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Pet People

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Teaching Kids about Critters

I was thrilled when I saw Monday's paper, because the Mini Page, a special insert for children, was all about animal shelters and the proper care of pets.

It is so important to teach kids kindness to animals from DAY ONE, and all the pet-loving Moms I know do that.

But you also have the Moms who get rid of a family pet the minute THE BABY is brought home. I find this appalling. They're too lazy to take the time to do what's necessary to integrate the new family. Now if a dog viciously attacks a baby or there are serious issues, that's a different matter, but having worked with shelters for years, the constant calls come: I just had a BAYYYYYBE and I need to find a new home for my cat/dog. And I'll admit, I look down on them and think badly of them. Sound harsh? Too bad, that's how I feel, because I see the struggle shelters have trying to find homes for unwanted pets.

And these people (not just pregnant ones but others wanting others to take care of their responsibility) want you to take their pet IMMEDIATELY, yet usually don't offer any donation to help with the care of that animal. Half the time they aren't even spayed, neutered or up-to-date on shots. And when some shelters have to turn them down because they are filled to the gills, some get MAD and say things, "What are you there for?" Can you believe it? It's true. You wouldn't believe how rude some people are. Others truly have a serious problem and can't keep a pet, but they usually try on their own first to find it a home, are NICE when they call, offer money and give the shelter time to try to help.

Many years ago, I wrote a letter to the editor in reference to an outdoor column, where the writer was boo-hooing about The Humane Society of the United States published a "Kind News" for kids about humane pet care. He was UPSET because he said the Humane Society was anti-hunting, blah, blah, BLAH. I couldn't believe that ANYONE would be upset at any group printing a publication teaching kids to be kind to animals. Of course, he was of the view that little Johnny and Jane should be given a rifle and taken on the hunt at the age of 12 and putting their picture in the paper as they hold the head of the lifeless animal. And that's fine if that's what he believes.

But to criticize another group and want their publication pulled from schools because they don't AGREE with the so-called "sport" of killing animals was beyond the pale. And the Kind News didn't even have any anti-hunting rehetoric in it, it was all about caring for family pets.

Now, many kids don't grow up in pet-loving families or grow up in families where pets and given up like an old shoe, not taken care of, not spayed or neutered, etc., so they learn to not respect and value them. That's why publications like the Mini Page are important.

Any good stories about pets and kids and lessons learned?

My friend Carmen (dog Josie's mom) had her first baby a few years ago. He is pictured above, going along when they buried on a family farm their old dog, Flossie, who was a rescued dog taken by the Humane Society. She's taught Brayden to be kind to animals from day one. She had the two doxies at the time--Josie and Lacey, and Lacey is a more nervous dog that Josie, and one who has to hog all the toys. Once she bit Brayden, over a toy. Did she get rid of her dog the minute that happened like so many people do? Put a bullet in its head because it bit the baby, like other people sometimes do? Beat it? NO. She corrected both, but focused on Brayden, teaching him to understand that you NEVER mess with a dog that's eating or with a toy, because a child can't be an "alpha human" at an early age, one who can take things away from a dog. And that's important too--not letting a dog get away with being food or toy possesive.

But that's a topic for another day Pet People!

posted by Sandy at 10/02/2007 03:12:00 PM


Blogger pearcehart said...

Excellent column, Sandy! Bravo!!

I grew up with pets, my parents were both animal lovers. My mother loved canaries and poodles and bred both at one time. My dad loved horses and dogs. I had dogs and cats, mice, fish and birds. The only bad time was when I had cats and birds at the same time. Well, and the fish and cats. The dogs and the mice did fine together. Anyway, the prfessor's family didn't have pets... none. So, he is still learning how to cope with pets. He is not the alpha in this house, at least to the dogs and me, LOL.

This leads me to some interesting observations I have had as we all learn to cope with the absence of Aimee, dog princess.

I was reading in a book about how some dogs take a possession that belongs to the alpha "dog" in the "pack" (household). Aimee would take something of mine, an article of clothing, show, underpants(!) and lay on it when the prfessor and I were gone running errands. I thought it was because she wanted to protect me. And I thought that was odd because, the professor is the one who chose her from the shelter, took her to fly ball training and generally was considered his dog. So, why was she protecting my stuff and not his? This book I am reading says that dogs will take the possession of the "alpha dog" as a way to letting the others know that they are alpha dog because they have the alpha possession. So, *I* was the alpha dog to Aimee. Interesting...

We are also experiencing serious pack order confusion. Charlie is very confused because he was always submissive to Aimee and seemed to view Max as an equal. They were both submissive to Aimee. Now, the professor and I have been wondering who would claim the alpha spot... the professor thought Charlie would show his inner alpha because Max is so friendly to man and beast. Charlie can act very ferocious, while Max loves anyone and everyone. Max seems to be stepping into Aimee's spot. He is beginning to growl at Charlie and the cats if they try to be or he thinks they are trying to be dominant over him. Not dangerous growling but dominance warning growls, like back off buster. Charlie is even more confused and seems to be scared of everything now. He is constantly following me around, getting underfoot and basically being a crybaby about everything. The cats seem more relaxed and will even run up to the dogs now and sniff them, something they only tried once with Aimee because she let them know immediately that she would not be sniffed.

So, things are changing here, pack-wise. I feel like Jane Goodall...

Tuesday, October 02, 2007 4:25:00 PM  
Blogger Skeeter said...

Yes, good article indeed Sandy! The picture is so precious also...
I cannot recall ever being without animals in my life. Cats, dogs, hamsters were the pets but we played with lizards, snakes, birds, turtles or whatever would let us touch it! And lets don’t forget the summer my brother brought home a snake from school to Foster for summer vacation! I thought dad was going to kill him for sure!

Pearcehart, That is a very interesting thing which is happening in your home with the pack! Animals never cease to amaze me! We do a lot of observation from afar of the wild animals in the yard and we have learned a lot. We have also learned that all you read about animals is not necessarily true, for instance, deer do come out during the day! They pretty much are on the move all the time. You just don’t see them because they are in the woods. They come out of the woods to the grassy areas at dusk and throughout the night though.

One of the most interesting things I observed with the deer was, the time a mother Doe bedded her spotted baby down just over our fence! That little guy stayed there in that spot for 3 solid hours hardly ever moving! I was so mesmerized that I pulled a chair up to the glass door and watched and snapped pictures all afternoon long! After the 3rd hour, the little guy got antsy and roamed around a bit but not too far from the designated safe place mommy had chose. Then on the 4th hour, the herd of 4 Doe arrived. The fawn ran to mommy and mommy immediately took it to the creek for a sip of water! Then to the corn pile we set out for them! I thought that was so interesting. I was devastated when I realized there was no film in the camera!!! Arggggg. Now we have a digital so no such problems but now we don’t have the killer zoom lens on the digital…. I keep the old camera with a good zoom on the tripod at all times just in case of a special Kodak moment!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007 5:26:00 PM  
Blogger Pam said...

Sandy, I also agree on what a great article you wrote.
I'm with you on getting so angry with some of the stupid things people say about how animals are just animals and etc.! Hey have you tired sending me anything lately on my e-mail? I can't understand why that things are coming back to you. I'm getting everything from everyone else. This is too wierd and I want to get your e-mails! Are you getting the things I've been sending you? I've sent a few things to you lately.
Alice it is interesting the way things are going with your kids. When our Samantha was still with us it was just known she was the Queen and the Boss of the house. The other girls did NOT mess with Queen Sammy! Now the three girls seem to all be pretty equal although they would each like to rule the roost.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007 5:39:00 PM  
Blogger Pam said...

Skeeter, girl, for kids and pets you gotta keep the film handy at all times. You got to keep the old cameras for the telephoto shots.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007 5:41:00 PM  
Blogger Adrienne said...

I can't remember a time when I have not had pets in my life. Nothing creepy crawly or unnatural. But I had dogs, cats, birds, hamsters, rabbits, fish and ducks.

I think it is important that ALL children learn to respect animals. Mattie was raised in my daycare. Her daily care was a responsibility of the kids. They loved it and would argue over who's turn it was. I used their experiences with Mattie when they were playing together and there were problems. It helped them to have something to relate to. It taught then to have respect for more than just animals, eahc other.

I think it's great that your friends included there toddler even at such a sad time. I really HATE parents that think it's best to keep things like that from kids. They should be involved in all aspects of what happens in and to a family regardsless of age.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007 8:46:00 PM  
Blogger B said...

Grear read Sandy! Alice, interesting about the laundry--Hines does that with my clothes. It's so funny--Lucy was Jeremy's bought and paid ofr dog, but she clung to me. When I was in the hospital the first time for two weeks, she bonded with Jeremy and has since been more partial to him. Charlie is my dog thru and thru--but he loves his other Daddy too. Hines was SUPPOSED to be mine, but he worships Jeremy. Pearl is completely indifferent--figures, huh. I play this out like everybody has a favorite, but we all love each other equally and I know that they love us both the same. They just respond differently between the two of us. It's just like kids--Daddy's little girl, momma's little boy, etc. Lucy and Pearl are Daddy's little girls, Charlie is daddy's big boy, and Hines is daddy's special little guy.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007 8:00:00 AM  
Blogger Skeeter said...

The Saint and I are headed to VA to visit the Saints family the next few days. I will be MIA a while. I will try to peek in if I can get to their computer. We are going to meet Minnie and also sis has a new boyfriend (funny how I mentioned the dog first, ha ha) Plus we are taking our pressure washer with us so we can do some work for his parents. So we will probably be staying busy... Will chat when we return…

Adrienne, I am afraid we will not be able to make a trip to the National Zoo like I wanted to so we will not be in the DC area. Guess we will have to wait until Nov and our Clarksville visit for us to meet in person… :(

I was afraid we would have to cancel this planned trip as our neighbors are also going to be out of town. They always keep an eye on our girls but she recommended the young girl that watches their horses at times. I met with her yesterday and we immediately clicked where animals are concerned! I told the Saint I am 100-plus percent confident in this girl watching our girls! That is a load off my mind…

Wednesday, October 03, 2007 10:18:00 AM  
Blogger Adrienne said...

No trip to the zoo for us this weekend, but we did get up early and drive to the Shenandoah National Park and do Skyline Drive. It was really beautiful. We saw lots of dear and squirals. I really was hoping to see a bear, but we didn't. We were going to have a pcinic lunch with the dogs, but the gnats were really bad and were attracted to the Foremans bald head. So we just drove through and took a few pictures. We are planning to go back in the spring and hike to one of the waterfalls. If you all ever get a chance to visit, it is well worth the trip.

Saturday, October 06, 2007 8:41:00 PM  
Blogger Braveheart said...

Awww Sandy I was reading your blogs and saw that picture and was like "THAT looks just like my Bradyen's head when he was a baby...!"
and it IS my Braydens little tiny head. We jsut moved him into a big boy bed last night at nearly 3 years old...that photo made me happy and sad for my Flossy and my growing boy.
I tell you there were more instances than just one that Lacey bit Brayden as he "learned" his way through doghood and limits. He was one of those kids that just "did it" to see if he could when it came to her. He pushed her limits and I practically had to sit on them when they were together for a long time to make sure he didn't get seriously hurt over toys, food, bones etc.
Sometimes just being a little booger he would walk up and wave his hands in her face (scaring her).
That started earning him time outs early in life.
I LOVE my son so I hope no one gets me wrong here...but my animals are my family (all four of them) and they deserve to continue to feel safe in their home as well.
Well it's been months without any "arguing" between the two of them and of 10 minutes ago...I left her snoring in his bed right at his side with his hand on her back as they went to sleep.
It is NOT an easy road with kids and animals but anyone who gives up is a fool and missing a wonderful lesson for their kids in compassion and love.

Sunday, October 07, 2007 8:25:00 PM  
Blogger Stacey said...

Oh Carmen, I only wish there were more parents like you and Amy. Too many people seem to think you can't have two legged children AND four legged children at the same time. It does me good to see you guys breaking that mold. I think Pet People Jennifer and Shannon will be doing that soon as well.

Sunday, October 07, 2007 9:20:00 PM  
Blogger Skeeter said...

Oh my gosh Adrienne! We did not get to the zoo but did get to the Shenandoah mountains on Skyline Drive!!! When I read your post, the hair on my arm stood straight up! I looked at your posting date to see when you and the Foreman were there to see if we crossed paths but no such luck. We went on Friday morning. We had that picnic and yes the gnats were horrible but the coolness in the air and the beauty of the turning trees were well worth dealing with the pesky bugs! They were buzzing everyone but Mom B and none of us could figure that one out… Our picnic was good and Minnie dog did well on the drive up and down the mountain. Mom and Dad B do not live too far from the entrance to Skyline drive so we will make more trips up with future visits. It really did remind me of the Smokey Mountains with the fog in the air! We saw a mother deer with her spotted bambi walk right up along side us on the road! Dad B was driving and did not stop long enough for me to snap a picture of them both in the view so all I got was a quick snap of Bambi. We saw chipmunks, a perched hawk, woodpeckers and more deer on our trip. The last time we were up there a bear ran across the road in front of us but no such luck this trip. I will send you my pictures once I get them on the computer…. How ironic that we were at the same place over the weekend! If only we had known that Mom B had this trip planned then we could have arranged a timed meeting for your babies to play with Minnie. She is real skittish of people (even me and the Saint sniff) but she loves other dogs! They would have played well together and maybe you could have given Mom B some tips on Minnie’s behavior problems. They are Europe bound the next two weeks and Minnie will be staying with one of the Shelter volunteers that took care of her so long ago. She will work with Minnie to help her with her issues and when Mom B returns, she and Minnie will be taking training classes together. The Saint and I were so disappointed that Minnie would not play with us nor have nothing but barks and growls for us. But Missy cat ate up all of our attention and slept with us each night.

Monday, October 08, 2007 2:25:00 PM  

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Pet People

Sandy Britt, an animal welfare advocate and volunteer with Clarksville rescue organizations, takes care of three dogs: Zoe, Scooter and Peanut; two cats: Catfish and Tarzan; and one husband, Glen, and according to him she takes care of them in that order.

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