Has your pet gone missing? The Missing Pet Network, a volunteer group sponsored by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal Care Office, outlines the most effective actions for recovering a lost animal.Advice includes handing out flyers and visiting shelters. In the case of a lost cat, it may be a good idea to noisily open a can of cat food outside. No feline can resist that sound.
In 2003, it happened. Although my cat Helen overcame her spring disorder that year, in July, she became listless. She began to drink lots of water but to eat almost nothing but the occasional treat. She moved from the bed to the bedroom floor, rising awkwardly only to make her way to the litter box. Finally, in August, it became clear to me that she was dying. I left it to my brave husband to take her to a vet, who confirmed our worst suspicions.
“Cancer,” he said. Riddling her pelvis and abdomen. “I could operate,” he added, doubtfully. But he quickly confirmed that there was really only one thing to do. That afternoon, we let my girlfriend of 17 years slip away from us forever.
I consider myself a sensible woman. Normally, I wouldn’t let a thing like a cat’s death bother me too much. But this one, even though I had expected it, hit me hard. That afternoon, I had to leave the reference desk to wash the tears off my face. In the evening, I just sat on the living room couch and cried.
I felt relieved to find extensive resources on the Web about grieving for pets. I suppose it makes sense. Few dogs or cats live more than 20 years. That means that serial pet owners will endure several losses as the decades pass. This site addresses the grief over a pet’s death.
How Do I Know It Is Time? Pet Euthanasia
The American Veterinary Medical Association knows the way to comfort owners about euthanasia, counseling, “Try to recall and treasure the good times you spent with your pet.” The vets give good advice about how to know when to put a suffering pet out of its misery.
Since 1997, Australian Adam Lundie has provided information about fish and aquariums. Identify your fish by appearance and mouth turn (up, down, or sucking disk?) Discover why your fish are ailing and what to do about it. Learn how to establish a healthy aquarium. This is an amazing database of pet fish knowledge.
The Humane Society offers some great articles about pet care issues (such as what to do about a dog that digs in the yard) as well as pet adoption advice. Receive its e-newsletter or get alerts via text-message.
The Cat Fancier’s Association, founded in 1906, not only sponsors cat shows, but is dedicated to working for the good of all cats by sponsoring feline health research and providing disaster relief over the years. Visit its site for breed descriptions and solid links to articles about cat illnesses and treatments.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) is the oldest humane organization established in the Western Hemisphere. Visit the site of this venerable institution for information about a variety of pet issues, especially accidental poisoning. The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center has information available through the site as well as providing around-the-clock veterinary diagnostic and treatment recommendations to those helping animals exposed to potentially hazardous substances. An example: Did you know that eating grapes could cause renal failure in dogs?
Karen Pryor wrote the excellent training book Don’t Shoot the Dog: The New Art of Teaching and Training (Ringpress Books, 3rd ed., 2002, ISBN-13: 978-1860542381) that explains the tenets of operant conditioning. This is the basis of “clicker training,” which differs in a number of ways from standard or traditional dog training. “First, although we often use food as a primary reinforcer, we use no deprivation,” writes Pryor. “Second, we use no punishment within the shaping. Third, the sessions are very brief.” Pryor offers clicker training supplies and instruction books for sale on her site as well as basic clicking lessons for free.