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Making a Stress-Free Move with a Dog

by contributor Jessica Brody

Moving is a stressful time for anybody, and dog owners have the added stress of worrying about how their dog will cope with the move and adjust to the new home. They especially worry that their dog may wander off and get lost in a new environment. However, with careful and thoughtful planning, you can successfully move with your dog without causing too much trauma.

Safety First

Right before a move, your life can be a little out of whack. Everything is in disarray, and your routine is off. While things are being packed, located, and thrown away, the house is in constant disruption. It’s stressful, and that goes for dogs too. Their routine is off and the disruption unsettles them.

“All your dog has known and become familiar with, in terms of household objects and smells, changes dramatically, and it is not surprising that some dogs become stressed,” says Blue Cross for Pets.

Also, dogs pick up on our emotions. If you’re feeling anxious, your dog may be jumpy and extra sensitive. If you’re feeling scattered and chaotic, your dog may feel insecure. As a natural reaction, your dog may become focused on establishing his territory in the new home by chewing or urinating, or he may hide under a bed or in his crate. “Remember that difficult behaviors are a result of their discomfort with the change and a sense of not feeling in control,” says AARP.

While you’re packing boxes from the previous home, place your dog in a room with a sign alerting others not to open the door. This keeps your dog from escaping the home. Select one person to be solely responsible for your dog on the day of the move in case you can’t be. If possible, keep your dog on a leash or in a crate.

If your dog isn’t already microchipped, consider having this done prior to the move. It’s not unusual for dogs to get loose when moving into a new home, and having your dog chipped will make it easier to locate them and avoid the heartbreak associated with a missing pet.

Once you’re at the new home, transfer your dog to a room, again with a sign. Also, provide some familiar items, such his toys, bowl, and bed. You may consider placing your dog in a boarding kennel during the move so that he’s safe, or a friend or family member may also be able to watch your dog. However, if you really want to be the one to comfort your dog, consider hiring a professional moving service to take care of packing, moving, and unpacking for you (just don’t forget to compare prices and look for a good deal).

At the end of moving day, ensure all the doors are closed and the fence is secure, and then allow your dog to explore his new environment. To prevent him from becoming overwhelmed, accompany your dog as he explores so he knows where you are.

Settling In

In a new home, your dog’s scent will obviously not be present, and there will be various unknown smells, which could make your dog feel insecure. Your dog can feel more at ease if you spread your dog’s scent for him. To do this, take a soft cloth and rub it gently around your dog’s face to pick up his scent. Then go around the room at your dog’s height and dab the cloth on items in the room to help him bond to the territory. Choose rooms where your dog will initially be kept or have access to first, and repeat this daily to build up the scent within the house. There are also manufactured scents available which work in the same way.

Use food to help your dog settle in by offering small frequent meals. This will give you and your dog more contact and help to reassure your dog. Your dog will quickly pick up on when and where his feeding will take place, and he will anticipate the meal rather than worry about it, allowing him to feel more at ease.

Dogs need time to adjust to their new home just as humans do. You can help make this transition easier by planning ahead for the big move. The most important thing is for you to be patient and provide your dog with extra love and attention.

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Entertaining a Cat.

Cat sitting in a cardboard box

Henry is a cow cat, a black and white, non-tuxedo cat, a rescue, maybe about nine years old. Cow cats are notoriously close to their humans, I’m told (“needy” is a word I hear a lot), and Henry is ultra affectionate. He’s also playful and (to me) surprisingly smart.

I came home from a meeting today to find that he had lined up all of his bigger toys: three scratching blocks of different varieties, Lambie (big stuffed animal), Chickie (ditto), Mousie (you get the drift), tennis ball, two organic wool clothes dryer balls that he filched from a laundry basket one day when I wasn’t looking, two sparkly balls, three balls with little noisemakers inside (a gift from a dear but clueless friend), a medium Amazon box, part of a feather, and his aluminum foil ball. At the end was his newest store-bought toy: a circle toy that has a ball in it that he can touch and reach and knock around the circle but never get the ball out.

As I massaged my fingers from their clenched position (20 miles on icy highway at Interstate speeds, driving an SUV in a high wind blowing across stubble fields), he began to play. He’d made himself an obstacle course to leap around, climb over, stalk from behind, run around, and generally tease himself with before getting to the highly-desired circle toy that was his reward for his basic-training-style efforts.

Initially I felt guilty for not recognizing that he needs more mental stimulus, then proud of his brainpower, and then curious. How do we keep an indoor cat active and engaged, especially in a small apartment when bird feeders are forbidden and funds are limited?

Some experts suggest getting a second or even third and fourth cat. After the initial settling of the pecking order, they often will play, hunt, and sleep together.

Interactive time with the human is also recommended. Most cats love to “help” change the sheets on the bed. Why not take an extra five minutes and give them a bedmouse to stalk and pounce on? Or let them get under the sheet and then pat that furry little bottom or tummy?

If your cat responds to catnip and you don’t object to its use, try keeping the nip in a lidded container along with some of the small toys. The toys will pick up the scent of the nip and become highly valued play objects for the remainder of their probably-limited life.

Some cats enjoy watching cat videos on TV or computer, or will watch a screen saver endlessly. Some enjoy listening to bird song on YouTube, or the sound of a cat purring. When you pause at the keyboard, find a website for your cat, who is probably sitting between you and the monitor anyway.

If you have hardwood or tile floors, give the cat a couple of chopsticks to bat around, or an empty plastic water bottle, a rolled up sock (with a little catnip on the inside?).

Or, for the ultimate experience: tissue paper, and for exceptionally good kitties, tissue paper in a box. Oh joy! Tissue paper in a box with a treat or favorite toy hidden in the folds. Eureka!

What have you come up with to amuse your furry little Einstein?

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Saving Grace

Told by April Hurley, founder of Angel's Hope

"We provide a Spay/Neuter Program in McDowell County, WV. It’s the poorest county in the state and very underserved in terms of animal services. Stray/homeless dogs are common in the area.

Grace, her siblings and mom, and another litter of puppies and their mom, and another dog began showing up at the home of a person that used the spay/neuter program. They were going through people’s garbage looking for food, sleeping under her house or in the woods, and running on/off the road of the hollow.

When I found out about the dogs and that Grace couldn’t move, I couldn’t let her suffer. We had them take her to a vet in WV and assumed she’d been hit by a car. That’s when we found out that she’d been shot. The vet in WV did not think she would live even for a couple of hours and advised to euthanize her. If that’s what needed to be done, I at least wanted someone to be there to hold her when she went. I asked them to meet me to bring Grace and I took her to the specialist.

The ER doctor did the basics as far as stabilizing her, but felt that with surgery she could have a good life. The neurologist agreed and the surgery was performed on 2/12/2017. Initially, the neurologist felt that there was a slight chance the spinal cord had not been damaged, rather compressed, and that once the bullet was removed, Grace may have a chance at walking again. However, when he performed the surgery he found that the spinal cord had in fact been damaged. She also had a fracture and he had to remove the bone from that. In addition, she had lice and later we would find out liver flukes.

Because she had so little positive interaction the first four months of her life, she is very reserved and does not at this point seek out attention from humans. She is not aggressive at all and allows me to do everything I need to do for her: expressing her bladder, cleaning her up, bathing, petting, sitting with her, putting her in and out of her cart, lifting her etc. She just doesn’t initiate contact. When we have her in her cart, she will occasionally follow me, but it takes some coaxing.

Prior to her injury, she’d been living with her family and with several other stray dogs, so she has interacted with other dogs. We’ve introduced her to two of our senior dogs and she again didn’t do very much. They sniffed her, she sniffed them, but she wasn’t interested in following them or interacting with them more. She may be unsure and a bit nervous because she can’t move as she once did. We haven’t introduced her while she’s been in her cart and will be doing that soon.

We are currently doing physical therapy every day. She requires that her bladder be expressed and she doesn’t have control of her bowels. When kept on a consistent schedule and feeding regimen, she remains pretty clean, but a family should be prepared that she will need bathing regularly to remove any urine that has leaked and also if she defecates when no one is around, she may need cleaned up.

Regarding her future medical needs, she may get UTIs often and the family should be prepared for this added medical cost.

I feel her ideal home will be one that the person(s) has experience with special needs dogs and that is home more often than someone working a regular work week as Grace needs someone to interact with her pretty often to help her come out of her shyness and also mild depression at this point.

A home with no kids or older kids that will interact with her gently will be best. As far as dogs, maybe a small-medium calm dog that will also be gentle with her and help her remember how to interact with other dogs and could be company for her, but if they don’t have a dog that may be fine as well.

Her family will have to be patient with her and understand that her background makes it difficult for her to initiate contact and that she isn’t going to be super outgoing in the beginning or maybe ever."

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Now some personal commentary from Sara at BOGO Bowl. For five years I loved and was loved by a beautiful boy named Chance. Chance was paralyzed in his hind end after being hit by a train. Unlike Grace, he could self-express (which turned out not to be a great thing if I'm honest) but like Grace, he required some special care. Do I regret a moment of our time together? Not one.

My friend Susan has had her boy Duke, who is also paralyzed, for 6 years now. Duke has to have his bladder expressed, which is no big deal.

Then there are dogs like Josh and Lt. Dan.

My point is, if you think you might be the right person or family for Grace, but you want to know about the realities of caring for a special pup, you'll have resources.

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