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Lazy Leaders

Tears were streaming like waterfalls down the woman’s
face.  Her hysterical sobs wracked her
body so hard that she shook.  Redness
flushed her face until she looked like a spring ripened tomato.

A stunned Jackson Galaxy stared on from a corner of the woman’s
bedroom.  What had caused her to go into
such hysterics?  One of her cats had
become spooked and let out a small “Meow.”
“I hate to see them upset,” she sobbed.

“Whoa!  This has got to
go,” said Jackson as he pointed to the woman’s face.  He informed her that she could not fall to
pieces every time her cats appeared moody. 
She needed to be the pack leader.

In the same episode of “My Cat from Hell,” Jackson met with a
family who refused to help care for their two cats.  As a result, their single mom became the soul
caregiver.  He also told the worn out mom
that she needed to take charge and be the leader.

This woman made every excuse that she could possibly think of
for her children.  One daughter had dance
lessons after school.  The other daughter
was heavily involved in sports.  And the
son had worked hard all day at school and needed to rest.  I was ready to throw something at my

Due to the carelessness of the children and the mom’s fear of
angering them, one of the cats began to bully the other.  The bullying was so bad that the victim cat
had to have his litter box placed on the kitchen counter.  Yes, you read that right.  The cat’s litter box was on the same kitchen
counter where the family’s food was placed.

Just as in a family dynamic, our furry family members need to
understand exactly who the pack leader is. 
If this leadership is not established, they will take it upon themselves
to fill the role.  Without proper
training and guidance, these loving creatures can create havoc of the worst
One of my friends received a Corgi puppy as an anniversary
gift from her husband.  She fell
completely in love with the ball of fur. 
Her Facebook page became flooded with selfies of the inseparable pair.

Just two short weeks later, I received a text asking if I
would be interested in keeping the pup. 
I could not understand it.  She
had seemed so smitten.  What had gone

Since both my friend and her husband work, the puppy was left
home alone for hours on end every day.  When
he was finally released from his crate, he would run amuck.  He chewed on the carpet and delighted in
peeling wallpaper off of the walls. 
Marking became an issue as the playful pooch seemed to think that
everything in the house belonged to him. 
He also refused to sleep through the night and had begun howling.

I asked my friend what types of training techniques she had
been using.  There was a lengthy pause
before she admitted that she had not done any. 
No wonder the puppy was behaving poorly! 
He had no idea what kind of behavior was expected of him.

Unfortunately, my grandmother was the same way.  She owned a Shiz-tsu that she had had since
he was a pup.  As grandma aged, she
stopped requiring her dog to behave.  She
was no longer quick enough to get to the door to let her pooch outside to
potty.  Instead, he would simply go
wherever he felt like.  I tried showing
grandma different options including a doggy door but she just wanted to adore and
cherish her furry companion without rules.

I believe that many pet parents feel that they are being
cruel if they establish dominance over the animals in their lives.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Showing that you are in charge does not mean
that you are using force or being malicious. 
You are giving your pets the gift of stability.  They will know exactly where they stand
within the family hierarchy and take pride in their role.

The easiest way to set boundaries is through obedience
training.  There are four basic commands
that all dogs should master.  The
commands are:
1.      Sit
2.      Stay
3.      Down/Off
4.      Come/Heel
My in-laws have had huge success in clicker training their
Min Pin, Kallee.  They combined positive
reinforcement while using the clicker device. 
She can do tons of amazing tricks in addition to following the basic
commands listed above.

If you live in a multiple pet household, chances are you know
exactly who the pack leader is among your furry bunch.  For our family, the leader is Theo, our long-haired
Chihuahua.  He automatically took to the
role as we began to adopt more precious pets.

Theo, our fearless pack leader!

Watching Theo meet his new siblings was like watching a lion
with his pride on National Geographic.  He
would immediately walk up to the new dog/cat and begin sniffing.  Theo would then sit a few feet away and stare
directly into the dog’s/cat’s eyes. 
Amazingly, each dog would lower him/herself to the ground and roll over
on his/her back.  The cats would turn
their backs and just walk away.

Theo established dominance without any use of force.  He never barred his teeth or tried to
bite.  Instead, he exuded confidence that
the other animals could literally see.  His
status among the pack has never been questioned.  He rules with a soft paw and only lets out a
growl if he thinks the other dogs are playing too rough with each other. 

The same is true of our cats. 
Miracle is our majestic queen.  We
rescued her from the middle of Main Street in our town when she was just two
weeks old.  She very quickly became one
of the dogs.  Two years later, we adopted
Olaf.  Miracle was less then

The initial meeting was somewhat tense.  Olaf gave her a sniff…and she hissed in his
face.  For the first few days, Miracle
did her best to avoid Olaf.  She made
sure that she always sat on the highest perch possible.  In doing so, she was showing Olaf that she is
the boss.  He soon learned that Miracle
wanted her space and he respected her authority.

Sven entered our lives in April of this year.  He was drawn to Olaf immediately.  Being one year old, Sven still has a lot of
kitten-like behaviors.  He sauntered up
to Olaf and tried to rub up against him. 
This was met with a hiss and a smack in the face with a quick paw.  Miracle had a similar reaction.

To the woman on “My Cat from Hell,” this would have been a
sign that the three would never get along and more hysterical tears would have
ensued.  We knew that all our cats really
needed was more time to get adjusted.  In
a matter of weeks, Miracle, Sven and Olaf were all drinking out of the same
water dish.  Olaf even started licking
Sven’s face!

The key to being a good leader is to have patience.  Nothing lasting is ever achieved
overnight.  Goals need to be set along
with a plan for how to reach them.  The
next step is to follow through on the plan every day.  Nothing is worse than initiating training and
then immediately stopping for several days. 
The dog or cat that is being trained will become totally confused and
any learning that has taken place could go right out the window.

Another quality that is essential to leadership is authority.  This means truly taking charge of the
situation.  Every action taken must be
done with certainty.  Dogs and cats will
sense the confidence and soon learn where they stand in the family.

We have found the word “no” to be a very powerful tool.  When one of our cats decides that he/she wants
to pick a fight, we sharply say the cat’s name followed by a loud “NO!”  This typically curtails any mischievousness
right on the spot.

With our pooches, we found that using a water bottle filled
with cool water works like magic.  We NEVER spray the dogs in the
face.  Just one quick spritz on the
behind is all it takes.  Our dogs have
become so used to the bottle that they hardly even need to be sprayed anymore.  Once they see me or my husband shake the
bottle, they snap to attention.  Chaos is
stopped and order is restored without the use of force or cruelty.

Without established rules and a pack leader, more than just
the furniture can get ruined.  A pet’s
very life may be in danger.  In a more
recent episode of “My Cat from Hell,” one formerly feral kitty almost took the
tail off of his new litter box mate! 
This cat had severe territorial aggression.  Had his cat guardians not taken steps to
rectify the situation, they might have ended up with a very injured (and
tailless) cat.

Being a pet parent is not all about snuggles and kisses.  By adopting these amazing creatures, we have
vowed to give them the best life imaginable. 
This includes setting boundaries and enforcing rules.  Providing leadership is essential to ensuring
that our beloved furry family members have an outstanding quality of life where
they will be protected and respected. 
Step up and be the leader for your pack today!

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Bella and Bentley Book Review

Mummy and Daddy are about to have a baby!  Everyone is excited…except for Bentley, the
family pup.  In Bella and Bentley by Suzanne Lees, Bentley soon learns how having a
baby can bring large changes to the family dynamic.

Bentley is used to spending all of his time with his Mummy.  He knows that he will soon have to share her
with the forthcoming bundle of joy. 
Taking his role of protector very seriously, Bentley does his best to guard
his Mummy and soon-to-be-sibling.

One night, Bentley’s Mummy and Daddy leave suddenly.  They return several days later with his new
sister, Bella.  Bentley is so
excited!  He wants to sit on his Mummy’s
lap like old times, but his spot has been taken by baby Bella.  Bentley then attempts to give his new sis a kiss,
but his Mummy begins to yell at him.

Poor Bentley is feeling unloved.  Will his Mummy ignore him forever?  Will he ever be able to adjust to life with

I greatly enjoyed reading this story.  I loved how the book is written from Bentley’s
perspective.  Too often, the animals in
our lives become an afterthought when we are faced with major life

I feel that this story sheds light
on the importance of including all family members in such situations.
I also feel that this would be a great book for parents who
are expanding their family to read to their children.  I believe that children will easily relate to
Bentley and the emotions that he felt in his first few days with Bella and his
Mummy.  This story also serves as a
gentle reminder to parents to not neglect the family that they already have
when a new addition is on the way.

I loved trying to find Bella’s friend, Uff Uff, on every
page!  This immediately made me think of
the famous Where’s Waldo series.  I feel that this is a fun addition to the
story that will really engage young readers. 

The illustrations by Sarah-Leigh Wills are charming and
delightful.  Children will fall in love
with Bentley and his adorable face.  I
also love the pastel color palate that Wills uses in each illustration. 

Overall, this is a wonderful story for children ages 3 to
9.  I look forward to reading about Bella
and Bentley’s next adventure!

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A New Tale for a Rescued Kitten

Bruce’s tale
very nearly didn’t start at all. A year and a half ago the bedraggled one-day
old kitten was alone on a footpath in the rain.
Luckily he
was spotted by a woman who was walking home from work. She took him home and
fed him around the clock to keep him alive.

The kitten
was named after that other famous orphan, Bruce Wayne.

The tiny
kitten’s story went viral. He now has over 32,600 Facebook fans from all over
the world who hang on his every photo and exploit – including getting to know
his “big sister” Jager (also a rescue cat), and changing colour from grey to

(This video explains
how Bruce changed colour:
Along with
climbing trees and frolicking in the garden, Bruce now dedicates himself to
raising awareness of other cats and kittens in need. Bruce has helped other
cats like DeeDee find forever homes.

Kathryn van
Beek (Bruce’s human) has now written and illustrated a children’s picture book called
Bruce Finds a Home. 

The book,
which is based on the story of how Bruce was found, encourages children to care
for and be kind to animals.

book supports The Animal Rescue Network, a
charitable trust dedicated to helping stray and abandoned cats and
Bruce is currently running a Kickstarter campaign which allows people to
pre-order copies of the book. There’s a range of rewards for those who pledge,
including custom illustrations and even Bruce’s pawtograph!
You can find Bruce’s Kickstarter page here: http://ift.tt/2q9jTKP
The book is already 87% funded with two weeks of the four-week Kickstarter
campaign still to run. We feel sure that Bruce will achieve his goal of
releasing his book, supporting The Animal Rescue Network and encouraging
children to be kind to animals.

(This video documents
Bruce’s life so far:

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Pretentious Pet Parents

I felt my face begin to flush.  My hands clenched into fits at my sides.  I tried closing my eyes and quickly counting
to ten.  This proved to be
ineffective.  My mouth opened and nothing
but pure anger poured forth.

What could spark such outrage?  Had I stepped in a warm, brown present from
one of my dogs?  Was it a sports game
going horribly awry?  Did my husband
forget to take the trash out yet again? 
No, I was watching “My Cat From Hell.”

This particular episode featured a
woman who had adopted a beautiful Bengal cat. 
Her reasons?  She had always
wanted a “designer cat.”  This breed
attracted her because they “look cool.” 
I could tell that I was not going to like this woman.

The cat basically wanted nothing to
do with her.  If the woman approached,
the cat threw out a quick paw and drew a scratch.  This sent the owner into a fit for the rest
of the show.  She would ignore the cat,
even refusing to look in its’ direction.

Jackson Galaxy did his best to be
polite, but I could tell he was thinking exactly what I was:  She does not deserve to have this cat (or any
animal for that matter)!  He asked if she
ever interacted with the boisterous Bengal. 
The woman’s response?  “I buy her

I watched in horror as she grabbed
a feather stick and simply plopped the feather into the cat’s face.  Within seconds, the cat became bored and
walked away.  Jackson told her that she
was not engaging the cat at all.  “Be the
bird,” he said.

The woman then admitted that she
was still mad about the cat scratching her. 
Jackson and I were blown away. 
She showed no love to the cat at all, yet expected her furry friend to
adore her at all times.

My initial reaction is that this
woman should not be a pet owner.  She
seemed more concerned about her looks than gaining the trust and love of her
cat.  I fear that too many pet owners act
the same way.

A former co-worker of mine had
adopted a dog named Ginger.  At first, he/she
gushed about how amazing and sweet the pup was. 
Ginger seemed to fit into the family perfectly.

One day, the co-worker asked me for
some advice.  He/she said that Ginger had
begun to urinate, but only when he/she looked at her.  This immediately threw up a red flag to me.  There had to be something that this person
was doing to make Ginger fearful enough to urinate just from eye contact.

I delicately probed and asked if
there had been any recent changes in their daily routines.  In a moment of honesty, he/she said, “Well,
Ginger wouldn’t go outside the other day, so I kick—scooted her out the door
with my foot.”

I knew exactly what this
meant.  He/she had kicked Ginger.  I kept my suspicions to myself because I did
not want to ruin an opportunity to perhaps find the dog a better home.  Instead, I provided several suggestions and
informed the co-worker to call or text me at any time.

Two weeks later, while shopping in
Target, I received a text:   “Would you
be interested in keeping Ginger?”  My
heart dropped into my stomach.  As my
husband will attest, I would love to keep every animal that is on this
planet.  Sadly, our town has a strict
limit on the number of dogs and cats that we are allowed to have.

I asked if there was any way that I
could foster Ginger instead.  This way,
she would be out of the harmful situation she was in with my co-worker and I
could begin the search for a perfect forever home for her.  He/she wavered for a moment, but soon

As luck would have it, my mother
and father-in-law came over for a visit and fell in love with Ginger.  She even won the heart of their established
Min Pin, Kallee.  It was only after they
officially adopted her did they find out that not only was Ginger heartworm
positive, but she also had a cracked tooth and ear mites!

I cannot even begin to fathom
allowing any of my fur babies to reach such a decline.  I would (and have) gone without in order for
them to have the necessary care that they need. 
They deserve nothing less.

Why do people adopt pets that they
clearly have no intention of taking care of? 
Many of the animals in local shelters and rescue groups have already had
a horrible start to their lives.  They
have been used for breeding over and over again for sheer profit.  Some have been physically abused for
“fun.”  Still, others suffer from
psychological traumas.

Adopting an animal is not something
to be taken lightly.  To me, it should be
taken as seriously as planning to have a human child.  There are numerous items that need to be
considered before following through with an adoption.  The most important items being:

1.      Do you have
enough time to devote to your new furry friend?
2.      Can you
afford to care for your new companion, even when he/she gets sick?
I never knew that doggy dermatologists actually existed.  That is until our Chihuahua, Adriel, began
losing her fur after having a skin infection. 
We spent over $500 on skin biopsies, medications and appointments.  Similarly, when our 14 year old Chihuahua,
Theo, developed glaucoma, we spent a pretty penny taking him to a veterinary
ophthalmologist.  He had several eye
tests and has been placed on $60 eye drops for life.  
My husband and I are not rich by any stretch of
the imagination, but we are willing to do whatever it takes to keep our furry
family members happy and healthy.

But adopting animals is about more than just money.  There is also the time factor.  We, as humans, seem to be perpetually getting
busier and busier.  Our weekends are
filled with events and making preparations for the upcoming week.  Where does Fido fit into the hurricane that
is life?

Simply buying food and toys for our pets is not enough.  They need to be showed that they are loved
and treasured every day.  Dogs and cats
need exercise, otherwise their boredom can come out in very destructive
ways.  Our cats (and three-legged dog) go
crazy for the laser pointer.  They will
chase that little red dot all around the room.

Several of our dogs prefer to play with their toys solo.  Still, others love to play tug-of-war with
their plush squeakies.  No matter how
they choose to play, we always make time for individual tubby rubs and cuddles.  I want to make sure that all of our pets know
just how much they mean to us.

These wonderful animals enrich our lives in so many
ways.  They are a fantastic support
system that can cheer me up on the most horrible of days.  Their kisses bring an instant smile to my
face and a warmth to my heart.  Watching
them interact with the world around them reminds me to take joy in the small

Potential pet parents also need to realize that every pet has
an occasional bad day.  There will be
accidents on the freshly vacuumed carpet. 
Cats will have their moody days and adorn your leg with a fresh scratch.  In truth, they are just like us.  This does not make them any less deserving of
unconditional love.

Thankfully, the woman on “My Cat From Hell” finally saw the
light.  She stopped treating her designer
cat as a fashion statement and actually began to take a genuine interest in its
well being.  Play time became a flurry of
interaction ending with snuggles on the couch.

Being a true pet parent means going beyond simply signing
adoption papers.  It means truly
committing to your new family member every day. 
Pets are not meant to be status symbols, fashion statements or fighting
machines.  They are meant to be loved
unconditionally, which is exactly the kind of love that they give in return.

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