BARKS AND RECREATION – DO’S AND DON’TS FOR ENJOYING NATURE

“Wanna go to the park?”  Tommy Holedigger was trembling with excitement when he heard that question – “I can’t believe it!  It’s “Parks and Recreation Month” again – or as I like to call it, “Barks and Recreation Month” – my favourite month of the year!  This is the month that all pet owners are reminded to take us out to play outdoors with them.  Hurrah!  Let’s go… c’mon…now!” 

Tommy is a very busy Border Collie and he likes nothing more than to get to an off-leash park and run, run, run… and then when that is done, to run some more!  Of course, he does have a few “issues” and has been known to get into a bit of trouble sometimes as he is not always polite with others – and he does not always come right back when called.  His buddy, Indiana Bones, a busy beagle pup, has learned a few things at his Socialization classes and decided to share with Tommy. 

Indiana was excited too but he knew that he had to follow a few rules.  His tail was wagging as fast as it could go and he ran around in circles as he reminded Tommy of a few things… 

Tommy, get a grip.  I just came from my obedience class and Dr. Callen was there and she said we have to remember a few things – here is what I learned:

  1. Leash: What park are you going to?  Do you need your leash or not? Check first or you might get in trouble with “the law”.  Remember, Tommy – we are not allowed to run loose anywhere except in special “off-leash parks”.  As much as we like to take off and run, we have to be “under control” all the time… I hate that too, but it is for our safety.  We are well behaved (most of the time) but there are other dogs or safety issues that we might not know about and so we need to be on our leash to be safe.  My owner is really good about that and says that she wants to be a “responsible pet owner”.  Hurrah for her!
  2. Aggressive dogs: Have you ever been to the park with that big mutt, Bony Soprano?  That guy is mean – he pretends to be friendly and then “Wham!”, he lunges.  We have to be careful about guys like him, and his cousins – those guys just should not go to off leash parks at all.  Don’t their owners know that?  It’s because of thugs like them that being on a leash is good as it makes it easier to break up fights. 
  3. Training: I am so glad I have been going to obedience classes.  It is sooo hard to come back when I am called when I am off exploring or chasing squirrels but now I know how to do it – every time.  My humans will let me go off leash now.  Tommy, if you would learn to do that, you might get to go free more often!  Even busy Border Collies like you can learn to do that.
  4. Licenses:  I just got a new tag – and it looks pretty sharp!  My human said I need it on my collar so that the City knows about me and can help if I get lost.  Pretty cool, eh?  Make sure you get your license renewed too. 
  5. Microchip: Hey, Tommy… do you have one of those cool microchips?  I do, and it kind of makes me feel like a space dog.  I went to see my vet at PetFocus and she put this little thing, about the size of a rice grain, under my skin.  It didn’t hurt a bit.  It’s very high tech – if I ever got lost, a vet could wave this magic wand over my back and the information about my owners would pop up.  How awesome is that?  I think all the guys should get one.
  6. Poop:  Well, we know all about that, right?  When you gotta go… anyway, our owners have to remember to “scoop the poop.”  I hope they know that this is the law too… back to that responsible pet owner thing again.  I love sniffing poop but apparently there can be dangerous stuff in it – like buggy things and diseases.  Ick.  As much as I love checking it out, I wouldn’t want to carry bad stuff back to my owner’s house.   My owner is really careful about that – she just took a sample of my poop to PetFocus to be tested – she said we will do that every year.  She’s the best.
  7. Parasites: I hate ticks and fleas!  Those things make me itchy and give me a rash.  Fortunately, I get some stuff every month to keep those pests away from me…  The problem is, not all the guys get that stuff and so some of the dogs I like to play with at the park are carrying around pests, and they are in the grass too.  Make sure your owner is giving you the monthly dose of treatment.  My owner also checks me over (I love that part – it’s like a free massage!) for ticks every time we come in – and we don’t go back to the places where I find ticks.
  8. Vaccines:  I was at PetFocus last week – my owner took me in because we are going camping and she was afraid we might run into some deer or raccoons.  You know I just can’t help sniffing around where those guys have peed!  Anyway, it seems I needed some vaccine to help protect me from some of the awful stuff those wild beasts might carry.  Tommy, you should check that out too as I know you like to drink from puddles and ditches – you don’t know who peed there, buddy!  Get vaccinated to protect yourself and your humans. 

So anyway, Tommy, I am ready to roam.  Let’s go celebrate “Barks and Recreation” month and enjoy the great outdoors.  Be safe and responsible. 

Additional information:

CPRA ACPL – Parks and Recreation Month www.cpra.ca

HRM Off Leash Parks Strategy – http://www.halifax.ca/realpropertyplanning/olps/index.html

By-Law A-300 Respecting Animals & Responsible Pet Ownership – http://www.halifax.ca/legislation/bylaws/hrm/index.html

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Family… see, family is da most important thing. Check out the shelters and rescues.

Hi! This is Al Catcino here… and I gotta deal you can’t refuse, see?  Family… you can’t ever forget how important family is and even though I’ve met some pretty tough cats (and dogs), I think they all need family and deserve respect.  You listenin’ to me?  Well, here’s the thing, see.  Dogs and cats deserve a real, forever family, see.   And the really sad thing is, not everyone has one and so even a tough cat like me likes to go to shelters and rescue groups to add to my family.  I’ve uh, lost a few family members from time to time, see, so I know how to find great new ones.  And, my father always said, a cat who doesn’t spend time with his family can never be a real cat – ya read me?

  So, here are some things to ponder before you add to your family, ok? 

  1. When making the decision to adopt make sure that the entire family is on the same page with how you are going to train your new friend, as well as what and how often you are going to feed them.  The family has got to be on side, see?  Just like my family in Sicily, everybody’s got to be on the same page!  All animals need some sort of structure to feel comfortable, but rescue animals tend to need a little bit more structure, especially at first as they are getting use to a new home, and their new family.
  2. Don’t jump the gun… you know what I mean?  Take your time.  When looking into adopting a new pet make sure you go and meet a few different animals, or some rescues have a website on which you can view their current adoptables before you go in to meet them.
  3. Patience.  My father always said, wait for the right moment.  Often times you are unable to adopt your new friend right away.  That’s ok.  It’ll be worth the wait.
  4. Do your research – check ‘im out first.  When you go to meet your new potential friend, watch for symptoms of behavioural issues, and always ask about medical history. Now if you notice they have a behavioural problem, always take them out of the shelter to a more open and grassy area where they may feel more comfortable, as well let them come to you versus you approaching them. These things can make a huge difference in their personality, sometimes they are just uncomfortable with being in a kennel or feeling like they are backed into a corner. Also behavioural issues don’t mean that they are a bad animal to adopt, just means that they need a special kind of family that understands their specific needs, and understands that it is going to be tough at first, but it can be very rewarding.  Loyalty see, that’s what’s important in a family and you will earn that with your new friend.
  5. Always be prepared – if you are adopting an animal with obvious anxiety issues or behavioural problems, be sure you are prepared to deal with those issues. If you don’t have a Godfather, like me, speak to your PetFocus veterinarian – he or she will give you the scoop.  My family knows the importance of training for every job we do – you may also want to be check out the PetFocus trainers, too.   Destruction – I know a bit about that – and so you should make sure  that your home is prepared for an animal that may chew or destroy items;  provide them with lots of toys which they can utilize instead of your shoe, or couch leg.

 For anyone who is interested in adopting a pet in the HRM you can follow this link and find the rescue that best suits you!  http://www.maritimeanimalrescue.com/contacts.shtml#ns

 Thank you for supporting you local shelters, and thanks for considering adoption as an option for your new friends.   You’ll be glad you did!