Monday, June 30, 2014

Tuesday's Tails: Where Are They Now?

For this week's Tuesday's Tails, I thought I would catch the readers up on the status of some previously featured animals.  Most of them are, unfortunately, still up for adoption and waiting for a forever home...a few, though, have found their families!  

(Photos courtesy of HSNI and Arickx Photography)

Remember Beau and Chachi, the bonded buddies who ended up in the shelter after their owner passed away?  They are still there, watching people pass them by because of their age.  At 10+ years old, these sweethearts aren't in the shape they once were, but they are total lovers who deserve a second chance at a home.  Beau and Chachi are very close to my heart, which breaks just a little more every time I see them still at the shelter.  Contact the HSNI for more information.

(Photo courtesy of HSNI)

Tessa, the plump and lovable office cat, was an honorary member of the shelter staff at the HSNI.  Though she was an older gal, she never had health issues and was always up for a treat.  A few months ago, Tessa grew unexpectedly ill and passed away.  There are no words to describe how much we all loved this cat, employees and customers alike.  She was an irreplaceable part of the shelter, and everyone misses her very much.  We love you, sweet Tessa. <3

(Photo courtesy of Arickx Photography)
(Photo courtesy of Love & Luck Photography)

Here are Starlight and Tamer, two of the sweetest pitties ever housed at the HSNI!  After a year of waiting, they were lifted from the shelter and taken to a pit bull rescue out of state.  This was good news to hear - breed-specific rescues are often more successful at adopting out pit bulls.  I haven't yet heard any updates on these two goofballs, but they could very well be enjoying their new homes as we speak!

(Photo courtesy of HSNI)

Goldie's life has not been fair to her.  Her story (which you can read by clicking the link in the previous sentence) is one of the worst I've ever heard while involved in animal rescue, and my heart just breaks for her.  Yet she still sits in the shelter and has been doing so for a year and a half.  Her special needs make her a bit of a tough adoption, but this girl deserves to feel what it's like to be a pet.  Give her a chance - contact the HSNI.

If you're looking for a sweet senior dog to bring into your family, please consider Beau & Chachi or Goldie.

Tune in for next week's Tuesday's Tails for more updates! :)

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Happy Birthday, Riley!!!

Several things on the agenda today:

Riley's birthday was last goofy guy turned 8 years old!  We celebrated last Tuesday with a Pupcake and some yummy peanut butter treats from the Three Dog Bakery.  Riley has been in our life for about a year and half now, and, to be quite honest, he seems older than just 8.  Though that has more to do with his immense laziness and less to do with his overall health - thank goodness!  Riley, of course, had no idea what we were making such a fuss about, but it's always fun to celebrate a pet's birthday!

"Can I eat it now, Dad?  Can I?"

Last weekend's auction of puppy mill dogs was something of a success!  Last week, I posted about how hard it was to be just one person in the world of animal rescue - a huge puppy mill in Iowa was shut down, and the dogs were all to be auctioned off in Missouri...mostly likely to more breeders.  Well, thanks to some amazing rescues and their generous supporters, around 85 percent of the dogs at the auction were purchased by rescues!  This is huge, and I am so amazed at the extent these organizations went to, especially considering the long trip and big expense.  

Kelsie from the wonderful It's Dog or Nothing blog has awarded my blog the Shine On Award!  A huge THANK YOU goes out to Kelsie, and I encourage you all to visit her blog!  Now it's time for me to tell you the rules:  Visit and thank the blogger who nominated you, acknowledge that blogger on your blog and link back, share 7 random facts about yourself, and nominate up to 15 bloggers for the Shine On award, provide a link to their blog in your post, and notify them on their blog!  So here are my 7 random facts:

1.  I majored in psychology in college, and I have yet to do ANYTHING with that degree.
2.   I am a great big nerd, and I can kick my husband's butt at old-school Super Mario Bros. :)
3.  I average about a book a day...a mixture of too much free time and supreme geekiness.
4.  My greatest phobia is vomit.  Watching it, hearing it, smelling it.  I am, like, abnormally afraid of throwing up.  (Dog vom, by the way, is totally okay with me.  It's the human variety I fear!)
5.  I let my dog kiss me on the mouth and I am not ashamed!
6.  Before volunteering and working in a shelter, I was pretty afraid of pit bulls.  (Oh, the shame!)  Once I actually spent time with them, though, I learned that they're nothing but big ol' goofballs!
7.  I have an invisible illness that causes me to faint without much warning...however, it's been over six months since my last "episode"!

And here are the bloggers I nominate who I'd love to learn more about; check them out - they're all great!:

Visit these blogs and spread the love!  <3  Thanks again, Kelsie!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Cyber Saturday

This week was a blur of errand-running - and, if I'm honest, peanut butter M&M-eating (I'm addicted!).  Jared and I went on a couple of shopping trips to find some scrubs to wear to my new job.  One of the perks of working in an animal hospital is all the cute dog-and-cat scrubs you get to wear!  We've got a wedding to get up for in the morning, so I'll keep today's Cyber Saturday brief.

I found this hilarious website, "Written? Kitten!", which "rewards" you with a new photo of a cute kitten, puppy, or bunny after you've written 100 words.  If you're an animal lover who also writes, this could be quite the motivational tool! ;)

I've been wanting to whip up some frozen treats to cool Riley off during these hot summer days, and Owned by a Husky just posted a recipe that sounds awesome and easy.  Looks delish, and her huskies sure seemed to love 'em! 

DogMilk posted about these stylish leashes from RuggedWrist.  They make not only leashes and collars for your pooch, but matching bracelets for you, too!  I love the nautical-inspired look - I never thought that accessorizing to match your dog could be so fashionable!

Buzzfeed featured a black cat by the name of Shelby, who ran away from home 13 years ago.  Her family opened the door one night to find a cat on their doorstep...sure enough, it was Shelby, mysteriously home once again.  Pretty amazing!!!

The Bark Post posted a list of "17 Adorably Derpressed Dogs", and this gloomy guy was #13!  The caption reads, "Such melancholy.  Very gloom."  Hilarious!  Also featured was a video of dogs reacting to humans barking at them - super cute.  We tried it with Riley after watching the video, and he just tried to give us kisses. :)

This week on the blog, I posted about:

And don't forget to follow me on Twitter: @SecondChances23 :)  Have a relaxing weekend!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Splurge Vs. Save: Luxury Products for Your Cat

Americans are spending more on their pets than ever before.  Last year's figures showed that we spent over $55.7 billion on our precious pooches and felines in 2013, and this year's numbers are predicted to be even higher!  Services like pet-sitting, hotels for pets, and pet-friendly restaurants and stores are ever-growing industries, and we are pampering our pets like crazy.  Dog washes and acupuncture for pets are common,  and brand-new treats, toys, and collars pop up every day.

It can be a bit overwhelming and hard to keep up with.  "Which kind of cat tree will my kitty love the most?"  "Is it silly to buy a stroller for my dog??"  Not to mention the expense.  How can you pamper your pet with the latest products without spending a fortune?  It's definitely tough...but not impossible!  To continue with the Adopt-A-Cat Month posts, I rounded up the most trendy products for fancy felines...and their less expensive counterparts!  Read on and enjoy Splurge Vs. Save:  Luxury Kitty Products!  (Just click the links to purchase.)

The KittiCraft Calabash is a designer piece that your cat will curl up in and never want to leave, but at $154.89 (not including the stand and cushion), the price is a bit steep.  The Hanging Cat Cuddle Pod, though a bit smaller, is just as cute and comfy, and only $19.99!

The PetCube, coming in August of this year, is an awesome new advance in technology.  It allows you to check up on your pet when you're not home, play with your pet with the built-in laser even if you aren't physically present, and meet other pet owners.  You can even talk to your furry friend from afar and share videos!  The pre-order price is $179, which is admittedly a good deal for this kind of technology.  However, the D-link Wireless Network Camera also lets you check in on your pets in real time for only about $35.

This neon couch for dogs and cats is comfy and chic, and the neon + stripes design is very in right now!  $147.99 is the price tag on it, and while it's beautiful, it will likely be covered in drool and pet hair in minutes.  The PetMate Sofa Dog/Cat Bed is just as comfortable for only $17.94, and it's made of suede and fleece for extra softness.  I would sleep in this bed if I could!

Any energetic kitty would LOVE bouncing from shelf to shelf on these Cat Silhouette Cat Shelves, which also function as cute art pieces for $124.99 apiece.  The Harmony Loft Cat Shelf Set is only $29.99, and it provides the same function (climbing fun for your cats) at only a fraction of the price.

A self-cleaning litter box sounds almost too good to be true, right?  Well, the Litter Robot does just that:  sifts the litter automatically after each use!  The waste gets deposited in a drawer located underneath the box.  For $369, it's expensive, but it has great reviews and will save you a lot of annoying scooping.  The Omega Paw Self-Cleaning Litter Box, on the other hand, is only $32.99, but instead of automatically cleaning, requires you to roll the box to the right to allow it to sift itself.  A little more work on your part, but the price tag just might make it worth it.

The Hepper Pod gives your kitty a dark, warm cave to sleep in for $199, while the Mod Dream Pod does the same, without the stand but in the same funky color, for just $56.64.

The Special Edition Pet Stroller is super fancy, boasting a canopy, waterproof inner pad, and a storage basket.  At $240, that is one luxurious ride for your pet!  The BestPet Swanky Pet Stroller is only $39.88 and has all the same features - plus it's foldable!

Tote your small dog or cat around with you in this carrier sling, available in different colors for $125.  Or you could use the reversible pet sling, which features a safety collar hook, for $16.88!

Most dogs and cats love to nestle inside a cocoon of blankets, and this soft faux-mink bag is just perfect for your pet to snuggle up in!  Sizes vary - the medium size is about $79.  The Burrow Cat Bed isn't quite as luxe, but it still provides your cat with the same safe feeling for only $24.19.  A bargain that comes in many different colors!

Happy shopping! <3

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Catching Up

It's been a bit crazier than usual around here this week!  On Friday the 13th, we welcomed my brand-new niece into the world - her name is Claire and she is, of course, beautiful.  On Monday, I was offered a job at an animal hospital - I've been waiting for an opportunity like this for a while now, and I'm beyond excited to help save some doggie and kitty lives!  I start Monday and can't wait. :)

On top of all that wonderful news, tornado-dropping storms blew into the area Monday night.  Our little town was fine apart from some fallen trees and power lines.  We only got our power back Tuesday afternoon, which is why I didn't participate in yesterday's Tuesday Tails.  To catch up, I'm featuring a sweet Siamese by the name of Brielle.

(Photo courtesy of Southern Belle Photography)

Here are the stats on this beauty:

* About 8 years old (and I always say that older pets make the best pets!)
* Came in as a stray in March (can you believe this princess was a stray?!)
* Incredibly sweet, loving, and friendly (she never wants to leave your lap!)
* Big ball of brown-and-tan fluff with gorgeous blue eyes
* Available for adoption at the HSNI!  

In other news, Riley and I were very excited to learn that we were the lucky winners of Kelsie, Mauja, and Atka's giveaway!  We received a package on Monday, and as soon as I cracked it open, Riley went a little bit nuts...

This green toy smells like other dogs!  Let me roll all over it, shake it in my mouth, and growl!
(Riley loved the ChuckIt! Floppy Tug toy - once he covered it with his own scent, of course!  Buy your own ChuckIt! toy here for $15!)

Phew!  Now I rest.

(This is a dog who usually turns his nose up at biscuits - he only wants meaty treats.  Until he became aware of the meaty biscuit that is a Merrick Kitchen Bite!  Riley could not get enough enough of these, and we can't wait to blow his mind with all of the other flavors!  This was the Cowboy Cookout flavor, which you can buy here for $6, or you can visit the Merrick website for more yummy treats!)

Don't worry, Mom, these pieces of grass just enhance the flavor!

Whaddaya mean, I look goofy when I chew?!

THANKS, Kelsie, Mauja, and Atka!  You guys are the best!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

I Am Only One Person

Iowa is currently #48 of the 50 states when it comes to animal protection laws.  We are one of the worst states when it comes to sheer number of puppy mills.  Right now, Iowa is home to somewhere around 230 puppy mills.  One of the worst was Julie's Jewels in Jewell, IA - in last year's USDA inspection, awful conditions were reported, including one puppy with its leg chewed down to the bone.  Julie's Jewels was recently shut down due to the owner's "poor health" - more likely due to bad press and negative media attention - and the dogs remaining (over 200) will be auctioned this weekend in Missouri.

This is a good thing, right?  Well.  It's a great thing that Julie's Jewels will no longer be up and running.  Lots of people have purchased puppies from her, only to have them die a few days later.  But an auction is no place for someone with a soft spot in their heart for animals.  Most likely, the auction will be filled with other bad breeders and puppy-mill owners, who will try to outbid one another for dogs to take home and breed.  Most of the dogs will not be given loving homes.  They will be leaving one awful puppy mill...only to end up in another.

Rescues tend to stay away from dog auctions, for good reason.  The bidders can sniff out those who are looking to rescue, and they often get thrown out because they are unable to keep themselves from saying something - it's such a disgusting process that animal advocates just can't stay silent.  The expense of traveling to such an auction and bidding on dogs is also a huge issue - the majority of animal shelters would never be able to afford a trip like that.

I feel helpless.  What can we do in these situations?  I am only one person; my voice is small, and most will not hear it.  There are so many animals in need, and I feel minuscule in comparison.  I try to educate those who don't understand the importance of avoiding pet stores; I share stories and articles about adoption on social media.  (Often losing followers/friends in the process.)  What more can I do?

I love Iowa, but I hate that we have this dirty little secret.  Please share with me in the comments your experience with puppy mills, and how you deal with feeling extremely little in the face of all this nastiness.  For more info on puppy mills in Iowa, visit the People for Animals blog. Check out the post about her auction experiences, too. To read more about Julie's Jewels closing, click here.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Cyber Saturday

This week, HelloGiggles posted an article about "crazy cat ladies" and the stigma attached to that phrase.  It is NOT shameful to be a crazy cat lady, and if my husband's lungs didn't suck (just kidding, Jared.  Kinda.), I would happily join that club, too.  Let's be proud to be crazy cat ladies!

The popular design blog Almost Makes Perfect posted about how to make a simple DIY elevated pet bowl stand.  It's cute, easily customizable, and it provides a resolution to your cat/dog making a mess with his water bowl.  An elevated stand like this one could also benefit pets who have issues with regurgitation (megaesophagus).

Blogging Wizard wrote an amazingly helpful article about how to make every blog post have more of an impact on readers.  Awesome tips for standout headlines, ways to draw readers and subscribers, and how to make contacts in the blogosphere.  Super important stuff that all bloggers should be aware of!

I just discovered the wonderful blog of a Maryland veterinarian, Diary of a Real-Life Veterinarian.  After reading an article about how to get hired in an animal hospital (where I'm hoping to eventually work), I was hooked - I read through the archives, loving every post...some of which brought me to tears!  That's why this post is from 2012...but the subject matter hasn't gotten any less important over time.  It's all about pet obesity, why it happens, and how to deal with it.  Every pet owner and animal lover should read this.

I am loving this throw pillow from SocietySocial, called the "It's a Doggy World."  I love that the silhouettes of many different breeds are shown - it's a very quirky and cute pillow that I'm pretty sure I need in my home.  But since it's $42 on sale, I was forced to search for some cheaper options:  I found this adorable "Dog Rules" pillow for $14.99, this OMG SO CUTE doggie-shaped pillow that can be ordered in Chihuahua, Shiba Inu, Corgi, and many different other breeds for around $30, and this "It's been a LONG day" dachshund pillow for only $17.99.  All are equally as cute as the above pillow. :)

And finally, Kelley's Dog Blog gave me an awesome idea for cooling Riley down on the hottest summer days - it just involves toys, a wading pool, and a whole lotta ice!

Meanwhile, here on the Second Chances blog, I wrote about:

Follow me on Twitter for more @SecondChances23
Have a wonderful weekend! :)

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

5 Pet-Friendly Places in the Midwest

Today's BlogPaws blogging prompt is actually about the struggle against fleas, but we haven't had a problem with fleas in our household yet (knock on wood!).  So I decided to do yesterday's prompt, which was "5 Pet-Friendly Places in My Town."  However, I live in a town of only 400 people - no luxe doggie hotels or parks here!  I went instead with pet-friendly places in the Midwest - so if you're a Minnesotan, a Wisconson-ite, an Illini, a Missourian, or an Iowan like on! :)

Chicago, Illinois (photo from Seadog Cruises website)

Chicago seems to be an extremely pet-friendly city.  In addition to many dog parks in the area, there are also hotels, activities, and even boat tours that are okay with you bringing your furry friend along!  The photo above is from the Seadog Cruise gallery - the popular boat tour company has something for everyone:  history buffs, architecture lovers, and, yes, dogs!  Your pup can enjoy the beautiful views Chicago has to offer right along with you (as long as they are friendly and on a leash, of course!).  The Chicago James Hotel is one of several hotels in the city that welcome dogs.  The amenities the James offers your pet are quite impressive - a doggie bed, several food and water bowls placed around the hotel, collars and leashes, toys, and a discount at a local pet boutique.  They even offer an in-room dining experience for your fur-child...cats are offered salmon tartare, dogs filet mignon!  Now that's luxury.

Raccoon River Dog Park (West Des Moines, Iowa) (photo from the park's website)

There are quite a few dog parks in the Des Moines area, but Raccoon River is said to be among the best.  10 fenced-in acres of park for dogs to run off all their energy!  Dogs of all sizes are welcome, and different areas of the park are specified for large/small breeds.  The park also has a list of rules, which helps to keep it safe, clean, and friendly.  This park is one of the best places for your dog to meet new friends.

Camp Dogwood (locations in Illinois and Wisconsin) (photo from Camp Dogwood website)

You read that right - a camp just for you and your dog!  Camp Dogwood is an all-inclusive vacation destination for dogs and the people who love them - you and your pup will learn, bond, and have a blast.  The camp has sessions in both Ingleside, Illinois and Lake Delton, Wisconsin - check out the website for dates.  You may choose to attend one of the many training sessions that focus on positive reinforcement...or you may just want to relax and play Frisbee.  Either way, Camp Dogwood sounds like an awesome experience for both dogs and owners, offering TONS of physical activities (flyball, tracking, herding) and ways to relax (doggie yoga, dog treat making courses, and nature hikes)!  Riley and I will definitely be checking this one out!

Canine Country Kennel & Farm (St. Louis, MO) (Photo from Canine Country website)

If you're looking for a peaceful vacation to bond and spend some time alone with your best friend, Canine Country Kennel & Farm sounds like just the place!  A vast 233 acres of beautiful farmland for you to roam as you please, along with a lake, opportunities to herd sheep, and two agility fields with experts to help train your dogs.  Of course, you can choose to completely forgo the training and simply hike along the many trails.

Candlelite Inn Bed and Breakfast (Ludington, MI) (photos from Candlelite's website)

Listed in the top ten of the best dog-friendly B&Bs, the Candlelite Inn is a beautiful and homey place for you, your loved one, and your pooch or kitty to visit.  The owners know that many travelers refuse to go places without their pets, and they opened the Bed and Breakfast with the goal of making several rooms pet-friendly.  The outside stairs provide an easy way to take your dog outside, and a snuggly bed and lots of treats are in store, too!  The town is also very welcoming of pets - a beach, a state park, and a sculpture park are within walking/biking distance from the B&B, and all are full of friendly pet-loving people!

And don't worry, Minnesotans, I didn't forget about you.  There are tons of pet-friendly cabins in Minnesota, and most are lakefront.  They are all absolutely gorgeous and only require a small deposit for you to bring your dog or cat along.  Riley loved our stay at a Minnesota cabin - just watch out for ticks!

I wish you and your beloved pet happy and safe travels! :)

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Why I Volunteer, Reason 899: (Mostly) Wordless Wednesdays

Because I can't adopt them all...

Even though I want to...

And OMG, we soooo want to!

Thanks for reading; follow me on Twitter:  @SecondChances23 :)

Monday, June 9, 2014

Tuesday's Tails: Trick & Midge Are Up for Adoption!

To continue our Adopt-A-Cat Month celebrations, let's meet two kitties up for adoption in local shelters!

(Photo courtesy of PAWS website)

This is Trick, a handsome 1-year-old kitten who is up for adoption at the PAWS Humane Society along with his brother Treat - their names are a result of the spooky October night they came into the shelter!  Treat is equally handsome in a darker shade of orange tabby, but I took a special liking to Trick.  Fonder of snuggling than he is playing, Trick has one of the loudest purrs you will ever hear!  He is a bit chubby, but that just means there's more of him to love - with Trick cuddling up under your chin and his motor going, you will have one content kitty.  Trick would also love to be adopted with Treat, since they have bonded during their time in the shelter.  If you're interested, please contact PAWS!

(Photo courtesy of Tyler Trenhaile and HSNI)

Midge is one beautiful cat!  She came into the shelter as a stray last November, and the shelter staff put her age at about 6.  Midge is a gorgeous girl who would love to nap in the warm sun all day long.  She loves to be petted, but she isn't much for playtime...she'd rather curl up and sleep!  Midge also likes her quiet time and seems to be quite independent - when she's in the right mood, though, she is just a big lover.  I think Midge is such a pretty cat, and her eyes (the right one has an adorable splotch of brown in it) are pretty darn tough to resist!  If you're interested in adopting this oversize lap-warmer of a kitty, please contact the HSNI!

Having some private time in her kennel :)

Thank you so much for reading and sharing these adoptable kitties!  (Follow me on Twitter @SecondChances23 for more adoptable animals!)

Quasi, the "Ugly" Cat Who Will Win Your Heart

If you follow this blog, you know by now how much I love pets with special needs/facial deformities.  I just think the world needs to know how awesome they are!  If you've heard of Lil' Bub, Pirate Pug Jack, Dillon the Blind Cat - whose mom I interviewed! - or Zombie Cat, then you NEED Quasi on your radar as well!

Quasi's mom Renee calls her "adorkable," and the world knows her as "UglyKitty."  No one really knows what gives her such a unique look - they think it may be an unresolved cleft lip - but it has made her something of a star!

Quasi was the inspiration for the UglyKitty Fund, which raises money for a Maryland shelter.  Since starting the fund in 2006, Quasi and her mom have raised over $5,000 for the shelter, all the while raising awareness for all of the wonderfulness that is a special-needs kitty.  :)  I got Quasi's rescue story from Renee herself - check it out below!

(Photo from Quasi's website)

"When I graduated from college and moved to Maryland," Quasi's mom wrote, "I already had a small cat that I had picked up as a stray; however, I knew I wanted two cats.  I started searching the Petfinder website for local shelter cats that needed homes when I stumbled across Quasi.  I'll be honest, her photo did not do her justice, but my heart went out to her.  I told myself that she needed a home first.  If she was still available when I went to the shelter, I would take her home.  A few weeks later, I set up a time and went over to the shelter.  Luckily, Quasi, or Faith as she was called at the time, was still available.

"The shelter was an open setting where the cats were free to roam around.  It took me a few minutes to find her...sitting in the middle of a giant food bowl with a bunch of other cats eating around her.  I expected to see her cowering in the corner, but she was right there in the middle, holding her own.  I completed some paperwork, scheduled the in-home visit, and looked forward to bringing her home."

(Photo from Quasi's website)

Quasi was timid when she first arrived at her new home, Renee says, and she hid under the bed for two weeks.  When she finally emerged, she was still jumpy, running away when her new mom "moved or sneezed or said anything."  It wasn't until a year later that the shelter kitty finally felt comfortable to snuggle up on Renee's lap, and after that, she says, "Now, it's basically impossible to remove her from my lap."  

"I'm so happy that I took a chance on her and even more so that I was patient and let her come around on her schedule," Quasi's happy mom says.  "She's the most adorable, silly, loving cat that I've ever met.  I'm so lucky to have her." 

(Photo from Quasi's Facebook page)

I love happy endings like this one!  Where most people would have passed right by this kitty, thinking it "ugly" (hence the name "UglyKitty"), Renee saw Quasi's pure adorableness and took a chance.  Thanks, Renee, and thank you for sharing your story with us!

June is all about cats, and I featured this rescue story as part of Adopt-a-Cat Month on BlogPaws!  Join the Hop and tell us your kitty adoption stories!

Thanks for reading, and if you have an inspiring rescue story you'd like to share, just shoot me an email or tweet me @SecondChances23 :)