Month: October 2009

Book Review: Bookplate Special by Lorna Barrett

Bookplate Special

Bookplate Special is the third in the Booktown mystery series from Berkeley Prime Crime and will be released November 3.  The first book, Murder Is Binding, was published in April 2008. The second book, Bookmarked for Death, was a Feb. 2009 release.  If you love books, cats and food, you will love this series!

The protagonist of the series, Tricia Miles, owns Haven’t Got a Clue, a mystery book store located in the charming small town of Stoneham, New Hampshire.  It’s the kind of town where everybody knows your name.  In Bookplate Special, Tricia discovers the body of her former college roommate.  Never satisfied with letting the police handle a murder investigation, Tricia launches her own informal investigation to find the killer, and encounters all sorts of trouble.   This is a wonderful story with immensely likeable characters, a cat names Miss Marple, and mouth-watering recipes.  The author also includes a subplot about a topic that is clearly important to her, and she manages to do so in a way that’s thought-provoking rather than preachy.  A thoroughly enjoyable book – be sure to add it to your winter reading list!

You can learn more about Lorna Barrett by visiting her website.  You can also find her at her delightful blog Dazed and Confused.

About the author

Book Review: The Complete Guide to Holistic Cat Care by Celester Yarnall, Ph.D. and Jean Hofve, DVM

Holistic Cat Care

The Complete Guide to Holistic Cat Care is a comprehensive resource for the cat parent interested in natural alternatives for feline health.  Co-authored by Celeste Yarnall, Ph.D., the author of Natural Cat Care and Natural Dog Care, and Jean Hofve, DVM, a holistic veterinarian with extensive training in homeopathy and homotoxicology, the book covers topics such as nutrition, natural remedies, and hands-on healing in an easy to understand way without being light on the factual information.  The book places particular emphasis on nutrition as preventive medicine.  Yarnall, a breeder of Tonkinese championship show cats, bred and raised eleven generations of cats on the basic holistic principles outlined in her books.  The foundation of her breeding program is a raw food diet.  The chapter on Nutrtition as Preventative Medicine provides a complete and thorough overview of everything a cat owner might want to know about feeding raw the right way.

Other aspects of holistic cat care addressed in the book include natural remedies such as herbs, homeopathy and flower essences, hand-on healing modalities including chiropractic, acupuncture and Reiki, as well as some more esoteric therapies such as Applied Kinesiology, crystal, color and sound healing, and magnetic therapy.  All of these modalities are introduced and explained in an easily accessible, yet comprehensive manner.  In conclusion, Yarnall offers her outlook on the ever-expanding field of anti-aging health care and how it might impact our cats.

In addition to being chock full of well-researched and well-presented information on holistic cat care, the book is beautifully laid out and  illustrated with stunning cat photographs.  This guide is a valuable resource for every cat owner interested in holistic health and a beautiful addition to your cat care library.

For more information about Celeste Yarnall and natural nutrition and health care for cats and dogs, please visit Celeste’s website at www.celestialpets.com.

About the author

Pet Photography – Interview With Megan Lee of Paws and Claws Photography

Megan Lee

It is my pleasure to introduce you to Megan Lee of Paws and Claws Photography.  When I wanted to get a professional author photo for Buckley’s Story that also included Amber, I turned to Megan.   I had seen her work on her website, and had also seen her in action at the annual Santa Portraits event at Seneca Hill Animal Hospital Resort and Spa in Great Falls, VA.  I figured if Megan can take amazing photos of dogs and their owners in the chaotic setting of an event that attracts hundreds of dogs, she would be able to take a great photo in which both Amber and I looked at the camera at the same time!

Megan brought a complete photo studio to our living room.  While Amber was not too terribly thrilled at having her space invaded in this way, she was a good sport about it.  For her perspective on the photo shoot, click here.  Megan took a lot of photos of Amber and me in various poses and in front of different backdrops for about an hour, and I was thrilled with the end result.

Megan was kind enough to answer the following questions for us:

Megan, how did you get started photographing pets?

Before I started my company, I tried to take my pets to a studio to have their photos taken.  Not only did the photos not meet my expectations, the entire experience was stressful for my pets and me.  So I decided to eliminate the inconvenience of transporting pets and the anxiety of introducing them to strange environments by coming to your home.  I find that most pets and their family are more relaxed and photogenic in familiar surroundings.  Plus, I have found a way to bring studio quality lighting and backdrops to virtually any location, resulting in professional portraits without the hassle.

What kind of pet photography do you do?

I specialize in unique portraits of pets and their people by coming the location of your choice.

Is it more challenging to photograph cats than dogs?

Yes because cats won’t sit and stay.

How do you get dogs and cats to look at the camera?

I use a combination of treats, squeaky toys, and verbal requests.

You have a way to capture the essence of the pet, as well as the relationship between pet and person in your photographs.  How do you do that? 

Photographing in your home or at a location that you and your pet feel comfortable in cuts down on a lot of the anxiety that the animal or human might feel.

Megan Lee3

What was your most challenging or funny experience at a photoshoot with a cat?

Once while shooting several cats in a client’s home, one of the cats got loose and ran into the master bedroom.  After searching for 30 minutes we finally found him in the box spring of the master bed.  This particular cat was adopted the day before and didn’t come out until after I had left.  So far it’s the only animal that I couldn’t successfully photograph!

Do you have any tips for our readers on how to take great photos of their cats?

Lots of patience and either no flash or an off the camera flash.

For more information about Megan and Paws and Claws Photography, and to see more of Megan’s wonderful photos, please visit her website.


Copyright for both photos used in this post:  Megan Lee, Paws and Claws Photography.

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Halloween Safety Tips for Your Pets

Halloween pets

As Halloween approaches and our thoughts turn to ghost and goblins, trick or treating, and parties, remember that some Halloween traditions are hazardous to your pets’ health.

The ASPCA offers these common-sense cautions that’ll help keep your pets safe and stress-free this time of year. If you do suspect your pet has ingested a potentially dangerous substance, please call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435.

1. No tricks, no treats: That bowlful of candy is for trick-or-treaters, not for Scruffy and Fluffy.

Chocolate in all forms-especially dark or baking chocolate-can be very dangerous for dogs and cats. Symptoms of significant chocolate ingestion may include vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, increased thirst, urination and heart rate-and even seizures.

Candies containing the artificial sweetener xylitol can be poisonous to dogs. Even small amounts of xylitol sweetener can cause a sudden drop in blood sugar, which leads to depression, lack of coordination and seizures. In cases of significantly low blood sugar, liver failure has been known to occur.

Ingesting tin foil and cellophane candy wrappers can pose a choking hazard or cause intestinal blockage.

2. Popular Halloween plants such as pumpkins and decorative corn are considered to be relatively nontoxic, yet they can produce gastrointestinal upset should pets ingest them. Intestinal blockage could even occur if large pieces are swallowed.

3. Keep wires and cords from electric lights and other decorations out of reach of your pets. If chewed, your pet could experience damage to his mouth from shards of glass or plastic, or receive a possibly life-threatening electrical shock.

4. A carved pumpkin certainly is festive, but do exercise extreme caution if you choose to add a candle. Pets can easily knock a lit pumpkin over and cause a fire. Curious kittens especially run the risk of getting burned or singed by candle flames.

5. Dress-up can be a big mess-up for some pets. Please don’t put your dog or cat in a costume UNLESS you know he or she loves it (yup, a few pets are real hams!). For pets who prefer their “birthday suits,” however, wearing a costume can cause undue stress.

6. If you do dress up your pet, make sure the costume isn’t annoying or unsafe. It should not constrict the animal’s movement or hearing, or impede his ability to breathe, bark or meow. Also try on costumes before the big night. If your pet seems distressed, allergic or shows abnormal behavior, consider letting him go au naturel or donning a festive bandana.

7. Take a closer look at your pet’s costume and make sure it does not have small, dangling or easily chewed-off pieces that he could choke on. Also, ill-fitting outfits can get twisted on external objects or your pet, leading to injury.

8. All but the most social dogs and cats should be kept in a separate room away from the front door during peak trick-or-treat visiting hours. Too many strangers can be scary and stressful for pets.

9. When opening the door for trick-or-treaters, take care that your cat or dog doesn’t dart outside.

10. IDs, please! Always make sure your dog or cat has proper identification. If for any reason your pet escapes and become lost, a collar and tags and/or a microchip can increase the chances that he or she will be returned to you.

About the author

Book Review: P.S. What I Didn’t Say – Edited By Megan McMorris

PS Female friendships are some of the most wonderful, powerful, and sometimes complicated relationships in women’s lives.  Have you ever had something you wanted to say to a friend, but couldn’t?  Have you ever wished you could go back in time to say something you didn’t?   In P.S. What I Didn’t Say, Megan McMorris brings together a collection of unsent letters written by a wide range of female writers to friends both current, past and deceased, covering, in the editor’s words, “BFFs, frenemies, and everything in between.”

From the touching The We of Me by Jacquelyn Mitchard about the kind of friendship that is so intense that it survives even a five year period of silence, to Kristina Wright’s The Last Letter about a friendship with an older woman that took place almost entirely through letters, to McMorris’ own contribution What Would Diane Do about the kind of true friendship that endures, P.S.  provides a glimpse into the private thoughts and emotions of the writers.  Each reader will, no doubt, find parallels to her own life – remembering the grade school friend who moved across the country, but still remains a vivid memory, or the college pal who has remained a trusted friend despite infrequent contact.

This book will help women better understand some of their own complicated friendships, and perhaps, provide the inspiration to get in touch with long lost, but not forgotten friends.  It will definitely make the reader treasure her own friendships, and perhaps serve as a reminder that it’s always better to say what you need to say while you still can, rather than wait until it may be too late.  A beautiful compilation, this book should go on every woman’s reading, and gift, list.

Megan McMorris is a freelance writer based in Portland, OR.  She is the MeganMcMorris editor of Women’s Best Friend:  Women Writers on Their Dogs and Cat Women:  Female Writers on Their Feline Friends, and has written guides to hiking in Oregon and the Pacific Northwest.  Her outdoors column, Misadventures, appears in The Orgeonian.  Megan has also written for Real Simple, Glamour, Guiding Light, Prevention, Fitness, SELF, Woman’ s Day, and Shape, among other.  For more information about Megan, visit her website.

And where, you may ask, is the cat connection here?  In addition to being the editor of the wonderful anthology Cat Women:  Female Writers on their Feline Friends, Megan also provided a wonderful endorsement for Buckley’s Story:

“For those of us who think–or, rather, know–that cats have a thing or two to teach us in this life, you’ll appreciate Ingrid King’s story about her cat Buckley.”

Thank you, Megan!

About the author

Safe Anesthesia for Pets

Sick-cat-on-operating-table-in-veterinary-office

For most pet parents, the thought of their pets having to undergo anesthesia instills fear and worry.  This is often caused by a lack of knowledge about what questions to ask your veterinarian, and what constitutes safe anesthesia.  This article by Dr. Louise Murray explains in great detail what you should look for to ensure that your pet’s anesthetic procedure is done safely.

Written by Dr. Louise Murray

As you can tell, my mission is to give pet owners the information they need to protect their pets’ health and to wisely choose the best veterinary practice to help achieve that. I believe that knowledge is indeed power and have seen too many pets suffer because their owners did not have the tools they needed to advocate for their animal companions.

Today I suddenly realized (duh!) that just talking about ways you can protect your pet isn’t enough; I need to show you. It’s one thing to babble on and on about safe anesthesia and having your older pet’s blood pressure checked and ensuring your pet receives safe and adequate pain control. It’s another to let you see for yourself. If nothing else, pictures are a lot less boring then listening to my nagging.

So, today let’s talk about, and take a look at, what is required for safe anesthesia. Safe anesthesia requires monitoring equipment, so that when your pet’s oxygen level or heart rate or blood pressure drops, someone knows about it and can do something to fix the problem before your pet actually stops breathing or her heart stops and…well, you know. Pets can die under anesthesia, and proper monitoring vastly reduces the chance of that.

At a minimum, your pet should be hooked up to a handy gadget called a pulse oximeter. This little gem monitors the animal’s blood oxygen level and heart rate, good parameters to keep an eye on if you want to make sure someone keeps living.

Here’s a picture of a kitty having his blood oxygen level and heart rate measured with a pulse oximeter. I think you’ll agree he seems quite happy about it.

kitty with pulse oximeter

You’re right, he’s not under anesthesia. You can also use a pulse oximeter in awake animals when you are concerned about their breathing, such as animals in heart failure or those with pneumonia. If the oxygen level is too low, the vet needs to do something about it rather quickly, such as place the animal in an oxygen cage.

Another component of safe anesthesia is called intubation. This means placing a tube in the animal’s trachea (windpipe) to deliver oxygen and anesthetic gas. If an animal under anesthesia is not intubated (if the anesthesia is delivered with a mask, or just by injection), there’s not much anyone can do if that animal start to crash or stops breathing. But if the animal is intubated, the vets or technicians can ventilate the animal (breathe for her).For example, if the pulse oximeter shows the animal’s oxygen level is dropping, the folks doing the anesthesia can give the animal a few oxygen-rich breaths by sqeezing on the oxygen bag a few times. Or, as I mentioned above, if the animal stops breathing completely, they can use the tube to breath for the animal. Can’t do that with a mask and certainly not for an animal who just got an injection. Then it’s rush rush rush to try to get a tube in before the pet dies. Not good.

Here’s a kitty who is under anesthesia and intubated.

intubated kitty

See that little black bag on the lower left? If the kitty’s oxygen level drops or she stops breathing, the vets or techs can breathe for her by squeezing the bag.That way they can keep her cute little tongue nice and pink like it is in the picture.

The other thing I want you to notice about the cat above is that she has in IV catheter in her leg. This is also super important for safe anesthesia. If this little cat’s heart slows down, she can be given a drug to speed it back up through the catheter. If her heart stops, she can be given epinephrine to help re-start it. If her blood pressure drops, she can be given a bolus of IV fluids or medications to correct this.

OK, gotta run to work now. Now you know all about safe anesthesia; don’t let your pets receive anything less!

Dr. Louise Murray is an experienced and highly regarded authority in her profession. During her ten-plus years as a practitioner, she has lectured frequently on a wide range of topics, gaining her the respect of her colleagues. She has also been honored with several prestigious awards and has had her research published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association.

vetconfidential_cover_small

 

Dr. Murray is also the author of Vet Confidential:  An Insider’s Guide to Protecting Your Pet’s HealthFor more information about Dr. Murray, please visit her website.

 


Featured Image Credit: megaflopp, Shutterstock

About the author

Random Mind Scan: Memories of Pets Emerge

Sometimes, random snippets of memories enter our mind for no apparent reason.  Today, Cathleen Hulbert remembers former pets in this guest post.   We’d love it if you leave a comment and share your stories of pets that have come and gone, and touched your lives.

Written by Cathleen Hulbert

What set this off? The names and faces of former pets begin to work their way into my memory.

Cathleen Hulbert cat

What happened to Muffin? Muffin was a gray and white cat that I had around the age of 5. One day Muffin was gone. Mom and Dad said she “ran away.” Cats don’t run. Not well-loved, well-fed cats. I now suspect a car. It would have kinder to say she was hit by a car. Feelings linger of being rejected by a cat.

We try hamsters.

Charlie and Ben were brown and white. I told them they were good boys soCathleen Hulbert hamster that I wouldn’t be rejected again. Being in a cage,  they were less likely to run. One day there were these little fuzzy things in the cage with Charlie and Ben. Turns out that Charlie should have been named Charlene. Ben gets removed from the cage so he won’t eat the kids. One day he escapes and hides behind the fridge. I don’t remember much about the hamsters after that. We gave the kids away. I really wanted a dog.

My Mom is French, so we name the new dog from the pound, “Minette.” I thought she was a big dog, or at least medium-sized. Recently I was told that she was small, like a rat terrier. I find this hard to believe. She seemed substantial when I was 7. One day Minette is gone for a while. I’m glad when she comes back. I had a lump in my throat. I want no more of rejection. Weeks later, her sides get big and we realize she’s going to have puppies. She’s mostly white and the puppies all are jet black. I have questions. The puppies are eventually adopted.

When we move to Atlanta from our Florida  house, we’re going to be in an apartment for a year or so. Minette gets dropped off at a farm and I sit in the back seat in shock. It all seems so wrong. Was that always the plan? To leave my dog on a farm?

We get a white mouse because mice can cope with apartment life.

But the mouse, whose name I have blocked, gets out of the cage and scares my Mom in the night. I think he runs up the back of her nightgown. She almost has a heart attack and puts the mouse and his cage outside. It’s cold and he dies. Having pets starts to seem like a tragedy. When do we get one that we keep for a long time?

Cathleen Hulbert orange kitten

Benjamin is a red tabby. He’s pretty cool but he pees in my Dad’s good suitcase between business trips. He always finds just the right moment when the suitcase is open and my Dad is not around. Benjamin gets a free ride to the Humane Society. I sob in the back seat. Some college students adopt him before we even gets inside. None of them go on business trips or own expensive suitcases, so they think he will be fine. Will I ever love again?

I grow up and realize that I now have more control over the fate of my pets. Cathleen Hulbert cat2A little more control, but it’s not complete. A few more cats pass through my life: Daisy, a long-haired beauty, Marmalade and Harvey — the latter named after an invisible rabbit in a Jimmy Stewart film of that name. Marmalade contracts a rare disease and dies. Daisy and Harvey go to live with my ex-husband, Joe, after we get a friendly divorce. I know they are in good hands. We were in New York City at the time and he had a bigger apartment. I was starting a new career. I have to admit, the freedom from pet responsibilities wasn’t bad.

Cathleen Hulbert German ShepherdYears later, after returning home to Georgia and suffering through the death of my second husband, I meet an amazing animal: a gorgeous fox-red, part chow, part shepherd rescue dog who rescues me and keeps me from staying in bed for a long time. Her owner has died and we’re in the same boat. I name her Phoenix. Together we rise from the ashes. We have some good years together. Then a brown recluse spider takes her life. She’s the kind of soulful, loving animal that people in my family still talk about. I think she is around, like one of those spirit guides that shamans and other healers rely on when there is something important to do. I love you Phoenix. I know you can hear me.

For a time I thought that I could never love a dog as much as I had loved Phoenix.

Then I saw Angel outside of a pet store on a mild winter day nearly two years ago. She was for sale: $225. I told the pet rescue lady that I didn’t have that kind of cash. I knew she had been watching me bond with Angel. She said she would give me the $75 “overflow special rate.” She turned to Angel and said, “See. I told you that we’d find you a new Mom today.”

At 10 months, Angel (that was the name she came with) was nearly grownCathleen Hulbert dogs but still had lots of uppy inside. She was wild at first, with Jack Russell traits dominating her gene pool. She ripped up part of my favorite couch, but I couldn’t hold a grudge. I was watching “The Dog Whisperer” by then and I knew I had made some mistakes. The couch is as good as new now, and Angel has become a woman’s best friend. My brother’s dog, Boo, an aging Yellow Lab, is the other dog with whom I share a home.

We all live together, along with my 9-year-old nephew. I watch him play with his childhood pets and I realize that he’ll always remember them: the way Angel cuddles with him in the morning before he goes to school; the way Boo likes to pick up a dog toy on the way to greet him at the door when he comes home. He knows that pets die. He still misses Phoenix and Yogi, another Lab that died of cancer. But he adores Angel and Boo.

These thoughts bring so many feelings. It’s all clear. Some of the most important people in our lives are animals.

Cathy_Hulbert_small1 Cathleen Hulbert, LCSW, is a clinical social worker and a free-lance journalist with a background in newspaper reporting. She is the author of The First Lamp — A Story of Cosmic Illumination, a time-travel tale of redemption and forgiveness. For more information about the author and the book, go to http://cathleenhulbert.com/.

About the author