Category Archives: guest post

On the Scent of Life

On the Scent of Life

In the distance he saw it; the figure of a woman, emerging from a stand of pin oak and palmetto. He had to squint to make sure he was seeing right. Sometimes at dusk, when daylight mixes with the onset of early evening’s darkness, things get murky; one’s eyes can play tricks on one.

But the figure was real and young; willowy, dressed in a black T-Shirt and short black skirt. Her pale face framed by dark hair pulled tightly behind her head in a pony tail. Ahead of her trotted an unleashed scruffy brown and white dog.

Barefooted, she navigated the sandy soil filled with crab grass, prickly weeds and mounds that teemed with armies of fire ants with no problem.

The young woman moved slowly to where he stood in the middle of an overgrown vacant lot next to the motel where he’d been staying; a perfect place for walking one’s dog.

“Stay, Vida,” he commanded the large Belgian shepherd that sat by his side.

The woman’s small dog confidently strolled up to the big shepherd, stopping right before her. The well-trained Vida sat unmoving, calmly surveying his visitor.

“Easy, Clancy,” the woman spoke to her dog, a small poodle-mix.

The man laughed. “I’m Tom and this is my dog, Vida,” he spoke to her. “No worries for Clancy. Vida is a Cadaster, or Cadaver Dog; he only means business when he’s on the scent of death,” he explained before stopping abruptly. He’d learned that this information sometimes unnerved strangers. “Let’s just say he’s a well-trained dog that helps locate the deceased after a disaster has occurred.”

The woman gave him a curious look. “Vida?” she said. “In Spanish that means life. Odd choice for a dog obsessed with death?”

“Yes,” Tom said, nodding. “I’ve heard that before. I like to think we give people closure so they can go on living their lives knowing the truth about a loved one, and maybe bring some closure to the departed, if you believe that kind of thing.”

“It sounds like you’re trying to convince yourself,” the girl said.

Her statement gave him pause. She wasn’t wrong. Lately his relationship with his wife and children had been a bit strained.

He spoke to the woman. “Perhaps you’re on to something. Lately I’ve been accused of caring more about my dog, and my work, than the humans in my life.” He paused. He’d never shared these thoughts with anyone. “But it’s just that we’ve become so bonded. Our work together gives me purpose. We know what to expect from each other. Sometimes I feel closer to her than any other living thing.”

The woman listened intently and nodded. “I understand,” she said. “Take Clancy here. His owner died just the other day. I was here for the wake today and funeral services tomorrow and to watch after him.”

Tom said nothing. His eyes met those of the small dog before him. They shimmered from the glow of a nearby street lamp that had just come on.

“His owner thought of Clancy as the child she never had. Her life revolved him in a way most couldn’t understand, even her own family. In some ways it drove a wedge between them all which seems so sad now.”

“What will happen to Clancy?” he found himself asking. “He looks like an excellent companion.”
“He is,” she said. “I don’t know. I can’t keep him so I’ll have to take him to the shelter I suppose. No one in the family wants him and I’m going away. I hope he finds the right home, someone to love him just like his former owner had.”

She squatted to kiss Clancy on his head as if to console him. “Well, it’s late and it’ll be a long day tomorrow,” she said before heading toward the woods from which she’d come, Clancy following close behind as if scared he’d lose her trail.

Tom had felt a peculiar coolness as the woman had stood before him, which was odd given the extreme heat of the day. But as she’d departed, the full weight of the lingering heat and humidity descended on him.

He stood in the darkness unmoving, deep in thought. Lately he’d spent a great deal of time trying to convince himself that all was right in his life. But increasingly, he just couldn’t. The long days he spent out on the road running from disaster to disaster found him almost constantly in the wake of earthquakes, tornados and hurricanes. The routine had taken its toll on his family, and him. He recalled too many hot summer days spent searching for human bodies and bones with Vida by his side while most of the world was at the beach searching for shells and sand dollars and throwing balls for their fun-loving dogs to fetch.

His life was shifting; shutting down. Numbness was moving in.

It occurred to him that his family had been asking for a dog; one just like Clancy actually. But he’d argued that they already had a dog. “No,” his young son had said. “We want a dog that digs for normal kinds of bones and doesn’t work all the time.”

Tom sighed and realized he’d not gotten the young woman’s name and had no idea of where she was staying. “Come, Vida,” he spoke to his dog in the dark. “I’m exhausted, time to hit the sack.”

In the motel coffee shop the next morning Tom lingered over the local newspaper. On the floor next to him Vida sat wearing her working vest. He placed a steaming hot mug of coffee down on the counter and perused the “Local” section. His eyes were immediately drawn to the photo of a young woman. He knew that face. It was her. The woman he’d met last night in the field with Clancy.

Tom read the story of how this girl had been a victim of a car accident which had occurred just three days ago not far from this motel. She’d been visiting family when her car had gone off the road. She’d died before she even got to the hospital. Her funeral would be held today. He read the entire article three times and the accompanying obituary. There was no mention of Clancy.

He stood up so quickly his mugged tipped over. Brown liquid spilled and splashed all over the paper and the photo of the woman. He apologized distractedly and threw a few singles on the counter. He looked down at Vida. His dog’s attention was focused on something just outside the shop’s window. It was Clancy sitting right outside the coffee shop’s door.

“There’s that stray again,” a waitress said to a man behind the counter. “Poor thing was probably dumped by its owner. Happens a lot around here.”

Tom nodded a rebuttal. “No. I met the dog’s owner last night,” he said, not believing his own words.
“Well, if you see them again you better tell them the manager is gonna’ call the pound and have it taken away soon,” she said. “I know we’re a dog-friendly establishment, but we have our limits.”

Tom walked Vida out the door into the blasting heat of another hot day. Clancy’s tail wagged and swished across the warm concrete in happy recognition.

“Clancy?” Tom called. The fluffy dog slowly stood and walked to him. Vida licked at Clancy’s ears.
Tom’s legs went out from under him. He collapsed to the ground. Curbside, he sat flanked by both dogs. “Clancy,” he spoke to the dog. “I think I know a family that would love to have you.”

He felt a stream of hot tears roll down his face. Vida licked them off before they rolled off his chin.
The manager of the coffee shop came out to see Tom. “Is that dog bothering you? He’s been hanging around here for the past few days,” he said. “I’ve been meaning to call animal control, but I’ve been hoping his owner claims him. I seem to recall a young girl who checked in with him a few days ago. I don’t think she would abandon him. She told me that she was so happy that she’d found a dog-friendly motel.”

Tom listened to him as he focused his gaze on Clancy.

The man prattled on. “I seem to remember that she said she was visiting family and her dog wasn’t welcome in their house due to allergies and what not. This is the first time that dog has let anyone near him.”

Tom recalled the young woman’s words. It drove a wedge between them all which seems so sad now. She’d been talking about her own life.

Tom put on his sunglasses and looked up at the man. “A call to animal control won’t be necessary,” he told the manager. “As a matter of fact, I was just telling Clancy here that his owner has been very concerned about him.”

The manager shrugged, rubbing the back of his neck, seemingly satisfied with this turn of events. “Safe travels,” he said, returned to the cool of the coffee shop.

Tom spoke to the dog. “Clancy, if you’re willing to go with Vida here, and me, I can take you to a great new place to live for the rest of your life.”

As if understanding, Clancy’s tail wagged again, faster.

“Life,” Tom repeated the word. It sounded good.

Tom stood and fished keys from his pocket. He led the dogs to his car. They both hopped in, Vida took her station next to her master, and Clancy claimed the back.

“Hang in there Clancy,” Tom said looking back at the dog with a smile. “It’s a long ride home.”
He turned his attention to Vida and spoke to the big panting dog. “But the ride won’t seem so lonely because for the first time in a long time, Vida, we’re on the scent of life.”

Vida seemed to understand. She threw back her head and let out a loud happy-sounding yip as if saying the word “Life” in a language only a dog could understand.

About the Author:
According to Chinese star-gazers, Lisa Begin-Kruysman was born during the Hours and the Year of the Dog. It’s no surprise then that she’s made canines the focus of her award-winning works of Fiction and Non-Fiction, and social media platform. She is the recipient of the DWAA’s Maxwell Medallion and the North Shore Animal League America Award and the author of Dog’s Best Friend: Will Judy, Founder of National Dog Week and Dog World Publisher (McFarland & Co. – 2014). Judy was also a co-founder of the DWAA. Her writing is inspired by the licks and love of her adorable foster-to-forever dog, Teddy.

Posted in guest post, pet stories | 1 Comment

Top Tips for Summer Pet Safety

Summer is full of fun events, and more and more of them are welcoming pets! Always check first to make sure your dog will be welcome, and if they are, here’s what you need to know before you go to keep your dog safe and happy.

Keep your pets safe in the summer

Top Tips for Summer Pet Safety

1. First thing’s first! Don’t leave home without… 4-ft. leash (NOT retractable), portable water dish + water, pet formulated sunscreen, ID tag with your cell phone number, poo bags

2. Parked Cars – Even on mild days your car gets HOT, which can turn fatal in as little as 15 minutes. Never leave your dog in the car, even with the windows cracked. If he’s not feeling the festival, you need to call it a day.

3. Sunshine – When temperatures are peaking, take frequent breaks in the shade. It’s also a good idea to bring along a spray bottle so you can deliver a cooling spritz whenever your dog needs it.

4. Beer Tent – Nothing refreshes like a cold beer on a hot day, but never share your brew with your bud. Alcohol is toxic to pets, even in seemingly “harmless” amounts.

5. Food Truck – Chicken wings, Mexican street corn and funnel cake, oh my! They may be staple fare at summer fairs, but they don’t belong on Fido’s plate. Bones, cobs and greasy fats can cause intestinal blockages and pancreatitis. Pack fresh veggies for a healthy treat.

6. Your trash is a dog’s treasure – Fairgrounds are a smorgasbord of dropped food and wrappers—so you’ve got to think one step ahead of your pet! To prevent accidental snacking, use a Gentle Leader to control roving noses.

7. Other Dogs – It’s always fun to make new friends, but remember that dogs can easily become overstimulated in a busy environment. Keep meetings with other animals brief, and if you see either pet stiffen, growl, or give a hard stare or side eye, end the introduction and take a time out.

8. Children – The youngest among us can be unpredictable, loud and unaware of how to properly approach a dog. Small children who are running around can activate your dog’s instinct to chase. Give your pup space from playing children so he doesn’t perceive them as a threat.

9. Fireworks – A summertime favorite—but your dog may not always enjoy them. Avoid events with explosives if your pup suffers from noise phobias (if he doesn’t like thunderstorms, that’s a good clue). If you do bring your pet to a festival with fireworks, hold on tight to his leash; a startled pup may try to bolt from the blast, and you don’t want to lose your dog in the crowd!

10. Music – Keep an eye on your dog when your favorite band takes the stage, and remove him to a quiet area if you notice any signs of discomfort. If your pup is trembling, barking, cowering, or trying to bolt, he may not be ready to rock and roll.

11. Campfires – A crackling campfire feels quintessentially summer, but can tempt curious noses and cause accidental burns. Keep furry friends a safe distance from the flames. If you’re making s’mores be sure chocolate, wrappers and roasting sticks don’t fall into the wrong paws.

12. Puddles – If a “rain or shine” event turns soupy and soggy, be sure to keep your dog from drinking from puddles. Leptospirosis and giardia lurk in standing water, and can cause nasty illnesses that will rain on your parade.

13. Crowds – Unfortunately, there may be times when furry festival goers behave better than two-legged guests. Stay away from rowdy crowds and avoid letting intoxicated people hound your dog.

Whether you’re sun worshipping or stargazing, summer fairs and festivals are fun for the whole family. With your best friend in tow, there’s more to prepare for, but with a little planning it’s easy to put safety first. We hope that you have a fun summer, and don’t forget to follow these tips from the Petplan expert.

Posted in guest post, pet care | 1 Comment

7 Signs Your Cat Is Sick: The Symptoms You Need to Look After

When you own a furry feline, you’ve got a friend for life! And what’s great about owning a cat is how laid-back and relaxed they are. But the problem is that they can end up being too calm that you might not know they’re already sick! Besides the regular checkups, you’ll also need to look out for the signs yourself. It’s time to start paying extra attention to the way your cat acts and feels when around you.
It’s tricky to tell your cat feels off; I show you the seven signs your cat is sick and how you can deal with it.

Even if your cat doesn’t look like it, these are the telltale signs your cat is sick:

Change in Attitude

Usually, your cat would feel in pain without showing it. But he has different actions from before, such as:

  • Hiding
  • In a hunched position and sitting very still
  • Uninterested in anything and neglecting to groom himself
  • Over-grooming or licking one spot more often
  • Excessive and unusual meows or other sounds
  • Restlessness or feeling anger towards surroundings

If you see that your furry friend begins to sit still even when he used to play a lot, or that your relaxed cat moves more so than usual, then he might be feeling uncomfortable with something in his body.

Change of Appetite

Classic Tabby Scottish Fold

If you noticed that your cat isn’t eating as much as he used to, then he might have lost interest in his food, focusing more on the pain he feels. Other times, he might feel too nauseous to eat (without showing it!). Weight loss from this is another sign that your cat is sick.

Another thing to notice would be if your cat suddenly starts eating more. This symptom may mean a problem with your cat’s thyroid glands. Excessive thirst might also mean something dangerous, such as a kidney disease, diabetes, or infections.

Bad Breath

Sure, cats don’t have the minty fresh breath. Usually, they have cat food breath that’s acceptable. But if you’re with your cat and suddenly smell something very fishy and off when he meows, then that may mean there’s something wrong.

Constant Yearn for Attention
If your cat begins asking for even more attention than he has before, he might be trying to tell you that he’s sick. Just like hiding, it may be him showing he’s in pain and needs help.

Change of Toilet Habits

Classic Tabby Scottish Fold

If your cat regularly goes to the litter box or consistently stays around it, he might be suffering from a medical problem. And if you notice a change in bowel movements, such as always urinating or pooping, then you’ll need to have him checked for any stomach problems. ESPECIALLY if it’s diarrhea!

Change of Sleeping Habits
Just like humans, cats in pain or feeling sick would have a hard time resting up. So if your cat, who usually sleeps or has a regular sleeping pattern, starts to stay up incessantly meowing or staying still the whole night, then it’s time to check him for medical problems.

Or if your usually active cat begins to sleep more (even during mealtimes!), then that means he’s trying to relieve the pain by resting.

Mouth Breathing
It might seem amusing if your cat breathes through his mouth like a dog, but it isn’t normal at all. It may mean that he has a heart or respiratory problem. Once you notice your cat panting through his mouth, then take him to the vet immediately.

An exception to this sign would be if he were running around or feeling very stressed (such as being in the vet’s office or other unfamiliar surroundings).

Tips On Caring for Your Cat

At the Vet's 2

If you spot any of these symptoms on your cat, then it’s time to take action. Here are the tips to follow to care for your sick cat:

– Take him to the vet. If your cat suffers from any symptom despite the relaxed look, then it’s best to bring him to a medical professional and have him checked before anything else. The vet will know what to prescribe or what you should do to keep your cat healthy.

If your cat suffers from diarrhea but seems fine or appears to have difficulty eating or digesting his food, then what he consumes may be the culprit. Have him drink more water and check what he eats. If you can change your cat’s food to something healthier (wet food is better for younger or senior cats), then better.

Again, you can ask your vet for food recommendations if your cat’s stomach seems to reject the food, even if he likes it.

– Not only should you give him medicine (only as prescribed by the vet) and feed him well, but make sure to give him the care and attention he needs. Bring familiar and loved toys to him and have your cat stay as comfortable as possible, may it be in the hospital or if you’re treating him at home.

In Conclusion
There will be times you get surprised to know that your cat is feeling sick. Why? Because of how relaxed he seems to be. That’s why you need to be informed about the signs and ways to tell if your cat doesn’t feel good. That way, you won’t only find out when it’s too late, and your cat ends up feeling worse.

I hope that this article on the seven signs your cat is sick informs you about the things you’ll need to watch out for when caring for your cat. So what are you waiting for? If you spot your cat suffering from any of these symptoms, then know how to treat him and bring him to the vet immediately. You’ll be preventing more consequences for both you and your cat that way.

Do you have any questions or tips when caring for a sick cat? Then comment down below. All your comments are greatly appreciated.

Author Bio:
Annie is the founder of MeowKai, where she and her associates write about cat behavior, health issues, and tips and tricks on how to get your cat to behave! It concentrates on creating the best life for you and your cat so you can enjoy each other’s company and build that trust that is so important between pet and human.

Posted in cats, guest post, pet care | 2 Comments

How to Teach Your Dog to Love His Crate in Easy to Follow Steps

Imagine your dog running amuck while you celebrate your anniversary or in the middle of an important phone call with your boss. That can seriously jeopardize your plans to surprise your loved ones or hand you your resignation papers the next day.

One way to avoid that is by keeping your four-legged friend inside a crate. Of course, he would have to love the environment inside to stay in. And YOU have to teach him to love his own crate in the room. Wondering how? Well, I am here to tell dog owners the steps in this article titled, “How to Teach Your Dog to Love His Crate.”

First Thing’s First – Choose the Right Size of Crate
Make sure the crate is comfy and big enough for your canine friend. The dog should be able to move around and stretch his legs inside. I’d advise you to arrange a comfortable bed inside. If you have a puppy, they chew the bed a lot. That is why you should arrange one that is chew proof. But don’t leave the fun out. You can always put some toys and rugs inside that your puppy can chew on. That way, he’s happy, and you are happy too.

Put the Crate Somewhere Close to You
Now when we say “Crate,” everyone pictures isolation and a room where your dog is all by himself inside the crate. Sure, once he begins to familiarize with the crate, you can put it anywhere. But for starters, keep the crate near you.

By near I mean where you watch TV or near the sofa set of yours. You can also put the crate near your bed just to reassure your dog that everything is fine. Don’t put him in isolation right away.

Put Some Treat Inside to Get Dog’s Attention
Just to get your dog’s attention to the crate, put some food inside and close the gate. Before long, he’ll notice the smell and then will try to move in. But don’t let him move in just yet. Close the door and make him wait. Sure, he’ll walk around anxiously but let him be that much excited first.
After about 10 minutes, open the cage and let him in. He’ll be enjoying his treat and stay inside the crate. You can certainly put some cheese on the crate’s walls. Toys stuffed with food will also do the job.

The Trick is to make the crate your pet’s second home. DON’T make it a place for confinement for him. He should find it comfortable (as I said earlier) and should think of this thing as his home inside a home.

Start Slowly and Increase the Time
Many of us make the mistake of closing the door of soft crates for dogs or wooden dog crates and then move away from the spot. Please, don’t do that right away! You should begin by closing the door for five to ten minutes.

Gradually increase the time to half an hour and then longer. Remember, the crate should be a resting place for the canine. Not a place of “Permanent Solitude.”

Also, your dog should rest in his place and not permanently stay inside. People should still take their dogs to exercise, playing, and spending quality time with themselves. This plays a vital role. The exercise makes your dog tired. And thus, he’ll be resting comfortably in the crate while you go about your business.

Few Tips that You Need to know

  • Firstly, a crate is not a prison. Don’t make it into one!
  • Each breed or age group of a dog has different resting timetables. Get to know them and close the crate’s door accordingly.
  • When you are making your pet used to his crate, make sure he earns the treat you give him by spending enough time inside.
  • Train your dog regularly. Make sure he gets the play time and exercises he needs.
  • Don’t keep your puppy inside for more than 60 minutes. In the case of adults, don’t keep them inside the crate for more than six hours at a time.
  • While inside the crate, your dog will whine and bark. Pay attention to them and respond accordingly. He shouldn’t feel that he’s left out.

Before I Leave You
Hey! I get it. No one likes putting their closest friend in a small confined space. I don’t like it either. But sometimes you must do it for the sake of the environment and place you are in. Also, when you are out for long period of time, you don’t want your pet to cause disturbances to your neighbors by barking and whining loudly. The best way to deal with it is by teaching your pet friend the ins and outs of a crate. I hope my article did help you in this regard.

Author Bio: John Howes is the founder of Petcareup. 29-year-old, entrepreneur, Pet lover and passionate blogger. He loves to write about pet and helps pet owners to choose the best products for their pet.

Posted in dogs, guest post | 1 Comment