Leonard Nimoy’s Pet Shop

nimoy with his cat and dog

Nimoy, with his own cat and dog.

Sadly, I’ve been saying I was going to get around to this post for more than a year–and now it’s happening in the wake of Leonard Nimoy’s death.  Sorry, old friend.  But I know somehow you’ll understand…

Nimoy with horse

Sometimes we forget that this business was created to be not only about pets and the people that love them, but also our branding grew out of our deep love of science and science fiction.  No one in science fiction was unfamiliar with who Leonard Nimoy was.  And when he died, every single fan felt it as though he was truly a part of their family.

Because you see, Leonard Nimoy belonged to us–and us to him.

Leonard Nimoy’s Pet Shop

Would you be surprised then to learn, that Leonard Nimoy had a pet shop?  I was!  I actually learned this in the same way that most online wisdom is gleaned–from googling something else.  🙂

nimoy in catspaw

In her 1970 article on Nimoy’s Pet Pad, Michele Jaques says, “Nimoy would have liked Mr. Spock to have a cat or dog on board the ‘Enterprise’.”  For most of his fans, this brings up the Star Trek episode “Catspaw,” where Spock is shown stroking a lovely black cat, who later turned into a woman.  Me-ow, right?  It is obvious though, from his handling of the cat that Leonard loved animals and they loved him.

In the episode “The Enemy Within”, a dog is dressed as a space alien, and once again Nimoy holds a small, furry one in his arms.  This time he looks worried, and rightly so!  In the story, the dog has been divided by the transporter into one angel and one devil dog!

alien dog

According to Jaques, Nimoy went through a bit of a spiritual transformation when Star Trek was cancelled in 1969.  Above all, he spent the years after dedicating himself to doing things that had meaning.  And he considered his pet shop in Canoga Park in the San Fernando Valley a spiritual venture.  There, he had such animals as chipmunks, monkeys, crocodiles, boa constrictors, even a South American otter!  Leonard himself had a dog and cat, a hamster, two rabbits and a tank full of fish.  His children had a pet tortoise that lived in the back yard.

Nimoy’s Pet Pad lasted only a couple of years…but it was a worthy effort made by a truly Renaissance Man.  Thank you, Leonard.  Thanks for letting all of us know you–really know you.

nimoy with wife and dog

 

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 joy@yourpetspace.info as well as send her a friend request on Facebook.

Product Review–All Living Things Small Animal Carrier

all living things small animal carrierOptions In Temporary Housing For Your Small Animal

We are all here because we love our pets and want the best for them. We want them to be happy, healthy, and comfortable. If you have a small animal, you probably already have an awesome setup for them, maybe even a several story cage with plenty of room, but something like that isn’t exactly transportable. There are plenty of animal transport options out there, everything from cardboard boxes to something that is more like a small cage, so what option is the best for your animal?

The most important thing to start with is a simple question: What am I going to use this carrier for? Some people use their carrier only for visits to the vet and back, others use their carrier as a temporary cage to house their animals in while they clean the larger living space. If you are going to use your carrier as a travel cage rather than an actual carrier, I would suggest skipping the purchase of a carrier and moving straight to the small cage aisle. There are plenty of smaller cages out there that would work all right as temporary housing for your small animal in many situations, such as taking them with you on vacation or moving across country. You will want to use something that gives you room for water, food and bedding, but most importantly you will want to use something that is of solid construction from which your small animal cannot escape.

Not All Temporary Housing For Your Small Animal Is Right For Those That Chew

The All Living Things Small Animal Carrier, being made of chewable materials is NOT one of the carriers you would want to use as a temporary cage. It is meant only for the purpose of transporting your animal from one location to another, preferably while someone is observing them in the process. The carrier is made of 50% cotton and 50% polyester, with a little bit of stiff paper board sandwiched between the fabric layers to help it maintain shape and be a little durable, and the windows are covered with a soft mesh. While the flexibility of the materials makes it awesome for storage, there is little chance that such a carrier will stand up to the teeth of your little chewers. This doesn’t mean you should avoid the carrier, however. With proper supervision, this carrier can be an excellent choice.

Let’s look at some of the pros of having this carrier.

interior all living things carrierI have already talked some about the materials, but there are other aspects of the construction that make it a prime choice for purchase, namely the fact that it can be completely unzipped into one flat piece and easily stored away just about anywhere. The ability to unzip it completely also means that cleaning is a breeze. No reaching in and straining to see if you have managed to clear out all the corners, just unzip, wipe down, let dry, and you’re off again in no time at all.

Another thing that I like about this carrier is the softer nature of it. It is more comfortable for the animals than hard plastic and that means it is certainly lighter to carry, something that is important for someone like myself, who has to consider a doctor mandated weight limit on anything that I pick up and move around. This brings me to another part of the softer construction; the shoulder strap. While I much prefer to hold the carrier by the top handle, there is a detachable shoulder strap that comes with it. I have used the strap once or twice, when all of the animals are going to the vet in one visit and I simply don’t have enough hands to hold them all, and that has worked well. It makes for a little bit of a bumpy ride for the animals, but it leaves me free to take a dog leash in each hand for the short walk to and from the car.

alt carrierIs The Carrier Going to Protect The Animals?

Finally, is the carrier going to protect the animals inside? I can say from experience that if your dog accidentally knocks the carrier out of the car and onto the ground, your small animals will be startled and shocked, but come out unharmed. That doesn’t mean I’d be dropping it off a two story building though, because being soft, it really isn’t meant to withstand much more than the occasional bump or drop.

Now is probably the time to give a few warnings regarding some things I have noticed while using the All Living Things Small Animal Carrier.

I’m going to start with that zipper again. While it is awesome to be able to store this carrier flat (especially since we live in a building with very limited space), I am always worried of pinching tail or whiskers when I am putting the rats inside. You are going to have to be careful of loading any animal that has a tendency to try and escape out of the carrier’s opening, because if you don’t watch carefully some serious zipper accidents can occur. The zipper makes it easy for you to open and holds them securely inside, but it can be dangerous if you are inattentive. When you close a carrier door that is on a hinge, the process is quick, but when you try to quickly zip something, accidents can happen. I would recommend keeping your fingers inside the carrier as you are zipping it to help prevent catching the metal on the animal inside. The zipper can also jam or break. We are currently on our second carrier because of zipper failure and will eventually need a third one, as one of the teeth is bent at the opening.

Going back to the softer construction of the carrier, what about using it for chewing animals? Well, we have rats and they are major chewers and master escape artists. Luckily, we have only ever had one rat try and chew his way out of the carrier and that lasted all of the one second that he got his teeth on the mesh window before we noticed it. If you are attentive while you are transporting, you will be able to stop your animal from chewing their way out. Do NOT put your pet in the carrier and then walk away to get another animal or clean a cage or pick up your keys, because if your pet is a chewer, it is far too easy for them to get out, destroying your carrier in the process.

So you must always consider: in the end, is the carrier going to protect the animals?

rats Phobos and Deimos in carrierEspecially For Transporting Rats

I have two other issues with the softer construction, both easily dealt with. First of all, because of the materials the carrier is made from, you are most definitely going to want to put an absorbent towel or blanket in the bottom, depending on the proper material for your animal. A little bit of paper towels or newspaper isn’t going to do and you certainly don’t want to leave the bottom of the carrier uncovered. Trust me on this one, when transporting rats, pee goes everywhere if there’s nothing to catch it. Secondly, the mesh is great for ventilation, but the carrier itself traps heat inside, so that by the time you get to where you are going the inside is like a sauna. Any time that we go somewhere with the carrier, I ALWAYS turn the car’s air vent so that it blows THROUGH the carrier windows, giving them cross breeze and circulation. This is most especially important for transporting rats like our North, who has a breathing condition and can’t remain in the carrier for more than a minute or two. So as soon as you get to the vet, open that carrier and let your babies get some fresh air.

The most important thing to think about when you are getting a carrier is the safety of your animal. The durability of this carrier is not meant for long rides in traffic, where accidents could happen. If you hit the side of this thing, it will bend, so while your dog can knock it on the ground or your cat can push it off the counter and your animal will be startled but okay, a more serious impact probably won’t have as happy of an ending. For that reason, I would not recommend this carrier to anyone who is using it to drive long distances on major roads, even if you have someone keeping the air blowing through and watching for escapist behavior.

ferret in alt carrierPros:
*A lot like a little den, soft and comfortable.
*Opens flat for easy cleaning and storage.
*Has detachable shoulder strap.
*Will protect your babies from short distance falls.

Cons
*Easy to chew through.
*Quickly gets stuffy inside.
*Needs absorbent materials added in base.
*Won’t protect well on hard impact.
*Use caution when using zipper.

Mirrani Houpe, YPS Staff MemberMirrani Houpe, our Small Animal Editor, 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@yourpetspace.info

Living World Teach N’ Treat Product Review

Teach N Treat

Living World: Giving Guinea Pigs, Rabbits, and Other Small Animals A Fun Foraging Experience

We have had this Living World product in our house for several years and have included it in our rotating variety of stimulating toys for some time now. Having rats, I can only speak from the experience of their interaction with it, but I expect that animals like guinea pigs and rabbits might get more out of it than even the rats! All of our rats have been too quick to learn the trick of the toy to really spend a lot of time with it, even if they love using it.  However, you can make the game more challenging for pets.

The treat tray consists of a base and various removable buttons which combine in several different ways to give three levels of training in all, with only one or two minor adjustments to the toy itself. The directions are multilingual and easy to follow, with clear illustrations and suggestions for further training. The main platform also has suction cups for stabilization, which comes in handy for larger small pets, like guinea pigs and rabbits. My only instant advice is to KEEP THE BOX. The toy has multiple parts that you won’t be using all at once and you will need to keep the unused knobs and pieces in a safe location. None of the parts are tiny, but each is needed in various steps in the training process, so it’s important to keep track of them.

North And Whisper, pet rats

North And Whisper

How To Know If This Toy Is Right For Your Pet

As I said, we have rats, so my experience with this toy will be slightly different from those with guinea pigs, rabbits or other small animals, but most small animals should enjoy this product as it helps to stimulate their natural foraging behaviors. Our rats Whisper and North helped us break down the various stages of the Living World Teach N’ Treat to help you decide if this toy is right for your pet.

Stage one requires the base, the flat center button (which covers the hole in the center of the base, needed in the third stage), and the one, large disc. You plug the center button in place, fill the treat pockets with something yummy and simply slide the large disc into place to cover the treats. The point of this stage is to teach your pet that this is a treat tray, with a little fun added on the side. It isn’t long at all before curious critters discover that something yummy hides under the disc. North, who loves food, found his treats right away. Whisper took a little coaxing, but once I shifted the disc a little for him, he worked out what he was meant to do. All together the first day of this stage took about eight minutes until the rats completely lost interest, once they had eaten up all the food, of course. We waited a few days and introduced the toy again. Each time we brought the tray back the play time shortened until it got down to a little more than two minutes. Then we moved on to phase two.

guinea pigs with teach n treat

How To Make The Game More Challenging For Pets

In the second stage you keep the base as it is, take out the big disc and put the four small knobs over some of the treat pockets in the base. The point of this stage is to play hide and seek with the food. You can make the game more challenging by putting down all four knobs, but hiding treats under only a few of them, though to start with you should put food under all of the knobs to prevent your pet from getting discouraged in their hunt. Whisper loved this stage and actually lifted the knobs with his teeth, as the directions state is the intent of the exercise. North, however, simply pushed everything over like the bulldozer he is. This phase wasn’t at all stimulating for him. For most of our rats in the past, this has been the least stimulating of the phases. They simply crave a more difficult mental challenge. The instructions do give further ideas for training on this stage, such as teaching your pet to put the knob in a box nearby or to put it back in the hole where they found it, but we haven’t done this with our rats. A helpful note for guinea pig and rabbit owners: the knobs have holes on the top for you to stick a piece of hay in, to encourage them to hunt inside for more food. You can stop using the holes to make this phase more of a challenge.

With the second stage quickly completed, it was time to move on to stage three, which requires the square “center guard” instead of the small, flat middle button of the first two stages. Switch those out, put the knobs back and you have an instant knob track that you can hide treats under. This is a great stage to watch because your pets already know there is food to be found under the knobs. Now they quickly discover that the knobs can make a traffic jam and it takes more effort to get those last few treats once the knobs are all pushed together into a compact group. Whisper was still trying to lift the knobs after the first few days of stage three, but North picked up on the pushing skill very quickly. They started out with a five minute interest level and worked it down to about two or three minutes. A simple way to make this game more challenging for pets is to provide only one or two treats. While the small animal is foraging , the knobs get bunched together and they need to work out how to get to that one treat that ended up under all those knobs.

ferret with teach n treat

Variety Is What’s Best For Your Pet

It is important to point out that variety is the key with these types of toys. North and Whisper tested this Living World product over a series of months to see if the toy is right for your pet, and never used it two days in a row. You don’t want them to forget all about the toy, but you don’t want it to be to them what a vending machine is with us. How many of us actually get excited about watching those people-treats drop down into the tray once we’re all grown up and know how it works? Switch stages on your pet once they have worked out how each one works. Maybe jump from one to three and back to two. Maybe give them a week away from it and then pull it back out again, just for kicks. You might also want to try a variety of treats. We use small treats for our rats, but you could put chunks of carrot or other animal food into your tray. The tray is easy to clean and solid plastic, so even animals who eat soft foods as a part of their diet could find a yummy berry inside one day.

Teach N Treat Toy

There are so many small animal toys that help your rat, rabbit or guinea pig to chew, burrow, or hide, but there are very few that make the game more challenging for pets, and remind us that these animals forage for food. In our household, we have found that this is an excellent substitute for the large box full of shredded paper that we once used. Sure the rats could forage in there, but within a minute they figured out that all the treats settled to the bottom of the box, and it wasn’t any different than covering up a carrot with a blanket and having them find it. This toy provides the stimulation your pet requires and the easy clean up that pet owners love. It comes highly recommended from our household–and Living World!

Conclusions On The Living World Teach N’ Treat

Pros:

  • Easy to Clean
  • Easy to Assemble
  • Stimulating for Pets
  • Stabilization Enhancements

Cons:

  • Keep track of the parts you aren’t using!

This toy is right for your pet! Follow this link to purchase:

Mirrani Houpe  Mirrani Houpe, our Small Animal Editor, 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@yourpetspace.info

Vet Questions: FEATURE ARTICLE

vet questions: rabbit

Vet Questions Answered: Fit and Trim – Healthy Life for Small Animals

So, you recently picked out the sweetest, cutest, most adorable small animal to join your family.  You’ve got the litter and the cage, picked out the toys to stimulate their little brains, found a water bottle and grabbed a handy bag of small animal chow…  You must be all set to go home and settle in with your little one, right?  Not necessarily.

It’s important to note that each small animal has their own set of dietary needs.  I can’t emphasize enough that no matter what small animal you have in your home, it should have a vet, just as a dog and cat would.  Your vet should see the animal at least once, for a wellness checkup.  This will not only put your pet‘s information on file, but is a great time to talk diet and learn what could be ahead for the future health of your animal.  If you’ve never cared for this kind of small animal before, make sure you get a list of safe and unsafe foods for your baby to enjoy and be certain that if your little one has constantly growing teeth, you have some type of food that will help wear those little choppers down.

vet questions: rat nutrition

After recently discovering a new brand of rat food in our local pet store, I sat down with our vet, Dr. Jason Smith, during a wellness exam, to talk out our options and find out what was best for the two new, growing rats we have in our home.  Later on, I realized that there might be a few families out there with a first time small pet and that this conversation would be a good one to share.  I asked Dr. Smith if he would be willing to answer some generic small animal questions and he agreed.

During our chat, I was not surprised to hear that there were many new small animal families in to the office this past year.  Small pets are becoming very popular these days, and as a rat owner, I honestly can’t argue against their fame.  Just look at their adorable faces!  Who wouldn’t want these sweet little bundles of love to be a part of their home?  What DID surprise me was the very beginning of our conversation…

Remember my saying earlier that you grabbed “a handy bag of small animal chow“ on your way out of the pet store?  A lot of people assume that because the contents of the foods are similar, the animal on the package doesn’t matter much.  You look through the clear plastic and see seeds and dried corn and some pellets that are made of some kind of Flax Seed or Oat products, plus vitamins and minerals and it looks just like the bag next to it, where the pellets are a slightly different color or size.  The size difference is probably because the animal is larger and the color change simple to explain.  Don’t other products remind us that color can vary with each batch?  One can only assume they’re the same food, right?

Vet Questions guinea pig

Dr. Smith was very serious about this common misunderstanding, because while people are right that the CONTENTS are basically similar, it is the AMOUNT that you need to watch out for.  “Many of the foods will have similar ingredients but the amount of each will be different.  Small animals have different ways of breaking down food from one another and us,” he reminded me.  “NEVER buy food for the wrong species!”

All right.  Check that you‘ve got the right bag for the right baby.  You find the right one, then read the back and it says that in addition to this food, “it is recommended to feed a limited amount of appropriate fresh fruits and vegetables.”  Woah!  “Appropriate?”  How do you know what they mean?  Again, always consult your own vet on this, because some small animals need more green leafy vegetables or vitamin C than others, but most vegetables are good for all.  Most fruits are okay too, but remember to keep quantity down because, well… imagine what happens to you when you eat too much fruit.

vet questions not-to-do list

What small animals should AVOID are things like avocados, green parts of raw potato and plants from the onion family.  Dr. Smith says it is also important to avoid large quantities of grapes.  And what about those bags of dried fruits and veggies at the store?  They must be healthy, they’re fruits and vegetables, just dried up.  Well, they might taste good, but they “won’t provide the healthy nutrition of fresh fruits and vegetables.” So fresh is the way we go at our place, especially since Dr. Smith pointed out, “Dried products are more likely to cause health problems like diarrhea and obesity.”

Giving our babies healthy fruits and vegetables must mean that if I’ve got some human food with broccoli or carrots in it, I can just let them steal a little or lick my plate when I’m done.  Plenty of people do this, so we assume it must be safe.  Dr. Smith reminded me that what is safest is to avoid this kind of thing completely.  “The animal will consume more than you think!  This often results in the pet getting toxins or large amounts of fat.  Commonly, eating people food will result in a loss of appetite, lethargy, vomiting and diarrhea.”  And of course avoid things with chocolate or high fat all together!

Vet questions: critical care supplement

But, what if your animal is sick or needs a boost to the immune system?  If they’re losing weight, can’t these foods with a little extra fat be helpful?  Our vet recommends giving a product like Critical Care for these needs, which is a supplement that can be syringe fed if necessary and should be available from your own vet.  Remember, elderly and sick animals that are losing weight require additional care anyway, so when you’re in for your exam, make sure to ask what they recommend to help give your baby a boost.

Of course, once you’ve read all this, you might think the issue of balanced nutrition sounds like a complicated process, but don’t let it keep you away from critters in cages.  Certain small animals can be just as affectionate and loving as a dog or cat and some are even more social.  If the best way to get on like peas and carrots is to share a small bite of banana, it’s well worth that extra trip to the produce department.

Vet questions: Caduceus

Dr. Jason Smith attended Rider University in New Jersey where he earned his undergraduate degree in Cellular and Molecular Biology with a minor in Chemistry.  He then attended the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine, where he graduated with his Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine in 2005 with honors.  He enjoys all aspects of small animal medicine and surgery and has medically and surgically treated dogs, cats, rabbits, ferrets, guinea pigs, rats, prairie dogs, chinchillas, hedgehogs, hamsters, mice, gerbils and pot bellied pigs.  He currently practices at both Timberlyne and Legion Road Animal Clinics in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

Mirrani 300

Mirrani 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.

Critical Care Products At Amazon

Other Oxbow Small Animal Products Available At Pet Food Direct

The Do It Yourself Pet Parent

pet toys

When we first launched, one of our polls revealed that pet owners would like to know how to make their own healthy treats for their fur babies, and also fun, teaching toys.  Your Pet Space scoured the web and found the following links:

TOYS

33 Dog Toys You Can Make From Things Around the House

Make Your Own Homemade Rabbit Toys

Cat Toys

Five Cheap Bird Toys You Can Make at Home

And, our fav:

 

TREATS

Recipe Ideas for Quick and Healthy Homemade Dog Treats

Diabetic Dog Treats

Cat Treats: Homemade Cat Food Recipes

Bird Food and Treat Recipes

Homemade Rat Treats

And our fav:

We would LOVE to have you send in to us your toy ideas and natural recipes for treats or food!  Just post on our Facebook page, comment here or e-mail to joy@yourpetspace.info

Joy Jones

Joy Jones is a syndicated columnist living with her husband Dave in Anderson, Ohio.  When not working on Your Pet Space, she writes a metaphyscial 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.