When Your Cat Wants A Pet

Deanna, dalmation dogMany years ago I  fell in love with a cat at our local animal shelter.  He was a rescue who was very affectionate and very different.  With his long face and light coloring, he was more than just the typical mixed breed commonly found in shelters, the cat was stunning, and many who met him for the first time couldn‘t help but say, “What an unusual face!”  We picked the name Sekhemkare for him, due to his somewhat Egyptian look, and he came home to discover he had a new animal sibling, an aging Dalmation named Deanna, who wasn’t altogether certain what to do with a feline inside of the house.  He was young and full of energy, she was tolerant and occasionally interactive, but mostly they ignored each other and after many years of this situation, Deanna passed away, leaving a large hole in our hearts and making Sekhem the only large animal in our household.

As humans, we are typically devastated at the loss of a pet and we all know that we deal with loss in many ways.  Some people rush out and fill the empty cage, tank, or dog bed right away because they can’t stand the silence, while others take their time to let the wounds heal.  I was one of the latter, but I knew that there were other animals in the house that had been used to having Deanna around.  I gave the cat, rats, and even the fish lots of extra attention, and used that extra love to help ease my own pain.  I was certain that it was enough because other than occasionally looking a little lonely, everyone seemed content.

We suspect that Sekhemkare is a victim of animal abuse.  The shelter knew little about him, other than that he had probably been abandoned.  Cats are skittish at times, but he was even more so, jumping at the slightest sounds, and being terrorized by brooms, moving or motionless.  He was petrified by storms and hated the outside world in general.  The first few raindrops on the roof or a gentle gust of wind against the building were guaranteed to send him crying out in mental agony from his hiding place under the bathtub, where he would remain for days.  All of these things didn’t make going to the vet very easy.

But when the time comes, you’ve got to get that annual appointment in, so we would get out the crate and soldier in with our cat.  For several years, though Sekhem was healthy, something seemed off.  No one could place it, but he just wasn’t quite himself.  There was no illness, no physical symptom of any kind, but his anxieties were getting worse, he would disappear under the bathtub for weeks and he was beginning to get raw patches on his back.  We were all worried. He was taken to NC State’s Veterinary School where he tested positive for allergies and we were given the appropriate shots to administer to prevent allergic reactions, but he was not recovering.  Eventually, I discovered the reason for the sores: Sekhem was ripping out his own fur.

Could my cat really want a dog?

This, of course, had to stop.  But how?  Desperate for answers, I took our cat to our regular vet, to discuss the use of anti anxiety medications.  We were put in a room and I let Sekhem wander, trying not to pace and fret the way he was.  There had to be answers and we would find them.  I was certain.  I calmed myself and then suddenly realized that there were no sounds coming from my cat.  My head snapped in his direction and a wave of shock hit me as I took in the unusual sight of my feline friend, calm and collected in a strange environment, staring out of the floor-to-ceiling window, seemingly entertained by the outside world.   Behind the glass was a family.  And their dog.

Could my cat really want a dog?  He hadn’t acted all that interested in Deanna, they weren’t into snuggling or sharing beds or anything like that, and mostly he stayed out of her reach.  Testing my theory, the next time my landlady asked me to go next door and check on her dogs, I had them walk home with me for a while.  She has a large Black Lab who took to Sekhem right away because he had grown up with a cat in the house.  The anxiety attacks didn’t stop, but Sekhemkare did start to look forward to the visits and would come out of hiding if I brought this new friend to visit him.  I had won a major victory.  Buster the Black Lab began making frequent visits to my house and even spent the night now and then, when no one was home at his place.

Problem solved?  Not exactly.  There were still some sore spots that needed to be cared for which meant one more visit to the vet, where Sekhem began reaching out of his carrier to touch the dog in line ahead of us. I was politely told that my cat was trying to scratch the dog, to which I smiled and said that he was used to dogs and was probably trying to pet him.  “He wants a dog,“ I said.  “We used to have one, but she died and he’s been begging us for another one for years.“  As I moved back out of respect for those concerned, curiosity got the best of everyone in the reception area.  One of the staff had her dog there with her for the day, so she brought him out to test my theory and sure enough, Sekhem began to rub at the bars of his carrier, reach out to pet the dog and purr loud enough for half the room to hear.  From that moment on I knew that I had to spend less time thinking of my own sadness and more time thinking about the cat’s feelings.  There was no denying it.  Our cat wanted a dog and less than a year later he had one.

Sekhem and SaharaThe day we brought home our Corgi-Lab mix from a local animal rescue organization, the roles were suddenly reversed.  Sekhemkare was in his early teens and Sahara, the new dog, was only three or four.  This time it was Sahara who was recovering from animal abuse, leaving a horrible situation for a new start.  She was skittish, uncertain and afraid, and the cat could recognize that.  He could also recognize that she wanted to run and play with him, which were not  the qualities he had become used to in a dog.  The situation was a little touchy at first, but once Sekhem realized that Sahara was here to stay, he began hovering near the entrances to whatever room she was in and slowly, over the period of a few months, they learned each other’s languages.  Now, when Sahara goes outside, Sekhem waits faithfully at the door for her to return, braving the dangerous world to keep her in his view, and there is a daily improvisational play time that usually starts with the gentle swat of a tail or a slobbery lick on the head.  Best of all, there haven’t been any sores on his skin in the year and a half since we brought Sahara home.

The moral of this story?  Always be willing to listen to your pets.  You might not speak the same languages, but like dogs and cats, we can eventually work out the signals.  We now have a happy, healthy cat who has completely given up chewing on his skin and hiding under bathtubs, and all it took to get there was listening to that childlike voice: “Mom?  Dad?  Can I PLEASE have a dog?”

Mirrani Houpe, YPS Staff MemberMirrani Houpe has had rats since she took home her first little boy once they both completed the second grade.  Since that time she has purchased, rescued and bred many kinds of rats, from many backgrounds. She may not be a vet, psychology major, or scientist, but her babies have her very well trained when it comes to how to care for them.  She is constantly working with her family’s veterinarian to come up with new and innovative ways to love and care for the most often misunderstood rodent in the pet world. You can e-mail her at mirrani@earthlink.net.

Adopt A Senior Dog!

Ever thought about adopting a senior dog? There are many reason to consider adopting one. It can be much more devastating to the older dog that ends up at a shelter.  So you are saving a life!
        First off, at what age is a dog considered a senior? Vets suggest around the age of seven. Smaller dogs mature slower then larger dogs.

   So why adopt a senior?  Shelters are full of seniors that often get overlooked through no fault of their own. These are a few reasons why older dogs are given up: the pet’s family has lost their job or home, death of a guardian, change of lifestyle. Those are just a few.

Older dogs are often looked at as problem dogs. This is not the case.  Older dogs can be calmer and less energetic.  Most of the time, older dogs are potty trained  These dogs make great companions, and YES, OLDER DOGS CAN LEARN NEW TRICKS!

  So next time you are looking for a new dog consider a senior dog!

Check out these vids on senior dogs!


Tina CaldwellTina Caldwell has been training dogs and their families for about twenty years. She likes to work with all kinds of dogs and people, and has shown and competed in many different events over the years.   Some of her specialties are conformation, obedience and agility trials.  Her favorite breed of dog is the Cane Corso. You can contact Tina through Petsmart Eastgate in Cincinnati, or at jrc3770@fuse.net

Cesar Millan: From El Perrero to Leader Of The Pack

cesar millan and dogsNo matter what side of the—pardon the expression—invisible fence you’re on about him, the fact is, Cesar Millan is an impressive individual.  From his humble beginnings as an illegal immigrant to reality TV superstar to broken man to rising phoenix in the dog rescue world, it has been a wild ride for this man.

But before I get too far into my personal adoration of Cesar, let’s talk about some of the things his detractors say about him, namely:  that his techniques are more intimidation than training, his seminars are more like thinly disguised marketing ploys and that sometimes he’s downright mean to dogs.

Others have written about how his high emphasis on exercise is a force for good in training, even if his methods focus more on negative than positive reinforcement.   Even noted behaviorist Dr. Temple Grandin has said that she understands why and how Cesar’s approach developed: because it was based on the handling of dogs that commonly ran in randomly formed packs in his Mexican hometown, and especially on his grandfather’s farm, growing up.

Cesar Millan and his beloved Daddy.

Cesar Millan and his beloved Daddy.

Cesar himself has often responded to criticism as it just being the price of being famous—and honestly, don’t we know that’s true?  The only thing that disgusts him is when people accuse him of abuse of animals.

Behaviorists  like Dr. Grandin now know that the old paradigms of all dogs simply being “baby wolves” and the idea that wolves themselves live in a dominance hierarchy are outdated.   We did think this was the way things were at one time because there were very few field workers studying wolves.  But new research shows that full blooded wolves live in a society structure more like a family than a pack.  Also, after so much selective breeding, not all breeds of dog now carry wolf traits—for instance, Alaskan Malamutes have more wolf traits than say, Dachsunds.

What does this mean for training your dog—and especially about Cesar Millan?

It means that Cesar’s techniques are completely appropriate for some dogs, less correct for others and completely wrong for some others.  In my opinion, a good rule of thumb is probably:  the more wolf-like traits your breed has, the closer a fit the training by Cesar Millan will be.

Whether you believe in what Cesar does or not, the fact remains that he is a knowledgeable trainer who has become a legend for his rags to riches story, as well as his transformative life.  He has been a force for good in the dog world for many years, because of his tireless media work against breed specific legislation and education of the public—and now, with his new emphasis on dog rescue.

Want to see how much Wolf is in your breed?  Go here.


Joy Jones, Your Pet Space

Joy Jones

Joy Jones, Publisher, is also the Vice President of Your Pet Space, a cage free dog boarding facility serving the greater Las Cruces, NM area. She is also a syndicated columnist living with her husband Dave. When not working on Your Pet Space, she writes a metaphysical column, as well as urban fantasy and humor. You can e-mail her at joy@yourpetspace.info as well as send her a friend request on Facebook.

Pet Products Review: SafetyGlo Dog Collar

Pet Products: SafetyGloDogCollar

As pet products go, this is a great idea, especially for families like ours that live out of town without security lights, where it’s very dark at night.  The collars we had did not come with any form of instruction, however, and we have seen others remark on this as well.

The first collar we ordered had a buckle and holes, like a belt, making it easy to adjust the size to fit our dog’s neck comfortably.  The glow from the collar was as bright as promised, but the charge only lasted a few days.  Granted, we did not leave the collar turned on for any length of time, we only turned it on for the short periods we are outside at night with Sahara, so it might be that the collar simply doesn’t hold a charge well when not in regular use.  The charge pack appears to be detachable from the advertisements, so we detached it to set it in the window to charge.  Leaving the pack out from noon until sundown we tested to see if the collar was charged.  No power.  In the end, we chose to use the USB cable whenever we next turned on the computer to check emails.  That worked quickly.

Sadly, once we reattached the battery pack to the collar we had major issues.  The pack is held on with a combination of snaps and Velcro, I assume the snaps make the connection to the electric parts of the collar while the Velcro holds the pack in place.  The battery pack is flat, a dog’s neck is curved, so once you reattach the pack to the collar, it is no longer a tight seal, the connections are iffy at best.  After two days, either because of the way the collar was shipped to us or because of an actual flaw with the power pack itself, the collar stopped working altogether.

I contacted SafetyGlo with some questions about charging the collar.  Had we done something wrong?  Was this typical behavior for these power packs to not fit properly?  My questions went unanswered, but I was offered a replacement collar at no cost to me.  I was even allowed to keep the non-functioning one.  This all sounded good to me, so I agreed and gave up hounding them for answers.

The new collar was not identical in make, the buckle was now the clip type, like ones used on fanny-packs and backpacks for children, which changed the sizes available.  Gone were the easy adjustments to fit our dog’s neck.  Now the collar only closed to a certain size and because of the clip there was an extra length of collar that was not adjustable, making our new collar just slightly too big for our Sahara, even though it was listed as being the same length as the one we replaced.  The battery pack is still working after a year of occasional use, however, so I give them credit for that, at least, however, we have not removed the pack from the collar this time and we charge it with the entire unit plugged in to the computer.

We continued to use the non-functional collar for Sahara’s daily use because it was a very sturdy and nice looking collar.  We loved the belt-like adjustment closure and the whole package (beyond the battery pack) worked well for our outdoor lifestyle.  It lasted through many rolls in the mud and all of the washes that followed as a result.  We only replaced it as her regular collar when she scratched at her neck (as all dogs do on occasion), which created an opening through the orange fabric, exposing the lighting fixture beneath.

Overall, I can’t remind dog owners enough that as for pet products, this is a wonderful idea and I really loved the color choices that were available.  The price was good for what we got and the customer service, while willing to replace the product, weren’t exactly friendly or helpful in solving our problems or answering our questions.  These things could have changed in a year’s time, however.  I would willingly try out the leash or harness at some point, if we ever come around to needing those items.  I wish that we were able to continue with the better quality product that we were sent the first time and that it had worked better for us.


  • Buckle fastening (if you get it)
  • Bright glow is attention getting, but not distracting (unless you have it on blink mode)
  • Charges with solar and USB power


  • Fanny pack clip (if you get it)
  • Length of time the battery holds a charge
  • Fabric eventually rips to expose glow tubing.


pet products sahara

I am Sahara, and I approve this message.


Where to Buy The SafetyGlo Dog Collar

Betta Fish: Not Always Fighters, Sometime Lovers

Betta fish-- Photographer William Picard

Betta fish– Photographer William Picard

First off, what is a betta fish?  Everyone has seen them in the fish section of the pet store; brightly colored fish with long fins, sitting in tiny little pots.  Most people look and think, “Poor little fish, they’re so cramped and lonely.”  The truth is that betta fish come from Thailand, where their natural habitat consists of locations like shallow ponds, swamps, and rice paddies, and the males are highly aggressive, so the pet store is right about on target when it comes to their display.  But there is more to the story when it comes to keeping them as pets.

The first thing everyone does when they buy a betta fish is pick out the tank and these beautiful fish seem to provide a chance to combine flowers and fish all in one.  Many use a vase and flower setup for their betta fish, thinking it is more natural because of the original habitat, but what you have to remember when selecting any aquarium is that you are providing a CONTAINED environment for your fish, not one where nature has taken action, providing an entire ecosystem.  Most importantly, the betta fish actually requires access to the outside air.  Yes, I said it: air.  They have a special organ that allows them to take in air from the surface and if you block off that access to air, your fish can actually suffer from lack of oxygen.  The quick point: Avoid the vase.  Pick something small to help with mimicking habitat and remember that your fish will prefer water at room temperature (75 or 80 degrees) that isn’t filtered and doesn‘t really have any flow.

Still, once you have your simple tank, you’re going to want to entertain your fish.  Most pet owners agree that intellectual stimulation is very important for any animal and your fish is no exception.  Plus no one wants to see a fish in a box.  It’s just unnatural.  A fish in a box with STUFF, now that’s more like it.  The most important point I can make regarding toys is this: The common misconception is that betta fish WANT to play with a mirror all the time.  These guys are called fighting fish for a reason, they fight, but think of it another way.  Would YOU want to spend every waking minute of your life, trapped in a tiny room, facing the moving image of someone who drove your blood pressure through the roof?  Didn’t think so.  While it is natural for your betta to encounter his reflection every now and then, please remember to remove your mirror after a few minutes.  If you want some more permanent toys, consider the more natural solutions.  There are floating logs and leaf hammocks made for betta fish to interact with, which simulate the natural environment and are far more comfortable for them to use on a permanent basis.

Betta fishNow we come to the part where we talk about food, where most new fish owners see the words “meat” or “live” and begin to get squeamish.  Keep in mind your new betta is a natural at catching mosquitoes and other insects.  He isn’t a vegetarian and you should make certain that the food you are giving him has the right stuff.  They make flakes and pellets for betta fish, but to have a truly healthy fella swimming beside you, it’s best to supplement with brine shrimp, glassworms or other such foods that can be found frozen or freeze dried.

It all sounds complicated, and now you won’t believe me when I say it, but these are actually some of the easiest fish to care for.  If you are unsure of your chosen setup, just ask the people at your pet shop.  Trained professionals can easily point you to the right items to include for a happier, healthier fish friend.  We used to have two betta fish in our home, Eric and Cody.  They’re more social than you would expect.  Our two lived side by side on our computer desk, each in their own setup (Never put two males together in the same tank!) which we could move closer together or farther apart, making their natural interactions replace the need for a mirror.  Eric and Cody knew when we came home and would swim to “meet us at the door.”  They loved humans occupying their space and one even had a “romantic interest” in my computer’s mouse, often flirting with it and making bubble nests in preparation for becoming a fishy father.  (Yes, it’s the men who care for the children when it comes to betta fish.)

To put it all simply, make sure that just like getting a dog or a cat, your betta isn’t a rush purchase.  Take the time to select just the right habitat for your needs and grab a toy or two for the needs of your fish.  Most importantly, if you have a question, ask a professional.  They’re out there to help you and they’re the best resource there is.

Mirrani 300Mirrani Houpe has had rats since she took home her first little boy once they both completed the second grade.  Since that time she has purchased, rescued and bred many kinds of rats, from many backgrounds. She may not be a vet, psychology major, or scientist, but her babies have her very well trained when it comes to how to care for them.  She is constantly working with her family’s veterinarian to come up with new and innovative ways to love and care for the most often misunderstood rodent in the pet world. You can e-mail her at mirrani@earthlink.net.

For Aquarium Supplies, Your Pet Space recommends Better Life Pets!

Lowest Price Guaranteed

The Thousand Dogs of Sochi

dogs of sochi

photo: Kevin Liles, USA TODAY Sports

 Animals don’t behave like men,’ he said. ‘If they have to fight, they fight; and if they have to kill they kill. But they don’t sit down and set their wits to work to devise ways of spoiling other creatures’ lives and hurting them. They have dignity and animality.

My heart has joined the Thousand, for my friend stopped running today.

― Richard Adams

These quotes, of course, are from a book called Watership Down, that was made into a movie of the same name.  In the story, it’s rabbits that are destroyed when a construction crew tears apart their warren.  And they felt the same sort of horrified bewilderment I feel in writing this.

If you’re like me, you’d never heard of Sochi, Russia before this year’s Olympics.  But when I learned that the Russian government was targeting thousands of stray dogs there with poison, no less, I was appalled.  Apparently, so were many Russian animal rights activists, a few athletes and even a Russian billionaire.  So much that the latter, one Oleg Deripaska, put up the funds to create a shelter where the rescued dogs can wait for new homes.

Still, at least one protest took place on Red Square, where activists carried a banner reading “Bloody Olympics” that depicted a puppy covered in blood.  One of the protestors was arrested.

But, in the aftermath of an estimated 5,000 already killed, what happens next to the dogs of Sochi?  Don’t think that I haven’t thought of sending an e-mail somewhere to get our own adoption started—but, because of too many regulations in place in both Russia and other countries, the fastest adoptions will take place with people already in Sochi attending the Olympics.

Here are some helpful links and related news about what’s happening in Sochi, including info on how you or someone you know can help the Thousand–before they stop running.

dogs of sochi 2

–USA Today sports


Former Olympic Athlete Urges IOC to Stop Sochi Street Dog Cull

Olympian Tom McMillen Says “Nyet” to Street Dog Slaughter

Adopting a Sochi Street Dog

Joy Jones

Joy Jones, our Editor In Chief, is the Vice President of Your Pet Space, a cage free dog boarding facility serving the greater Las Cruces, NM area.  She is also a  syndicated columnist living with her husband Dave (below). When not working on Your Pet Space, she writes a metaphysical column, as well as urban fantasy and humor. You can e-mail her at joy@yourpetspace.info as well as send her a friend request on Facebook.

What Is A Teacup Pig?

teacup pig

What Is a Teacup Pig?

So, I saw the reference to Teacup Pig online the other day, and thought—what the?  Is it obvious I don’t keep up with Paris Hilton’s choice of pets? Today’s miniature pigs, also known as micro pigs, pocket pigs, and teacup pigs are a trend started in the 1960’s.  At that time, pigs of 150–200 pounds were sent to zoos and were used for medical research on toxicology, pharmacology, aging, etc.  These small pigs were easier to work with than the larger farm pigs.

Today, many animal protection organizations and pig breeders say there is no such thing as a miniature pig, however there are breeders selling piglets called miniature pigs in North America and in the United Kingdom.

Buyer beware:

Since there is no established breed of “teacup pig”, you have no way of knowing whether the piglet you receive will stay small!  If you do meet with a breeder, ask to see the pig’s parents and grandparents to gauge their size.  Know too, though, that pigs can breed before they have reached their full size, so this is still no guarantee.  Bad breeders have also been known to recommend a diet that starves the animal to keep it from growing.  Also, unless you’re drinking your tea out of a 55 gallon drum, it’s good to remember even the smallest don’t stay teacup sized forever.  The term really just alludes to the fact that they never get as large as the breeds that weigh up to 1000 lbs.

There are many organizations set up to find new homes for pet pigs which have grown too large or unruly.  In 2009, pig sanctuaries took in more than 300,000 surrendered pigs, and they are often put down.

Things To Know If Your Heart is Set On A Teacup Pig:

They’re not legal everywhere.  So you need to do the research about where you live.  Their lifespan is 15-20 years, which is more than most dogs and cats.  They cost around $1,000 from a breeder—a rare rescue animal, this!  And getting them fixed requires a specialist.  Yes, you do have to get them fixed.  Males become aggressive upon sexual maturity, smell bad and can become destructive.  They can be litterbox trained, but will never be as neat an animal as a cat—they’re just not.  They also like to play in water and roll in mud—so if you’re not Paris Hilton and don’t have someone to clean off your pig—get ready with the towels.

On the bright side, pigs are super smart pets, though, and can be trained to do most things a dog can.  They also need regular walks, just like a dog.  And how cute is this?  They lurve their blankies!

Would you like more info on rescuing a teacup pig?  Here’s a list of rescues.

  Joy Jones is a syndicated columnist living with her husband Dave in Anderson, Ohio.  When not working on Your Pet Space, she writes a metaphysical column called The Midwestern Buddhist as well as urban fantasy and humor.  You can e-mail her at joy@yourpetspace.info as well as follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

Dog Food Supplement Review: Prozyme

dog food

dog food

The first time I heard about Prozyme was when my dog, Seba, came to live with us.  Since their diet is so poor at the track, greyhounds often have a hard time adjusting to high grade dog food.  Prozyme was recommended as a food additive.  Since then, I’ve learned it is often used for:

Dry or scaly coat
Digestive disorders
Immune disorders
Weight problems—can’t gain weight or keep weight on
Coprophagia—consuming feces
Skin problems
Joint difficulties
Excessive shedding
Wound healing

Prozyme consists of four enzymes, completely natural, entirely made from plants.  All ingredients in Prozyme are human grade, and can be fed at every meal you give your pet, throughout its life.  Its effect is cumulative, so you should expect to see results in about eight weeks.  Because it increases bioavailability (how much the digestive system is able to absorb) of the nutrients in your pet’s food, you may, over time, want to decrease the amount you’re feeding, to prevent weight gain.

When Seba arrived from the track she was underweight, and her coat was dull from poor nutrition.  At her foster home for the first two weeks, she had had diarrhea while adjusting to dry dog food (from the raw hamburger fed at the track).  By the time she came home with us, though, this was mostly gone, thanks to the Prozyme.

But soon we started giving this product to our Brittany, Castle, also.  Being a bird dog, as a puppy she had a tendency to want to eat baby birds she found in our hedges, and we were worried she might develop a digestive issue because of this and her proclivity for chewing on anything around our yard—including poop!

I’ve previously written about the periodic vomiting issues with our Basset, Hoagy in this article.  We tried Prozyme with him also, but in the end he needed a pro-biotic, which we added by changing his dog food entirely.  Now that I know more about Prozyme, though, I’ll be adding it back, too.

Bottom line:  this is an amazing product that YPS highly recommends!  And by the way, it’s great for cats, too.  Paws Up, Prozyme!  🙂

seba 300

I am Seba, and I approve this message.

Where to Buy Prozyme


Awhile back, we reviewed a product called the Cat It Senses Motion Activated Illuminated Ball.  We just wanted you to know that outside product testers we had trying this toy with their cats were unsuccessful getting any interest (regardless of age and activity levels, unfortunately.)  So this product gets a “Paws Down”.  Sorry, Hagen, Inc.

Your Pet Space product tester, DingleI am Dingle, and I disapprove of this product–hiss!