Archive for the ‘Pet Adoption’ Category

Travel Dogs are Born… and Created

Thursday, April 18th, 2013

Meet Sherpa, Raja's new California cousin!

Raja has a new cousin in California, a Tibetan Spaniel Mix named Sherpa. She was rescued from a place with too many dogs and too little attention, lived for a few months in the foster home and just got her new home a week ago. So, Sherpa has a lot to learn about forever homes, trust and really good food. She also has to learn to play and, very importantly, she needs to learn that every car trip is not a trip to a different way station in a shuffled life.

Focusing on the idea of shuffling, although now a permanent family member, Sherpa will be shuffled a lot. She’ll fly back and forth coastally, she’ll go on ski trips by plane and car and she’ll visit the seashore. Who knows, she might become an international travel dog and trot the globe with Raja. Easily.

But for now, cousin Sherpa has to learn to enjoy sitting in an airline travel bag for 8 hours total travel coast to coast. How will she begin?

Most dogs like the security of a den.

First, we discover that Sherpa doesn’t mind refuging in a small den. She likes to go under things. So we got her an airline approved, size-appropriate travel bag and set it out in the living room with her new favorite blanket in it and her newest toy. Sherpa doesn’t mind going in and out. She doesn’t mind sitting in it when she’s by herself either, as her security camera reveals.

But, zipping her in and taking her out and about is going much less well. Sherpa likes to bark at people who get too close to her bag and she claws the mesh when she has to sit in it in the car. Sherpa does best when she’s being carried in the bag and can see lots of sights outside. As long as nobody gets too close, Sherpa will deal with the bumping and swaying. While it’s important to let her know the bag is a place for her, we walk a fine line between comfort and confinement. We want Sherpa to feel secure in the bag, not stuck in the bag. We want her to feel as Raja does: all major adventures start with a comfy snooze in the travel bag and end in a new climate for fun and exploration. Hop in the bag, take a nap, awake to ADVENTURE!

From today, Sherpa has about one month to go from ambivalent to cozy in that airline bag because she’s scheduled for her first transcontinental flight in 30 days. Raja’s first flight was across the continent. We recommend short one hour flights to start out, but Sherpa, like Raja is being asked to get her wings pretty fast.

Can Sherpa do it? We’ll see…

Shelter Pets at Holiday Time: Girl Scouts Really Care

Monday, December 17th, 2012

There was a rustle outside and then a chorus of “Jingle Bells”!  Raja and I scampered to the front door to see what was up.  These faux furry animals, featured here, were lined up outside singing at the top of their hoarse little voices and collecting donations for the Animal Shelter.  Pretty wonderful, huh?

Here’s what all shelters need all the time:

  • Food: any, but no recalls
  • Treats: any, but no recalls
  • Nonprescription Multi Vitamins: but check the dates
  • Blankets and Towels: clean, but old are OK
  • Toys: somewhat pre-owned, but still sturdy are OK
  • Sweaters and Coats: clean second hand are fine
  • Money: any amount

And remember, you don’t need to be sung at to give to the shelter.  Just take your surplus to the shelter any day of the week.

You know, we pet writers always say that the Holidays are not a good time to get a pet because the excitement and random mess of celebrations  could be dangerous.  New pet might nibble unsupervised or run out of a door left ajar or even get stepped on in the shuffle.  And all that is true.  But right now, Raja and I are thinking that, if the spirit really moves you, an opportunity for a pet to be a Holiday present could work out OK.  Just
be responsible and take the new family member most seriously.  We think that in shelters near you, each pet is longing for a home of his own.  But,
of course, no pet wants to ever return to the shelter.  So if you get a Holiday Pet, plan to keep the Holiday going for many, many years.

Raja and I are spending Christmas on the East Coast.  We wish all our readers Peace and Happiness in 2013 and Happy Travels Always!

(Raja says faux fur looks great on clothes and real fur look great on animals.)



When is a good age and time to get a family dog?

Monday, April 16th, 2012

There's room for everybody in this play house!

Raja and I were in Burbank, California over the recent holiday and we had a lovely relaxed stay doing the least adventuresome or touristical activities possible.  Raja made some new friends in the house next door and his playtime with the neighbors made us think about how important having a dog is for children– and how much well-adjusted dogs just love love love well-adjusted kids.

So we explore the question: When is a good age and time to get a family dog?

On the subject of dog age, the answer depends upon whom you are asking.  If you ask the dog, the answer is, “Now, now, NOW!  Give me a forever home now!”  If you ask the experts, the answer is that dogs do best socially and physically if they leave their dog mothers after 12 weeks, certainly no earlier than 8 weeks.  Raja, because of special circumstances, left his mother at 6 weeks.  He never looked back, probably because the smallest puppy in the litter was suddenly the top dog in his new family, but technically 6 weeks may be a little young.  (I couldn’t advise you toward it, but Raja says, “Go ahead.”)

On the subject of human age, well, maybe having a new dog coincide with a new baby would make for extra special chaos. Classically, human beings do badly dividing their attention between a baby person and a baby dog, but if you are superperson….  But seriously, if a child is mentally old enough for empathy and kindness, growing up with a dog is a very healthy element of early childhood.

Empathy and kindness coincide with early writing skills.

On the subject of time, the answer depends upon the rhythms of the household into which the dog is adopted.  For many families, summer vacation is a great time since children will be out of school, adults take summer vacations, and the schedule of life is eased so that people can give time to  socializing a new dog.

If you have been considering having a dog in your life, now, as the last two months of school close in, is a good time to discuss the dog, imagine the dog and research the dog.  If you are looking for a puppy, many pups are born in spring.  Now is puppy season.  If you plan to shop the shelter, be prepared to be less specific about what size and shape you want and just focus on those big eyes.  Which ones call to you most?

Dogs create family style fun everywhere.

On our favorite subject of travel…  if you and your family plan to travel with your dog, you will want to help him or her to be a happy nomad.  Raja and I concur that travel dogs are made not born.  Next blog we’ll begin to tell you how to help a new puppy to become a willing traveler to all destinations near or far.

Raja Road Tests “By Nature Dog Food” and Shares with the Burbank Animal Shelter

Thursday, February 17th, 2011

Officer McCullough and Raja in the Burbank Shelter's Lobby.

As part of a grass roots marketing strategy on the part of By Nature Dog Food, a division of the Kent Nutrition group, Raja was asked to weigh all of his 11.6 lbs in on taste and quality.  By Nature sent a humungous box of various flavors and products to his California address.  We explained that we never blog to push product, and By Nature said that was exactly what they liked about us. (We explained that Raja’s really, really not a chow hound, and By Nature accepted the challenge.)

Through research, we discovered that By Nature is a pretty good food overall, if one isn’t interested in or simply can’t do home cooking.  My vet’s office’s nutrition specialist endorses By Nature, so we felt confident to sample.  Raja prefers the Organic Turkey, Sweet Potato and Peas.  By Nature’s varieties address the current conversation about combating allergies through variety.

What we have to keep in mind with any dog food- whether a company makes it, whether you whip it up in your kitchen or whether the Puerto Rican soup stand in Luquillo makes a mild asopao just for your dog- every individual dog has his own physiology. Because of individual needs, your vet may recommend nutritional supplements, like Raja’s travel tummy probiotics.  No dog food can be expected to meet individual needs always and supplements can tweak the diet to make it more responsive-  which does not cast any negativity on By Nature or a home cooked pottage or Raja’s favorite Caribbean soup.

We had an enormous amount of By Nature for a small traveling pooch, so we loaded the remaining cans in the car and drove it to the Burbank Animal Shelter at 1150 North Victory Place in Burbank, CA. What a great place!  The staff is super dedicated.  A cadre of organized, educated and angelic volunteers assist with wonderful programs related to re-socialization, medical care and outreach.  This year, Warner Brothers Studios has made the Burbank Animal Shelter its targeted charity, so this year will be a very good year indeed for abandoned pets in the Verdugo Mountain and San Fernando Valley areas. If you live around Burbank or Glendale and have extra time, or even maybe an extra place in your home for another pet, you couldn’t go wrong checking this place out at

The Stay at Home Cats of Summer

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010

Our blog takes it energy from the nomadic willingness of dogs to trot about in the big wide world.  Taking Raja anywhere is absurdly simple…  Put his little feet on the trail and he’s off.  OK, that’s a dog for you. 

And then there’s the cat.  Some cats travel well, but they are the exceptional cats.  Almost all cats are very happy staying at home, sitting in a comfortable chair, reading blogs like and watching squirrels out the window- harmless dreams of vivisection.   When you travel, cats wave bye-bye and take over your bed pillow.  When you return- after a few hours of the cold, furry shoulder- they’ll take you back.   

Maybe this summer you want to adopt a cat?  We MEAN it.  Cats are ubiquitous in summer just like, um, pumpkins in Fall and tulips in Spring.  But unlike pumpkins and tulips, cats are sentient beings with real, furry, needy little souls and, in summer, the shelters fill up with them.  

Here’s a common tragic story:

In Ewing, New Jersey, 17 lovely cats need homes or they will be euthanized.  I bet this situation also exists in your home towns all over the world now (except for readers in the Southern Hemisphere, but, just wait a few months, and the problem will appear). 

If you need an animal to keep the home fires burning (not literally) while you globe trot, a cat does the trick.  Dogs are horrible at that skill. They howl and claw the rugs and sicken.  Won’t it be nice for you and your dog to return home with sand in your paws, toting a bag of saltwater taffy and a new refrigerator magnet, to a cozy cat interested in hearing about your adventures, actually happy to see your slides and completely grateful you did not take her? 

Raja and I hope to support our friends the cats this summer and, especially for those of you in New Jersey, we hope you might spread the world about the precarious cats of Ewing.