Getting Savvy on The Cavy

guinea pig

Guinea Pigs Аs Pets

The fact that they didn’t come from Guinea, but instead are domesticated versions of Andean cavys, doesn’t seem to matter much to most guinea pig owners.  These small pets were brought to the west by European traders in the 16th century, and ever since have been highly prized for their lovely coats, calm natures and the ease of caring for them.  In fact, guinea pigs are great for small children!

vet with guinea pig

On “Being A Guinea Pig”.

At one time, the cavys were food for the natives in the Andean region of Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia.  The Moche people of ancient Peru worshipped animals, and often depicted the guinea pig in their art. Folklore traditions involving guinea pigs are numerous; they are exchanged as gifts, used in customary social and religious ceremonies, and frequently referenced in spoken metaphors.  They also play a role in traditional healing rituals by folk doctors, who use the animals to diagnose diseases such as jaundice, rheumatism, arthritis, and typhus.  They are rubbed against the bodies of the sick, and are seen as a supernatural medium.  Black guinea pigs are considered especially useful for diagnoses. Spanish, Dutch, and English traders brought guinea pigs to Europe, where they quickly became popular as exotic pets among the upper classes and royalty, including Queen Elizabeth I.  Experiments have been carried out on guinea pigs ever since the 17th century, mostly on research regarding juvenile diabetes, tuberculosis, scurvy, and pregnancy complications.

kirk and tribbles

And Now For Some Science Fiction Trivia!

Did you know that the Star Trek: The Original Series episode “The Trouble With Tribbles”, written by David Gerrold, was inspired by a short story about guinea pigs called “Pigs Is Pigs” by Ellis Parker Butler?  In the story, two guinea pigs at a railway station breed unchecked while humans argue as to whether they are “pigs” or “pets” for the purpose of determining freight charges.  So there’s your bit of science fiction trivia for the day!

guinea pig with headphones

Guinea Pigs Are Great For Small Children and Small Spaces

Guinea pigs are large rodents, weighing 1-1/2 to 2-1/2 pounds, with an average lifespan of 4-5 years.  They can live quite comfortably in a medium cage (30″ x 36″, larger if you have more than one), which makes things very convenient for their owners!  They rarely bite, making them an ideal choice for children who are old enough to handle them gently. They enjoy living in groups of two or more; ideally this would mean several females and a single neutered male.  More than one male can safely be housed together, providing the cage is large enough.  Wire mesh floors are not recommended, as this commonly causes injury and infection.  At one time, wood shaving type bedding was the norm, however it is now known to have harmful hydrocarbons.  We recommend only hardwood shavings (aspen), shredded paper or corn cob bedding materials.  This should be several inches deep and changed twice weekly.  Although the cage should be inspected daily with an eye to removing soiled bedding, droppings and stale food. Clean the cage completely once a week by replacing dirty bedding and scrubbing the bottom of the cage with warm water.  Then dry everything completely before adding fresh bedding.

guinea pig with dog and rat

 It’s not a good idea to keep your cavys in the same cage as other rodents.  They may act aggressively toward your guinea pig–or even pass along infections.  And be sure you watch your dogs and cats around your cavy–sometimes they can think small pets are food and not friends!

guinea pig eating grass

Speaking Of Guinea Pig Foods…

The cavy’s natural food is grass, so timothy hay is good, or you can use special pellets made from timothy.  Some alfalfa may also be fed.  It’s best to check with your vet on the proportions they recommend.  This pet also requires fresh, raw vegetables like broccoli, apple, cabbage, carrot, celery, and spinach on a regular basis, or it may contract scurvy!  Luckily, supplements are available if you have a picky eater.  Like rabbits, cavys have teeth that continue to grow all their lives, so they need a constant supply of edible chewables; otherwise they may chew on cloth, paper, plastic, and rubber.

There іs а list оf foods tо avoid wіth thеsе furry pets. A number of plants are poisonous to guinea pigs, including bracken, bryony, buttercup, charlock, deadly nightshade, foxglove, hellebore, hemlock, lily of the valley, mayweed, monkshood, privet, ragwort, rhubarb, speedwell, toadflax and wild celery.  Also, any plant which grows from a bulb (tulip or onion) is poisonous, as well as ivy and oak tree leaves.

silky guinea pig

Grooming Your Cavy

Guinea pigs are great for small children also because they can simply use a comb or brush. It’s a good idea to do this weekly.  But if you have a long-haired breed of guinea pig, daily is best.  Cavys also groom themselves and each other.


When frightened, a group of guinea pigs will dart in all directions, squealing or shrieking, and sometimes hop!  This is an instinctive reaction, and is intended to confuse predators. Cavys are very vocal in general and make a wide range of sounds: whistling, bubbling, purring, rumbling, chutting or whining.  They have been known to whistle when they see their owners–or when they see you bringing them food!

baby guinea pig


It’s important to know that female guinea pigs can become pregnant as early as one month of age (before they are fully adult).  The average gestation period is about 65 days.  Litters can be anywhere from one to six pups, with an average of three.  Unlike most other rodents, baby cavys are almost completely developed at birth.  And if you have more than one female, they commonly care for each other’s young.

brown guinea pig


You’ll want to handle your cavy frequently, not only for good socialization, but also because they can be prone to injury from a variety of causes: typically, hay getting stuck in the throat or eyes.  But they can also develop pneumonia (so watch for excessive sneezing.)  And they can contract lice and mites.  They cannot tolerate excessive heat or cold. And you’ll want to keep them out of drafts.  Generally, if you are comfortable, they will be, too. If going out in cold weather with your cavy, just cover the cage with a small blanket.  And remember to pre-cool the car before you travel on hot days. Like most prey animals, it is instinctive for the guinea pig to hide pain and distress.  Frequent handling will show you how your pet normally responds, so you can quickly detect any changes and make appropriate health care decisions with your vet.

Little Girl Busy Blowing Dandelion Seeds In the Park


Guinea pigs as pets may not be a good idea if you are typically allergic to the dander of hamsters and gerbils, or have asthma.  It can take up to 18 months to find relief from allergy medications for these reactions.


swimming guinea pigs

Funny Things

 Strangely, they are really good at…swimming!

To sum up, guinea pigs are great for small children, especially if you are short on space.  They are very interesting, funny little creatures, who should be handled and groomed frequently and gently.  We’d love to hear stories of you getting savvy about your cavy!  Please drop us a comment and let us know if you have any questions, or just want to send us a pic or two of your guinea pigs.

Joy Jones

Joy Jones, our Editor In Chief, is a syndicated columnist living with her husband Dave in Las Cruces, New Mexico. 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 as well as follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

The Cost Of Eating Inhumanely

mo meat

I can’t tell you the number of friends and family members I have that are vegetarians.  People sometimes assume because I’m Buddhist, I am, too.  But, although I rarely eat steak and frequently enjoy a vegetarian dish, I do eat meat.  Yes, I eat meat at the same time I champion humane treatment of animals–how is this possible?

There was a time when I considered becoming vegetarian.  But, in the end, I knew myself too well.  I love pepperoni and will probably be eating pizza on my deathbed!  I might not be a steak person, but I do love a great hamburger.  And my husband can cook a chicken like nobody’s business.  So…I do eat meat, I have always eaten meat and I will always eat meat.  That’s a given.

But what was I to do about this niggling feeling that I ought to be able to enjoy my food and also be respectful to the animals that died for it?

grass fed cattle

Six Ways You Can Change and Reduce Meat Consumption

Some of you may already have read my review of Dr. Temple Grandin’s book Animals Make Us Human.  In this book, she puts forward an important concept: that if we are going to eat animals as part of our diet, there is no reason the ones we raise for that purpose must be frightened at the end of their lives.  In fact, she designed certain devices used by the meat processing industry today that ensure the animals are calm right up to the end, which is very quick.  And really–that’s all we want too, isn’t it?  Because of Dr. Grandin’s research, meat processing is light years ahead of where it was only a few years ago.  However, according to the World Animal Protection Organization, the treatment of farm animals is the world’s biggest animal welfare issue – and it’s getting bigger. By 2050, livestock production will be twice what it was in 2000. Right now, more than 70 billion animals are farmed for food each year – two-thirds in conditions that mean they can’t move freely or live naturally.  More and more, moral consumers are saying, no more factory farms!

Still, how can you–just you reading this–help to make things even better for the animals that eventually become our food?  Well, there are lots of ways.

1) Reduce meat consumption by trying Meatless Mondays.  Here’s a great video about that.

2.  Buy pastured livestock meats from acceptable sources, where the animals are treated humanely all their lives–such as local farms or farmer’s markets.  Even if you do this only some of the time, you’re ahead of the game.

3.  When shopping for meat other than at these sources, make sure the labels indicate third party certified for animal welfare.  And ask your store to provide humanely raised meats.

4.  Even today, the poultry industry is among the worst violators of treating animals humanely before and during slaughter.  So don’t forget about the eggs you buy.  They should be labeled ‘cage free’ or ‘free range’, indicating the hens were not living in tiny battery cages (about the size of a single piece of paper) all their lives.

5.  If you must eat fast and processed foods, give your business to the chains that are doing the best job of buying pastured livestock from humane producers: Chipotle, Whole Foods, Wolfgang Puck Restaurants, Sara Lee, Krispy Kreme, Hellmann’s, Safeway, Wendy’s, Sonic, Cracker Barrel, Burger King and McDonald’s.  You’ll also want to avoid these brands:  Tyson, Smithfield, Butterball, Pilgrim’s Pride, Kentucky Fried Chicken and Domino’s Pizza.

6.  Take action.  Learn everything you can about eating humanely, and why there should be no more factory farms.  When travelling, avoid local cuisine such as the burgers in the Cayman Islands, which are often made with green sea turtle meat (an endangered species.)

fresh fish stamp


Sadly, Germany and Norway lead the way in the reduction of inhumane methods to slaughter fish.  The largest majority of fish you buy in the US will have died a painful and protracted death.  So please consider reducing the amount of fish you eat, at the very least.

factory farm

Why No More Factory Farms?

Factory farming has been labeled as the biggest cause of animal cruelty in the world. The frenzied pace of breeding, raising and killing required to mass produce meat means that animals suffer the following:

·        Intense confinement and overcrowding.  Over 100,000 animals are forced within a single structure, resulting in trampling, suffocation, cannibalism and starvation.

·        Severe Stress.  Animals are restricted from natural behaviors like grazing, rooting, scratching, foraging, mud wallowing, running and nesting.

·        Routine mutilation without pain relief.

·        Extreme exposure to heat or freezing cold while in transport.

·        Fear and Distress.  They’re subjected to busy, industrialized slaughterhouses designed to be able to kill 200 animals per minute.

·        Frequent improper stunning and slaughter methods.  Factory farm animals routinely have their throats cut, are boiled and dismembered alive – and while fully conscious – by workers under extreme pressure to produce a high output. Sadly, with cost and convenience as main drivers of consumer decisions, most of us are supporting this type of farming.

factory farm not fresh

Factory farmed meat instead of using that from pastured livestock is also a danger to human health.  Factory farms selectively breed animals and inject them with growth hormones to grow as big and as quickly as possible.  Because animals live together is such close quarters, factory farms pump animals full of antibiotics to prevent the spread of disease. But overuse of antibiotics has caused microbes to become resistant, and future infections cannot be treated.  Despite the widespread use of antibiotics, factory farmed animals are still susceptible to contract many diseases such as salmonella, mad cow disease and tuberculosis, which can be passed on to humans through eating their products.

anti biotics on factory farms

When you consider the amount of growth hormones & drugs we are using and consuming through factory farmed meat, it is no wonder diseases such as obesity, heart disease, diabetes and cancer are increasing. Rates of new infectious diseases are rising like never before. Most scientists agree that factory farming plays a leading role in these increasing threats to human health.

dollar sign

But Why Is Meat From Pastured Livestock So Expensive?

The feed and processing for pastured livestock is more costly.  Herbicides and pesticides are often not used, so more labor is needed to take care of the fields where these grains grow.  Properly certified processing plants and farms are regularly inspected and humane handling training for the workers is expensive.  When pastured animals feed, they don’t put on weight as quickly as those being pumped full of hormones and restricted from moving around.  So it’s more costly to bring them to market.

I hear many people say, “How can I afford to eat humanely?”  But the question really is, “How can you afford not to?”

 helpful links

America For Animals.Org


Farmer’s Market Online Directory

Certified Humane


Joy Jones

Joy Jones, our Editor In Chief, is a syndicated columnist living with her husband Dave in Las Cruces, New Mexico. 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 as well as follow her on Facebook or Twitter.



Pet Book Reviews: The Dog Listener

The other day I was asked about puppy bonding techniques.  And I was pleased, because it at last gave me a chance to do one of my favorite pet book reviews.

And on the amichien bonding method, no less!

Jan Fennell

Jan Fennell

Jan Fennell is the international best selling author of “The Dog Listener” and her training, the amichien bonding method, is used by dog owners worldwide. The success of her method has resulted in six books being translated into 27 languages and published in 34 countries! Jan has had two national television series in the UK and Australia, television appearances in the UK, New Zealand, the USA, Poland and Australia, countless radio appearances in many more countries and has given talks and seminars in twenty six countries- to date.

I began reading Jan Fennell’s The Dog Listener just after speaking to an animal communicator about our young dog, Castle.  We were having some behavior problems with our little Brittany, among them mouthing, jumping and border running (incessant barking at the fence line).

Never having heard of the amichien bonding method myself, I’ll explain a bit here:

The amichien bonding method, simply put, is one of respect and understanding rather than a form of dominance or force.  By intuiting how dogs treat each other, we can key into how they choose freely to follow a leader, instead of being made to.


Jan Fennell’s teachings are based on four times in wolf families where the pack members re-establish who is leader:

  1. When the pack hunts.
  2. When the pack eats.
  3. At times of danger.
  4. When the pack reunites.

It is at these times that dog owners must understand how to make dogs want to do what we expect of them of their own free will.

puppy bonding techniques french bulldog leashedWhen the pack hunts translates as walking in the modern dog world.  Jan tackles subjects in this area such as dogs that run wild off leash and don’t return, chaos in the car, and so on.

pet book reviewsWhen the pack eats is handled in many different ways, including eating first (or at least “fake eating”, since in wolf packs the alpha pair eat and then the rest of the pack) and dealing with problem eaters as well.

I can tell you that Dave and I personally have mastered mealtimes using Jan’s techniques with our three dogs.  We simply establish our leadership by waiting until all three have given us a “down stay” to put food down–and although this was tricky at first, we now have it down to less than 60 seconds per mealtime!

Dog Danger: pet book reviews“At times of danger” could cover a lot of territory–but certainly for us, border running was equivalent to this issue.  Castle was once attacked by a dog only blocks from our home, and its clueless owner continues to walk him right by our house every day.  Castle would begin fear barking and racing all around the yard to confront her nemesis approaching from all angles every time he passed.  And when we did force her back inside by using a leash, she would still bark and pace agitatedly for some time after.

Thanks to Jan’s book, and the amichien bonding method, we rarely now have trouble getting her to be more interested in coming in than barking at the fence.  But she also covers things like canine confrontations, fear of noises and dogs that bite. running dog pet book reviewsWhen the pack reunites, for us, took a little longer to understand–until we realized that it meant every time we re-entered the room, to a dog!  But this was the reason for Castle’s jumping–and the solution much simpler than you might expect.

Other situations Jan covers in this book include: nervous aggression, separation anxiety, puppy bonding techniques, potty training problems, multiple dog issues, dogs that are too possessive (of owners and/or toys), nervous dogs in general and problems specific to rescue dogs.

The book also includes a 30 day training guide–how cool is that?  And she even got her horse training hero, Monty Roberts, to write the foreword!

In short, we highly recommend The Dog Listener, and the amichien bonding method!

Here are some words from Jan, also, taken from her website:

“The absolute joy that dogs have brought into my life, from a very early age, made me wonder if it were possible to repay this gift in any way.

Like a lot of dog owners, I was less than happy with traditional training of dogs, which involve jerking, pushing and punishment but knew of no other method. There was also the widespread acceptance of the notion that to successfully work with a dog demanded a knack or special gift, a belief that prevents many loving owners from ever succeeding.

Also, like most people, I knew that dogs had an excellent communication system of their own but as a human, with a completely different method of communication, failed to see how I could bridge the gap and make real “contact”. Then in 1989 a good friend, Wendy Broughton, introduced me to the work of the acclaimed horseman Monty Roberts, and I saw, for the first time, how it was possible to not only learn the communication system or language of another species but more importantly, find a way of responding in an acceptable, kind way to that animal and thereby open true conversation, with the emphasis on working with the true nature of the animal, gaining its trust and willingness to co-operate, of its own free will.

This gift of understanding means that we are all now able to quickly identify, understand and consequently, resolve all type of undesirable behaviour. We can do this (no matter what the breed or age of dog) without the use of force, fear, frustration or gadgets, and it can be achieved by anyone who chooses to adopt my method ‘Amichien® Bonding’.

There is only one thing better than finding something so special and that is being able to share it, which I have been able to do through the books, DVD’s and courses for many years now and how wonderful it is to have a team of highly qualified colleagues, worldwide, passing on this information in such a way that empowers all dog owners.

I wish you joy on your journey of understanding and promise that you can do this too.”

Jan Fennell

Click here to buy: Books By Jan Fennell

 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 (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 as well as send her a friend request on Facebook.

Adopting A Puppy: A Book Review

puppy schnauzerIf you’re thinking of adopting a puppy, we highly recommend the following book:

How To Raise The Perfect Dog

by Melissa Jo Peltier and Cesar Millan (audio version narrated by John H. Mayer)

As I listened to the Audible edition of this book, I couldn’t help but wonder what it would be like to work for Cesar Millan, and be able to sit around my office watching puppy cams whenever I wanted.  In fact, this entire book is an oblique look at how things are run at the Dog Psychology Center–which makes it a fun and interesting read/listen.

In the introduction, Cesar Millan states that the purpose of this book is to teach that adopting a puppy and raising it is a learned skill, not innate–and that although we often think of our dogs as our babies, it’s a very different thing to raise a puppy than a human baby.  He calls puppies “little survival machines”, and calls upon us to see that dogs themselves are the best teachers of how they should be raised with rules, boundaries and limitations in order to thrive and become perfect pets.

Although this book starts with Cesar selecting four very different dogs to follow along the path from adoption to adolescence, the book is super useful for owners with dogs of any age.  It’s important to note as well that dogs are considered:

Puppies–until 8 months old

Adolescents–from 8 months to 3 years

Adults–over 3 years

labradorThere are four dogs featured in the book, varying in age from puppyhood to adolescence.  Some came from breeders, some from rescues.  The dogs are:

Junior–a Pit Bull

Blizzard–a Labrador Retriever

Angel–A Miniature Schnauzer

Mr. President–an English Bulldog

Those readers familiar with Cesar’s former show The Dog Whisperer will know that pit bulls are one of his favorite breeds–in fact, in this book he says that he recommends people with children seek a puppy of this breed which has balanced energy and is well socialized, as the breed’s very characteristics of toughness and stamina make it a perfect choice for children that want to climb on the dog and pull on its ears, etc.  His 16 year old pit bull, Daddy, was famous for calming the energy of unstable dogs on Cesar’s show, and actually helped him select Junior!

Cesar has worked with John Grogan’s family, but was determined that Blizzard not be another “Marley and Me”.

He worked with each dog individually to raise them more as dogs first, and then to honor what they were actually created to do as breeds.  Cesar believes that adopting a puppy and raising it as naturally as possible creates a natural balance in its energy, and makes it the perfect pet!

So–if you’re looking for a comprehensive guide for adopting a puppy, we highly recommend this book.  Follow the link below to buy this one and more at Cesar’s Bookstore!

adopting a puppy perfect dog Get great Books and More from

Pet Health Insurance–Needed Or Not?

pet health insurance surgeryWe’ve had one cat and two dogs die of cancer without the benefit of pet health insurance.  So Dave and I know how it feels to be a pet parent with a sick baby.  Some of our staff have had the experience also of their pets suffering life threatening injuries and having to foot expensive veterinary bills.  So we did a bit of research on the subject of pet health insurance.  Here’s what you need to know:

Pet Health Insurance Then And Now

At one time, pet health insurance was something owners just never needed–not only was the public’s attitude toward their pets more like property, but veterinary science had not caught up to the technology offered to human patients.  However, now vets can offer radiation therapy, kidney transplants, MRIs, open heart surgery and cancer treatment, just to name a few.  So the price tag for emergency care has gone up–and pet health insurance is firmly on the table of choices.

Is Affordable Pet Health Insurance Possible?

In a world where more than 12 billion dollars is spent annually on veterinary care, even places like the American Kennel Club and Petco have partnered with insurers to offer  pet health insurance.  And employers such as Office Depot and Google offer the coverage as part of their employee benefit packages.  Vets say that more often than not, if pet parents had invested in pet health insurance before a major illness or injury, they would not have had to resort to euthanasia of a pet that could have been saved.  However, Consumer Reports did a study a few years back, the result of which was a recommendation that pet owners avoid pet health insurance premiums, and instead start a pet health savings account in case of an injury or illness.

What To Look For In Pet Health Insurance

pet health insurance piggy bank

But let’s say you do want to go ahead with obtaining pet health insurance–what should you look for?

  1. Is the insurer registered with your state?
  2. What is the deductible?  How much are co-pays, caps or limits?
  3. What are the exclusions?  (Such as hip dysplasia in certain breeds.)
  4. Is there a pre-existing conditions clause?
  5. Is there a difference in cost according to the age of your pet?
  6. How does the cost of one company’s policy compare to another?  (This can vary widely!)

If you’re getting the feeling it’s much like shopping for human insurance–you’re right!  And just like your own policy, the purchase of pet health insurance is more an exercise in risk management than anything else.  Statistics show that most people are not going to get back what they pay out in premiums for pet health insurance.

On the other hand, the people that have are pretty happy they made the investment.


 Joy JonesJoy 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 (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 as well as send her a friend request on Facebook.

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 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 as well as follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

Greyhounds: You Are The One

a greyhound track view inside“I know you’re out there. I can feel you now. I know that you’re afraid… you’re afraid of us. You’re afraid of change. I don’t know the future. I didn’t come here to tell you how this is going to end. I came here to tell you how it’s going to begin… I’m going to show these people what you don’t want them to see. I’m going to show them a world without you. A world without rules and controls, without borders or boundaries. A world where anything is possible. Where we go from there is a choice I leave to you.”

“Why do my eyes hurt?”
“You’ve never used them before.”

–The Matrix

“Compassion is most important for happiness. We must treat fellow human beings as equal, that is very important, but also all beings who have capacity for feeling. So the innate desire for happiness that is the basis of human rights extends to all sentient beings, including animals and insects.”

–The Dalai Lama

When our greyhound, Seba, first came home—they call it “going into retirement”—I learned they must be taught about things like stairways, glass doors and shiny floors. Previously, this has not been part of their life experience. At the time, I quipped, “Wow, it’s like we just unplugged her from The Matrix.”

Greyhound racing began in 1912 when the mechanical lure was invented. Today, tracks still operate in seven US states (Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Texas, Florida, West Virginia and Iowa)—despite well publicized reports of animal cruelty, poor care and restricted daily lives of the dogs. How is this allowed to go on, you ask? One word: money. And lots of it.

When I was deciding which greyhound would be right for us, I was provided a link to Seba’s pedigree. Curious about her parents, I came across a photo of her father wearing a banner showing that he had won $50,000 for his owners in a race. That’s when I really got it—these dogs are nothing more than money makers.

Much like in the fictional Matrix, tens of thousands of greyhounds are bred each year for one purpose: to energize a “winning” bloodline. Their racing careers are generally over at four years, but they may be kept longer if they are fast or killed by the track at any age if they are injured or lack racing potential.

Seba was rescued at less than two years. I believe she was retired because she prefers to stay with the pack when running instead of lead it to the finish. But for every dog that comes home, thousands more are still killed each year—often by gunshot, bludgeoning, abandonment, and starvation. Only a few are humanely euthanized by a vet.

Those that are allowed to live and race spend most of their lives in cramped crates. Their kennels are not climate controlled, so they suffer from heat and cold exposure. They are fed raw 4D meat (this is meat from dying, diseased, disabled and dead livestock) and are hosed down, not given baths. They are infested with ticks.

It is unclear how many of these dogs are still destroyed each year because there are not enough homes to accept them. Current estimates range from 3,000 to 8,500. This includes culled puppies and “retirees” who were not rescued. They may be sold to research labs, used for breeding or sent to foreign racetracks with even more appalling conditions.

Unlike animal breeding, zoos, circuses, and animal transportation via airlines—greyhound racing is not governed by the federal Animal Welfare Act. The Humane Society of the US investigates industry abuses and initiates legislation to ban greyhound racing. But they need your help. Here’s what you can do:

  1. Tell everyone.
  2. Consider a greyhound if you are interested in adopting a companion animal.
  3. If you can’t adopt, volunteer your time or donate to a rescue organization.
  4. If you live in a state that operates greyhound racing tracks or your state has not yet banned it (Colorado, Connecticut, Kansas, Oregon or Wisconsin) write to your state officials. Contact The HSUS for model legislation to ban greyhound racing.
  5. Distribute copies of this web page:

Greyhound Racing: Death in The Fast Lane

seba 300Every time I look at Seba, out in the back yard tossing a toy around and running to catch it, leaping about like a happy gazelle, she makes my heart sing. Every dog should have this life. And just like Neo of The Matrix, YOU ARE THE ONE who can make that happen.

Don’t give up—for all their sakes.

Author’s Note, 10/15/15–Have a first hand perspective of a greyhound track, positive or negative?  Please send us your assenting or opposing article.

 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. 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 as well as send her a friend request on Facebook.

Books: All Creatures Great And Small

dog eared bookSome time ago, our Facebook page manager, John Jordan, recommended a series of books to me that I’d heard of, but never explored.  If, like me at the time, you’ve never read All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot, you’re in for a treat!

In 1940, James Alfred Wight worked at a rural veterinary practice in the town of Thirsk, Yorkshire, close to the Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors in England.

The first book in this series, All Creatures Great And Small, consists of partially autobiographical stories of his career as a country vet and his many adventures caring for the dogs, cats and farm animals of the locals. According to Wikipedia, Wight’s son, Jim states “a lot of the stories, although set in the 1930s, 1940s or 1950s in the books, were actually inspired by cases that Wight attended in the 1960s and 1970s.”

Not only do you get a great feel for the heart of the English people of the region, but also for the challenges vets face–and I think you’ll find no other series of books about pets to be so utterly charming.

Herriot’s style of writing, as well, is easy to follow.  And it’s interesting to imagine what it was like to live at that time–not only from the perspective of the rather primitive veterinary resources that were available but, for me, just imagining what it would be like to stand in a freezing barn or field for hours, waiting for your part in some major event, like a calving.

By the time you reach the end of the first book, you really feel like you met Dr. Herriot yourself, and know him as a kind and dedicated man.  And by the way, the adventures as he meets and courts his wife are just hilarious!

It’s always been amazing to me that real people are far more fascinating than made up characters could ever be, and never more so than in this series of books.  You’ll love them!

 Check out the YPS Bookstore for this and other awesome books about pets!

 Joy JonesJoy 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 as well as follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

Pet Health When Temps Drop

freezing-dogIt’s a common belief outside of the pet health industry that dogs and cats can tolerate cold weather because of their fur, but make no mistake, pets can get frostbite, too.  The good news is, cold weather injuries are the easiest to prevent.

A pet’s cold tolerance can vary from pet to pet based on their coat, body fat stores, activity level, and health. Be aware of your pet’s tolerance for cold weather, and adjust accordingly. (For instance, our Greyhound must have a sweater any time it’s below 50 outside, and a coat at 40 or lower, our Basset Hound is good until temps get below freezing, although will retreat to the house if there is snow deep enough to reach his belly, while our taller, heavier coated Brittany is tolerant of all temps and snow depths, at least for small periods of time.)  Pets with diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, or hormonal imbalances will have a harder time regulating their body temperature, and may be more susceptible to extreme cold. A good rule of thumb is: if you need cold weather protection, so does your pet.

paw irritation

One of the most common problems vets treat during cold weather is irritation to paw pads from salt.  How to tell if this is a problem for your pet:  if the pet favors one paw or hops around on its feet or twitches its feet while standing on the sidewalk.  They may also lick their paws to remove the salt, making the pads red and chapped and giving them digestive upsets.


If possible, put booties on your dogs when they must go outside.  At the very least, wipe their paws with a warm, wet cloth when they come back indoors. If your dog has a short coat or seems bothered by the cold weather, consider a sweater or dog coat. And be sure to toss it in the dryer if it gets wet.  Wet sweaters or coats can actually make your dog colder. We recommend Dapperdawgs if you have a greyhound.  (Here’s a pic of Seba’s coat.) Amazon also has a wonderful selection, as well as Petsmart.


Damp and cold can also irritate symptoms of arthritis in older pets.  So if your dog or cat cries with pain going up or down stairs, when being picked up, or has trouble getting up or lying down, a trip to the vet is in order.  Puppies do not tolerate the cold as well as adult dogs and may be difficult to housebreak during the winter. If necessary, paper-train your puppy inside if he or she appears to be sensitive to the weather.

cat engineKeep in mind that outdoor pets will seek shelter in car engines during freezing temps.  Check underneath your car, bang on the hood, and honk the horn before starting the engine to encourage feline hitchhikers to abandon their roost under the hood. And if you house pets in the garage that are normally outside, be aware that carbon monoxide from a warming car takes only minutes to become deadly for your dog or cat. And of course make sure to keep them away from puddles of anti-freeze, which are sweet tasting but deadly. Never leave your pet alone in a car in cold weather–this is just as dangerous as during hot temps.


Be sure to pet proof your house as well, since pets will be spending more time indoors. Use space heaters in safe areas, to prevent burns or getting knocked over, causing a fire. If you have a pet bird, make sure its cage is away from drafts. Keep in mind that pets especially need warm bedding and fresh water at this time.

horsePet Health Outside: make sure pets and livestock are kept away from frozen ponds, lakes and other water.  Make sure chicken coops and dog houses have plenty of insulating hay, and dog houses should be raised off the cold ground.


Know the signs of hypothermia: whining, shivering, the pet seems anxious, slows down or stops moving, seems weak, or starts looking for warm places to burrow.  If you see this, they need to be brought inside quickly!

Be prepared in case you lose power: now’s the time for your pet disaster/emergency kit, with enough food, water and medicine (including any prescription medications as well as heartworm and flea/tick preventives) on hand to get through at least 5 days.


Shelters see a lot of lost, homeless and stray dogs during the winter months. Always keep a collar on your dog and consider having your pet identified with a microchip, in case your dog gets lost or disoriented in cold weather.


The great news is, Winter is an awesome time to clicker-train your dog or cat.  Most pets need some distractions to ward off cabin fever anyway, and they’ll relish time spent with you, their human parents.  So here’s to pet health, no matter the weather!


joy 300

 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 as well as follow her on Facebook or Twitter.