Wildlife and Dog LIfe

Best dog beds

I See You


How many of us can’t wait for the warmer weather to take our dogs on a hike or even just a quick walk in the sunshine? As much as we try in the winter, it just doesn’t happen as often. In my area, we’re lucky to have bike/ski trails where we can stroll in the winter; a nice and quick alternative to snowshoes and a lot of clothes.

Still, come spring, we’re all glad to get out and really stretch our legs. This can be very exhilarating for the dogs and we have to remember to be on the look out for seasonal dangers like wild animals and swift water.

I get such a kick out of seeing the abundant wildlife in my area and obviously my dogs do too, however I certainly don’t want them getting too up close and personal since this could be bad for all parties involved. No matter where you live, the chance of your pets coming into contact with wildlife is pretty high, even if that only means squirrels, mice and rabbits. My neighborhood has an abundance of elk, deer, raccoons, skunk, song birds, hawks, owls, eagles, fox, coyote, wolves, bear, moose and mountain lions. As you can probably figure; mixing up with any of these could be bad for either party, whether it’s my cats, dogs or chickens. And don’t think that it only matters one way or another, I have to disagree; we have a responsibility to our pets and our wildlife equally.

So how do we keep everyone safe and separate? Good question, start with some forethought. If I’m keeping chickens in a rural area, I have to be as prepared as possible for the animals that could eat them, so their fencing and housing have to be as raid-proof as possible. I have to keep bell collars (safety release of course) on my cats because the depredation of songbirds by domestic cats alone is devastating. And my dogs, well they have to be trained to recall on command, no matter what is running by and if they can’t be trusted, then they can’t be loose, period. Chasing deer and elk can stress out the herds as well as put them and the dogs in danger from vehicle traffic. Moose, mountain lions and coyotes can easily kill a dog, whether I’m out hiking or they’re passing through our yard, so again, I have to be careful. For instance, I never leave my dogs out in the yard unattended for more than a minute or two and I don’t let my cats out at night; they’re just not equipped to deal with the predators out there. I’ve heard of several pet owners in my community who acted very irresponsibly and left their pets out to fend for themselves, with tragic results. Not only for the pet, but also for the wild animal that was only doing what comes naturally as a way to survive and then was killed because of that. So you see how everyone was harmed by one person’s inattention? And anyway, who doesn’t sleep a little better at night knowing their beloved pets are right where they belong, snuggled in a cozy pet bed…… inside?

A Close Call for a Little Dog

junotomfirestationsmLast week after loading the dogs into my car at the barn, Juno started whimpering and acting very strange. She tried to crawl onto my lap and practically yelped when I touched her belly. I quickly pulled over and carried her out of the car to check her out. The poor thing was standing all hunched up and looked so miserable, I almost cried. My first though was that she had been kicked by a horse, but although she’d been running around the barns and fields while I’d been walking my horse, I knew that she hadn’t been able to get near anyone since it was evening and the horses had all been put away for the night.

I’ll admit that the way she was standing really scared me; it was exactly like our dear Gracie had stood when she ruptured a tumor in her spleen, but Gracie had been under treatment for cancer for almost a year at the time, so this didn’t add up.

First thing I did was palpate her from head to toe to see if I found anything; she reacted pretty strongly to pressure on her abdomen and reacted slightly to pressure over her spine, around mid lumbar region. Her head, neck and chest were all good as were her legs, just the belly and back.

I did check her gums for color and capillary refill as that’s a fast way to tell if they might be bleeding internally and she looked great, but I was still scared.

So off we go to the vets (of course it’s a Saturday night), but my vet was pretty cheerful for someone who just got dragged out from his house & away from his family. He checked her over and really quickly figured out that she’d probably strained a vertebral ligament while tearing through the fields after squirrels. After a Rx for Rimadyl and Tramadol along with a week of rest, off we went; poorer but calmer.

The reason I write this is twofold. First of all, every pet owner should be able to assess their pet’s general health and well being; get a heart rate, respiratory rate and feel around for abnormalities. This is important in an emergency, but it’s also really important on a regular basis just to know your pet’s baseline or norm. If you don’t know that, you might not be able to tell when something’s wrong until it’s too late, because not everything presents obviously, like Juno’s hurt back. Some things are subtle, like new lumps, increased respiratory rate or a change in activity level or appetite.

In just the past 2 years, I’ve seen a few friends’ dogs die pretty quickly from heart disease, cancer and poisonings, all things that needed a quick diagnosis and response. Yes, some of them would have died no matter what, but I’m pretty sure most of us want our dogs as comfortable as possible.

Secondly, because of Juno’s conformation (her build), I’ve always been aware that a back issue could be a problem; dogs with long backs are prone to back injuries. Because I did a DNA test on her, I knew she wasn’t genetically pre-disposed, but just by looking at her, you can see that a problem might arise, especially in such an active and athletic little dog.

The good news is that she recovered very quickly and my husband and I have taken to only carrying her out of the car-no more jumping! Repetitive movements like jumping out of your car can really cause quite a bit of damage over the years. We’ve always had a step by the side of the bed for them, but lets face it, they probably get in and out of the car a lot more often than in and out of bed.

Happy dog days to you all!