A friend of mine, a veteran of the military, shared this mantra with me, “Take care of your feet, because your feet take you everywhere.” I always remembered that fact and for us humans, it can often be associated with many types of medical issues, particularly those that are connected with a number of conditions like diabetes and circulation problems, since our lower extremities are the furthest from both our hearts and brains.
In another chapter from my personal adventures associated with my beloved canine companions, during the dog days of summer, in the quiet suburb neighborhood where I live, I always walk my dog with bare feet during the hotter months. Although my neighbors tease me about this relentlessly, my mind tells me that, if the sidewalk or asphalt is too hot for MY FEET, it must most certainly torture my dog’s sensitive little paws. Anyone who has ran quickly across a hot beach with no shoes can certainly relate to this circumstance. OUCH!
The same is true for our pets, especially dogs, whose paws propel them everywhere in life. Taking care of these delicate extremities is vitally important for their mobility, health and overall welfare. When they have issues with these tissues, sometimes they can chew, lick and irritate these sensitive areas, which only makes the matter worse. Here’s some ways to watch and protect the paws of our beloved four-legged pets:
Paws Don’t Come With A Preventative Care Manual
Although there’s no such thing as “perfect” when it comes to preventative care, there are some steps that we can take to help our pets with better paw protection:
- Trimming their nails is a daunting task at best, but taking some preventative measures when you’re a DYI kind of pet owner is essential. Consider taking some of these steps to prevent excessive bleeding from cutting too close to the quick.
- Check your dog’s footsies regularly for signs of irregular abuse, cracking, peeling, redness, swollen areas and other areas of possible irritation and infection. Consult your veterinarian if these problems look serious or you see limping and excessive licking, chewing or favoritism, which can complicate matters.
- Some dogs that have anxiety problems, or they are particularly stressed for some
reason, others are aging with arthritis and other muscular conditions can be more prone to issues with their legs and paws. Again, see your veterinarian for solutions and relief that go beyond the “cone of shame.”
- In extreme climate conditions, both hot and cold, pet owners should resort to protective devices such as booties, to protect their pets from unnecessary harm from the elements.
- Younger dogs that are more fast moving and are therefore particularly vulnerable to paw injury and abuse, especially on rough surfaces. They should be monitored more closely and watched for signs of increased wear-and-tear that can occur with higher incidences with these more active individuals.
There’s another idiom for the care of feet and delicate paws that that goes along with our human endeavors that goes, “Take care of your feet because they’ll carry you for life.” Extend the years you spend with your pet by ensuring their paws, legs, heart and soul, will be with you for life. Both yours and theirs.
Written by Amber Kingsley
By Cathy Mathieson
The media will lead us to believe that the secret to happiness is the next “best” glittery, shiny, electronic, delicious thing. Be it that tantalizing meal, new outfit or laptop. I find it’s short lived and often leads to regret. I forget what most of the things I “just had to have” are. Though I forget them my memory does hold on dearly to other precious moments. Our North American Society leads us to believe that status will make us happy, that when we have that beautiful car, gigantic home, powerful job and/or very expensive ring we will be happy. In all actuality in Canada recent research has found that the happiness barrier maxes out at about $70,000 dollars, under that life is a little less happy. However even if you win the lottery or run a large corporation with the matching large salary it will not make you happier than the average Joe.
So what does the research say makes us happy? Not just some expert’s opinion or top ten list, but what does the actual research say. Well in this day and age with our ability to study and look at the brain the research is becoming pretty definitive. I’ve read about 8 separate studies that determined experiences not things perpetuate happiness. In fact they say that over time your happiness about an experience, be it a vacation, a movie with friends or completing a ½ marathon often goes up. On the contrary your happiness regarding a new purchase be it an i-phone, an outfit or a great meal generally goes down.
I’m not a runner but since I turned 50 each spring I have started to lace up my shoes and train. In my youth I did my share of 5 k and 10 K races but I am looking for a challenge an accomplishment so to speak. I am not a runner by nature, at best you could call me a fair weather runner, but I will tell you when I cross that finish line I am always amazed that I did it. I am so looking forward to running this year on behalf of the best little charity out there! The pups Pawsitive Match so diligently rescues are a clue to an even more definitive cause of happiness, compassion.
Yes Compassion has been proven to cause happiness. A brain-imaging study headed by neuroscientist Jordan Grafman from the National Institute of Health showed that the “pleasures centers” in the brain, i.e. the parts of our brains that are active when we experience pleasure (like dessert, money, sex) are equally active when we observe someone giving money to charity as when we receive money ourselves!
It is also said that happiness is a skill that can be learned, so if you want to unlock the key to happiness please join me May 29, practice a little happiness and raise some money for Pawsitive Match. I picked Pawsitive Match because I am truly inspired by the dedicated, compassionate and dynamic volunteers. That this operation can run this smoothly (I’m sure there are some hiccups) solely by the efforts of volunteers is admirable. They never discriminate, dogs with issues (Medical, behavioural) are welcomed and healed. Apparently rescue dogs are a kinda happy drug because the research shows that even the most powerful anti-depressant cannot light up the pleasure center in our brain like compassion.
If you would like to sign up for the 2016 Scotiabank Marathon, please visit www.calgarymarathon.com. To ensure that you are running for Pawsitive Match, please remember to head over to the FrontStream Fundraising Page and enter your information there as well! If you’d like a pre-written letter to encourage friends and family members to support you, click here!
Fostering is truly a family affair and for this week’s Foster Friday post, our littlest fosters weigh in on why they foster!
“Why do you like it when mommy fosters”
Trinity (4 years old):
“Because I love them. Cats and dogs. They like to play with me and the sleep in my bed and keep me warm during the night”
Alexis (6 years old):
“Because I love the animals and I love to play with them. I love all animals. I am sometimes sad when the leave but it’s okay when they leave because the get a new home. My favorite foster was the puppies. They were my favorite because I got to name them. But they did always pee and chew my things which I didn’t like but I guess I should’ve picked up my stuff, then they wouldn’t of been able to. Good because I like animals, I wish we could have a rabbit, but I guess we will see when the time comes”
Kensley (8 years old):
My favourite part about fostering is that we can have experience with all different fosters and see how they react to our own animals and us. And they are fluffy. Fostering makes me feel happy but sad at the same time because once they learn to trust you, you have to let them go, but it’s good because the new family gets to experience how great of a pup they got to be because of us. And I’m also happy that they find the dogs when they do because I know we helped saved a life in time. When we first get them we know they are scared but hopefully with being given only love they only remember a happy home and not their life on the streets.
Beck (7 years old) and Brady (6 years old)’s mom did an interview with them and they both drew a picture. Beck’s is Frannie’s litter of puppies, and Brady’s is some kind of fire rescue of puppies on a plane (they fostered a dog who had escaped a fire and apparently that stuck with him!).
What do you like about fostering and rescuing?
Beck: You get to meet other dogs you’ve never seen before.
Brady: You get to see cute dogs, and pet them, and their fur is really soft.
Beck: The dogs are usually very cuddly, so you can cuddle with them.
Why do we rescue dogs?
Beck: We like giving them a better home than a shelter.
Brady: We save them from fires or dying.
What’s the hardest thing about fostering and rescuing?
Beck: Cleaning up their messes!
Brady: Puppies jumping, scratching, biting!
Beck: Oh, and saying goodbye.
Brady: But we should keep doing it. It’s nice to do and I don’t want them to die.
Beck: If more people fostered, a lot more dogs would be alive, living all nice in a good home.
Brady: In beds to cuddle in. I love dogs!
We are always looking for more foster homes to allow us to rescue more dogs and cats. If you and your family are interested in fostering, please visit our website!
If you’d like to see the cats and dogs currently needing fosters, please click here!
Harley came to Pawsitive Match last September as part of hoarding cat situation. He was approximately 8 years old and had likely never been truly loved or handled by humans. He lived with another foster in a cat room for several months and made significant strides, but he was stressed and had diarrhea, so Harley came to live with me in early January. Let it be known that I had very little cat experience – I had a cat growing up but my mom did all the work and I just got to snuggle and cuddle her (which she may or may not have liked but I did it anyway). Then last fall there was post asking for help with 4 cats and I somehow agreed to take them, yes take them all! They were great! They played, they hung out, they were loving friendly cats. I thought wow this is easy! Eventually they all moved on and I saw Harley was looking for a new foster home so I agreed to take him.
Well, day 1 I contacted the foster team to say that Harley has disappeared into thin air. The kids had assured me that they never left the cat room door open but he wasn’t there. Hmmm. Pretty much an entire day goes by and no sign of Harley. How could this be? Cats don’t just disappear. Turns out Harley had gotten himself wedged into the boxspring mattress and couldn’t get out. He was quite a chubster at that time and had underestimated how much room he needed. So we dismantled the bed and cut the fabric to release him – he would be happy to be saved right? WRONG! He was even more terrified. I blocked off the boxspring and all the areas under the bed and he took refuge in the lower box part of his cat tree. There I was able to pet him on the head but that was it, attempting to pick him up caused holes to be placed in my neck, petting him further along his back resulted in hissing and spitting and growling. Ok buddy, I’ll let you lead the way.
So day after day after day I would spend time sitting in his cat room reading a book while
he shot death stares at me. I would feed him and leave treats but he was frozen in terror. One day he decided to come out for a bite of food. Wow! I was so excited. Then he needed his neuter surgery and dental cleaning :(. I was at the vet picking him up and overheard the staff say “is the feral foster in room 2?” I wondered who they were talking about and then realized it was me! They considered Harley feral – I was thinking ‘ok he’s scared but not feral is he?’ After talking to the vet, he was considered feral. I took him home and took advantage of him being dopey after surgery; I held him in my arms, it was a special moment but short lived. He soon went nuts and ripped around the room, forced his way through my blockades under the bed and ripped off his cone. Oh boy – what was I going to do?
I looked up articles on taming feral cats and started to implement some of the strategies I read about. Slowly they started to work. I would send excited texts to the team about his progress. He was purring. He was eating while I was in the room. He let me pet his full body. He let me brush him. He stopped hiding in his box when I entered the room. He was curious about the world outside of the cat room. He explored the upstairs. He approached me for pets and snuggles. He hopped on my lap for love. He rolled on his back for belly rubs. He PLAYED! Holy cow, this cat had transformed before my eyes! What a journey we were on. I was so excited for him, after 8 years of a crappy life he realized that people can be kind and loving. Along our road together I can fully admit that I wanted to quit – I emailed the foster team saying it was hopeless and I couldn’t do it. But guess what? I did do it, and you know what? You could do it too! The feelings I have looking at him now are of immense love and he loves me right back. FOSTERING SAVES LIVES. Those are not just words, they are the truth and I’m looking at the truth in front of me and his name is Harley.
If you are interested in adopting Harley, please visit our adoptions page!
If you are interested in fostering a cat like Harley, please visit our foster page!
I often hear people say, “Oh I couldn’t foster, I would find it too hard to let them go”, and the reality is sometimes I do as well . My first attempt in fostering resulted in what’s called a “foster fail”. She never made it out my door to begin a life with someone else. Fergie, a beagle, came into my home afraid of every shadow, cowered at every noise, whimpered and peed in the house in fear: traits that sent her packing in three other homes after she had been “rescued.” I couldn’t even imagine what her life had once been and decided that it was about time that someone gave her a break and showed her that people were okay. To teach her about the right to feel loved and safe. And so I adopted her.
But I digress. This story isn’t about Fergie.
This story is about getting involved in the rescue of mostly abused or neglected animals. Dogs that people have decided to toss away. They got them for the kids, but the kids didn’t look after them. “We feel so bad the dog is being ignored”. For reasons as simple as them getting too old, walking too slow, taking too long to climb the stairs or not looking as good as they did when they were younger. Owners turning their back on the one who has been their best friend, surrendering them to a rescue or dropping off at a shelter without a backwards glance, forgetting why they had gotten the dog in the first place, barely realizing that it’s there, getting angry with him when he comes up looking for some attention and wanting to share his love.The sad reality is that most people who surrender dogs to a shelter or drop them off at that out-of-way place in the hope that some farmer will be happy to provide it a home don’t seem to understand there is only twenty-four to seventy-two hours for dogs to find a new home before they get euthanized in most shelters, or that coyotes and other wild animals can kill them or they can starve to death before help is found.Or people give them up simply because they thought it would be fun to have a dog but didn’t really think it through.Maybe the dog isn’t learning fast enough to suit them, and why, oh why, can’t they read their mind and do what they ask?.Next…….. let’s get a new dog, a better dog. This types of behaviour keeps puppy mills in business and therefore creates a need for people like me. And thank goodness for people like me. The type that loves dogs,understands dogs, helps dogs. Can you be that person? A safe haven until a proper family is found ?There is always a need for people to foster.
If I sound bitter, then I admit that sometimes I am. It’s hard to see their faces sometimes when they first arrive to our rescue: eyes downcast, shaking in fear of the unknown, or maybe used as target practice and a bullet found in their body when they’ve gone to be vetted. Or broken bones delivered from a kick from someone’s boot. At times, the level of abuse that some of them have endured is overwhelming. But then I am filled with amazement at how quickly they respond to a soft voice, a rub behind an ear, their tail wagging of their own accord, happy in the knowledge that someone is finally being nice. Quickly willing to forgive, just wanting to be loved. We are so lucky that they still crave wanting to have a relationship with us.
And that’s where someone like me comes in. A foster volunteer, one of the many positions that are needed to successfully help a rescue be a healthy place for animals to find their forever home. For our rescue group, we can pick and choose whom we would like to foster from the pictures that are shared about.
Generally speaking, we work with shelters in Mexico, California, the Northwest Territories, Alberta and Saskatchewan, though we have had shelters from Korea, India and the Dominican, to name a few, contact us for our help. And I know I can speak for most of us when I say we get so excited to see the new dogs that we have managed to save, the scruffy ones, the chi’s, terrier mixes and poodle crosses and everything else all mixed up and in between. And we love them all.
I love helping out at the intake center and seeing them first, taking a few pictures for our website in the hopes it helps them find a foster or better yet a forever home. And it helps me to decide who I should bring home to introduce to my own muttley crew. And usually I’m happy to welcome them into my home and work hard alongside other volunteers to help them find a family of their own. And usually I rejoice when I congratulate someone for deciding to adopt one of our beautiful dogs. But not always –or should I say not always at first. Sometimes I just need to have a good cry. Just like I did the night before. A dog that managed to cross over the “I really like you” stage to the “oh my goodness! we all love you” stage.
And I have failed a few times, and I wouldn’t change that for the world. Fergie, Nellie and Ivy have joined me over the last ten years. They have made my world so much better, so much richer, an expansion of family if you will. My foster fails. But at this point I know that I am doing the right thing, saying goodbye to the dogs that now cross my threshold looking for a berth in the storm while waiting for someone to adopt them. Making the responsible decision to say goodbye and hand them over to someone else to love allows me to continue fostering: to keep a parade of dogs that come through my door, to engage and charm me, fill my heart with joy and I delight in the knowledge that I did make a difference that I helped save their life. In allowing myself to let go, I can save another one, engage with a new personality, own a different style of dog though it’s only borrowed, and fall in love all over again. Life can’t get much better than that. Who among us can say oh I love Beagles and Chi’s and Poodles and St Bernard’s and Labs and Mexi Mutts and all the countless breeds that have travelled through my door and learned I love them all. Become a foster, revel in the experience, introduce yourself to multiple breeds, be the most popular person in the dog park and be loved by many even though most of the many are furry.
So when people say, “ I could never do that — it would be too hard ,“I simply say, “ I could never not do it because to me that would be too hard to know I could do something and chose to ignore it.”
(For a side note, not everyone has the availability to be able to keep a dog. But for those people there are so many jobs that need to be filled to run a successful rescue,dog walking, medical, accounting, fundraising, special events, transport, supply houses, coordinators for the adoption and foster teams to name but a few. Please consider helping out a rescue. You’ll be surprised at how much joy it can bring to you and all the great people you can meet.)
Written by Lori Stainer
If you are interested in fostering a Pawsitive Match animal or volunteering for Pawsitive Match, please visit our website!