Please Don’t Declaw!

I came across a comment on a friend’s post today from a girl who “wished her cat was declawed.”  I tried to nicely explain why she should not wish that.  I figured maybe she honestly didn’t know.

I have a neighbor who insists on declawing her beautiful white kitten.  I tried to reason with her, inform her.  She still insists.  Now I just want to smack her.  The argument “They are fine once they heal” holds NO water.

I know there are some people who swear that declawing doesn’t hurt the cat, but a human can have limbs amputated and be “fine,” too. It doesn’t mean they would want to! And that’s basically what declawing is to a cat.

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My cats tore up my couch too, but that was partly my fault for not providing them with their own vertical scratching surfaces. Besides, I guess it is a sacrifice we make when we decide to share our homes with an animal.

furniture

As I learn more about my chosen trade, which is dog training, I have become even more aware of just how selfish some humans have become about their pets.  We sometimes treat them more like accessories than the animals they are.  We expect them to adjust to our lifestyles withe little or no training.  We anthropomorphise them, pushing our ideas and values onto them.  We neglect their basic drives and needs (usually more out of ignorance than malice.)  Scratching is normal cat behavior.

One of my cats came to me already declawed and I am still angry sometimes about what her previous owners did to her.  Her paws are sensitive.  She has litterbox issues, (which has been correlated to declawing.)  Declawing is illegal in a lot of places, but I have been heard before that some vets still perform the procedure simply to pacify the owner and (hopefully) keep another cat out of the shelter for what is essentially a non-reason.

So for anyone who is considering declawing their cat, I beg of you , please do some research and reconsider.  Especially now, there are other, more humane options (nail caps, for one.) If your furniture is more valuable to you than your pet, maybe you should reconsider whether sharing your home with an animal is what you really want.

Below (and within the article) are some links to more information about declawing.

 

http://www.declawing.com/

http://www.pawproject.org/faq

https://www.avma.org/KB/Policies/Pages/Declawing-of-Domestic-Cats.aspx

 

Doggy Heaven: The [Bifröst] Bridge

I love animals, I do work at my local shelter, and am currently working towards becoming a certified dog trainer.  I  presently have two cats, one of which is a rescue cat, and if I had room, I’d bring the dogs home too.  I lost my oldest shelter cat to cancer about a year and a half ago, and I was actually present when my childhood pup was euthanized.   

I tell you all this so that no one assumes I don’t care about or understand the issues facing homeless animals or shelter life, etc. because what I am about to say may be unpopular to some of the more sensitive “animal people.”  Although I understand people wanting to think comforting things when they lose a beloved pet or animal companion, I really don’t get the Rainbow Bridge thing.  

The Rainbow Bridge is the theme of a work of poetic prose written some time between 1980 and 1992, whose original creator is unknown. The theme is of a mythological place to which a pet goes upon its death, eventually to be reunited with its owner. It has gained popularity amongst animal lovers who have lost a pet. The belief shows similarities with the Bifröst bridge of Norse mythology (source).

I guess it is supposed to be like Doggy Heaven or whatever.  I don’t even really believe in people heaven, but I recognize and respect that there are a huge number of people in this country and others that do.  But does anyone really believe in the fabled Rainbow Bridge?  I’d assume it is used mostly as a metaphor for our beloved animals finally being at peace in the afterlife…or something.  But I swear, the way some people talk about it, it seems to have taken on a afterlife of it’s own.

**EDIT: I swear, I just saw a perfect example of this.  A friend’s dog passed and one of his friends told him “…hes crossed the rainbow bridge and running and playing with all the other luved furbabies who have left..hope him and [my cat] are chillin together…”  Maybe some people would find comfort in that… but if someone said that to me when my cat passed, I’d probably have wanted to throat punch them…   Because to my ears it just sounds like one of those well-meaning but ultimately hollow things people say to grieving people.

Bifrost bridge of Norse mythology

Bifrost bridge of Norse mythology

It is interesting to note that there seems to be some discussion among Christians as to whether or not animals “go to Heaven,” when they die, and whether or not they have “souls.”  Perhaps this is part of the reason some may feel a need for animals to have their very own heaven to go to when they pass from this world.  (1), (2), (3)

But,  though I would not begrudge anyone mourning a loss something that gives them comfort… I don’t believe in deluding myself for comfort’s sake either.

However…this would be nice…

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Do you believe there’s a real Rainbow Bridge?

Do you think animals go to Heaven?

Feel free to (respectfully) discuss!

 

Dog Eat Dog Trainer

(photo by Battle Buddy)

(photo by Battle Buddy)

I absolutely love this photo! This embodies everything I eventually want my career to be— training good dogs to help good people!  And this weekend I started the next step in the journey.  Not all that long ago, my sister told me she was in school online to become a dog trainer.  When I realized how easy it was (not necessarily the studying part, but the enrollment and access to materials, etc,), I talked it over with hubby and decided to go for it, taking the first concrete step toward a career goal that I’ve taken since graduating college (and having abysmal luck getting a job in my fields of study.)

Recently, I finished all of my academic coursework and on Saturday I had the first training session of my externship.

I had spoken with my trainer on the phone for a while a week or two before so we could work out a schedule and she could tell me what I should bring.  She had a short list of her preferable tools–  three different sized quick-clip martingale collars, a leather leash, and different types of treats for different “grade” rewards.  The collars I ordered arrived within two days of being ordered, but I was disturbed to discover how expensive the leather leashes are, (and my loyal readers know I’m pretty damn poor, and not just ramen noodle college poor.   I decided to take a regular nylon leash in the meantime, while I scouted around online for a decent priced leash to fit my needs.  The first dog we worked with showed me the reason why I will be paying good money for a good, wide leather leash.  Harold was a large (although not overly large) black and white dog with an interesting double dew-claw.  He was sweet, and easy to food lure into basic “sit” and “down” positions–  a great first dog for me to learn and practice on…   But he was also a bit excited, and deceptively strong.  I wasn’t expecting it, and when I first pulled him out of his kennel, he practically zipped the skin off my palms with that stupid nylon leash!  My trainer and I actually ended up double leashing him for added control.

Anyway, my trainer was also really cool.  Not only was she nice and easy to work with, but she also encouraged me to ask her questions and bring up any ways that my coursework teachings might differ from her methods (which is often the case, as although many of the main tenets are the same, every trainer has their own style.)  What’s even cooler is that in addition to her dog training business and her affiliation with ABC, she is part of an organization that trains service dogs for autistic children!

Despite the chilly day and unforgiving wind, I ended up having a great time and look forward to my next lesson.

As an added bonus, I received an email from my trainer saying that she also enjoyed our session and that it was “nice to have a student who has natural ability.”  Color me tickled!

Hopefully, as the next few months progress, I will have some interesting stories about my experiences for you guys!  In fact, I’m almost sure I will!

Service to Animals, Service to People

So today I took the first concrete step towards my future.  Hubs and I invested in my future, and put a down payment on my continued education.  Only it has little to do with the degrees I already have.  But it is for something I’ve always enjoyed, and that is working with animals.  As soon as the enrollment process is completed, I’ll be starting coursework with the Animal Behavior College to become a certified dog trainer.  But I don’t want to work at the local Pet Smart teaching people’s ill-mannered pets to behave (though no disrespect if that’s your passion!)  I’d eventually like to work with animals that help people– chiefly service dogs or police dogs.

police-dog-training

Service animals are no longer just seeing eye dogs.  Animals of all species are now being utilized for all types of disabilities, both physical and mental.  Cats, dogs, monkeys, ferrets, goats, and even pigs are being used as companions to physically disabled people, people with agoraphobia and other anxiety disorders, and even bipolar disorder.  To me this exemplifies a more holistic and harmonious turn in the treatment of many severe and often debilitating health problems.  Simply put, I love how animals and the bonds they forge with their humans can help surmount even the toughest challenges and just make people happier.  

Then there are the police dogs, the bomb sniffing dogs, the cadaver sniffing dogs, the war dogs…   These dogs truly are service dogs, and they are heroes!

And I definitely want to be a part of this.  I love animals…   People, meh…  I don’t care for people as a whole, although I do generally like being around people on a more individual level.  I have a lot of interests in my life– art, writing, music, forensics, sports, horseback riding, my family…  It’s hard to give time to everything in my life that I enjoy, and even harder– for me– to settle on a career path, but I think this is something that can make me happy…

Which in the end is more important to me at the end of the day than any other considerations like money or prestige.

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Methos-neko?

Most of you are probably familiar with “basket cat,” AKA the most relaxed cat in the world, or zen cat…   Shironeko (neko means cat(s) in Japanese)is known for not only being an extremely tolerant cat, allowing his owners to stack almost anything on his head and feet and take pix, but also have a goofy, happy,and completely relaxed look while doing it. I love Shiro.  Seeing his sweet “smile” never fails to lift my spirits.

Shironeko

Shironeko

Today, Hubby and J* were playing with Methos…and the Duplos.  You see where I’m going with this?  Well, after taking the first pic or two, this gave me a brilliant idea.

Methos is tolerant…but he sure doesn’t look zen yet.

Methos and Duplos

Methos and Duplos

Methos and the Pelican

Methos and the Pelican

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Methos and the alphabet blocks

Methos and the alphabet blocks

"Hello Methos"

“Hello Methos”

Methos and the plastic tub turtle

Methos and the plastic tub turtle

So, yeah… I guess he’s a work in progress.  One day he’ll let us take the pix without that I’m going to kill you in your sleep look on his face.

Happy Friday!

*all pix of Methos belong to alienredqueen; please do not use without permission/credit

Artistic Ode to Rosie

My dear long distance friend Dianda lost the family furbaby a short while ago.

You can read about Rosie here.  I really love this pic of Rosie all stretched out, so I decided to do a portrait of her for D.

Rosie (photo: Cats & Co.)

Rosie (photo: Cats & Co.)

I haven’t got to do much art lately due to time constraints, other priorities, my two year old’s penchant for stealing my art supplies…  Sometimes I worry I’m too out of practice, so I am pretty pleased with how the portrait is going so far. And a little bit afraid of messing it up.

(1)

(1)

(2)

(2)

(3)

(3)

I’ll post the final whenever it’s done.  I initially wanted it to be a surprise for D, but I was too excited when it started to look good, and who knows when I’ll feel like I’m finished with it.