Archive for the ‘Pets’ Category

Service of Pets in a Pandemic

Thursday, April 2nd, 2020

Georgie Rabinovitz. Photo: Helen Rabinovitz

Haisten Willis wrote this article in usnews.com: “Isolated by a Pandemic, People Are Stepping Up to Foster Pets–Shelters have been forced to close by COVID-19, but community support is helping animals find homes.”

He reported that on a standard month the Best Friends Animal Society’s Atlanta shelter finds 10 homes for dogs and cats while 62 were fostered in five days in March. “Elsewhere, its New York shelter placed 67 pets from March 16 to 20, compared with its typical 30; Salt Lake City placed 42 instead of the typical 12; and Los Angeles placed 166, up from about 45 to 50,” according to Willis.

On this blog guest writer Helen Rabinovitz previously reported her daughter’s experience in “Service of What the Public Must Learn About People with Disabilities.” She submitted the inspiration for this post and wrote the following:

Photo: wp.sbcounty.gov

During this time of isolation I find the companionship of my parrot Georgie is the key to my sanity. Georgie is almost 37.  I’ve been his mom since he was around a year old. He’s funny and really, really bad sometimes–but I love him.

Even though you can’t snuggle up with a parrot he’s great company. I’d probably lose what’s left of my mind if it wasn’t for G!

Most of my friends have pets. I’m the only crazy bird lady but there are crazy cat and dog ladies in our group. We talk all the time, mostly about our fluffy kids and how great it is to have them around. It makes me feel needed and gives me a reason to get up in the morning. Someone to talk to…I speak parrot.

So for all of us who feel trapped in our homes, as long as we have our feathered and fluffy companions we will survive.

I miss hugging one of my long-deceased dogs or cats and wholeheartedly agree with Helen. Do you have a love-pet to hug? Do you know someone who adopted a pet at this time?

Photo: ultramodernpet.com

Service of Will Your Pooch–or Parrot–Pass the Scrutiny of a Co-Op Board?

Thursday, January 2nd, 2020

Photo: facebook.com

Decades ago I experienced a light version of Katherine Clarke’s story “So Your Dog Can Roll Over. Can It Pass a Co-op Board Interview?”  A co-op board member interviewed a tenant in our rental apartment to learn about Prunella, a mixed breed almost dachshund, before giving us the final approval for our apartment purchase. Our neighbor was insulted when that’s all they wanted to know–nothing about us. Prunella hardly ever barked. After she died, we adopted Cassie who did nothing but express her displeasure in an operatic voice when we weren’t home. So much for that.

Clarke reported: “Boards have reason to be selective as incidents like dog bites can open them up to legal liability. In some cases, boards are demanding headshots, résumés and even recommendation letters specifically for pets to protect themselves.”

Photo: dogbreedplus.com

She described pet owners who dressed them to the nines, brought them to a dog shrink to figure out the right balance of xanax and zoloft so they didn’t appear totally zonked, put one in a baby carriage because it had recently pulled a tendon and hid turkey in her pocket so the dog would stay in her lap. One couple buying a pied-a-terre drove 13 hours with two pets and spent the night at a pet-friendly hotel in NYC for a few minute review. Another prospective tenant borrowed her friend’s older, calmer poodle as hers had a tendency to act nut-so in front of strangers. She’s in and nobody has noticed the switch.

One prospective owner told Clarke: “My worst case scenario was that Lainie, the princess, would bark or jump on everyone and demand a tremendous amount of attention and Larry, who doesn’t hear so well, would pay no attention to us and walk all over the place. When he doesn’t like something, he will whine. And he can’t really hear you when you say, ‘Shut up, Larry.’ ”

Photo: wagandtrain.com

Clarke wrote that one dog  “had to sit with a third-party ‘dog whisperer’ brought in by the board for a 10-minute evaluation, during which she [the owner] just quietly observed the pooch. Occasionally, they bring another dog into the room to test their response.”

One dog owner’s pet likes to “run through people’s legs from behind” when meeting someone new. She avoided an interview by producing sufficient information at the initial stages. She submitted a resume with photos and lists of likes–“treats, snoozing, playing fetch, tiny humans, radishes, apples and pears” and under qualifications she wrote “doesn’t shed.”

Clarke reported that “Many co-ops have banned certain more aggressive breeds. One particularly strict co-op on Lower Fifth Avenue has banned Alaskan Malamutes, Caucasian Mountain Dogs, Chihuahuas, Chow Chows, Dachshunds, Dalmatians, Doberman pinschers, German shepherds, Huskies, Jack Russell Terriers, Lhasa apsos, Old English Sheepdogs, Papillons, Pekingese, Pinschers, Pit Bulls, Presa Canarios, Rottweilers, Toy Poodles and Schnauzers, according to its rules.”

Birds are subject to scrutiny as well. One board insisted on meeting a parrot in midwinter even though the real estate agent pleaded special dispensation for fear the tropical bird would suffer in the cold in the trip to the meeting. “One particularly memorable incident, which the harrowed real estate agent ‘dubbed ‘Parrotgate,’ involved convincing the board of an Upper East Side co-op to accept a tropical four-inch-tall bird.” The agent said “No one wants to ride in an elevator with someone with a bird on their shoulder.”

I have owned and sold two co-ops and after the first swore I’d never again go near such a harrowing purchase and sale but I did. Buying and selling in certain buildings without a pet will cause extreme anxiety. Have you come across stressful unexpected hurdles in trying to buy a property–co-op, condo or private home?

Photo: home.bt.com

Service of Second Chances for People and Pets

Thursday, April 18th, 2019

Photo: toolshero.com

It’s Easter, Passover and spring, a good time to celebrate second chances.

Photo: youtube.com

I saw two Chihuahuas get one. They were on the Furry Friend Finder segment on CBS 2 Weekend, a local NYC metro news show. The dogs were 14 and 15 years old and needed a home–a difficult ask.  They’d been in a previous weekly segment in which the hosts introduce the audience to dogs in search of a forever family. A New Jersey family adopted the two elderly pups—they had a 14 year old pooch to welcome the others.

I’ve written previously about my sister and a friend each of whom adopted ancient orphaned cats, giving the felines a second chance at loving homes.

Photo: golfdigest

The odds that Tiger Woods, 43, would ever again win a major golf tournament seemed slim due to a series of back operations and psychological issues that appeared to send him off his game. Yet last weekend he walked off with yet another green jacket at the Masters Golf Tournament and he was no spring chicken–three years younger than Jack Nicklaus, the oldest player to don the trademark jacket.

Photo: facebook.com

And then there’s Bill Weld, 73, former Governor of Massachusetts, who is running for president on the Republican ticket taking on a 72 year old incumbent. There was a time when septuagenarians would not be fighting over one of the most difficult and stressful jobs on the planet.

And what about Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris? It is slated for another chance.

I’ve been blessed by second chances, have you? Please share examples.

Service of Questions—Does Google Have All the Answers?

Monday, January 14th, 2019

Photo: Machinedesign.com

Questions, without immediate answers, often pop into my head. Every post has them of course and I’ve also focused on the topic several times before.

Here are some recent ones:

  • How do commuters fill the time and not go crazy when a traffic reporter tells them it will be 80 minutes just to get on a bridge or in a tunnel to NYC during morning rush hour–which happened last week?
  • How do pet owners of average means pay the vet bill when they have more than two love-animals?
  • I’ve lived in a moderate sized house and apartments ranging from very large to moderate size and now I live in a small apartment. Why is it that my husband and I lose as many things in the small space as in the large?

Photo: scmp.com

I asked Mike, a millennial and techy and my office next door neighbor, if unanswered questions like these pop into his head and did he think about the answers. He said, “I Google everything. I’d rather know.”  The child of the Internet added, “Google has never steered me wrong.”

I use Google a lot but hadn’t thought to do so regarding this crop of questions and when I did, it satisfied a third of them.

  • Commuters in traffic: I’d already thought of learning a language or listening to an audio book which I also read about as a result of a Google search. To address the stress I hadn’t thought of wearing comfy shoes as that would be automatic for me before a potentially trying drive, or loosening clothes and stretching before heading home after a difficult day. None addressed how to tackle the surprise of an extra one hour plus to a commute.
  • Pet owners paying vet bills for many pets: I didn’t find a satisfactory answer to my second question though I admit I didn’t spend a long time looking. I read about what percentage of pet owners have pet insurance; How much should pet owners spend on a sick pet; How much is the average vet bill and How much does a dog cost monthly? I suppose the answer to my question is “these owners don’t go to a vet for routine care.” [Our bills upstate ran on average $350 for such care for one cat especially if a blood test was involved.]
  • Losing things in big and small spaces: Results for question number three were equally unsatisfactory. Response categories covered how to stop losing things at home and a prayer to find a lost item to how to find something you love.

What kinds of questions pop into your head? Do you resort to Google for responses? If not, how do you satisfy them?

 

Photo: dogster.com

 

 

Service of a Pet Scam: A Sleazy Twist on Leasing

Monday, July 30th, 2018

Photo: dogtime.com

This post might have enhanced “Service of Did you Know That When You Bought or Rented It?” published early in July. Actually it slips in between. It’s about customers who thought they’d bought something that is usually purchased or given away but was actually rented to them.

Nancy Coleman wrote “Just Bought a New Puppy? It Might Be a Rental.” It shocked me because most pet people I’ve met are kind. Like millions, I fall in love with my animal family members and once ensconced in the household, they are there to stay.  A company structured to pull a fast one over people willing to adopt a pet is sick. With the exception of a movie production company, why would anyone want to rent an animal?

Photo: health.com

Leasing company Wags Lending thinks they do or at least that someone will fall for its scam. In her Wall Street Journal article Coleman wrote that the company, headquartered in Nevada, leases pets. The 20-something woman in her story inadvertently leased her Chihuahua, Remi, from an upstate NY pet store. She said to Coleman that “An employee at The Pet Zone, told her Remi’s list price was about $1,900, but according to the contract, the puppy would have cost more than twice as much—$4,370—after two years of paying about $180 a month.”

Photo: justpuppies.com

The victim ended up paying $540 for three months plus $1,900 for Remi plus a $300 leasing fee. She wasn’t alone. “Her story—documented in records from a fraud case brought by the New York Attorney General’s office in May against the pet-store chain, and recounted to the Journal—isn’t unusual. At least six other customers gave similar accounts about The Pet Zone, which has four outlets in New York, in depositions for the same continuing lawsuit.”

Like furniture and car leases, pet leases usually run from one to three years, and like furniture and cars, pets cost more at the end. However, should the pet die or run away, the lessee is still obligated to pay for it.

Meanwhile, the FTC has twice warned about this business model in blogs; a bill banning pet leasing is waiting for N.Y. Governor Cuomo’s signature—California and Nevada already have such a ban–and Coleman reported that Wags Lending’s parent company, Bristlecone Holdings, filed for bankruptcy last year.

Coleman wrote: “There are certain compliance requirements under the Consumer Leasing Act that come into play when stores advertise a leasing option, said Lesley Fair, a senior attorney in the FTC’s Division of Consumer and Business Education. The language used to explain the lease needs to be ‘clear and conspicuous,’ and understandable for consumers, she said.

“Businesses also specifically need to disclose how much consumers will have paid at the end of the leasing term and details about monthly payments.”

The pet industry, already at $86 billion, is expected to grow. No wonder there are bottom feeders poised to take advantage.

Have you run into a situation where you thought you were buying something but were actually leasing it? Do you agree that pets should not be leased from pet shops, period?

Photo: allpetsplace.com

 

 

 

Service of Learning Whatever You Do: Info About Pets You May Not Know

Thursday, April 12th, 2018

Ultimate Air Dogs competition @ Super Pet Expo

A college student in a PR class asked me “How can you represent something that’s boring?” My answer was “the more you know about a product or organization, the more interesting it becomes.” I’ve advised countless students and others to at least consider jobs that didn’t appeal at first. Why? You might surprise yourself.

Photo: Pig Placement Network

I knew it would be fun to publicize Super Pet Expo, coming up tomorrow at 3 pm and running through the weekend at the New Jersey Convention Center in Edison, because I love animals. I’ve owned and loved a few and have been a neighbor or relative to many. I didn’t realize how much I’d learn when I interviewed some of the people exhibiting or producing special events–a happy bonus.

For example, Did You Know……

  • How many wolves there are in the wild of New Jersey? Answer: None. They live mostly in Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and Colorado.
  • The difference between a pot belly pig and a farm hog? Answer: As much as 920 lbs. Pot belly pigs grow from between 80-150 lbs.; farm hogs as much as 1,000 lbs.
  • What you can teach a pig to do? Answer: Sit, give a hoof, go through a tunnel and teeter-totter, just to name a few tricks. There are therapy pigs who visit schools and assisted living homes too.
  • What lure coursing is? Answer: It’s the sport for dogs that are born to chase.
  • How long cats remember? Answer: Cats learn quickly and have a long short-term environmental memory—16 hours—vs. 10 minutes for dogs.
  • Which reptiles make a good first pet? Answer: Several species of snakes’ feeding requirements are not demanding, requiring a meal once a week, and the upkeep of their habitats is fairly easy.
  • The Ultimate Air Dogs jumping record? Answer: A whippet jumped 30 feet 7 inches.

Cat agility

What do Ultimate Air Dogs do? Vic Sparano the trainer and judge said that visitors will see four-legged athletes soar through the air into a four-foot deep pool vying to win at four games: jumping the farthest; knocking down a “Fetch-It”  bumper; “Catch It,” and being fastest in the “Chase-It” swimming contest to win a coveted ribbon at the finals on Sunday.

The answers to the other questions came from Super Pet Expo founder/producer Eric Udler; Sheryl Rotondi, special events coordinator at the Pig Placement Network; Roeann Fulkerson, Director of Marketing and Business Development, The International Cat Association; Vinnie Reo, owner of Wolf Visions and Billy Healy, Repticon’s COO. The latter is a showcase of hundreds of reptiles and amphibians from around the world such as boas, pythons, bearded dragons, monitor lizards, skinks, turtles, tortoises and dart frogs, to name a few. Experts are on hand to tell prospective reptile owners about care and feeding.

At the show you’ll also see a pig who can paint. You can buy one of her “Pig-Cassos.” Friends Ruth, Jim and Ken lived for years with George, a smart marmalade colored cat who, on command, shook your hand. Have you known pets that did extraordinary things? Did you know most of the answers about pets in Q and A above? Have you had a job or client that you hesitated working for or representing but when you did, surprised you in a good way?

New pet bought at Super Pet Expo

Service of DNA to Train Pet Owners

Thursday, August 6th, 2015

 

My nephew Barry at the vet.

My nephew Barry at the vet.

My idea of capturing DNA off garbage tossed on otherwise pristine country roads isn’t as farfetched as I once thought [though I haven’t yet figured out the part about matching/connecting it to the perpetrators’ genetic footprint.]

The board of a Brooklyn condo with about 440 apartments, One Brooklyn Bridge Park, did a similar thing. Some owners of 175 dog residents allowed their furry charges to defecate and urinate in public indoor spaces leaving it up to staff to clean up, ignoring countless pleas to stop. As a result tenants now have to register each pet for $35, DNA is taken, checked against traces found and fees meted out.

Dog puppyIn December 2014 building staff recorded the number and types of incidents, according to Ginia Bellafante reporting in her New York Times article “Using DNA to Fight Dog Owners’ Discourtesy in Brooklyn.” That month there was “a mix of diarrhea, feces, urine and vomit: found on virtually every floor including the main lobby and north and south lobbies; found in all five elevators and with the staff cleanup time ranging from 10 to 50 minutes (average time roughly 20 minutes) per incident.”

Bellafante noted that the waste problem at One Brooklyn Bridge Park was especially bad in inclement weather. Can you imagine paying to live with such neighbors? That honor doesn’t come cheap. Bellafante wrote that two bedroom apartments “of modest size” cost $2.5 million. NYC and many other municipalities have poop scoop laws for streets and sidewalks to enhance cohabitation of man and pooch. You’d expect, at the least, that civilized people would exhibit similar respect inside their own homes.

Dog trainingAccording to Bellafante a Tennessee-based biotech company’s subsidiary, Poo Prints, does the trick at this apartment house and in over 1,000 other buildings in NY and around the country. She reported that in Naples, Italy an effective dog genetic testing program comes with $685 fines for violators. Through genetic matches, One Brooklyn Bridge Park has charged seven owners $250 per occurrence since May. The initiative seems to be working.

I’ve owned dogs in NYC and their companionship made it well worth daily walks through snow, Dog phys.orgrain, heat or gloom of night. It wouldn’t occur to me to use the public areas of any place in which I live or visit as a pet WC and inflict my pet’s mess on others much less expect staff to clean it up. Accidents happen. My five month old puppy freshly adopted from Bide-a-Wee peed in the elevator of a Brooklyn co-op I lived in years ago. I was immediately on the job with paper towel, disinfectant and Nature’s Miracle to make amends. Later, because the elevator carpet was still wet when a neighbor asked the doorman about the stain, the doorman, a dog person, [and a very nice man who sensed my distress] told him: “One of the children spilled his soda.”

I thought animal lovers were a breed apart, especially those who invite pets to join their families. This story proves me wrong. Have you ever before heard of such an epidemic of slothful, disrespectful, inhuman behavior?

Dachshund

Service of Lost and Found

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014

  

lost and foundWe bought a house that came with a feral cat. We fed him outdoors for several years, as the previous owner instructed us to do. One weekend he didn’t come round and we were devastated as we feared he’d been attacked by a coyote. When he reappeared we rejoiced.

He was very friendly but wouldn’t come in the house. He’d put one paw inside the door and then he’d retreat but quick–until one winter when he was trapped under a shallow eve by a storm that left three feet of snow. We scooped him up from the overhang where he was stuck and calling for help, and brought him inside. After that he became an indoor/outdoor cat but if he didn’t return for dinner, we’d worry.

When I read about Reckless the dog, who ran away in fright during Hurricane Sandy and landed up in the Monmouth County, NJ SPCA, I felt for Charles and Elicia James and their three kids who lost him. Lisa L. Colangelo wrote in her Daily News article that he didn’t have a microchip and James found his collar sticking in the fence. Due to the damage to their home they, too had to leave.  

Reckless. Photo: NY Daily News

Reckless. Photo: NY Daily News

Charles searched for Reckless at shelters and elsewhere. A few weeks ago, after 18 months, he and his wife decided to adopt another dog for their daughter’s 10th birthday, so they went to the shelter. There was their pit bull, who had arrived in October.

Reunited with his family Reckless, whom Liz Wise of the SPCA described as “a really sweet dog with a great disposition,” now has a microchip.

I’ve lost and found things that mean a lot to me and feel overwhelming gratitude. Being reunited with a pet inspires more than simple relief. Have you lost and found something and celebrated with a cheer and more?

 

 

This man was reunited with his dog. Photo: oregonlive.com

This man was reunited with his dog. Photo: oregonlive.com

 

Service of Lemon Laws

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013

Lemon

A friend’s mother loved apricot colored miniature poodles. She paid a premium for such puppies and the kennel would assure her that she could return the pet Apricot Miniature Poodleshould its adult coat turn out to be light brown. The kennel dealing with this woman was safe: It took some months for a pup’s true colors to emerge and by then, she and puppy had fallen for one another and there was no question of returning the furry love ball.

I thought of her and my dog Cassie when I read about the upgraded lemon law for pets in The New York Post. The Associated Press piece reported that the New York legislature upped the time a pet owner could detect and report problems from 14 days to six months.

Dog like CassieWe found Cassie at Bide-a-Wee in Manhattan. She had a long scar on the inside of her leg which we pointed out before taking her home and the staff assured us, “that’s a scratch, it’s nothing.” However, the scratch kept getting infected and long story short, when we returned her to Bide-a-Wee to be neutered [you sign a promise to have this done with their adoptions and the organization maintains a wonderful hospital], the vet looked at her leg and admitted that the “scratch” was as a result of a post inserted improperly after she must have been in an accident. The doctor took care of the post so it wouldn’t give her any more trouble and didn’t charge us for that part of the procedure. But even if they had, we loved her by then and we would have paid.

Over the years I’ve read horrible things about unscrupulous puppy mills and the pet stores that sell the poor injured and sick innocents. The law is perfect for these businesses that charge $thousands for a companion. One outcome may be for such mills to take better care of the animals in their care as they—or the shops that sell these pets– will be held responsible for treatment should they become extremely ill within the 180 days of purchase.

Give me my money backThe Post article, “‘Lemon’ aid for new pets,” reports only 20 states have lemon laws of any kind. Quoting New York state senator John Flanagan, one of the sponsors of the bill,  “‘“This legislation is aimed at helping provide these families with some reassurance that their new family member is healthy and, if that is not the case, provide them with an ability to recover their costs.”

Has any lemon law helped you with a grievance? Have you returned a pet because it was unmanageable or had a chronic disease that was too expensive to care for? Is there significance that members of two political parties got together in New York State to protect pet owners when, like most politicians these days, they can agree on little else?

 Lemonade

 

Service of Pets IV

Monday, January 9th, 2012

dogcat

I love to read or hear about cat and dog antics whether they do typical or atypical things.

I enjoyed Stephanie Clifford’s article, “Nine Lives, One Leash,” about her city cat Mac whom she taught to walk in a harness. It took a lot of work: Most cats don’t cotton to discipline and training although I knew one, Georgie, who would lift his paw on command to shake your hand as dogs do.

Clifford launched her cat training with professional guidance that cost $375 for two hours. It was money well spent as the cat was unhappy in her Brooklyn apartment when she no longer let him roam the streets alone. The counselor told her what to do and what signs of overdoing to look for so as not to permanently turn the cat off. It took six months.

Lots of my brave friends mix cats and dogs in a household or introduce a new pet to an only cat or dog household with little ensuing flying fur. I’m in awe.

Cibier

Cibier

My neighbor’s cat Cibier strolls around the property and trots or races home every time he’s called. He didn’t once when he was ill. Hiding is typical of a very sick animal. He’s fine now and back to responding.

But not all the news is rosy for pets, especially those prized for hallmark characteristics.

In a New York Times article “Can the bulldog be saved?” Benoit Denizet-Lewis wrote: “In January 2009, Adam Goldfarb of the Humane Society of the United States told The Augusta Chronicle that bulldogs, often referred to as English bulldogs, are the ‘poster child for breeding gone awry.’ The article came in response to a scathing British documentary, ‘Pedigree Dogs Exposed,’ that highlighted the health and welfare problems of purebred dogs and claimed that breeders and the Kennel Club (the British equivalent of the American Kennel Club) were in denial about the extent of the problem.”

bulldog1Denizet-Lewis continued, “Broadcast on the BBC, ‘Exposed’ spawned three independent reports into purebred breeding, each finding that some modern breeding practices – including inbreeding and breeding for ‘extreme traits,’ like the massive and short-faced head of the bulldog – are detrimental to the health and welfare of dogs. Bulldogs were noted in all three reports as a breed in need of an intervention, with one going so far as to question whether it is ethically defensible to continue breeding them at all.”

chocpoodleTracie Hotchner on her radio show “Dog Talk” mentioned the Denizet-Lewis story and added that extreme breeding practices also harm pugs, American German shepherds and chocolate standard poodles.

What do you think about training cats? Are Mac, Georgie and Cibier extraordinary cats or is it a myth that felines don’t usually take to discipline? What about breeders who respond to the public’s desire for dogs with specific traits–yes or no?

catlookingup

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