Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Continuing and a recent sleep

It has been a little crazy for a couple of years, but I think we're back in business.

I would like to relate a recent experience: my first witness of an animal being put to sleep that was not my own. I was helping out a local veterinarian with recovering animals from surgeries.

This was very unexpected. They were just spay/neuter surgeries and we were not expecting any illness amongst the animals. One kitten, however, had FLP that became apparent when her abdomen was filled with excess fluids.

The foster parents for the kitten were there and came in to say goodbye, grief-stricken and crying. I have to admit that I was perfectly capable of crying right along with them. I was quite impressed with myself when I was able to keep my composure and be a face of reassurance while the vet was explaining the situation to them. It is much different then being with my own animals, or a friends animals. It was more impersonal, but with hopes of relating to the people to provide comfort.

An experience to remember, I would just like to express that even though I thought prior to the event that I respected life in all forms, I found that My respect has increased a ten-fold. I don't know if there was something more that I saw in the cat or the parents, but it certainly had an effect on me.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Bird Eats Plastic

An admirable lady showed me an article on a bird who was found filled with plastic that he ate throughout his life. All sorts of small objects that could fit through his small beak while he was trying to pull worms up from the ground.

It really is sad to see things like this. Those small objects can so easily be lost, falling out of our bags and pockets. They could get into anyone's stomach, really. Children never grow up without trying a good chunk of dirt, and recently someone said they found some sort of mishapped piece of plastic in a chicken they ate for dinner.

Preventing this sort of thing seems really outrageous. How can we keep track of all of the pits of plastic in our lives? I guess I must just say to be careful. Don't litter. Digestive tracts are never a good place for plastic to end up, and stray pieces may very well end up there.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Watching Food

A couple of years ago, a friend of mine had given me his pet guinea pig. One thing to understand is this friend was probably eleven or twelve at the time. His mother would not let him have more than one pet at a time, and he wanted a snake.

Cookie was a good guinea pig and got along well with a rabbit I had. However, I must not have had her more than a month before, one day, she could not walk and, within a couple of hours, died. I could not easily explain this incident, though small animals seem to die rather suddenly, she was not old.

I was told later that my friend had fed Cookie an unusual foreign candy. I cannot precisely connect the untimely death of Cookie with this candy, but I do think it played a role; Along with not being able to walk, she also had extremely aromatic diarrhea, indicating the possibility of having eaten something less than healthy. I had been feeding her guinea pig food and timothy hay, both of which I have been praised for feeding my guinea pigs.

Pets, especially dogs and cats, can get into everything. Foods are not universally good for all creatures. I have heard of dogs eating pounds of chocolate and didn't get sick, but this is not always the case. Keep an eye on people food.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


I was talking to a veterinarian a while ago, and she mentioned the many cases of interesting animals coming in and not being cared for properly. It's usually the ignorance of the owner of how to take care of them. Very cool pets, such as chameleons and sugar gliders, actually have a little higher maintenance than many other pets.

Chameleons need lots of heat lamps in their cages. They need places to climb. They have a specific diet. Just one sugar glider needs plenty of space to roam. They need branches and climbing trees, and also have a very specific diet.

For any potential pet, please research their needs. The vet I talked to said that anyone who came in with a chameleon usually had it for a year before it died. This is an all too common trend.

Even worse is the fact that pets are taken from the wild, their natural habitat. So often are they dumped in pet stores, and then taken in and not cared for properly.

Always do your homework. Sometimes you might find certain pets to be just too much work.

Monday, August 20, 2007

West Glacier

A couple of summers ago, I went to Glacier National Park with an odd assortment of family. Glacier is a beautiful park on the Montana-Canada border. I would highly suggest going for the scenery, the hiking, and the pie.

We hiked every day, and it was always exciting. Sometimes we could see a certain weird shape on a mountain while on one hike and see it again at a different angle on another hike. The most impressive scenes, to me, were the glaciers. Standing next to one was like standing next to a singing, marble tower. Singing because the glaciers were melting, and streams from them created pools at our feet.

This was one of my favorites. We hiked here from a chalet, and it was terrific. We were the only hikers at the time, and it felt as if only each other existed in the world. When we got back to sea-level, we saw pictures of this same area a couple of years ago. There was little or no water in them, just glacier.

At times like these, it's hard to think about the future. Will my children be able to hike to this spot and see the beauty I did? You can't always be sure. As we spoke, the glacier was shrinking.

Global warming is defined as a theory. I've seen statistics saying that most scientists don't believe humans caused any of it, that it's just natural, and I've seen others saying the opposite. There are things that are true, though: the changing temperature of Earth, the difference in air composition, population disruptions, and these melting glaciers.

I usually have a hard time explaining this. I'm an outdoorsy sort of person, I love to walk barefoot, swim in muddy ponds, and surround myself with trees. Not everyone is like that, and it's hard to explain to others what it means. I have been called a Tom-boy, and sometimes just a boy, but for all girls out there, it's not so uncommon to like the outdoors. It's just uncommon enough. Bear with me while I attempt to explain.

I've walked among such wondrous sights, all exhilarating and empowering. It almost felt as if that's what it should be. Almost. All around me, what was most astounding, most thrilling, was decaying. A slow, almost undetected decay made all the more dangerous in its steady prowl. There seems to be an explanation for this, a terrible explanation. I have using the world's resources, and giving back what's not only unneeded, but counter-productive.

I obviously believe in global warming. For those who do not, I would like to point out that something unnatural is going on. It may not be global warming, but something is happening. No other known species has been so prominent on Earth, and that's something in itself.

My goal here is not to create an argument on global warming. I wanted to relate an experience that recently occurred. At home, where lawns are mowed and bred flowers bloom, global warming seems so far away. Sometimes, experts say we see it close up in the form of hurricanes and other storms. I just want to express what could be, and that we can change that. Not that change is easy, but more people are thinking about change, and change as a group is easier than change alone.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

School Coming

Within the next couple of weeks, sons and daughters everywhere are packing their bags full of books and pencils and heading to school. If your school does not have a bus, I would just like to suggest a carpool. Not only will you save money and gas, parents will also have just that much more time while someone else is driving for them.

Gas prices are skyrocketing. This is an incentive for everyone to use less gas. While your conserving your gas, you are also being kinder to your environment.

Years ago in US history, the Native Americans showed the settlers this weird black goo gushing from underground. At the time, we lit our lamps with whale oil. Whale oil was getting increasingly expensive as demand rose and availability decreased. When the sample of the mysterious goo was sent to Yale university, a professor found that it had oil properties, and it was an instant hit; it cost much less than whale oil items.

At this point, our gas is so expensive, joyrides are next to none. This seems the perfect opportunity for a discovery of an alternative source.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Shower and Teeth

One suggestion for conserving water (of which I never understood) is to brush your teeth while in the shower. I can't see how exactly that works if your taking the time to brush your teeth anyway, but now using the rate of water in your shower instead of the sink.

I mentioned this to a friend of mine, and she said she completely agreed with me. She wets the toothbrush while she initially enters the shower, pauses the shower to brush, and rinses while washing out her hair and face. I suppose this might actually conserve water because you actually aren't taking any extra time to brush your teeth.

If you just brush your teeth in the shower, I do not believe you're conserving water, but actually using much more of it. Think about the rate of the shower and the rate of the sink.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Feral or Not So Feral

As I said previously, I foster for the local animal shelter. A few months ago, I fostered three cats (or almost cats, they still had some kitten in them) who were found under a boat. They were scared to death of people. When I took them in, they immediately hid under the stove and refused to come out.

The shelter was not completely sure they could become adoptable. However, unlike some feral cats, they were not forwardly aggressive. In an attempt to pet them, two of them would shy away, the other might bat you with his paw. In an attempt to pick one up, you wouldn't, because you would be clawed. They did not attack people unless there were these close encounters.

Needless to say, though, they needed work. After a few days, they came out from under the stove in the presence of humans. They sat on chairs to be able to look out the window. They knew when treats were coming and got very excited, they even looked at you expectantly. On the surface, they were very comfortable around people.

It was the touching that got to them. They just didn't like it. After a couple of weeks, you could barely pet two of them. You had to pet softly and only do so on their side while they were laying down, not touching too close to their stomaches or face. The other one was untouchable.

After three weeks, though they were not perfect, they had to be returned to the shelter because I went to the hospital for an appendectomy (appendix removal). I felt very bad leaving the little guys earlier than needed. I went back to the shelter as a volunteer and worked very closely with them in their cage.

The shelter still wasn't sure about them. With aggressive cats, they send them to a farm where they can catch mice and play in the barn without being a worry for humans. They were tagged as feral.

Today they are unrecognizable. Two of them are on the floor, meaning they are out of the cage and roaming with other cats in an area where people can play with them at their leisure. They are still brothers, too. They are very playful together. You can pet them and they enjoy it. The one is still in a cage, but he loves to be pet, especially when it involves a good neck scratch. I'm sure he will be out of the cage in good time.

The moral of the story is that there is a chance feral cats can become socialized. They can become perfectly adoptable and friendly. It's good to note, however, that these cats were not aggressive to people, just scared and protective of themselves. There are cases of cats that are much too aggressive to be tamed. These cats came a long way, which might not be possible for everyone, but it's good to know. Personally, I love the cats. They are energetic and playful. They love string and toys, and carry both around in their mouths as trophies. It's great to see and I am very proud of them.

Here they are (their eyes are not normally so creepy). This was when they were still quite frightened. The one on the right is the most frightened. The one in the back, though he looks the shyest, was actually the first one we could pet.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Shelters and Illness

I volunteer at the local animal shelter, and I also foster cats who are too small or too sick to be adopted yet. The two most common ailments that corrupt their little systems are conjunctivitis and upper-respiratory congestion. These end up in a cat's history, and I sometimes see it cause hesitation in potential adopters.

The reason its so common for cats to have such ailments in the shelter is because of their position. They are constantly in contact with other cats and their fur. I know my shelter is cleaned top to bottom each morning, lots of mops and soap, but that does not prevent the cats from shedding. With being so close together in the not-completely-clean air affects them.

If you wish to adopt and see a history of conjunctivitis or upper-respiratory congestion, please note that when you take that cat home, they will most likely be in a much cleaner environment that will provide them with good health. Do not let these deter you from adopting.

On that note, there are other illnesses that probably won't creep up again. Just because I mentioned two specifically doesn't mean that other sick cats should not be considered. Ask a vet or someone who works at the shelter what they expect from the cat. If it's not something serious, such as FIV, or if their not extremely old with teeth problems, they could very well be sick cats who will recover and be ready for adoption.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


Dog walkers everywhere, of course, are encouraged to leash their dogs during walks. It's a safety precaution for furry and human friends alike.

I have a cousin, however, who lives in a more quiet, country neighborhood. She can walk her dog without a leash so she can walk for one mile, and Paris can run about for five miles.

As a general rule, I would say dog owners should walk their dogs with leashes. I had always had a personal irksome feeling when I thought of a leash, but really they aren't as bad as they sound. The dogs are happy to go outside for their exercise, and we can be happy for their well being as they won't run into a skunk in your neighbor's bushes.

Now, returning to my cousin, I know in her neighborhood that this non-leash walking could be okay. There's very little to worry about. No cars even go through there, and she's usually walked early morning, when the sun's up but the rest of the world isn't. For this sort of situation, I guess I would say use good judgment. Know your dog and your community. Leashes are a safety thing, and if your dog would be unsafe with the freedom of roaming, than take the extra precaution when not at home or in the yard.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Animal Assisted Therapy

I thought I would take a moment to acknowledge the interesting and, to me, important integration in many medical, educational, and recovery programs: Animal Assisted Therapy/Activities. I myself am awaiting the date in which my guinea pig, Zoe, and I will be evaluated. She is quite friendly and likes a good scratch on the forehead.

How do I feel about such activities? I think they are rather brilliant. One possibility is to bring animals to children. The children can acquire a certain understanding of other creatures this way. They can feel compassion for diversity beyond human communication. I believe education is a fantastic privilege, and this is another pocket of education, in which a love is spread; love of life. Learning love beyond humans can prove to be quite beneficial.

The ill and elderly. So common is it to find animals being petted and cooed for purposes of healing and relieving. Not only are they a great activity and conversation topic for those who don't have so quite a full schedule, but they are calming and a pleasure to be around.

I have heard from certain animal rights activists that this is exploiting animals for human purposes, but I do not believe this to be so. The animals would hardly be eligible for AAT or AAA if they did not enjoy attention and feel comfortable around strangers. I know of people whose dogs and cats know when they will go to their activities and show visible excitement. It also brings more understanding of animals. The human half of an Animal Assisted Therapy team can teach others about animals and speak of all the little quirks of their own companion.

It's not so say that everyone in need should receive such therapy. There are those who truly do not like or appreciate animals. For them, therapy can come in other ways.

All in all, however, I think it is a rewarding experience. I'm very much looking forward to getting a license to be able to show others my strange-furred guinea pig, in all her squeaky oddities.

Here is the Delta Society's website for such activities. I encourage all interested to look at the website to learn more.

To Start

Hello everyone. This is my first blog entry, and I'm rather excited at the prospects this will bring Be Animal Aware. As we have said so often, our goal is to spread our knowledge and prevent ignorance of everything animal and environmental. Blogging may greatly progress this goal.

But, enough facts for now. I hope this makes Be Animal Aware more personal and friendly, and also allow for everyone to get a chance to voice their opinions more easily. This should be quite an experience. Thank you all for listening and caring, it's a great pleasure!