My Beautiful Furbabies....

Monday, October 31, 2011

Tara - Our Gentle Giant

My parents loved dogs, which I’m sure is where I got my love for them.  Growing up we had 3 German Shepherds, all males and all named Duke.  After Duke #3 went to the Rainbow Bridge, my dad swore he wouldn’t get any more dogs.  Famous last words….

My mom passed away in 1995 leaving my dad very lonely, even though she had been in a nursing home suffering from Alzheimer’s.  He kept busy by working part time for an old boyhood friend and visiting the nursing home twice a day to feed my mom her breakfast and supper.  

A few years after losing my mom, he started thinking about another dog.  I was not at all surprised when he called me and told me he had gotten another German Shepherd, this one a female.  He couldn’t very well name her Duke so he named her after a nurse that took care of my mom in the nursing home – Tara.

German Shepherds have always been my favorite breed; they're so intelligent and loyal and great protection. Even the nicest dog will scare someone with just one great big bark and a flash of those huge teeth!

She was only 7 weeks old when he got her and he immediately started taking pictures of her and sending them to me.  I swear I have more pictures of Tara growing up than I do my own 2 kids! 

Here are a couple of pictures of Tara as a pup:

She’s 4 months and 6 months in these pictures.  I always thought she’d grow into those ears but she never did. They just kept growing right along with her.  

In 2002 I lost my Dad very suddenly.  He told me he was putting himself in the hospital because he had pneumonia.  He lived in Massachusetts and I’m in Florida so my husband and I jumped in the car and headed north.  We got to his house on a Tuesday and on Wednesday he went into the hospital.  He passed away Thursday.  

For anyone who thinks that animals don’t mourn, let me tell you – they do.  The night we got back from the hospital for the last time, Tara went into my Dad’s bedroom, laid on the clothes he changed out of before leaving, and let out the most awful, loud moan.  She knew her Daddy wasn’t coming back.

The only people I trusted to keep Tara couldn’t for different reasons.  The one person who said he would take her ended his offer with “and if I can’t keep her I have a friend…”  I wasn’t about to let her be bounced from home to home, so we brought her home with us.  

My Dad always told me that he took Tara to disobedience school.  I would laugh thinking he was joking.  After living with Tara for a short time, I do believe he meant it.  Don’t get me wrong, she was a very good dog, but also a very hard headed dog.  And it’s very hard to get a 110 lb. dog to do what you want them to do if they don’t want to do it.  

She would sit out in the back yard and when I would call her to come in, she would turn her back to me and act like she didn’t hear me.  She would just look all over the place but not at me.  I swear I heard her saying "La la la la la I can't hear you".  Dumb animals – yeah, right!

Tara was TERRIFIED of thunder storms.  Her ears would go back, her eyes would get huge and she’d pant like crazy. I began calling it her thunderstorm face.  When we saw her like that we know something was scaring her and we would brace ourselves because she would try to become a lap dog.  

She had a lot of funny habits, one was barking without making a sound.  Honest!  She would mouth the word “woof”.  When she did that she either needed to go outside or she wanted fresh water.  You could tell because if she wanted to go out, she’d “woof” and look out the window.  Who says dogs can’t talk??

I always called her our gentle giant.  She was so good with other animals, never hurt any of them.  She actually is the one who found our cat.  Frankie was a tiny kitten about the size of Tara’s muzzle.  She would attack Tara and grab her tail and wrestle with it and Tara would just lay there and let her play.  They grew very close and at the end, Frankie would back up to Tara and they’d lay together on the floor and sleep.  When we brought home our second mini-dachshund, I got the best picture of the 2 of them together.  Smoke was about 2 months old at the time. Tara leaned down to sniff him and Smoke gave her a kiss.  

She was such a sweet dog.  The only thing I ever worried about with her and the smaller animals was that she might step on one of them.  

Tara could also sound very ferocious when she wanted to or felt she needed to.  Let anyone come to the door and she would bark and bare her teeth.  Strangers would think twice about knocking again, which I liked since I was home alone most of the time.  But as soon as either I or my husband let someone in the door, she knew right away they must be all right and would cover them in great big doggie kisses.  

In 2010, right around the time Tara turned 12 years (she was a Christmas baby) she started having trouble with her hind quarters.  She walked with a wobble and would slip on our hard wood floors.  I would walk into the living room and find her spread-eagled on the floor.  I would put my feet against her hind feet and she would push herself back up.  I went out and bought a lot of throw rugs and put them everywhere to keep her from hurting herself.  

She took a real turn for the worse in late February of 2011 and it got to the point that she couldn’t stand at all anymore.  My husband was on the road so it was up to me to take care of everything.  For several days I tried to get her up but she would get scared.  I ended up letting her stay on the rug in the living room and I cleaned up after her when she needed me to.  I brought her food and water to her while we waited for my son to be able to come and take us to the vet. 
On March 3rd my son carried her into the vet’s office and we said good-bye to one of the most gentle, sweet dogs I’ve ever known.  

I know Tara is happy though.  She and my Dad are together again.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Win a $10 Gift Certificate to Life's Abundance!

Enter to win a $10.00 Gift Certificate for ANY product on my Life's Abundance website during Live Laugh Love to Shop's Weekend Blog hop, 10/28 through 10/30.  To win simply follow my blog, then leave a comment under this post telling me what you like most about my blog. Don't forget to include your email address so I can contact the winner.  Winner will be chosen randomly from all entries.

 The winner will receive an email with a unique gift certificate code, along with a printable version of your gift certificate. With no hidden fees and no expiration dates, you can redeem the gift certificates for any products on my Life's Abundance web site @

Live Laugh Love to Shop's Weekend Blog Hop

Join me this weekend, 10/28 - 10/30, for another great blog hop hosted by Live Laugh Love to Shop and Network Marketer's CPA.  Find lots of great blogs to follow and enter for some awesome give-aways!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease

My only cat, Frankie
Feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD) describes a collection of conditions that can affect the bladder and urethra of cats. This syndrome can have many possible causes, but cats generally exhibit similar, recognizable signs. Cats with FLUTD usually show signs of difficulty and pain when urinating, increased frequency of urination, and blood in the urine. Affected cats tend to lick their genital area excessively, and sometimes they will urinate outside the litter box, often preferring cool, smooth surfaces like a tile floor or a bathtub. 

While the condition can be seen in cats of any age, it is most frequently seen in middle-aged, over-weight cats that get little exercise, use an indoor litter box, have restricted access outside, and eat a dry diet. Environmental factors, such as interactions with owners, multi-cat households, and changes in routine may also increase the risk that a cat will develop FLUTD. 

There is evidence to suggest that stress can be one of the primary causes of Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD).  Stress can let loose a flood of hormones that could cause the muscles of the lower urinary tract to constrict.  Changes in your routine, a new companion animal in the home, changes in weather and even a lack of attention can increase your cat’s stress level.  You can see how important it is to be in-tune with your cat’s emotional state, and take steps to decrease or eliminate stress in her life.  

Additionally, you might consider providing water for your cat using a continuous fountain.  The constant motion of the water attracts the attention of cats, hopefully encouraging them to drink more.  And, of course, providing fluid-rich canned foods like Instinctive Choice Premium Canned Cat Food.

But because FLUTD can have many causes, it can be difficult to diagnose. Based on your cat's signs, your veterinarian will likely perform an initial physical examination and run a urinalysis. If the cause of the cat's signs has not been identified with a urinalysis, other testing may be recommended, including bloodwork, x-rays, and urine culture.

Here are some steps you can take to reduce occurrences and signs of FLUTD:

  1. Feed small meals on a frequent basis.
  2. For cats with a history of struvite formation, owners should feed diets that promote the formation of urine that is acidic.
  3. Provide clean, fresh water at all times.
  4. Provide an adequate number of litter boxes (usually one more than the number of cats in the household).
  5. Keep litter boxes in quiet, safe areas of the house.
  6. Keep litter boxes clean.
  7. Minimize major changes in routine.
If you take steps now, you might be able to prevent your cat from developing urinary health issues, helping him or her to live a healthier – and much more comfortable – life.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Pink Pumpkin Blog Hop Giveaway 10/21/11 - 10/23/11


Lora Cheese!!!  Lora commented on a few of my blog posts during this hop and all of her comments were meaningful and thoughtful. Congrats Lora!  I'll be getting a gift basket out to you this week!!! 

Treat your furry friends to a great gift basket from Life's Abundance - FREE during the Pink Pumpkin Blog Hop!

This Cat Basket contains an irresistible spring action toy plus an assortment of additional fun toys and a bag of Life’s Abundance Gourmet Cat Treats for Healthy Skin & Coat. The gift basket is beautifully packaged with a ribbon.

This Dog Basket contains a plush, fun squeak toy plus an assortment of Wholesome Hearts Low Fat Treats, Gourmet Dental Treats, Antioxidant Health Bars, PorkHide Dog Bones, one 4-ounce bag of Tasty Rewards Training Treats and one yummy Porky Puff Dog Chew. The gift basket is beautifully packaged with a ribbon. 

*Visit  Winner will be chosen from all comments on my blog during this blog hop.  EXCEPTIONS:  I won't consider any comment simply stating "I'm visiting from the Pink Pumpkin Blog Hop" or anything similar. Be sure to leave your contact info in your comment so I can reach you to find out where to send the basket and whether you prefer dog or cat.* 

Monday, October 17, 2011

Canine Grooming Tips

Along with proper nutrition and regular trips to your vet, a very important part of keeping your dog happy and health is grooming.

The right brushes, shampoos, water temperature – all these things come in to play.  

The following link has some great advice and pointers by Dr. Jane Bicks, DVM:

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Dachshund Potty Philosophy

This is just a little poem that my sponsor with DARE (dachshund adoption rescue and education) sent to me when I first became a foster mom with that rescue.  We were talking about the difficulties of house breaking these little, long darlings.  I've tried to find the author of this poem but nobody has claimed it.  Anyone who is owned or has been owned by a dachshund will surely be able to relate.....

My 2 "Spawns of Satan" Smidgen and Smoke

~Dachshund Potty Philosophy~

Doxies belong to an international sorority
It’s called “Pooping outside is not a priority”!
Did I mention they don’t like wet grass?
It’s poop on the sidewalk and run in fast.
And forget it when it rains
They use that rug by the door, the one that’s stained.
Some doxies find a nice, dark carpet is high on their list.
So be careful or that last step may go “squish”!
Always wear your glasses and washable shoes.
And be extra careful how you move.
So rip up the carpet cause it ain’t gonna stop.
Buy a bucket and bring out the mop!


Saturday, October 15, 2011

Shelter Pets

Are you thinking of adding a new furbaby to your household?  Are you a cat person or a dog person…..or maybe both?  Have you considered looking into a local shelter or pet rescue to adopt your new friend? 
There are thousands of homeless dogs and cats in shelters.  Many people have lost their homes in this bad economy and cannot take their pets with them when they move.  Sometimes someone will get a pet and realize they don’t have the time or patience for the animal, and they are dropped in shelters.  Everyone loves a kitten or puppy, but the kittens turn into cats and the puppies into dogs and suddenly, they aren’t so cute anymore so off to the shelter they go.  Some become a financial burden when they get old due to health problems.  There are many reasons (or excuses) why dogs and cats end up in shelters.  Unfortunately many of these pets will be euthanized because there just isn’t room to care for them all in the shelters.
Rescue groups do a wonderful job of taking pets from high-kill shelters and then finding foster homes for them until a suitable adoptive family is found.  But again, they too run out of room eventually and have to stop pulling pets from shelters or accepting owner surrenders.
 There are many reasons why one should check into getting a rescue animal FIRST when looking for a new pet. Shelters are flooded with great pets that are just waiting for a home to love them. A rescued animal will normally cost you less than buying a puppy from a breeder.  Rescue pets seem to understand that you have taken them out of a very bad situation and are so loving and protective of their humans. I say this from personal experience.  And most important - you will be saving a life!
Before going to a shelter to find your new friend, have a good idea of what you are looking for.  There are many breed specific dog rescues in the US.  Learn all you can about the breed before you decide.  Some are prone to many health problems, some behavioral problems. If you are not willing to deal with either of those, chose another breed.  There are also shelters and rescues that rescue both dogs and cats, no matter the breed or mix.  Take time when you visit to get to know the pet you are looking at.  How awful it must be for a cat or dog to be adopted, only to be returned because he wasn’t the perfect fit for the family.  Take time to make your decision.  Puppies and kittens and dogs and cats aren’t disposable commodities, something to take lightly or to be passed from home to home to home.   They require attention, exercise, discipline, training, medical care, good nutrition and above all else, love.  
Whether you are looking for a young pet or a “senior” dog or cat, please consider adopting from your local shelter or pet rescue.  

And remember – Responsible pet owners SPAY AND NEUTER!!