Best Friend Blues

Loss of a Pet

 Today I learned of the passing of a friends mini-dachshund dog, Jessie, by group email. She asked that people not send anything but fond memories. As tears streamed down my face, I realized that replying to her email was not an option for me. I had to go get a card, something tangible that I could give to her – and I phoned before I drove over to hand-deliver it. Have you ever received an email or phone call about a friends pet passing? How did you respond? Have you ever lost a pet? Most of the books and on-line articles have great content, yet at the end of each pet’s story is a unique choice: do you share your grief with friends, or do you keep it private and bury the beloved pet in your own yard?

This morning I went to Rochelle’s home and as she opened the door, it took us both a moment to register that there would be no excited greeting, no barking or dog kisses now that Jessie was gone. We walked over to the kitchen, and I saw that she had yet to pick up the dog bowls or toys scattered around the floor. I offered to put them all in a bag and she nodded, dropping heavily into a chair. “I feel depressed, her death has completely upset my daily routine. I don’t want to get out of bed for a morning walk without Jessie. I don’t want to see my friends with dogs, it hurts too much!”

This is where she shared that her best friend was still not buried. “People kept telling me I should just have her cremated, but I couldn’t get into the car with her body, or part with it – I want her here where I can visit her – maybe even make a little memorial. “I understand.” “So will you help me bury her out in the back?” “Of course, I replied.” Jessie was simply wrapped in a plastic bag and swaddled by Rochelle’s favorite bedspread, resting in the garden shed where the temperature was 20 degrees!. We used a laundry basket to transport her little mummified body out to the waiting burial spot and had a quiet moment in her honor.

Afterward, I realized that what Rachel needed most was a friend to walk beside her through this tough emotional time, coaxing her along to complete the next steps in her grieving process. “…love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation” – Kabil Gibran. I also handed her a list of resources like the one below:

ASPCA Pet Loss Hotline: (877) GRIEF-10

Faithful Friends Pet Crematorium, Raleigh: (919) 874-0014.

Pet Rest Cemetary, Durham: (919) 596-3895.

Pet BereavementCounseling, Judith Stutts, Ph.D.LPC, (336)625-1400 

SPCA of Wake County, 200 Petfinder Lane, Raleigh, 919-772-2326 Meets the

third Sunday of the month, 3:30-5:30 p.m.

University of Florida Pet Loss Hotline: (352) 392-4700, ext. 4080(this hotline will call you back

From anywhere and not chargeg you anything)

Heartworm Myths Debunked!

 Dogs-Heartworm-Disease1EGADS – Just the name “Heart Worm” brings to mind horrid images of your beloved furry friend being attacked by hungry beasts from the inside! 
Now take a deep breath, these worms are not as common as some  drug companies would like you to believe. The vets that prescribe this medication get  a nice kickback/additional money between the test and the year round prescription that often accompanies it. Is all this medication really necessary?
Let’s take a hard look at the facts:
1. Heartworms are passed from infected dogs to other dogs by mosquitos. The mosquito deposits tiny immature larvae near the bite wound, where they migrate beneath the skin, eventually reaching the hearts and lungs. These worms can grow up to 12 inches
2.  Temperature plays a BIG part in the life cycle of heartworms.  “Temperatures must remain above 57 degrees F  (14 C ) for at least 45 days straight and at least 2 weeks of temperatures over 80 F ( If these conditions are not fulfilled, the parasite cycle cannot be completed and your dog is safe)” –American Heartworm Society.
3.  Risks of heartworm infection in your area can be quite exaggerated unless you live in FL, HI or TX. “The lifecycle of the heartworm nematode involves six stages, and a dog can get infected with heartworm only if two of these stages are fully completed inside the body of the mosquito, and those stages can only be completed inside the body of the mosquito if the temperature stays above 57 degrees for at least 45 days straight, both day and night. If the temperature drops below 57 degrees even once during that 45-day period, the lifecycle of the nematode is broken, and heartworm cannot b transmitted to your dog. What this means, in simple terms, is that a year-round program of Heartgard or some other “preventative” medicine is NOT needed in most of the country” -Dr. David Knight and James Lok.
Check the map at this website to verify and talk with your vet about how many cases they have had of positive heartworm tests in the past few months. Map 
4. Administering of any drug is never optimal.  In reality no one can be absolutely certain if down the road preventive medication doesn’t  increase the tendency to chronic disease, organ failure or even cancer. Preventative Heartworm medication ( chemoprophylaxis ) has a wide cost range:
 $37.00 for a 6 month supply of Tri-Heart Plus, $69-$99 depending on size of dog for Advantage Multi, and  $89 to $109 for Trifexis.
So yes, your dog should be tested for heartworms, yet use  this information to make informed decisions about preventative measures and how often to administer the medicine.
Four Paws Pet Sitting is NOT telling you to stop giving yours dogs heartworm medicine year round, but check it out.

Everything Ear Okay Doggie?

a basset hound riding in a car with her head out of the window aDoes your dog whimper when he scratches his ears? Are the ear-scratches more frequent and for longer durations than normal? Does he shake his head or drag it along the ground? If so, your dog may have an infection, or otitis (inflammation) in one of the three ear parts.

The outer ear (otitis external) may be upright, folded, or flush with the head. The shape is not as important as whether your dog plays outside and gets debris/dirt inside the ear. The ear canal (otitis media) should be rinsed out with ear-cleaning fluid from the store. NEVER use a q-tip, instead use a cotton ball or towel, so that you don’t damage the ear. Finally, the inner ear (otitis internal) can get infected and cause severe pain for your dog, affecting his balance and energy level. This is why it is important to monitor your dogs ears using the 3 inspection tricks below:

1. SMELL the pups ear – if it stinks, frequently a yeasty smell, it’s probably infected
2. VISUALLY INSPECT the ear – check to see if the ear is pink or red, has sores, or oozes
3. TOUCH the ear area, try rubbing it, and if he whimpers this can be a sign of infection

What causes these ear infections? Once again, one of three things, or a combination of them:
1. Bacteria (signs include rubbing at ears, shaking head, red/swollen ear, a milky discharge)
2. Fungus (dogs with ear flaps that trap moisture inside tend to get this more often)
3. Ear Mites (a common sign is dried blood inside his ears, frequent head shaking)

Medication (insecticide) and/or antibiotics are the best treatment to kill the mites, bacteria or fungus.

**A note about cat ear-cleaning:
(Cats tend to be more resistant, so take time to swaddle them in a towel first to prevent scratching you during ear cleaning. Gently wipe the inside of the ear with a cotton ball with a small amount of hydrogen peroxide – squeezing out excess first and being careful not to insert the cotton too far down into the ear canal. Then, put the drops in one ear at a time, rubbing them to move the solution down the ear canal.)

Get Out and Do Something Fun

Frisbee dogIt’s dark, cold and your dog is staring at you – again. Wondering what to do? Maybe it’s time the two of you got out of the house and did something FUN with a purpose! Well, grab your I-phone, tablet or a good-old-fashioned piece of paper and put a few of these events onto your calendar:

1. Friday, January 23, HappyMess Night for Hope, 7pm-9pm in Durham.
Join us for a great time painting and raising money for Hope Animal Rescue. Registration: $35 and HappyMess Art Studio is donating 50%. You must RSVP as there are only 12 spots available. Come on out for some fun and relaxation!

2. February 19 “Wine, Wags, & Whiskers” wine tasting event. 8am- 5pm Second Chance Pet Adoption. More details coming soon…..!! Check out their website below for updates.

3. February 21 Paws4Ever Shopping Event, 1-4pm, Hillsborough, The Big Barn located at The Shops at Daniel Boone. $5/entry tix. Come shop local vendors.

4. March 14, IRONDOG is a 5k Run/1.5M Dog Walk
10am-2pm. Admission: $15-30. Raises money for animals whose owners cannot afford their medical care. These funds will be used to support the medical and surgical management of dogs and cats hospitalized at NC State University Veterinary Health Complex. For more information, please email

5. March 30,31 – Feb. 1, Carolina Piedmont Dog Agility NC State Fairgrounds. Fri. Sat, Sun 8am – 4 pm. Dog agility competitions. Free spectator admissions. More than $1,500 in prize money up for grabs at the Carolina Piedmont Dog Agility trials in the Hunt Horse Arena. Watch as dogs of every skill level and size tackle obstacles such as the A-frame, weave poles, jumps and plank.

6. Saturday, April 18, SPCA K9-3K Dog Walk, 10am
Moore Square, 221 S Blount Street,Downtown Raleigh, NC. All the money raised at this event goes to support the work of the SPCA of Wake County. Registration fee: $35.

12:30pm DOG CONTESTS START* *Register your dog for contests at the Main Stage beginning at 10:00am

12noon-4:00pm: Visit the Family Fun Zone in Moore Square Park, food and beverage vendors in City Market, enjoy music and dog friendly vendor village.

7. Kennel Club events at State Fairgrounds

Sat 01/31/2015, Carolina Piedmont Agility Club

Wed 03/18/2015, Cary Kennel Club

Thu 03/19/2015, Alamance Kennel Club, Inc

Sat 03/21/2015, German Shepherd Dog Club Of Greater Raleigh

Sat 03/21/2015, Tar Heel Boxer Club Of Greater Raleigh

Sat 03/21/2015, Central Carolina Poodle Club

Sat 03/21/2015, Tarheel Golden Retriever Club

Sat 05/09/2015, Mid-atlantic Hound Association Of Central North Carolina

Sat 05/16/2015, Raleigh-durham Labrador Retriever Club

Sat 06/06/2015, Tarheel Golden Retriever Club Durham

Choose your Bowl Wisely


My neighbor adopted an 18-month old Border Collie (Jack) to be a companion to her older Australian Shepard (Lola). Of course, the herding mentality and bumping up against the Lola was bad enough – but then the little runt rushed her food bowl and dribbled water everywhere from their joint dish – something had to be done right away! So she went to the Pet Store and bought a Platinum Pets Double Diner Dog Stand ($19 for x-small to $54.99 for X-tra large size). Plastic versions can be found by Pet Mate and Grreat Choice for around $29.99 and a stylish wooden “table feeder” by Top Paw costs $34.99.

According to the Dr. Foster and Smith website, older dogs such as Lola benefit from the raised bowls because:

1. Cleaner – the food and water don’t get underneath bowl and grow mold.
2. Eating from a raised bowl eases joint strain and neck tension during feeding.
3. Better posture by eliminating uncomfortable bending or crouching.
4. Reduces choking, really a great aid for dogs with megaesophagus that have difficulty swallowing, or other digestive problems.

Now she focused on her new dog, sloppy-Jack, and his habit of scooting the dish across the floor as he ate. She tried Grreat Choice® Non-Skid Dog Bowl with a wide-base, rubber coating and it was fairly heavy. Great improvement!

Next, she addressed the water bowl area that was always wet from Jack’s sloppy lapping, damaging her hardwood floors!  There were a variety of mats to place underneath the dishes, ranging in price from the inexpensive Top Paw Dog Placemat for $10.99 to the personalized  Drymate Paw Border Waterproof Pet Mat for $19.99.

Both dogs are doing well, although Lola still believes Jack’s manners should put him in the doghouse out back!

For those of you that want something more sophisticated, there are the $159 Designer Pet Eatery Wall Mounted Bowls . They have to be installed by a professional since the waterline attaches right to the water bowl side. The dog’s bowls are inside a square frame that is mounted within the wall and then elevated to the height you need. Bowls are removable and can hold up to 6 cups of food and they aren’t going to be knocked over or scooted around!

Good Kitty Gone Bad!

Little cute kitten and laptop, isolated on white
One of your New Years Resolutions may be to break your bad habits, but what about your pets? Kitty can be trained to modify her bad behavior, making 2015 a more rewarding year for the both of you!

1. Waking You Up in the Middle of the Night

It’s 4 am and the cat is pouncing on your feet, meowing like a banshee to go outside! You drag yourself out of bed to toss the kitty some kibble, and if that still doesn’t quiet her down, you open the door and scoot her outside in order to obtain peace and quiet… but that is exactly the wrong thing to do!

You have just unintentionally rewarded the cat by giving her what she wanted: to be outside.

“The key to training a cat and understanding cat behavior is to make sure that whatever you want your cat to do is exceedingly rewarding and pleasurable. Whatever you don’t want your cat to indulge in must never be rewarding or fun, in fact, it must be unpleasant.”

Step A. Exercise the kitty before you go to bed

Step B. Have a water bottle or air-spray ready for when she jumps on the bed to discourage her from waking you

Step C. Have toys sitting out for her to play with. If possible, leave a window open for her to look out of
2. Scratching Furniture

A bored cat will find a way to entertain herself! Cats are known to become overly active and destructive, clawing furniture and shredding curtains, unless they have an outlet.

Step A. Reward your kitty for using her scratch post with a massage, treat, and lots of praise.

Step B. Discourage her from clawing at anything other than her post by immediately startle her with either a blast of water from a plant sprayer or a sudden loud noise. She will soon realize that unpleasant things happen when she tries to scratch the furniture

Step C. Place tin foil around corner of furniture she likes to claw, put her scratching post nearby or a cardboard claw station

3. Biting

Sometimes, cats are unintentionally trained to view your fingers as toys if you play with them this way, or do not n also

Step A. Provide some bite-able alternatives, like a feather wand or a catnip banana — and be sure to experiment with a variety of toys to see what he likes. Then play with him every day.

Step B. Withdraw attention when your kitten doesn’t get the message. If the distraction and redirection techniques don’t work, the most drastic thing you can do to discourage your cat from rough play is to withdraw all attention. Go into the other room for a bit, leaving behind a toy or paper bag for cat to play with.

Step C. Another option is to adopt a playmate for him, preferably of the opposite sex. There are several cat rescue non-profits in the area:

Alley Cats and Angels (919) 303-3500S

Cat Angels Pet Adoptions (919) 463-9586

Second Chance (919) 851-8404

**Consider neutering your male cats that bite. Male cats tend to be more aggressive, but will calm down if neutered.

Shoes for Dogs? You bet!

Dog On A Winter Walk

My dog shivered as she put a paw down on the  frosty deck. Her tail drooped and then she walked backwords through the door right into my shin! Really? You see, Shadow has sensitive feet and does not like to pee in cold, much less walk around the block. “This is a problem…” I scolded her “…and the solution is to go shopping!”

We hopped into the car and ironically “Baby it’s cold outside” was playing on the radio. Passing the big box petstore, we pulled into our local Unleashed. There were the ususal assortment of leashes and treats up front. As we passed, Shadow strained her entire body to sniff these. I wondered if there would there be a little area to “try on” dog shoes? “Yes ma’am, Over on the sidewall under the jackets” said the shop owner.

I had no idea there were so many styles and price points! Ruffwear Bark and Boot or Trex were on the higher end at $90. East Side Collection Sherpa boots were mid-range, coming in bright colors at $25. Both Muttluks and Guardian Gear ranged from a $12.99 sock to a $64 fleece lined boot. On Amazon, the most popular dog bootie was Fashion Pet Lookin Good at $15. It has a velcro strap and reflective tape on top so they are easy to get on/off. The second most popular brand was Ultra Paws Durable Dog Boot, a thicker sole and fleece lining bumped the price to $35. I compared quality and cost, keeping in mind that Shadow and I live in the south and would not be doing the Iditarod or seeing much snow anytime soon!

1. First step, Sizing.
We walked over to the Muttluks sizing chart that measures the entire paw, including nails, with sizes ranged from Itty Bitty at 1 inch to XX Large at 5.25 inches.

2. Second step: fitting.
We tried on the Hott Doggers stretchy economy boots but they were hard to pull on. The velcro strap on the more expensive boot was much easier to adjust. Standing over her, I lifted each paw at the elbow and wiggled the boot on, then pulled tight with the strap. There was quite a bit of extra strap that we will cut off at home.

3. Third, pricing.
After an elaborate fitting and many “Why are you doing this to me” looks from my dog, she walked out wearing the Fleece Lined Muttluks.

Local Pet Shoppes:
Oliver’s Collar,  4711 Hope Valley Rd, Durham, NC 27707, (919) 401-4888

Other End of the Leash, 1000 W Main St, Durham, NC 27701, (919) 908-1887

1. 7901 Falls of Neuse Rd #125, Raleigh, NC, (919) 676-3225

2. 5289 Sunset Lake Rd, Holly Springs, NC 27540, (919) 362-8711

PetPad,  1239 NW Maynard Road, Cary, NC 27513, (919)-481-6614

PetPantry,  2521 Schieffelin Rd, Apex, NC 27502, (919) 303-1990

1. 10 W Franklin St #100, Raleigh, NC, (919) 833-9216
2.  6464 Tryon Rd, Cary, NC 27518, (919) 977-7103

Unleashed – The Dog and Cat Store

1.   2460 Wycliff Rd, Raleigh, NC, (919) 858-6460
2. 2066 Kildaire Farm, Cary, NC 27518, (919) 977-1329

Woof Gang Bakery and Grooming
1. 13600 New Falls of Neuse Rd, Raleigh, NC 27614
2.  305 Ledgerstone Way, Cary, NC 27513, (919) 297-2275

Paws in the City,  1105 Tryon Village Dr, Cary, NC 27518, (919) 851-5853

Give a Dog a Bone

Happy dog cartoon

Do you have a turkey, a dog, and a trash can? Then you have the potential for a “bone-bandit.”

Will the bones hurt your dog? Vets and experienced pet owners disagree among themselves, so below we offer both the good and bad of allowing Fido to gnaw on a bone.

Rule #1
Always supervise your pet with a bone. Don’t just toss it outside and let him chew on it for an hour. After 15-20 minutes, take the bone away.

Rule #2
An uncooked bone is a better bone. Any poultry bone becomes brittle when cooked. When chewing on it, the bone can snap, splinter, and the pieces may puncture your dogs insides! So raw poultry or beef bones are ok but never feed raw pork bones (due to bacteria).

Rule #3
Be prepared for upchuck. Yes, consuming too much greasy meat and/or bones may cause the stomach to empty out later.

The Good news about bones:
1. They are a natural source of calcium and phosphorus
2. Chewing stimulates the jaw and prevents boredom
3. Bones can help keep teeth clean

The Bad news about bones:

1. Weight barring bones from large animals are too hard and can break teeth, cause enamel damage, puncture gums
2. Cooked bones are brittle and splinter. Splinters can perforate the intestines “Any sharp point on a bone can scrape and cut your dog’s gastrointestinal tract from the esophagus down to the rectum, causing damage on its way in or out”.
3. Bones can quickly acquire bacteria and make your pet vomit or have diarrhea. They should be thrown out after one day, and in the summer they should be thrown out within the hour.

Owners know their dogs eating habits, so it’s really a matter of personal preference as to whether he can be trusted with a bone! Larger dogs tend to gobble it down whole, but if you have a chewer, he may do just fine. If he tends to get into the garbage, make sure to take all the scraps and carcass right out to the garbage can. Many a dog-bandit has made off with Thanksgiving scraps, bones and all!

Believe it or Not

Isolated beholder monster
Extra toes? Two heads, or a shrunken skull? If you have ever visited one of Ripley’s museums, or read one of his amazing photograph-rich books, then you know that he was the kind of man who appreciated oddities.

In his personal life, the “real life Indian Jones” Robert Ripley traveled to 200 countries. He wrote about the unusual, assembling a rare collection of artifacts and stories about people, animals, and places he encountered along the way. Even his beloved sheepdog, Cyclops, had only one eye in the middle of his furry head!

Some interesting facts:

1. Ripley displayed multi-limbed animals, albinos, two-headed kittens, one-eyed “cyclops” animals and actively pursued the “bizarre creatures” across five continents.
2. He obtained photos of fish that climbed trees, wingless birds, four-legged chickens and peg-legged cows.
3. He bought an island just north of NYC for $85,000. Using his acronym for “Believe It or Not,” he called it BION Island. His beloved Cyclops lived on the island with him and a “harem of women” that hosted parties for the rich, famous, and unusual.
4. On May 24, 1949, Ripley was taping the 13th show of his new series when he collapsed, unconscious. Ironically, it was a program about the origins of “Taps,” the military song played at funerals. He never recovered, dying a few days later of this heart attack.
5. When he died he left behind no widow or children, only a dog.

Robert Ripley was known for his love of unusual animals. His legacy lives on today, with examples like this:

Ripley Entertainment Inc. donated $400 to “My Heart’s Desire” dog rescue. The rescue had posted photos of an unusual dog they called RIPLEY: ‘You would have never believed there was a dog under (all that matted fur). He didn’t even look like a dog. He looked like the elephant man. All you could see was his snout.” stated rescue owner Tracey Lapeyrous. Make sure to check out the website ( where you can submit photos and stories about your own unusual animals!

Catnip Dreams

Kitty TreatsSlider was hallucinating, that had to be what was happening, because fish don’t talk especially once they are out of the water. Yet big-mouthed-bass over on the dock was now YELLING at him to get out of the state, leave the town for the summer. “Obviously louder is not working, and I already attempted to speak more clearly without a tongue or lips. Now I am just going to have to hit you over the head with my tail and telepathically channel this horrific image of you. Covered in blood. Dead. DO NOT STAY HERE.”

Eyes wide, mouth gaping, Slider the cat was tripping over the impossibility of the fish he had just caught uttering anything, much less threats about his impending death if he didn’t get out of Dodge. Or rather, Raleigh, pronto. He could feel the fur on the back of his neck sticking straight out. Definitely an electric charge in the air; a change like right before a big summer storm. The wind had picked up, blowing his favorite catnip mouse over the side of the dock. Leaning forward, he could see it resting on the bottom among the lily-pad tendrils and green slime. “Don’t get caught” floated up from the deep, bubbles surfacing right in front of him… Slider scrambled backwards and fell off the dock, tail-first into the cold water!

The catnip mouse had spoken! What the heck was happening?stripped toy mouse

He could hear it still, shouting now alongside the angry fish, a chorus of warnings about leaving on the next bus out of town. Furiously kitty-paddling, whiskers twitching, Sliders mind marshalled on: Get yourself out of this here dream, or whatever wild trip you are on. It is officially time to wake up! Three more feet and aha! Carefully parting the cattails to avoid snakes, he peered into the swampy rim. The water moccasin was the last thing he needed right now – it’s bite was bad enough to send a grown tiger to Urgent Care! If he was anywhere near a vet this afternoon, his very real fear was that they would commit him to a psyche ward. The vet would need only one look at him to confidently announce: “Crazy. Certifiable. Lock him up him nurse Ursula.”

Maybe there was something to the whole “too much of a good thing” regarding catnip? Time to lay off the all-organic, concentrated variety!

Slider found a sunny spot and curled up for a cat-nap. Rest assured, he was going to sleep this off, or at the least wake up from this bizarre dream he was currently in…

Nepetalactone is the active ingredient in catnip.
Meowi Wowwi, Kitty Hooch, Dr. Gonzo’s Naughty Salad, Freaky Feline and Chronic Cat Nip are just a few of the high-potency types of catnip.