I have GREAT NEWS!!!

It is with great pride and excitement that I can announce that Chance’s Dream Animal Rescue has received its tax exempt status from the IRS making donations deductible to those who make contributions.

It was a long, and often, discouraging road, but we made it. Anyone interested in making end of year charitable contributions, please consider Chances’ Dream.

Let’s keep pet families together for the holidays and all year long.

Happy and safe holidays to you and your families!!!

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A Body In Motion…..

Nicer weather is here and it’s time to get outside and move. We all know the saying “a body in motion stays in motion and a body at rest stays at rest.” Well, we’ve been resting plenty during this very cold winter and now it’s time to enjoy nice weather and exercise. And that applies to your dogs as well. I recently read a funny statement. “If your dog is overweight, you aren’t getting enough exercise.”  After a moment of contemplation I realized just how true that statement can be.  Fortunately, that wasn’t the case with Chance and me.  She was always fit and the perfect weight.  Me…well, let’s just say, I had my moments.

I read in an article on WebMD/Pets that 45% of all pets in the U.S. are obese.  Obesity in your pet can lead to arthritis, high blood pressure, heart disease…same as us.  Getting your pet to his or her normal weight can add up to 2 years to their life.  You can find out what your pet’s ideal weight should be from your vet.

But how do you get your pet to lose weight?  Great question!

  • You can start by measuring food portions and controlling feeding times.  Don’t leave food out all day.
  • Check with your vet to make sure you are feeding your pet the proper food for their age, size and breed.
  • Aside from walking your dog, take some time to play with your pet.  Cats too.  It’s a great way to bond and the exercise is great for you as well.

These are just a few ideas on how to help get your pet back to a healthy weight.  For more information ask your vet or check out http://www.pets.webmd.com.  It’s a great resource for just about any health question you may have about your pets.

Enjoy your summer!!!

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Four Loaded Statements That Annoy Fellow Pet Parents

As I read this article posted on Dogster.com written by Pamela Mitchell, it got me thinking that this would be a good topic to share on our blog.  Many pet parents, myself included, have been guilty of at least one of these infractions.  I’m still working on my own diplomacy when communicating with other pet parents.  Unfortunately, even when I don’t say anything I can still feel the expression on my face change.  Ugh!  It’s certainly a work in progress and no one is perfect.  All we can do is our best and hope we don’t offend anyone along the way.  Enjoy the article!

Ever blithely disparage someone’s choice of dog food? Guess what, you’re being annoying! Here’s how to educate in more diplomatic ways.


Pet parents come in all experience levels. Some just got their first puppy and don’t have a clue, while others have shared their life with a dozen or so furry family members over the decades. I fall somewhere in the middle. Spot and Dolly are my first dogs as an adult, but I have made it a point during their time with me — 10 years! — to study a variety of pet-related subjects, including canine cancer and protection from predators.

Dolly and I nap on the couch when she was a puppy and I was a newbie pet parent.

Along the way, veterinarians and pet parents alike have shared information and opinions. I am grateful for every fact and viewpoint, but I find that not all members of the latter group choose their words carefully.

I put together the following list of statements that annoy fellow pet parents with those of you in mind. Also included are more diplomatic ways to phrase the messages when wanting to educate, not annoy. If you never lack tact on the topic of pets but have been on the receiving end of one of these statements, please share how you handled it in the comments.

1. “More than 4 million dogs and cats die in shelters each year in this country. How could you buy a pet?”

Pet overpopulation is a serious problem, as are puppy mills and irresponsible breeders. That being said, leading with euthanasia immediately puts pet parents who did not adopt on the defensive, making them feel as if you begrudge them the very existence of their animal companion, whom they likely love as much as you do your rescue. And as Dogster Editor-in-Chief Janine Kahn pointed out in her article “Responsible Dog Breeders Are Rare, But I Found One and So Can You,” not every puppy purchased comes from a bad situation.

I got Spot and Dolly as puppies from a reputable breeder, and I don’t for a minute regret doing so because of the joy they bring me. I do plan to adopt in the future, though, because of the many wonderful animal rescuers I have met who have shared their stories and educated me on the issue.

The more diplomatic way to say it: “Have you ever considered adoption? We found our dog at the [insert name of organization], and he fits perfectly into our family. And if you want a specific breed, odds are a rescue group can help make a match. Most organizations have puppies, too, but don’t discount older dogs! They often allow you to skip the housetraining.”

Piper and pet parent Jessica Stone inspire me to adopt in the future.

2. “Retractable leashes should be banned.”

Pet parents typically fall into one of three categories when it comes to this issue: pro, con, and ignorant of the dangers associated with these leashes. Personally, I go back and forth between pro and con. I recently tossed ours in the trash when a run-in with a loose neighbor dog resulted in a tangled mess and burns on the back of my knees, and then I fished them out for a long walk in the desert where I knew I could use them safely.

Lobbying for their ban to someone who understands how to operate a retractable leash will just annoy that person. Focus your attention instead on the inexperienced pet parents, the accidents waiting to happen.

The more diplomatic way to say it: “If you want tips on how to use a retractable leash, Dogster has a great article by animal-trainer Casey Lomonaco. I’ll e-mail it to you.”

3. “Shopping online puts mom-and-pop pet-supply stores out of business.”

Shopping online allows pet parents to save money on the many supplies needed to keep dogs healthy and happy. That being said, an online retailer does not offer the personalized service found at local mom-and-pop pet-supply stores.

I stop by Bone Appétit Bakery & Boutique in my Phoenix neighborhood at least once a week for supplies, everything from treats to food to story ideas. At this point, I purchase all of my pet-related products from the store with the exception of a supplement they cannot afford to price anywhere near what I pay for it online — plus I have been using it since long before I moved to the neighborhood. Not everyone can afford brick-and-mortar prices, though, so we shouldn’t think less of those who use online retailers to stretch their limited pet-supply budget, and we certainly shouldn’t alienate them with an aggressive shop-local-only attitude.

The more diplomatic way to say it: “If you use the owners as a source of information and advice, you could purchase from them any products they recommend but still shop online for other pet supplies. That way, they get sales resulting from the knowledge they share, and you save money in other areas.”

Helen Goldblatt, co-owner of Bone Appétit Bakery & Boutique with her husband Joe, gives Spot and Dolly their welcome treats.

4. “How could you feed your dog that food?”

Few pet products spark as much heated debate as dog food does. Store-bought vs. homemade, grain-free vs. not, raw vs. cooked. Lists of ingredients get scrutinized, as they should, with pet parents advocating their choice over others.

Before criticizing others for what they put in their dog’s bowl, consider that cost may factor into the decision. I actually fed Spot and Dolly a raw diet back when I was working full-time for a newspaper. After becoming a freelancer writer, my budget no longer covered the cost of the pricey frozen patties. Also remember how confused you were when first starting to read food labels and compare products. Single-mindedness on this subject can quickly annoy fellow pet parents if they believe you question their desire to take the best possible care of their dog.

The more diplomatic way to say it: “Sorting through the many dog food options can be overwhelming, but I can help you find the best possible food for your budget if you like.”

Kibble, kibble, and more kibble by Shutterstock.com

All of these statements relate to important issues, and in no way am I suggesting we should avoid their discussion or debate. I would just like to see us all — myself included, as I have uttered variations of No. 3 and 4 in the past — not allow passion to replace politeness when dealing with one another, whether in real life or online. A more diplomatic approach can have a far greater impact, wouldn’t you agree? Or do you believe in always being brutally direct when it comes to pets? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments!

DOGSTER DEBATE, GOOD ADVICE, DOGSTER TIPS

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Happy Holidays from our pet family to yours!!!

Best wishes for a healthy, happy and safe holiday!

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“The Weather Outside is Frightful…”

Yes, we all know how the song goes. And we all need to remember that “inside is so delightful” for our pets this time of year as well. If you are cold, they are cold, especially small pups, young pups, old pups and pups with thin coats.  And cats, too, of course. Just because they have fur doesn’t mean they aren’t susceptible to the cold. And don’t forget about their paws; time outside should be limited to protect their extremities. Domestic animals are at risk for hypothermia, dehydration and frostbite just like us. Ask your vet or check online (pets.webmd.com is a reliable resource) if you aren’t sure about the precautions needed for your pet. Also, when they return from a walk, take a minute to wipe off the rock salt or ice melt from their paws as they will dry out their paw pads, causing painful cracking – plus, it will be ingested if they lick their paws. I used to put Vitamin E on Chance’s paws to keep them soft and safe. And last but not least, please be aware of antifreeze as it is toxic to dogs and cats. Apparently, it has a sweet taste that attracts our furry friends. If you suspect that your pet has licked even a small amount of antifreeze you should go to your vet immediately…early treatment can save your pet’s life.

It hurts my heart to know that there are pets left outside in the elements all year long and I pray that those pet parents will at least provide them with a safe, warm shelter. I read a story last winter about a well-meaning person who rescued a dog and her puppies without clearing it with the landlord. Needless to say, the landlord said no, so he put them outside in a makeshift shelter until a new home could be found for these sweet dogs. Unfortunately, he used a space heater to keep them warm and it set the small shelter on fire. The mommy got severely burned trying to save her puppies, but she was unsuccessful. Luckily, she was saved by a local rescue, her injuries were treated and she is now safe in her furever home. There are many more circumstances like these that have tragic endings. And let’s not forget that outdoor kitties often take shelter from the cold near a warm car engine. Take a moment to bang your fist on the hood of your car before turning over the engine to give them a chance to get out and avoid injury.

So, with a little thoughtfulness and care, we can all get through this winter season safely.

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What Would Happen to Your Pet if You Didn’t Come Home…Ever?

I recently read this blog below and felt it so necessary to share that I asked the blogger if I could share it on my blog.  It is so important to realize, that as pet parents, we need to take care to plan for our pets, as we would our children.  We can’t assume that a family member or friend will automatically set up.  Lack of planning could leave a beloved pet to die at an overcrowded shelter.  Please read this article below and share it with other pet parents.

Approximately 62% of households in the United States have a pet but very few of these households have a contingency plan in place for their pets. Hardly anyone thinks they will be out lived by their pet so provisions to ensure the pets care, should the owner become incapacitated or die, doesn’t cross their mind. Around 500,000 pets in shelters are euthanized around the United States each year because their guardian did not have a contingency plan in place. Many of these pets are surrendered to shelters by family members who do not have the resources to care for the pet and all efforts to find it a new home have failed. Often, these pets are old and lie out the remainder of their lives in a cold, strange place with strange people. They are so despondent that they do not eat or interact with others and are labeled as unadoptable and do not “sell” well.
Legally, animals are considered tangible personal property but estate and trust lawyers do not think of pets as property so, when discussing estate planning with their clients, the question of pet guardianship and animal trusts are rarely asked. It is up to the pet owner to have a contingency plan in place because there is the possibility you won’t come home one day. Name a couple of friends or family members committed to caring for your pet should you be hospitalized or die. If a committed person cannot be found, try other venues such as a veterinarian technician, pet sitter, and rescue groups. Bequeathing your pet in a will is good and is certainly better than nothing but remember, a will cam be contested over any number of matters and held in probate (which includes the pet) for months at a time.
A good idea would be to carry a “pet card” in your wallet with your pet’s name, type, name of contact person and any special care instructions. This will expedite care to your pet, by a police officer or other responsible person, should you become incapacitated. They will know there is a pet relying on you. It is, also, a good idea to include this information in your estate planning material.
Another matter to consider is providing enough money for the lifetime care of your pet by calculating the pet’s yearly expenses and then multiplying that figure by the pet’s life expectancy then placing the funds in a pet trust. There are, basically, two types of pet trusts; the traditional pet trust, recognized in all states, which allows the pet owner to specify what the designated caregiver’s responsibilities will be to care for the pet and to appoint a trustee to manage the money allotted to the caregiver for the care of the pet as well as what is to be done should the designated caregiver can no longer care for the pet. The second trust is a “statutory pet trust”, authorized in a majority of states but gives the pet owner limited decisions concerning the terms of the trust. It is bare-bones and basic and the state fills any gaps. Not much pet owner peace of mind here!
It’s your pet – it’s your call but keep in mind our pets are family and they rely on us to take care of the, regardless. It is irresponsible to ignore making a contingency plan to ensure their continued care. After all, you may not come home one day.

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Why Spaying & Neutering Pets Matters

As my focus is on animal rescue, I’ll start with the most obvious reason…overpopulation. Million of dogs & cats of all ages & breeds are euthanized every year or suffer life as a stray. Animals shelters are overwhelmed with the number of homeless animals brought in every day, leaving the fate of healthy animals to die. And strays die of starvation, harsh weather conditions, disease, hit by cars, or the cruel abuse of humans.

A spayed or neutered pet will live a healthier life.  An unspayed female cat or dog has a greater risk of developing mammary tumors or uterine infections than if she is spayed before her first heat. Altering male cats or dogs before they are six months old prevents testicular cancer & prostate disease. And all dogs & cats should be fixed at any age to prevent unwanted litters.

Last, but certainly not least, a spayed or neutered animal has less behavioral issues and I recently read that altered pets are more focused on their human families. An ASPCA article stated, “unsterilized, unsupervised males roam in search of a mate, risking injury in traffic and in fights with other males. They mark territory by spraying strong-smelling urine on surfaces. Indoors, male dogs may embarrass you by mounting furniture and human legs when stimulated.”  Enough said!

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