every board comes with a manual pump that inflates the board through a specialized valve.

I think about going forward with a purchase. Next time I will tell you if I made one.

Doggie Water Therapy

A veterinary office can be a very busy place. There is usually a lineup of animals that need to be evaluated and treated so there is a lot of commotion in the waiting room. It takes attentive owners to make sure there are no doggie fights or aggressive behavior. The animals are frightened, of course, and many remember the place with less than fond memories. You take a cat, for example, out of its natural habitat, and its claws are extended. I admire the staff in the office for their patience and concern. They try to get to each pet quickly and to make the checkup painless and stress free. They know most of the patrons from their regular visits and they greet each animal warmly. This calms them down and makes for a more orderly business.

Some of the animals balk at being prodded and poked, but some like their designated therapy. I am referring to the small hot tub we have for rescue dogs. It seems that the abandoned pups like the warm bath. They get a good soaking and a thorough cleaning which they sorely need. Animals that have been living on the street get pretty grungy. It takes some elbow grease to get off the caked on dirt. You can imagine the condition of the hot tub after just one washing. The staff are so busy that it is hard for them to stop everything and take the time to rinse it out and get it ready for the next dog. Someone has to do it, and that someone could be me. Regular cleaning of a hot tub is essential. I have been known to volunteer for distasteful tasks and this certainly counts as one among them.

I empty the hot tub of all of the water and mop the floor surrounding the unit as it is full of sudsy soap. I wipe out the surface of the tub with an old towel and run for the disinfectant. I spray it on lavishly and swish it around with another clean towel. Then I rinse if down once again and it is primed for the next use. It takes a good half an hour so if you have a few rescue dogs waiting in the wings, they just have to wait their turn. If we are super pressed for time, we can bathe two dogs at once, but the water becomes so murky you wonder if the pups can really get clean. I love the hot tub availability. It sure beats hosing the dirty dogs down. The only place we can really do that is outside behind the clinic or in the surgery room. That is too unsanitary. The hot tub is the answer to everything. The dogs love it and even don’t mind being patted down to get dry with a good towel rub. It is like a massage for them. They love the love and attention. As rescue animals, they certainly haven’t been getting much of it lately.

Second Time Around

Much like my love for rehabilitating abused animals and finding them a good home, I like to go to secondhand and thrift shops to find items that maybe have seen better days or need a little TLC to breathe new life into them. Then I take them home, clean them up and see what can be done. Some of the items I keep or give to friends and some of it I sell—putting the money back into my foster care network, naturally.

I found a really nice—albeit scratched, dented, and in desperate need of some care—table a few weeks ago. I brought it home, stored it in the shed and promptly forgot about it because we got in a beautiful chocolate lab we named Becky, who was found abandoned in an empty home that had been foreclosed on. Took a few weeks, but I am happy to say that Becky is in good health and has found a temporary home while we establish her compatibility with a mix of people and other pets before she can be formally adopted.

I went out to the shed for something and lo and behold, there was the table. I was thinking about another dog, Petey, we had just been alerted to who had been abused by his former owners, and I was pretty angry about it. I decided to take my anger out productively and started sanding all the dings, scratches, and scuff marks from the table. It took HOURS, but by the end, I felt a lot calmer and had more of a plan to help Petey. I went back into the house and called it a night. Then I got busy with Petey’s case, so the table sat in the shed for another week. But my mind kept going back to it. The surface was so smooth now, nearly whole again (just like my dogs). I wanted to celebrate this victory over the table’s rough treatment in the past. I decided that I’d try a black lacquer on it—it would make it soft, smooth, and very glossy. Much like our lovely Becky after her some love, food, and a shampoo!

I was afraid to apply the lacquer paint with a paint brush—I didn’t want the brush strokes to show, so I decided to rent a paint sprayer. I talked to the manager at a hardware store and he recommended a paint sprayer that was perfect for laquer, so I went with that. I’ve used sprayers before with similar projects (although none with lacquer, this was a brand new idea of mine), so I was pretty comfortable with this one and I have to say, it worked like a charm. I was able to keep the overspray (the paint that got wasted) to a minimum and there were no streaky paintbrush strokes to mar the finish on my shiny new table. Honestly, if I had a lot of money, I’d pay for the gun and use it every time. It went that smoothly.

The table came out really nice. Now I am on the hunt for some chairs to go with it. I think I may keep this one for myself for awhile!

Taking the Time to Celebrate

I get used to the stress of finding homes for animals. Each and every one is special to me, and there is a big, welcome sigh of relief when placement happens. Everyone involved is elated. Most of the time, things are fairly routine and animals come and go. It makes for a happy environment. There are moments, however, when you draw in your breath and panic. This animal, you say to yourself, is going to be tough.

Facing such a situation is par for the course when dealing with shelters and a plenitude of animals, but it never makes it any easier. You rack your brain for ideas and new ways to find candidates to take difficult pets. There are always those kind souls that take a three-legged cat or a deaf dog. Sometimes you are racing against the clock. As unimaginable as it may seem, some shelters have time limits and will put an animal down if it passes the deadline. You fight hard not to become critical (policy is policy and it is always about funds).

The adrenalin gets going as you search in your limited database and make those requisite calls. You pass the word on social media; you text, send messages, and emails. You hope someone miraculously will drop in and fall in love. While this can happen, most of the time it doesn’t. Thus, placing a particular challenge when you are running out of time can be exhausting. When it is done, you are ready for a respite. You reach for that ubiquitous glass of wine; and for a moment, your mind comes to a halt.

To alleviate stress, wine is a winner. Some like coffee or tea; others beer. For me, it is the fruit of the vine. It pays to have your little portable wine cooler/fridge on hand. You can get them in different size to hold a few or a dozen bottles as space permits. This way they are chilled perfectly and ready to decant. I believe everyone should take the time to celebrate little victories in work and life. It is what keeps us going.

I had a one-bottle gadget for some time sitting underneath my desk. I loved it so much that I indulged in a 12-bottle beverage cooler fridge so I wouldn’t have to restock all the time. This way I could buy in bulk and avail myself of store discounts. The cooler takes up little space and can go on top or below any surface such as a staff lounge. Mine is next to the stainless steel microwave (which, by the way, it perfectly matches). Small units usually have one temperature control so they are often restricted to whites. When you get the larger models that house several dozen of your favorites, you can get dual control so both whites and reds are in their best “zone.”

However you celebrate, it is your special time and a nice contrast to the rest of the day ahead. Even while relaxing your body, you can refresh your mind. Take it from me, a cold glass of chardonnay is the best late afternoon treat.

The Animal Abuse That is Rarely Discussed

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Many people have a certain image of what constitutes animal abuse. They will imagine a dog being hit and cowering in fear. They might imagine someone pulling a cat’s tail until she cries in pain. These are very terrible instances of animal abuse. However, some forms of animal abuse can be much more insidious, especially because they will not always register as abuse. They often go unnoticed in a society that perceives abuse in only a certain way.

Some loving pet owners who legitimately care about their animals will do things that are abusive. Not taking your dog to a veterinarian on a regular basis, for instance, qualifies as abuse because it is a form of neglect. In some cases, it can be criminal neglect, since many dogs are going to be in a situation in which they do not get certain conditions treated in time. Taking a dog to a veterinarian on a regular basis can be an undertaking for some pet owners, especially if they also have children, but it is simply part of the responsibility that you must accept when you become a pet owner. If you cannot get your pet to the vet or if no one is around to help you, you must give your pet up for adoption.

There is also the fact that even doting pet owners can give their pets diets that are terribly unhealthy for them, which is also a form of abuse. Dog owners are notorious for treating their pets this way. Dogs are partly omnivorous, but this does not mean that they can eat literally everything. There is a certain diet that is healthy for dogs and certain foods that should be off the menu for dogs no matter how much they beg at the dinner table. Dogs want attention at the dinner table more than anything else. They should be given their own food.

Ironically, there are even people who are militant about animal rights who can abuse their animals in a way that is in line with their ideology. Some militant vegans have been found to try to keep their cats and dogs on vegan diets, giving them tofu, vegetables, rice milk, and other types of vegan food that will be completely inadequate when it comes to the dietary needs of dogs and cats. Cats in particular are obligate carnivores who need a lot of the amino acids found in meet in order to survive, and a cat will soon starve on a vegan diet. Vegans who think this way should only choose herbivorous pets, or they should try to modify their beliefs to acknowledge the realities of the lives of animals.

Some pet owners are harming their pets while they believe that they are helping them. Letting your dog or your cat spend too much time outdoors actually constitutes a form of animal abuse. Domesticated dogs and cats are completely dependent upon humans. They lack the outdoor survival skills that any being would need to be able to withstand the elements outdoors. Dogs and cats are used to temperature-controlled indoor environments with a stable supply of easily accessible food and water from their owners, and thrusting them into the outdoors is just going to shock them. Dogs and cats cannot understand that they are being let outside ‘to play’ the way a human child can, and they do not have the perspective to know that their owners are going to let them back in and everything will be fine again. There are better and healthier ways to make sure that your dog and cat gets enough exercise.

If you are a pet owner who has done these sorts of things, it doesn’t make you a bad person and it doesn’t mean your pets should be taken away from you. It just means that you need to modify your behavioral patterns as a pet owner for the good of the animals that are in your care. In all likelihood, you did not cause your pet any permanent damage. You just need to get your pet ownership back on track.

Animal Abuse Knows No Age

Animal Abuse Knows No Age

Many people stereotype animal abusers as older people who are out of touch with current societal norms and who abuse animals in order to compensate for their diminishing power in the broader culture. However, it should be noted that there are animal abusers in all age groups. It should also be noted that animal abuse has not been tolerated on a societal level for a long time.

The modern vegan movement began in the 1940’s, and animal rights the way that it is known today had its roots in the nineteenth century. No one alive today remembers a time before animal rights, and socially sanctioned animal abuse is a thing of the past, just like the pillory. Older people never should use their age as an excuse for their harmful beliefs and in the case of animal abusers, that excuse would be neither ethical nor accurate.

However, focusing only on the older animal abusers obscures the multitudes of animal abusers that are young and able-bodied. People tend to also correlate the love of animals with the idealism of youth, which is a problematic belief in its own right. People should not and need not ‘grow out of’ their love of animals. It is also chillingly true that many of the young people who abuse animals do not ‘grow out of it’ themselves, so people cannot simply count on young animal abusers becoming reformed through only the simple passing of time.

Some of the young people who abuse animals will later be diagnosed as sociopaths, which are known today as people with Antisocial Personality Disorder. Young people who also have a history of behavioral problems and a history of bed-wetting past the age of twelve without an associated incontinence disorder may grow up to become violent murderers. While it is true that not all animal abusers are sociopaths or people who will later become sociopaths, the knowledge that someone harms animals is very disconcerting and should always be regarded as a red flag.

Anyone Can Be an Animal Abuser

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The stereotype that all animal abusers are sociopaths does a disservice to animals, since seemingly normal people can be just as much of a threat to them. As the popular television show the Sopranos pointed out, some sociopaths can actually love animals. Animals tend to give people fierce and simple affection while asking for very little in return, which holds a lot of appeal to the sociopaths who have a difficult time maintaining more emotionally complex relationships. A love of animals does not rule out a psychopathic personality.

However, the stereotype does come from somewhere, and it cannot be dismissed like most stereotypes. It is true that sociopaths represent a fairly specific and unique threat to animals, and they need to be recognized as the problem that they are. People with Antisocial Personality Disorder literally lack a sense of empathy. They are not able to intuitively feel what others feel.

They have to intellectually work out the emotions of others, and they often lack the will to do so. Naturally, they are not able to extend any empathy or sympathy to animals or the feelings of animals. However, many people with this problem will specifically go after animals because they think that they will be able to get away with it in a way that would be difficult if they tried the same thing on a human.

Our society tolerates cruelty to animals at least to a certain extent, and cruelty to animals is treated as a lesser crime than cruelty to a human. Sociopaths are more than aware of this, and they try to act out their power fantasies in a way that is less likely to cause them long-term consequences. They will go to jail for life for killing humans. Killing an animal will rarely produce similar consequences.

However, it should be noted that people who are otherwise normal and even seem empathetic have been known to harm animals as well, and their motivations need to be examined if we are able to try to prevent their actions and stop them from doing what they’re doing. These people are feeling powerless in one way or another. Maybe they are suffering from abuse themselves at the hands of a parent, lover, or relative. Maybe they are oppressed in their regular lives. They may be embittered because of genuinely terrible things that have happened to them. Harming animals can give them a sense of power and control, which is why it can be self-reinforcing behavior.

People who are normally empathetic who harm animals have decided that the feelings of animals do not count. They have compartmentalized their brains, leading to a situation in which they can feel empathy for some beings but not for others. Those of us who live in the twenty-first century can sometimes forget that lighting cats on fire for entertainment was once mainstream, as was cock fighting and bear baiting. The people in the seventeenth century were not all sociopaths. They were often releasing the tension that they accumulated from living in societies like theirs.

There is no excuse for harming animals. However, understanding the mindsets of the people who abuse animals can help us prevent and stop them. You have to remember that even the people who you would never suspect in a million years can be animal abusers. The important thing is just making sure that they stop their behavior and stop hurting animals. You don’t have to end your friendships with them or break your familial connections with them when you find out what they have done. You just need to make sure that it stops.

We Can Rehabilitate Abused Pets

Far too many people are under the impression that abused animals are a lost cause. Animals have literally lost their lives as a result of their terrible misconception. Lots of abused animals are put to sleep because people are under the impression that the animals in question will never be able to trust humans again, and they will always be a threat to anyone that they work with for the rest of their lives. Countless success stories involving rehabilitated animals have demonstrated that this is not the case, and yet this misconception persists.

It is easier for a lot of people to just put down the abused animals in question than it is to actually help them get better, which is largely the reason why this happens in the first place. However, there are plenty of eager volunteers who want to help abused animals. There are plenty of families who are also willing to adopt abused animals who have been rehabilitated. Abused animals are by no means a lost cause.

In many cases, abused animals just need to learn to trust humans again. Animals are not capable of differentiating between generalizations the way we are. When one human is cruel to them, all humans are cruel to them in their minds. When one human is kind to them than all humans are kind to them in their minds. Animals who are abused become aggressive towards humans because they have been conditioned to feel that this is the way that they are supposed to be, and they are going to react to those stimuli in the same way for a long time as a result. The humans who try to rehabilitate them are simply going to need to break that pattern, which is more than possible for people who have the time and the funding to do so.

Animals tend to form a bond with the people who are feeding them even at the worst of times. They will certainly form a bond like that at the best of times. They will become positively predisposed to the care workers who are showing them affection. Dogs that get brought in and get cleaned up will feel happier and healthier automatically. They will be in a different environment, and their pasts and their presents will start rewriting themselves automatically.

One of the reasons why dogs and cats can be rehabilitated so easily is the simple fact that they do not have an ability to dwell on the past in an intellectual sense in the manner of a human. Dogs and cats live in a world that is very immediate and physical. They tend to update their models of the world very easily, since their models are so simple and their responses to those models are so simple. People can use these characteristics to their advantage when it comes to making dogs and cats happier and healthier.

Helping Abused Animals

Helping Abused Animals

Animal abuse is illegal in the majority of US states, and it is illegal throughout the developed world as well. In many cases, people can face felony criminal sentences for animal abuse. However, just because these laws exist doesn’t mean that people are going to inevitably go to jail or get their pets taken away if they hurt them. Someone needs to make the proverbial and literal call, and these people are going to have multiple resources at hand if they want to do their civic duty.

Plenty of good Samaritans in this situation are going to want to call the police, which is a positive action to take. However, it should be noted that the police are over-stressed and over-worked. People who want to make sure that they get a straight answer out of the authorities should specifically contact an organization that is dedicated to making sure that animals are protected.

There should be an animal shelter in a person’s area. Chapters of the Humane Society exist in many different states. Most people should also be able to contact local animal control departments in order to address animal cruelty. People who get in contact with any one of those organizations should be able to protect the animals in their lives in one way or another.

Most of these organizations will eventually send out representatives who will help the animals in question, typically by contacting the abusers themselves. The callers will often be able to remain anonymous if that is what they wish. Often times, making an anonymous phone call is all people will need in order to protect the animals that are in their lives, so they should not hesitate to do so.