Keri Matthews, a mom of two, has worked in the ASPCA’s licensing department for more than five years. She lives on Long Island with her husband, Tom, her children, Gabriella and Tommy, and their Greyhound, Clyde.
This time of year, many of us are looking forward to the sunny, warmer and longer days ahead. Having more outdoor time with our pets benefits our whole family—we can’t wait to take our dog, Clyde for longer walks with our kids, Gabriella and Tommy. We also will be going back to the dog park, and the kids love to look at how Clyde interacts with “his friends.”
One of Clyde’s favorite things to do in the warmer months is to take a bath outside and dry off in the sun, lying in the grass with a bowl of water nearby. The kids love to sit in the sun on their towels and soak up the rays next to him! We’re also planning to take more trips to the pet supply store in the upcoming weeks. Our most recent trip was really fun—for the first time, Gabriella picked out a new treat jar for Clyde, and this got her more excited than even picking out Clyde’s treats. Tommy picked the treats this time and enjoyed carrying them around the store.
What are you looking forward to doing with your pet in the warmer months ahead? Please share in the comments!
Emily Schneider is a proud mom of two feisty Yorkies and a two-year-old in the Garden State. Emily works in media and public relations for the ASPCA. Find her onTwitter.
Brrrr: The temperature was in the single digits earlier this week! I don’t think I’m the only one who is tired of the frigid, cold weather. We’ve been hit by blizzards and freezing temperatures, and I struggle to keep my dogs outside long enough for them to use the bathroom—let alone keep my son preoccupied without having to turn on my automatic babysitter (i.e. the TV).
If you’re stuck indoors, baking is a great activity to do with your kids, and your pets can benefit as well!! I won’t pretend I’m a gourmet chef, but here is a simple recipe for homemade, cheesy dog biscuits:
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
1 cup quick oats
¼ cup margarine
1 cup boiling water
¾ cup cornmeal
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons veggie stock
½ cup milk (dairy or soy)
¾ cup shredded Cheddar cheese (or other cheese)
1 egg, beaten
3 cups whole wheat flour
Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix quick oats, margarine and boiling water in a large bowl. Let sit for a few minutes.
Stir in cornmeal, sugar, veggie stock, milk, cheese and egg. Mix in flour, one cup at a time, until the mixture forms dough.
Roll dough flat to a thickness similar to a notepad.
Use cookie cutter to cut out fun shapes and place cookies one inch apart on non-stick foil pan.
Bake 30-40 minutes in the oven until the cookies are golden brown.
Voila! That wasn’t too hard, was it? I recommend whipping up a few human cookies as well so both your two and four-legged kids are happy on a snow day.
And remember, if your pet has any dietary restrictions, always check with your veterinarian before you bake homemade treats. Enjoy!
Contest runner-up Margaret M.’s dog, Mango, pictured right.
Throughout the month of October, we asked readers to share stories about their family’s rescued pups in our Adopt a Shelter Dog Month Story Contest. We received hundreds of amazing submissions from readers across the country. With the help of our contest guest host, Mary Dell Harrington of the parenting blog Grown and Flown, we selected one grand prize winner and four runners-up. One of our runners-up, Margaret M., shared this story:
My husband is in the Navy and he deployed on September 10, 2001. He was on his way to Guam and his last words to us were, "Don't get a dog while I'm gone." After 9/11 happened, we needed something to love and to come home to every night, and two weeks later, we got Mango. We rescued her, and she rescued us. We are a military family, and she's lived in Gulfport, MS, Memphis, TN, Virginia Beach, VA, Jacksonville, FL, Washington, D.C. and now Norfolk, VA. She's about 15 years old—a Border Collie and Sheltie mix. She's my best friend. Currently, my husband is deployed once again. This time he's gone for a full year to Pakistan, and I'm all alone—except for Mango. I’m not sure what I would do without her.
We loved your story, Margaret! Stay tuned for one more winning rescue story to come next week.
Guest blogger Sandy De Lisle has a Masters of Science degree in education and has served as a classroom teacher, science museum programmer and program manager for the End Dogfighting in Chicago campaign. She is Senior Manager of Content Development for ASPCApro.
When my husband and I decided to have kids, we agreed that we would raise them as vegetarians. Not wanting to overwhelm our kids or fill their minds with horrible images of animals on factory farms or in slaughterhouses, I decided to take a more positive approach to explaining why we chose to have a meat-free household—by giving them the opportunity to interact with real pigs, cows and chickens.
However, living in the Chicago suburbs does not afford much opportunity to see farm animals, so when my mom told me about SASHA Farm, a farm animal sanctuary outside Ann Arbor, Michigan, I knew this was a chance to gently explain our choice. Within a few weeks of learning about the farm, I loaded the kids in the minivan and off we went. From the moment we arrived my kids were in awe. Co-founder and owner Dorothy Davies gave us a personal tour, allowing the boys to collect the eggs from the hens’ nesting boxes and get up close and personal with more than 300 animals who reside there. The kids relished spending time with Gandolph the turkey, Buckeye the goat and Digger the Texas longhorn. Over the years we have “adopted” various animals at SASHA Farm and have framed pictures of the boys with their favorites throughout our home.
I believe the visits to SASHA Farm have helped to inoculate my boys from the insensitive comments and teasing they’ve gotten for eating differently than their peers. After all, since they had relationships with farm animals, they had little interest in eating them. Their vegetarian diet is no longer a philosophical principle, it’s a belief that has wings and hooves and fur.
Aside from the practical function these farm visits served for my family, they are downright fun! And not just for vegetarians, but for anyone who is curious to get to know individual farm animals, observe their natural behaviors, learn more about how their brethren live on factory farms and just spend time around animals you probably don’t get to see day-to-day. Depending on the sanctuary there are often family-friendly activities going on—especially in the fall. With 25 farm animal sanctuaries across the United States, there is likely one within a day’s drive from you—and many have overnight accommodations onsite.
Guest blog by Emily Schneider, a proud mom of two feisty Yorkies and a two-year-old living in the Garden State. Emily works in media and public relations for the ASPCA. Find her onTwitter.
I read recently in a New York Times article that doctors are encouraging parents to read aloud to their infants from birth, as it enhances vocabulary and other important communication skills in children. I also learned that reading has benefits for shy or timid four-legged family members as well.
I asked ASPCA animal behavior experts if reading is a good socialization activity for dogs nervous around people, and found out that reading helps fearful dogs become more comfortable with people without forcing interaction. As an individual reads out loud, he or she is focusing on something other than on the dog. In turn, the dog grows accustomed to the person’s presence and voice, which is much less intimidating than being handled or stared at (see the ASPCA’s article on canine body language. If you have a dog who is terrified of people or specific individuals, you may want to seek professional help to find out how to help reduce your dog’s anxiety.
Reading is also a good activity for those who aren’t yet skilled enough—e.g., my two-year-old son—to handle a timid dog. If there’s a choice between playing with your iPhone and reading a book, encourage your kids to go for the book and make it a family activity. You might be surprised by the results, as I was—my dogs Olive and Mikey sat quietly nearby while we read a story about Splat the Cat. Our next book? Skippyjon Jones, a story about a irrepressible Siamese cat who thinks he’s a Chihuahua.