Keeping dogs and cats safe on Halloween

Halloween pose


October Is the final turning point in each year. October signals the end of summer fun and the deep plunge into fall colors and crisp, cold mornings. October reminds us that there is cold and snow ahead. So we shift gears and start getting ready for the cold, dark days when we cocoon in the nice, warm house.

Our pets make the change too.  Their fur grows thicker and they spend more time in the warm house with their favorite people. They remind us that we need to be aware of the dangers of fall and winter and holidays. Keeping our dogs and cats safe on Halloween is just one item on our winterization list.

Seasonal change

Our pets love the change from summer to fall and winter. The air turns cooler and drier. Dogs feel the urge to run, and to plow through the leaves in fall. The cooler air liberates them and you will have a hard time getting them to come in and rest.

Even though it isn’t really cold yet, smaller dogs and older dogs can become chilled in the cooler air, especially in late afternoon and evening, or early morning. Make sure your pets drink plenty of water. They can get dehydrated playing around in the cooler, drier air.

Autumn is a good time to check your pet’s ID tags and microchip. Just take a few minutes to make sure all your pet’s information is up to date.

If you do let your pets, both dogs and cats, outside, be sure to check them daily for parasites. Adult deer ticks are prevalent in the late summer and fall. Deer ticks are responsible for spreading Lyme disease–which can be dangerous for both you and your pet.

Use a tick and flea preventative to keep the bugs away. Ticks Iive in long grass, so keep your lawn cut short. If your dog or cat go out during the day, be sure to check them over when they come in for the night.

Now is a good time to check for yearly shots and vaccinations for your dog and cat. When winter sets in, you can rest easy, knowing that your pet should be healthy and you can avoid those trips to the vet during the dead of winter.

All about food

If you have pets in your household you know that dinner time is the favorite time of their day. However, We need to be careful about what our pets eat. We should not feed our pets human food even though they put on a good show when they beg for what we have on our plates.

The truth is that some of our food contains ingredients that may actually harm our pets. If you want to give your pet a taste of your roast, put some aside before you add spices, flavoring, salt, pepper, flour, and give your pet a snack with no additions.

People food has a tendency to add weight to our pets, and some ingredients cause allergic reactions in our pets. Artificial Sweetener (Xylitol)is extremely harmful for animals. Check with your veterinarian to learn which foods are best for your cat or dog.

Always provide plenty of fresh water for your pets. No matter what the weather is where you live, animals need plenty of water. If your pet is both an inside/outside animal, be sure to have fresh water for them in both places.

What about Halloween?

Halloween can be a fun time for kids. Running around playing Trick or Treat, dressing up in scary costumes, collecting candy and goodies from the neighbors. Some people like to “dress up” their pets for Halloween. Dogs will tolerate “dress up” better than cats, but I suspect they don’t like it too well.

If you do dress up your pet, be sure the costume doesn’t have small parts that can be a choking hazard, or are too tight to become a breathing hazard. If you do succeed in dressing your pet in a crazy costumes, don’t have them stay dressed up too long.

Halloween is a time when your door is opened frequently. If you want your pets to stay in and be safe, move them to a secure place in your home so they won’t escape. A word of caution to cat owners on this creepy, crazy night: Some people think it is fun to mistreat cats on this goofy night–especially black cats and sometimes all white cats. For this reason, some adoption centers will not adopt out cats on Halloween and a few nights ahead of time.

During Halloween, all kinds of snacks and candy are out for friends and family to nibble on. Candies, especially chocolate, can be very toxic for both cats and dogs. Another reason to keep snacks in a place where your pets can’t reach.

As usual, humane societies, adoption centers and rescue shelters are overflowing with cats and dogs all year. These forsaken creatures are desperate for a second chance at life. If you have room in your heart and home, go look around, and bring one home. They will love you for it.


The SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) regularly puts out pet advice tips for those who donate to and volunteer with the organization. By the way, volunteers with this and with other animal rescue organizations, are still rescuing stranded pets in Florida, and other places all over, even in Ukraine.

Now all of you  and your pets have a happy and safe Halloween.

I’m Barbara Nelson and I hope these tips for a safe, fun Halloween have come in handy. If you have any questions or comments, please submit them. I’d love to hear from you.




How to keep Lizards as Pets

dragon lizard -notice feet


Some of you are shuddering and backing away while a few of you are saying ‘Cool!” Most of the lizards in the world live in the wild even though thousands are kept as pets. The majority of lizard keepers are most likely young people. However, I must confess, that my husband and I had a lizard as a pet at one time. That is a story for later in this article.

They are fairly easy to care for and will live for a long time. If you like to have a pet around for a long time, the lizard is your choice.

Sunning himself

Lizards live almost everywhere, except in Antarctica. They are cold-blooded creatures and prefer living in warmer climates. They need very little water, dine on leafy plants and insects, and bask in the sunshine.

There are more than 6,000 species of lizards. Only three species have venom: the Komodo, the Gila monster and the Mexican Bearded. These are NOT pets .

Otherwise, all the little guys that scamper off under the bushes are companionable. Now that I have calmed your fears, we will begin to learn how to keep lizards as pets.


Most lizards are small and can be kept in an aquarium tank. Not too small– they like to move around. Some will tolerate other lizards living with them–Bearded Dragons and some Geckos are fairly friendly. It is still best to separate male and female.

Work with a reputable pet store to learn about your lizard companion. Some lizard species will continue to grow until they fill their space. Most species are small and will stay relatively small all their lives.

Don’t ever try to catch a lizard by the tail. The tails are very brittle and will break easily. It is a defense mechanism. When a larger animal grabs a lizard, the predator usually is left with a small piece of inedible tail. Meanwhile, the lizard has escaped and will live to grow another tail.

As a lizard’s tail grows back, it will be a solid color. If a lizard species has stripes or color blotches over a somewhat solid body color, the tail has a tendency to grow back without the markings.

Lizards are active during the day. They scamper about, except when they are sunning themselves. They are very interested in their surroundings–the head moves around in quick movements and the eyes are very bright, watching everything that moves.

Some lizards have ways to disguise themselves. Some will puff themselves out and end up looking twice as large as they really are. Chameleons are lizards who can change their skin color. They also have independently movable eyeballs- which gives them sight in all directions.

I am familiar with chameleons. They are prolific in Florida, where I grew up. They change color almost immediately. One can be brown on the ground and jump up on a green bush and turn green right in front of your eyes.

I tried to catch one when I was a little kid and unfortunately ended up with part of his tail in my hand. The rest of the lizard was long gone. I was really concerned and told my mom what had happened. She assured me that the lizard was not hurt and he would grow his tail back.

I managed to catch quite a few after that and was amazed that they would change color right on my hand. No, I never grabbed a tail after that first time. I would put my hand just under the leaves and stay real still. Usually the lizard would feel the heat of my hand and slowly walk from the leaves into my hand.

Their bodies are cool and very dry. If I stood very still, the lizard would stay in my hand and snap his head to one side and the other to see where he was. If I moved slowly, I could transfer him to another bush.

Lizards have legs designed to allow them to jump quite far. The hind legs are larger and longer than the front legs. Hind legs have two joints and spread sideways, These legs give them, what you might call, a flying leap. The front legs have two joints and spread out front, which finishes the “flying leap.” They have long thin toes, with long talons, which gives them instant gripping on rocks or rough ground.

Best lizard species for pets.


Three of the best lizard species to consider keeping for a pet are the Bearded Dragon; the Leopard Gecko and the Crested Gecko. I personally prefer the bearded dragon. Geckos have larger heads and they don’t appear as trim as the dragons. All three of these species sell well.

These species of lizards make the best pets and are readily available in pet stores:

  • Anoles (change color from green to red to brown)
  • Day Gecko
  • Crested Gecko
  • Leopard Gecko
  • Bearded Dragon

Lizards live a long time with few enemies in the wild. With good care they also live a long time in captivity. Lizards can live 20 or more years.

They have no fur so it is unlikely that anyone would be allergic to them. They do not eat a lot. Many live on leafy greens.- The one I had ate lettuce. Some will eat small insects. Check with your pet store.

If you need to be gone for a day or so, you don’t need a pet sitter. Be sure their home is clean, they have a little water, and some fresh greens, and they will be fine. They don’t need training or daily walks.

In return, they are very attentive. They see everything that is going on around them. After a while, they will respond when you come up to their cage. They will learn to eat out of your hand. They will let you pick them up. Mine sat on my shoulder while I walked around the house. Be watchful, when your lizard wants to move around, be ready to put them back in their cage.

Housing for Lizards

If you go to a reliable pet store, someone will help you with a suitable home for your pet. Decide on the species of lizard you want first and then build the home for them. Basically, their home is an aquarium tank with desert type of finishing. The size of the tank depends upon the lizard and how large it may get.

You are building a desert-like place. Coarse sand for the bottom of the tank is advisable. Put some rocks in the tank. Lizards like to climb up on things. Also, some desert -like plants, probably not real, will make the tank look nice. Leave your pet room to move around.

You will need a flat dish to place greens or other food on. Lizards don’t drink much, so a small dish for water is sufficient. Lizards are fairly clean, but the tank will need cleaning periodically. A small rake that will move and pick up droppings is a necessary utensil.

Periodically, you will need to remove the sand and replace it. The lizard won’t mind being moved to a new place while his home is cleaned. A light-weight open wire mesh makes a good top for the tank. A lamp can be set above the mesh top. I had a lamp for my lizard. She sat on a rock and soaked up the warmth almost all day.


Finally, lizards are clean, quiet, and interesting to watch. They will interact with you, if you want them to. Move very slowly. Like all animals, quick moves will startle them. Don’t try to pick them up right away. Just touch them lightly on the head with a finger, and use a slight stroking movement.

If they move away startled, you must move slower. Put you hand down, palm up on the floor of the tank and let them crawl up on your hand. Everything slowly. Move your hand up with the lizard in the palm of your hand. If he makes a quick move, let him down into the tank. It will take several times before he lets you hold him for a time. Cup your hand lightly over the lizard’s body, so you can enclose him, if he decides to jump. Don’t squeeze!


By the way, there is a way to tell the sex of your lizard. I have forgotten how I found out that my lizard was a female, but your pet salesman should know. It can be size, or coloring or some difference in the body.

Lizards have very little smell around them. If you clean the tank routinely, you will hardly notice a smell.

One warning only: Lizards can carry salmonella — always wash your hands after handling them– and never, ever put your mouth on them. This is a good warning for handling all pets and all animals.


I’m Barbara Nelson and I hope you liked this feature on lizards as pets. Please contact me if you have questions.


Keeping Fish as Pets


We have studied almost every kind of animal that can be considered a pet for humans. Most all of them fulfill the desire for reciprocal love, the pleasure of touch and the joy of companionship. The dog fulfills those needs as do cats, horses, and other animals, depending upon the particular human.

male Betta

Fish cannot be held, cuddled, or stroked, but they do offer a certain feeling of relaxation and a necessity for care that can be appealing to many people. They have a calming influence on people, both young and old.

Fish come in a variety of colors and sizes. Some are what we call “bottom feeders”, others swim through the middle of the tank, others dash back and forth near the top of the water. The variety of color and movement can be mesmerizing.

You find aquariums in doctor’s offices, restaurants, attorneys offices–anywhere people gather. Just watching the movement and color can bring a feeling of quiet and well-being to an otherwise hectic day.

But what does it take to maintain an aquarium? How do we keep fish as pets?

A Home for the fish

In the wild fish live in ponds, lakes, rivers. creeks, puddles, oceans. That is their world. We have warm water and cold water fish; saltwater fish, freshwater fish, and the denizens of the sea.

For our purpose we are considering fresh water aquarium fish. These are more commonly called tropical fish -that is where they mainly live: in tropical waters. Those who like cooler temperatures live on or near the bottom; whose who like warmer temperatures swim near the surface.

To keep fish as pets you need an aquarium – a rectangular glass tank. They come in all sizes from a 10 gallon size to a 55 gallon size. It depends upon where your aquarium will be housed and how many fish you want to keep.

For most homes, probably a 20 to 30 gallon tank would be sufficient. You can keep several species together in that size.

Equipment and Species

Before you start to buy equipment and fish, look around. Go to a pet store that specializes in tropical fish. See the different species and decide what you like. Decide where the aquarium will go in your house and how easy it will be to work around and maintain.

Consult with a knowledgeable person in the pet store to find out just what you need. Determine the size aquarium, the proper filter, a thermometer, and other equipment. Set up the aquarium BEFORE you buy the fish. You want their living quarters to be in good running order before you put your fish in their new home.

You will have made your species selection earlier, so the aquarium can be right for its new inhabitants. Depending upon the species, will you need a thermometer to keep the water the right temperature, or will the room temperature in your house be sufficient? How many plants, rocks and other decorations do you need? After the aquarium is set up and working correctly, it is time to go get your new pets.

Ten popular species of tropical fish


Fish vary in size and type of habitat so it is best to know which fish species live well with others. For instance, most people fall in love with angelfish because they are so beautiful and they have that lovely name. But if you put too many in a tank with other, smaller fish, you will suddenly find that you have nothing but angelfish in your tank.

Bettas–Siamese Fighting Fish-beautiful fish that come in many colors. It is the male that sports the brilliant color and the wavy fins and tail. The

Male Betta

female is more muted in color and are smaller than the male. The male bettas are very territorial and must be kept separate from each other.

I kept Bettas for a while. I had three very small tanks and one Betta per tank. Bettas are so much fun to watch and they do learn to recognize you when you approach their living space. I’m sure it is a shadow that they see, but they will come to the side when you appear. A few female Bettas can live in tanks with other fish.

if you only want one fish in a traditional fish bowl–the Betta is the fish to have.

Goldfish--while not really an aquarium fish- they are way up on the list as everybody’s favorite pet fish. Goldfish are related to the Carp family. They can grow quite large and need a good size tank. Don’t over crowd –they will live many years. They are a cold water fish and can survive quite well outside. My Grandfather had a fishpond in his backyard and I loved to look for them. We lived in Florida, so the temperature was just right for outdoor fish. In the summer, they would come up for food, but in the winter they were no where to be seen. I asked my grandfather where they went. He said they were on the bottom, and they would come up when it got warmer.


He was right. In spring and summer, they were right up top, looking for food.

Catfish- these little fish provide a very important service for your aquarium. They are bottom feeders and spend their time keeping the tank clean by consuming the algae that grows in the tank. Catfish come in numerous colors and most are compatible with other community tank dwellers.

Guppies – These colorful little fish are easy to care for. There is one drawback. Guppies breed constantly and can soon overwhelm a tank. It is best that you choose all males or all females for your fish community. The males are the brighter and more colorful. If you ever decide to breed fish, Guppies are a good species to work with. You will soon have fish galore.

Mollies–Small, hardy, black fish. Mollies bear live young so ration the number of male to female. A ratio of one male to every three to four mollies works best. These fish have a tendency to rip the fins of other species. If this happens, place the mollies in a separate tank. A few mollies in a community tank will work best.

Neon Tetras– These are spectacular. They are small translucent blue and red fish that are not aggressive.

neon tetra

Tetras are a welcome addition to any fresh water tank. Keep them in a school of at least six and maybe a few more–depending on the size tank. They will swim in the middle of the tank, and they make a great color display.

Platies– These fish are very good fish to have if you are just starting out with your first tank. They come in dozens of shades. They make a very harmonious addition to a community tank. They are very good for small tanks. Platies are very active and will swim in the middle of the tank.

I think I had some of these in my aquarium. It has been a long time ago–in the 1950-1960 years.

Swordtails – Grow to fit the tank. The larger the tank, the larger they will grow. Or, I should say, the longer they will grow. They are a hardy species. The males are flashy red. Sometimes you will find a bright red male with a black tail. Males may fight when in the same tank. It is best to only have one per community tank.

Zebra Danios —These little fish have striped bodies and will survive a variety of water temperatures. Zebras mate for life. They are very active and will swim all over the tank. They have peaceful natures and will make a continual bright moving display in your tank.

I had a few of these fish and they will make your head swim watching all their activity.

Tanks are measured in gallon capacity. The 10 gallon size is about 22 inches long-12 inches deep and 13 inches wide. The tanks will range from the 10 gallon size to 55 gallon size.

Just to give you an idea of size as they go up : a 15 Gallon tank will measure 16 by 15 by 15. A 20 gallon tank will measure 24 by 12 by 17. Estimate the size before you go to the pet store and plan on making two trips. Buy the equipment, get it home and all set up with water, filter, etc. When the aquarium is all ready, then go get the fish.


A complete set-up will include the tank, filter, heater ( if necessary), thermometer, hood lights, a fish net. You will probably want to get a few plants and a rock or two. Go light on plants–they grow and add algae to the tank. However, you will want a few things in the tank for decoration and a hiding place for some fish.

Now it is time to go get the fish. Start out with a few and add a few at a time. Fish, just like us, need time to get acquainted.

Keep the balance in the tank, the size, plus number of fish, plus temperature, plus cleanness of tank. Once you start feeding, you must watch the debris build up.

Once everything is set up and the fish are oriented in their new home, your aquarium will give you hours of pleasure.

Veil tail gold

One main rule to remember. In the animal kingdom, the male is the brightest and most colorful, but otherwise, males are more likely to fight and kill each other. When populating your fish community, you will want males, because of their color and pattern, but you will need more females than males in order to keep the peace.


Pictures courtesy of Pixabay

I’m Barbara Nelson and I’m happy you visited today. I would love to hear from you and I will be happy to answer your questions.

Secrets of Long Lived Dogs/ Pets and Owners Memory/ Animal Charities Report Results

Intro: The World’s Oldest Dogs

Terriers can live a long time

Guinness World records thought they had found the world’s oldest dog when they discovered a chihuahua named TobyKeith living in Florida with his owner, Gisela Shore. The little dog was 21 years and 66 days old.

Gisela was thrilled to have her dog named the oldest dog in the world. She adopted him in 2001 when he was just a tiny puppy. He lives with Gisela and a seven -year old American bulldog, a three -year old Chinese Crested, and a 32 -year old parrot.

Chihuahuas normally live between 12 and 18 years, so TobyKeith had lived longer than his normal life span. Even though he has a heart condition, it doesn’t seem to affect his daily life. He wakes up at 6:30 every morning to go on his daily walk with Gisela.

Gisela was asked what factors she thought were reasons for TobyKeith’s long life. She said that regular exercise, a diet of vegetables, chicken and rice, good genetics, and most of all, a loving and caring home.

But wait a minute–What about Pebbles? Bobby and Julie Gregory contacted Guinness about their fox terrier, Pebbles, after reading about the 21+year old chihuahua, named TobyKeith.

It seems that Pebbles was born the 28th of March 2000. That makes the fox terrier, Pebbles, older, and therefore the real oldest dog in the world. Bobbie and Julie Gregory attribute Pebbles long life to the happy and positive environment they provide, and proper healthcare and good food, and treating her like family.

Pebbles enjoys basking in the sun and playing under a palm tree in the Gregory’s South Carolina garden, taking walks with Bobby and waking up in the afternoon after staying up all night.


Usually the smaller breeds live longer than the larger breeds so, if you want a pet that lives a long time, you might consider a little pooch.

Just to clarify the whole dog age thing, these are the facts: Tobykeith, a chihuahua, is 21 years old; Pebbles, a fox terrier, is 22 years old. Happy Birthday, guys, and many more!


Pets and Memory

Researchers are looking into the possibility that older adults who own pets may be protected against cognitive decline. According to a preliminary study, older adults who own a cat or dog for five years or longer show slower cognitive decline.

A spokesperson from the University of Michigan Medical Center in Ann Arbor reports that prior studies have suggested that the human-animal bond may have health benefits like lower blood pressure and stress.

The study looked at cognitive data from 1,369 older adults, average age 65, with normal cognitive skills. A total of 53% owned pets, 32% were long-term pet owners–those who owned pets for more than 5 years. Of study participants, 88% were white, 7% were black, 2% were Hispanic, and 3% were of another ethnicity.

Researchers also used data from a large study of Medicare beneficiaries. Over 6 years, cognitive scores decreased at a slower rate in pet owners. The difference was strongest among long-term pet owners. On average, a cognitive composite score was higher for 6 year pet owners compared to non-pet owners.

Man with dog

This study is still in preliminary stages but if owning a pet can increase physical activity, it can also appear to benefit cognitive health.

Animal Charities Funds Report Good Results


A few months ago I wrote about the best animal charities that you might receive requests for donations to help animals. One of the problems is that the donor doesn’t always get a report back telling him what progress the charity is making.

I have been doing some searching and have found good news to report.

Best Friends Animal Sanctuary is hands on organization. They have their headquarters and adoption center in Utah; their motto is Save Them All– and they are dedicated to stop the killing of cats and dogs in shelters all over the country. Their goal is that every shelter will be euthanasia free by 2025. When Best Friends first started in 1984, around 17 million pets were killed every year. This year the number is well under one million.

PETA-people for the ethical treatment of animals- has been working with universities and labs around the globe to stop experimentation on animals and use non-animal training methods. In June of this year, PETA announced a victory for animals in Pakistan.

“Live testing” on animals in veterinary hospitals and colleges and in individual industrial complexes is banned in Islamabad, Capital Territory and surrounding areas. PETA works with Vet schools and biomedical research firms in countries around the world by helping them get simulators and other non-animal training methods to replace animals in laboratories.

There was an announcement on Television last night(7-23) that PETA with the help of White Coat Waste Project had succeeded in closing several breeding places for the raising of Beagle pups for experimentation by the NIH(National Institutes of Health)–with hopes of stopping more breeding places in the near future. The rescued pups will be transferred to the Humane Societies for adoption.

Peaceful Valley Donkey Rescue sanctuary rescues donkeys that have been seriously abused and starved. The sick animals are brought back to PVDR for rehabilitation and possible adoption.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund-through legal action, successfully stopped the State University of N.Y. College of Optometry from doing research and experimentation on kittens. They have several legal actions in courts. It takes forever to bring these to a court date.

Front Range Equine Rescue has been fighting Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for 25 years to stop the yearly roundup of wild horses. In ten western states federally protected wild horses still roam free, but the BLM still insists that there are too many horses for the amount of land available.

In the early 1900s close to 2 million wild horses lived in freedom in our western states. By the 1950s wild horse numbers were down to 25,000.

This year, BLM plans to remove 19,000 horses from taxpayer funded and legally protected public lands. Soon there will be no wild horse herds left in the wild. As it is now, at least 70% of herds are below genetic viability due to roundup policies.

This is a case of the BLM asking for appropriations and Congress granting the funds without questioning the need.


I was a little too busy the last month or two and didn’t get back. Hope to be back to business now. I’m always pleased to hear from my readers. Please send any comments, any subjects you are interested in, any problems you have with your pet.

Barbara Nelson

Highest Rated Animal Charities


If you have ever answered any kind of letter or survey asking general questions about your likes and dislikes, how many pets you have, etc. then you have most likely received letters requesting money for the welfare of cats, dogs, horses, donkeys, farm animals, wild animals, on and on.

Most of us, who own pets are willing to give to charitable causes. We love our pets and we also know that not all animals are treated as well as we treat our own fur babies. But there are so many charitable organizations and we may wonder which ones are the best.

That is, which organizations really support the causes that they say they do.

Most do, some don’t. How are you going to decide which charities to support and which ones to ignore? Many charities are rated by a number of groups such as Better Business Bureau, Best, Charity Navigator, and others.

Of them all, the Charity Navigator rating is the one to look for. It is the most coveted rating to receive.

Charitable organizations are proud of their ratings and they most usually show the logos on their material.

Charity Navigator rates each organization by points and a percentage of points, so you have a point by point rating of the organization and their percentage as opposed to any other similar charity.

I can’t cover all the charities out there that are clamoring for your dollars, but I can give you some of the highest rated animal charities that are competing for your charitable dollars. These charities are also ones I have either given to in the past, or plan to give to in the future.

What to look for in request letter

There will be something on the outside of the letter -such as color, large lettering, partial image of animal, etc. to persuade you to open the letter.

The inside contents will give you all kinds of information on their promotion, advocacy, responsibility, emergency, injuries, why they need your contribution, etc.

They should give you information on IRS status. There will be a letter about the need, a note about your contribution deductible status on your taxes for the current year and a form to check and a return envelope.

While you are deciding whether to give or not, look for a rating, such as: Better Business Bureau, Best, and Charity Navigator.

If you see one, or all of these, you can be reasonably sure your money will be used for the cause described in your letter. You should also find information on the successes the organization has achieved through their advocacy.

One characteristic that all the following organizations adhere to is that animals experience fear and feel pain just as we humans do. They should be handled with respect and  care.

14 Charity Navigator rated organizations

Last Chance for Animals-  An international organization that advocates for animal rights. Is opposed to testing on animals.

Believes that humans should not subject non-humans to suffering and exploitation because alternatives now exist that eliminates animal use for testing. They currently have the highest rating of any organization by Charity Navigator.

IFAW-International Fund for Animal Welfare Founded in 1969.  It is one of the largest animal welfare and conservation charities worldwide.

Instrumental in preservation of habitat and emergency relief. News reports of their work already released- as first of April 2022. In Ukraine now doing animal rescue.

SPCA-Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. International organization that promotes education and advocacy for animals. Supports Global animal rescue. Offer rescue pets for adoption. Also, working in Ukraine now.

ASCPA-American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals- Rescue animals in times of disaster. Established in 1866. Advocate for animals in bad circumstances.

Humane Society of the U.S. Founded in 1954 Protect animals from abuse and neglect. Offer pets for adoption. Disapprove of animal testing.

Farm Sanctuary-Farm animals are mistreated at times on factory farms. The reasoning being that they are just going to be killed for food anyway.

Founded in 1986. An American animal protection organization dedicated to protect farm animals from abuse.

Alley Cat Allies- Founded in 1990.

Sleeping cat

Dedicated to humane treatment and protection for Cats. An advocate for humane care and control for feral cats and strays. Promote neuter and return program for feral cats.

Animal Welfare Institute- founded in 1951. Reduce animal suffering caused by human interference. Oppose animal testing.

Front Range Equine Rescue- Founded in 1997 Prevent the neglect and Abuse of wild horses through rescue and education, Maintain adoption program. Their motto: “Save the Wild Horses.” Top Charity Navigator rating.

White Coat Waste Project- Tax-Payer watch dog organization. It finds, exposes and defunds government waste funding. The group is an action group that promotes public funding projects. This project is fairly new and with good results.

Wildlife Rescue Center- Founded in 1979. One of the highest rated organizations by Charity Navigator. Maintains a hospital and temporary center for recovering, injured wildlife. Returns animals to the wild when well. Educates and informs public about wild animals.

Animal Legal Defense Fund- the only animal protection organization in the country dedicated exclusively to fighting animal cruelty and injustice using the power of the law. They file lawsuits to protect animals from harm and partner with prosecutors to bring abusers to justice.

PCRM–Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is not a Charity Navigator organization but seems to have good results- Physicians promote alternatives to animal research.

In today’s medical world there are better ways to do research than performing cruel tests on animals. Have been successful in halting useless tests on animals.

Best Friends- Save Them All Is not a Charity Navigator organization yet. Their goal is to bring the country to no-kill by 2025. That is quite an ambitious goal, but they have actually had success in persuading animal take-in shelters to become no-kill shelters.


These organizations are national organizations that operate nationwide and some operate worldwide. They deserve your interest and support, if you are so inclined. It seems to me that animals shouldn’t need so many organizations advocating for their welfare.

Animals, especially pets and farm animals, are not our enemies. In fact, many, many animals can be tamed and actually learn to love humans. Those who have cats or dogs know the joy of unconditional love that animals can give. Even most wild animals would rather ignore us than attack us.

One last note: Many local communities have pet groups that you may want to support. Rescue and adoption organizations that work within your own community to help pets that find themselves in trouble can always use more help.

I’m Barbara Nelson. I hope this information will be helpful to you. Animals need our help. Questions or comments are welcome. I will always answer.

How to house train your puppy


When I wrote the article last week on how to shop for a puppy, I left out one of the most important aspects of caring for a new puppy, and that was on how to house train your puppy. I was more focused on adopting a rescue dog or a young dog that had been in a home for a while.

My mistake. I heard from several readers that wanted to know–you guessed it—how to potty train their puppy. So here is the information you wanted.

Ready for commands

Potty training your puppy is just as much work as training yourself. You will have to make the rules and follow them, or your puppy will be confused and the job will never be done satisfactorily.

Pick a Potty Spot

The first thing you need to do, depending upon where you live, is to pick a potty spot. If you live in a house with a yard, decide where in the yard you want your puppy to go when nature calls. Pick a spot that is easy to get to from the door to the outside and is away from foot traffic or driveway.

If you live in an apartment-pick the quickest way from indoors to the outdoors and select an isolated spot.

When you’ve picked the place, bring your dog to the same spot every time.

Dogs smell their territory- and pretty quickly, they will get the message: “This is my spot.” Be consistent. Bring him to the same spot every time. Soon, your dog will get the message. When you open the door, he will automatically go to his spot.

If you live in an apartment and you have a stairway to go up or down, and perhaps a hallway to the outside, keep the leash by the door and figure the quickest way out.

Signs your dog needs a trip outside

Dogs have certain ways to tell you he needs to go out. You just have to pay attention to his sign language. Your dog probably is telling you he needs a potty trip if he smells his rear; paces in circles; barks or scratches at the door; sniffs the floor; or squats on the floor.

Do not wait around or read just one more paragraph in the paper. Take him out as quickly as possible. Keep a leash at the door until your puppy learns where he must go, Open the door and he’ll go out to his spot on his own.

Schedule meal times and snack times so puppy knows when its time to eat. You follow up a few minutes after he is finished eating with an outside trip. Some puppies drink a lot of water, and you need to follow a long drink with a trip out.

Sometimes small pups drink a lot. They have tiny stomachs and tiny bladders. Keep an eye on how much they drink. They may need to go out every hour.

Once in a while puppies develop bladder infections. The only way you would know is if he seems to be going an awful lot. Take him to the vet for a checkup. If your pup has a recurring medical problem, you want to catch it early.

Here is a loose schedule to follow that will make life the easiest for both you and your puppy. Just remember, take your puppy out often:

1. first thing in the morning

2. After all feedings

3. Anytime he is acting like he needs to go

4. The last thing before you crawl into bed at night.

Other Things to Remember

Praise him, give him a treat when he goes out and when he actually does his business where he is supposed to. Pretty soon, he will be going out on his own. That is the ultimate goal and you will really want to praise him a lot. Mission accomplished.

Puppies, young dogs, old dogs, may have an accident in the house. If this happens, take him out immediately to his spot. You are reinforcing where he should have gone.

Be calm, be patient. Do not punish him, or yell at him after an accident, it will only confuse him and make things worse.

Clean the area right away.

If you make the rounds visiting friends for games, dinner out, short trips, etc., be sure your pup is used to going to the bathroom when necessary outside. Make sure he has been trained to follow your commands

If he is good with strangers, and children, take him along. If he has trouble behaving with strangers it would be better to leave him home. If you are just going to be gone a couple of hours, he probably can say home by himself.

Final points

If you are going to be gone several hours or overnight, it would be best to leave him with a friend. If you are going to be gone for a week or longer, it would be best to board him.

Better yet, most dogs like to ride in the car. Make some small trips and let him learn to travel in the car and potty at a

In the car, Ready to hit the road

designated spot. An adult dog in a car is a thief deterrent. Remember to gauge the weather and do not leave your dog in a hot car or a freezing car. If you do travel with your dog, stop every hour or two to let him relieve himself.

If you have to be away and your doggie friend cannot go, you will ask a friend or pay someone to take care of your dog while you are away. If your dog is not completely outside trained yet, be sure to give your pet sitter information on how to keep the training going while you are away.

For bad weather, keep an umbrella close by to keep water off both you and your dog when it’s necessary to venture out. For snow conditions, be ready to shovel a path to your dog’s special spot.

If training seems to be slowing down or not going well, Take your dog to the vet for a checkup to make sure there are no health issues.



I’m Barbara Nelson and I hope this answers all your training questions. Please let me hear from you.

Keep your pet safe during the Holidays

Deck the halls with boughs of holly, Fa la la la,la la la la

‘Tis the season to be jolly, Fa la la la la,la la la la.”


It’s the first of December and everybody is thinking about the Holidays: What to buy for Dad, mom, big brother, Aunt Jean, etc. Who will we invite to our Christmas Eve party, What will Continue reading “Keep your pet safe during the Holidays”

How to care for a pet rabbit

Biology of the Rabbit

In my last article on Rodents, some of my readers indicated that they had a rabbit as a pet when they were young,

farm domestic rabbits -Onkel Ramirez-Pixabay

and thought maybe a rabbit was in the same family as the rodents. The answer to that question is no, they are not the same family, but they are both mammals.

A quick definition of a mammal is that they are warm blooded, they have hair or fur and feed their young with milk. That makes both Rodents and Rabbits mammals, but Rabbits are of the family Leporids. Rabbits require a lot of care as pets.

Dwarf Rabbit -here and Now Pixabay

They differ from Rodents in that Rabbits have two pairs of incisor teeth while Rodents only have one pair. These teeth continue to grow as long as the animal lives. The long ears of Rabbits help regulate heat. The average body weight of a female rabbit is 4 to 13 pounds. Average weight of a male rabbit is 4 to 11 pounds.

Rabbits are descended from the European Wild Rabbit. They also have a third eyelid which may be to keep out dirt and debris since Rabbits are burrowers. There are over 100 different breeds of rabbit descendants, all stemming from the European wild Rabbit.

Jack Rabbit Rich Roberson Pixabay

There are The many small, varied in color farm rabbits, Pampas rabbits, Jack rabbits, Alaska White rabbits, the Hare, dwarf rabbits, just to name a few. The New Zealand White rabbit is used most in biomedical research.

Female rabbits are called Does, male rabbits are called Bucks and baby rabbits are called Kits Normal litters are four to ten kits. Kits are weaned at 4 to 6 weeks.

Dwarf Rabbits            Pixabay

Rabbits were brought to England from France over 900 years ago. In England, farm fields were separated by hedgerows. Rabbits burrowed under the hedgerows and quickly multiplied.

Their fur was coveted for clothing, and they were convenient for eating. One average rabbit would feed one family for one meal with no waste or need for refrigeration.

Wild rabbits are nocturnal and their main food is grass. Domesticated rabbits eat quite differently. Their average life span is 7 to 12 years.

Rabbits make good pets

Domesticated Rabbits are good candidates for indoor pets. They require as much attention as a cat or a dog. They also return love and affection to their special human. Rabbits are highly social animals. They can be litter-boxed trained and can have the free rein of the house. There is one caveat.

Baby Rabbit  conger design  Pixabay

Rabbits chew EVERYTHING: baseboards, rugs, furniture, beds, electric cords. It’s those ever growing incisors. It’s best if the rabbit has a  controlled living space such as a large crate or cage, or a bunny condo.

Rabbit housing must be large enough to house a bunny bed, a litter box, water and food containers, and plenty of space to hop around. Experts suggest at least a crate four feet long, two feet wide and four feet high with a solid bottom. Inside, cover the bottom with a blanket, mat, blanket, or towels.

The litter box can be made to attract the rabbit to use it for the prescribed habit. The litter box can be a regular one that would be used for a cat. Most are plastic and should be shallow–so the bunny can step over and in. Line the pan with newspapers and fill with hay. Makes a miniature yard where bunny will “go.”

Make sure water bowls are heavy and hard to tip over–ideally made of ceramic or metal. Rabbits may be no larger than the average house cat, but they need space to stretch out or move around.

Rabbits need a lot of care

Rabbits need regular visits to the Vet. Young rabbits need to be spayed(female) or neutered(male) if they are going to be house pets. Sometimes rabbits get sick even though they have been carefully cared for. Vet bills can be high.

Rabbits are amazing, affectionate and social. They can be great house pets, but they require more care than most people think. Rabbits are unique pets. They can live free rein in a rabbit proof room or they can be contained in a rabbit condo.

Rabbits that are caged should be let out for a few hours a day for exercise, play and some cuddling. Do not isolate them from the whole family. They thrive on social contact with humans.

Rabbit diet and Grooming

Some people refer to a salad as “rabbit food.” Well that is not so far off from the truth. Rabbits are true vegetarians. Their diet consists of hay – fresh hay every day and Timothy hay and grass every day. Alfalfa for baby rabbits and some alfalfa for adult rabbits, as well as the timothy hay, grass or oat hay. They also need commercially made fiber pellets and fresh greens every day. Fresh leafy green veggies such as collard greens, beet greens, broccoli, romaine lettuce and carrots are favored.

Rabbits need to be brushed every day when shedding. Their fur is short and dense and needs regular maintenance. Nails need to be clipped several times a year. Learn how to do it from your vet before attempting to do it yourself. Change the litter box every day.


Girl with pet. Adina Voich Pixabay

Rabbits make good pets. They are social creatures, they will want a lot of attention from their special human. They do need a lot of special care and a varied veggie diet. Plan to spend a quantity of time with them. Watch out for a kick from the hind legs. Rabbits have no defense except to run, and the hind legs can propel them at a distance for a head start.

I’m Barbara Nelson and I hope you liked this article. Would love to hear from you. My thanks to PetMD Editorial,Feb. 2016 and Biology of the Rabbit- Derian Picazo.