Pet Week Chance To Appreciate Furry Family Member

FOCUS ON PETS

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May 7 through 13 is National Pet Week, which is celebrated throughout the world. Originating in 1981 by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and its auxiliary, its goals are to promote responsible pet ownership, to celebrate the human-animal bond and to promote awareness of veterinary medicine.

Our pets should be part of our family and if they are not, we should not be allowed to have them.

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Chrissie was one of the lucky ones. She found a new, loving home with Jim and Jan Beal after a tough beginning. She quickly learned to enjoy life's luxuries, like sleeping on the sofa and lots of personal attention.

Jim and Jan Beal recently lost their beloved springer spaniel, Chrissie. They rescued her from the Payson Humane Society four years ago when she was five. She and her brother were given up when their value as breeding dogs ended. Many thought Chrissie had been abused because of her cowering and fear of sticks.

Chrissie quickly felt secure with the Beals. However, she suffered from separation anxiety and after many repairs of doors and walls, it was determined that they could not leave her alone. Beyond the damage, they worried that she would hurt herself. From then on, she either went along or one of them stayed behind. If they both had to leave, they hired a dog sitter. Jim said, "When she found a good life with us, she was not going to let us go off and leave her."

Before her 10th birthday, Chrissie suffered from failing hips, cataracts, loss of hearing, incontinence and numerous tumors on her mammary glands. On her final trip to the veterinarian, the Beals were told that having too many litters contributed to her rapid and premature decline in health.

Chrissie was one of the more fortunate. She was given a second chance to have a home, a family, love and attention after a tough beginning.

Some dogs go from home to home and never have the opportunity to be part of a family. That is so very sad.

Others are stuck in the back yard night and day without the opportunity to share their love and devotion. The more time we spend with our pets and include them in our daily activities, the more quickly we find out just what wonderful friends they can be.

Dogs, like children, need training before they can be appreciated and welcomed as family members. Learning, just like with people, should continue throughout the lifetime. Training keeps the mind active and working. It is a myth that old dogs cannot learn new tricks. Get out some treats and work on some simple tricks. Just see how eager they are to learn and please us.

By the way, for those who have small children and pets, there is a Web site sponsored by the AVMA Auxiliary called "Growing Up with Pets." This sight appears to be full of wonderful ideas and tips for helping your child and your dog learn to live together and develop a close, long-lasting, meaningful bond. Visit www.growingupwithpets.com.

I just received a very important e-mail from a fellow dog person. This is an alert about a new kind of garden fertilizer that is sold in many nurseries and plant departments. Cocoa Mulch has a warning on the label to keep cats away, but says nothing about dogs. One particular dog broke into a bag of this product and ate a generous helping. She vomited a few times but seemed OK.

The next day, the owner took the dog for its morning walk. Half way through the walk, the dog had a seizure and died instantly. Although there is no warning on the label, their Web site states that the product is highly toxic to dogs. Cocoa Mulch is manufactured by Hershey. They claim that although 50 percent of the dogs that consume the mulch will suffer physical harm, 90 percent of dogs will not be interested in eating it.

Cocoa Mulch contains a lethal ingredient called Theobromine. It smells like chocolate and attracts dogs and cats. Theobromine is used to make dark or baker's chocolate. Cocoa bean shells contain potentially toxic quantities of this ingredient and this is what Cocoa Mulch is made from. This is a new product. Do make sure that you are not buying it or that your gardener is not using it in your yard.

We all know that dogs will eat fertilizer, the fresher the better. Steer manure and compost attract dogs just like the piles they find and roll in when they are out in the forest. If it smells gross, they will probably like it. This new product, Cocoa Mulch, smells good. Don't buy it. If you see it at a garden supply store, tell them about the dangers. If this product is toxic for dogs and cats, it is certainly toxic for wildlife as well. Why would you want to use this on your plants?

During National Pet Week, spend time with your dog, and, with a pocket full of delicious treats, teach him a new trick. His enthusiasm will amaze you.

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