7/16/10 The Problem with Cats

The problem with cats

Wow, it’s been a busy few weeks at my house. We survived the fair, rescued some puppies, and found them homes. We even rescued some birds, and have seen some animal neglect cases that I hope get prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
Just today a man visited me with a sibling to the puppies we rescued; he is also looking for a home for her. These puppies are adorable! They appear to be Chihuahua and Beagle mixes or possibly a little Italian Greyhound too. I’m working hard to help them find her a forever home.
After seeing the sheer volume of unwanted pets in town alone, I’m convinced we need more education on spaying and neutering. Money shouldn’t be the issue because there are many low cost spay and neuter options. In fact, there was just a “Tom cat special” offered for only $15 through North Central Indiana Spay and Neuter located near Battleground. Even local vets are known to give a good deal on the feral cats. There is also the FACE clinic in Indianapolis, I’ve used them before, and they are awesome, their website is www.facespayneuter.org and you can call them at (317)638-3223
There are TNR (trap, neuter, return) programs out there for feral cats, to fix them so they don’t reproduce anymore, but release them back where they came from. The other thing that TNR does is, with “fixed” animals, you won’t have the problem with spraying territory from tom cats, you won’t be hearing the caterwauling from females in heat, you won’t have your heart torn out trying to find homes for kittens, or watching them die. You won’t hear the cat fights from tom cats shredding each other over territory, and watching the loser of the fight die
You can contact Tri-county TNR to schedule spay/neuter appt. for feral cats call (765) 491-0930 or email nlallen48@hotmail.com
Neutering and spaying works great for barn cats! In fact, I recommend it for all farms with barn cats, because it will keep the kitties near the barn and not give them an urge to roam and disappear or be eaten by coyotes. Also, if the feral cats are infected with diseases like feline leukemia or feline AIDS, they won’t be passing it on to their offspring, and they will be much less likely to fight and pass it along to other cats. If you need barn cats, there is no shortage of cats needing a home. Contact your local pound and tell them how many you can take, before it’s too late. Cats don’t stand much of a chance for adoption when we have the numbers of feral or wild cats that we have now.
Spaying and neutering won’t rid the town of the unwanted pets we currently have but it will GREATLY reduce future numbers.
For instance,
The Prolific Cat 1st year x 3 litters = 12 offspring (oftentimes they have more) and if those kittens aren’t spayed or neutered…
2nd year = 144 offspring and if those kittens are also not spayed and neutered….
3rd year = 1,728 offspring etc.
4th year = 10,736 offspring etc.
7th year = 370,192
Do you see the problem folks?

The Prolific Dog 1st year = 4 offspring with 2 females (again many times there are more, big dogs = big litters) and if those puppies aren’t spayed or neutered…
2nd year = 12 offspring and if those puppies aren’t spayed or neutered…
3rd year = 36 offspring etc.
5th year = 324 offspring
In my experience, these numbers are very conservative.

Now I realize that feral cats and cats in general who roam outdoors are a nuisance animal to many gardeners, and uncovered sandboxes. There are some products you can apply to your flower beds to deter them from using them as a restroom, as well as motion activated sprinklers which will scare the cats away from a garden area. I realize not many people are cat lovers, or even likers for that matter, but not all cats are wild, some are just pets that get out.
I’ve heard the old redneck saying “a .22 slug is cheaper” to fix the feral cat problem but what if it was your pet? How would you and your kids feel if the neighbor killed your cat or dog? What if your cat was trapped and taken to the pound, and by the time you figured out who to call to see if they had seen it, it was too late?
But the current thinking is to trap and euthanize as many as possible to thin them out. My thoughts are, that’s only a very temporary solution because they breed like rabbits! Soon we will be back at square one again. Even if it was required for all pet owners to spay and neuter all pets, we would still be overrun with cats, due to the heavy feral population which just keeps growing. Statistics prove that TNR programs do work, and reduce feral cat colonies in no time.
Part of the problem is feeding them because after all they need to eat, who can watch a kitty starve even if it is too wild to touch? Many well-meaning people put out food for the feral kitties and don’t consider them their pets. One problem, if you are feeding them, guess what…they ARE considered your pets. If you feed them, fix them!
In many cities there are ordinances that require a leash law for cats as well. This would pose a huge problem for me personally, because I have a cat that goes through my dog door. I can’t keep him in. I’ve looked at the electronic dog doors that open only when the dog who wears a transmitter around their neck gets near it, but the problem is, I’ve seen my cat dart through the dog’s legs as they are going through the dog door.
I’m looking into netting to put at the top of the fenced in area. There are companies that carry it online. I’m getting prices from “Affordable Fence” at www.catfence.com. I’ve already put up a “Fido Shock” electric fence around the bottom of my fence to keep the dogs from digging out, I could put one at the top, and hope it zaps the cat and he goes back inside, but I am a little hesitant to do that, he would probably hit it and rocket himself over the fence and never come back.
So how do you identify your pet cat from a feral cat? Collars with I.D. tags on cats work until they get it caught on something and it breaks away or falls off. My other cat who doesn’t go out wears one, just in case. For the “Houdini” cat, I plan to have him micro-chipped but at the present time, our own animal control doesn’t have a scanner, so if your pet is chipped, nobody will know. (Don’t worry, folks, I’m working on them about that!) The good news is he is already neutered, so he won’t be helping produce more “Houdini” cats.

7-5-2010 Neglect and Abandonment

Neglect and Abandonment

I received the following ad found on craigslist in the Chicago area, that I thought was very appropriate, and something I’ve thought to myself I should write often:

You aren't looking for them, but I found your 2 dogs
Date: 2010-06-02, 11:47AM
Sigh. No one is looking for these guys. And I see why.
They hump everything in sight, try to dominate our old doggies, try to
eat our cats and pee on everything and bark at everything. Neurotic,
lick constantly. They know no commands, either in English or Spanish.
They are aggressive and most likely lived in a puppy mill.
You dumped them, probably, and we picked them up before they were killed
by traffic. Unneutered, no tags, two small males under a year old.
I hate you, person who dumped these dogs.
There are no lost ads on phone poles, no lost ad on Craig's list, no
lost ad in the paper.
We put signs up all over, put a found notice in at the local pounds. If
you were looking for these filthy little ragamuffins, you would have
found them.
We are afraid to take them to the pound because under stress, your dogs
were snappy and horribly afraid, and dogs are judged by temperament for
adoption placement. They would not have passed that test.
They are, under their filth, mats and horrible habits, adorable.
They have learned "Quiet," "Come," "Sit."
They have stopped being so neurotic and we have broken most of their bad
habits in just a few days.
They are smart and sweet and are looking for guidance and WANT to be
good little dogs.
One is a purebred little white and buff guy with an under bite, the
other is a brown little dog that looks almost exactly like a miniature
version of a larger breed dog. They know each other and were obviously
(by the same bad habits) raised (poorly) together.
We will get them neutered, train them and get them into a good, loving
home with people who use the brains God gave them.
If these are your dogs, come on by. Not so you can have them back.
So I can kick your ---.
This has been an eventful week for me as well. My kids found a couple of puppies who followed them home. Word on the street says they were dumped off. The puppies were so covered in fleas; I’m surprised they were still alive. I got rid of the fleas and fed them and that helped with the anemia. Sweet as pie, they surely belonged to someone at some time. They were very used to humans and very loving. I took them to the vet to deal with their bloody diarrhea which I feared was parvo, but luckily for them, it was hookworm and whipworm. I took care of the worms, vaccinated them and they soon became the bouncy puppies they should be. I found a foster home for them who called me today to tell me they are 99% sure they want to adopt them. I’m so glad!
I’ve also received an email from Carthage, IL about two kittens found in the Mississippi River. They were caught on a fishing net, and one kitten was hooked by its ear. Luckily somebody saw them and rescued them. One kitten’s foot was swollen and feared broken but while at the vet they discovered that it was infected and full of maggots, and not broken. I wonder if there were more kittens that weren’t lucky enough to get caught on a fishing net.
Why are people so evil? What makes someone hate an animal so much they will throw it in a river instead of finding someone to give it a home instead? What makes someone dump off puppies full of fleas and parasites instead of find it a home or spay their mother? I know that times are hard and rescues are full but there are people to help. Dumping them off is not the way to do this. Call a vet, a groomer, a rescue group, a pound, a human society or anybody! Put an absolutely free ad in the paper. Put up a poster at the grocery store. There are a million things you can do instead of just dumping them off, hoping some animal loving person will take them in and care for them, even when they don’t have the time, or money themselves to do it.
I have to say I was not happy to see these little pups show up but my son reminded me, “Well Mom, what would you do? They had fleas so bad, somebody had to do something!” so they brought them to me to do something. Sometimes I feel like my kids are the pied pipers of Attica, but instead of leading the critters out of town, they lead them to our house. While I love puppies as much as anyone, I know the work they require and the time commitment and I am just not set up to deal with puppies. I’m glad I was able to help them though. They are sweet loving little pups who deserve a chance at a forever home, and I think they got one.
I’ve also done some favors for our dog pound on behalf of the animals. Some of the cases they deal with are horrifying. I’m glad I was here to help. Do I have extra time to do this? No, but I do it because somebody has to. It seems to be my lot in life.
I was chatting with a client about rescue and needing foster homes and volunteers, and they were genuinely interested in helping! It doesn’t mean you have to foster dogs, or adopt dogs or give money. Oftentimes, just taking a dog to Petsmart for an adopt-a-thon and sitting there chatting with people about them, and giving the dogs exposure will help find them a forever home. If you can do more, great! There is always something to do to help in rescue. One of the rescues I’m working with is called “We Care Animal Rescue” and we are most grateful for any volunteers. If you are interested in helping you can call 765 491-8860 or visit their website at www.wecarerescue.org and find out ways you can help.
If we all do a little, we can help a lot.

6-19-2010 In the Public Eye

In the Public Eye

After my television debut on ABC’s “Nightline” last week, I guess I was right about my luck with the media. A Nightline reporter followed us all around for three days, sitting through creative grooming seminars, watching us prep our pooches and seeing how much we all love and cherish our pets, and then they did what I feared they would. They called the piece, “Really, would you do this to your dog?”
Naturally that title alone conjures up images of abuse. Their facebook page started immediately getting comments even before it aired, after just showing a few photos. Most of the emails were from people who thought this was above and beyond animal abuse. Of course, I immediately responded and told ABC how disappointed I was that they would do this. ABC responded to me by telling me to “wait until it airs, then see what you think”. So I stayed up late, it was put off due to a ball game and came on after midnight.
We were shown first, followed by all the other creative grooms, and then they turned the conversation to “What about the physical and mental well being of the animals?” and showed a close up of my dogs looking sad. They were actually bored, because they were waiting for their turn for presentation, and they were chilling out. Then they managed to find one groomer in New York who apparently doesn’t go to grooming shows, otherwise she would know what this is. She thinks this is, in her words “disgusting”.
They showed her their clips and she heard that some of the grooms take 30 hours to do. She assumed that was 30 straight hours! We like to eat, sleep and take breaks too. Standing up for 30 hours straight would be inhumane for us, let alone a dog! You see, they didn’t bother to tell her that we work on these designs weekly, as we bathe them. Just a little bit at a time. Then when we groom them at the show, it’s a quick 2 hour contest, the dogs are already washed and dried, and we just cut the hair and add decorations and a little more color. The dogs are usually pre-dyed. No different that a regular groom for a client really, but a little more “exciting”.
Then she saw the clip of a zebra looking dog lying on the table, and relaxing. She took that to mean the dog was exhausted and depressed. Actually it was lying down so the groomer could reach the top of the neck. I put Jasmine on the floor to do her back so I could see it better, since the tables they provided us with don’t move up and down like the one I have at home.
She thought that since the zebra dog was only a year old, it was too calm for a young dog, and something was obviously wrong. What was “wrong” was only the dog is well trained, and used to being groomed weekly. In fact, Pickles (the dog’s name) is a therapy dog and goes to visit autistic children in schools. A therapy dog must be calm.
As if this wasn’t bad enough, when the other groomers were on the Today show, Martha Stewart cornered one of the groomers and told her she thought that it was cruel to do this! Of course, that didn’t make it on the air. Oh Martha, you are a sly one behind the scenes!
This makes me want to mail Martha a “gift” from my dog, all glittered up and pretty! Maybe she can make a lovely centerpiece out of it! I get so tired of all the negative comments from people like this. They just don’t have a clue. Meanwhile some of the groomers are getting phone calls with people cursing them out, and thinking creative grooming is a terrible thing, and we are awful people. Who knows what some over zealous, insane person would do in the name of animal rights? Guess it’s a good thing we have our dogs as body guards.
This is the problem with the media. You can’t believe even a reputable news show to give you the whole truth. They take bits and pieces, and when they put it all together, it will skew anyone’s opinion. If it gets your riled up, then they get ratings. It has made me rethink everything on the news lately.
The good news is the TLC show “Extreme Poodles” didn’t stoop to that level, and actually showed the groomers and their dogs having fun and made it very clear these dogs were well loved, and enjoyed a great life. This is a fact, because I know some of these dogs personally. Whether “Extreme Poodles” becomes a series or not, remains to be seen. I hope they make more shows and help show the public that we are not monsters, even if we may make our dogs look like monsters, or camels, lions and Clydesdales.

6-5-2010 Obese Dogs

Obese Dogs

I just had a conversation with a groomer friend, Linda in Wisconsin who called me up complaining of her aches and pains from her day of grooming. The cause of the aches and pains was a golden retriever client that she hadn’t seen in two years. Back in 2008, this golden retriever tipped the scales at a whopping 260 lbs! She measured his waist and it was a huge 40” around. A 40” waist may not be so bad if you are human but if you are supposed to be a normal sized 60 lb. dog, that’s extreme!
She warned them in 2008 of the health risks associated with their dog’s obesity, and tried to convince them to put him on a diet. Apparently, they didn’t listen. Which leads me to the question, why did she book the dog for grooming again?
Well I can answer that one. It stems from hormones and childbirth. When you want to have a child, there is an overwhelming urge and your biological clock begins ticking. Once you become pregnant, as happy as you are to be pregnant, the morning sickness hits you, and even though you are indeed glad to be pregnant, the side effects can be awful. Along towards the end of your pregnancy journey, the feet and ankle swelling begins, along with the general aches and pains, and restlessness. Sleeping in a bed is no longer comfortable; you opt for the recliner instead. Then labor hits. You may have decided to be a “he-woman” and not take any drugs for the pain. Although this is what your Lamaze coach recommends, all you need for pain is to focus on an object and breathe…once you are actually in labor, you discover that you not only can’t focus on anything except for the pain, but breathing has also become hard to do! What were you thinking?
They say you never forget the pain of childbirth, this is true but then those darned hormones hit and you get that overwhelming urge in a couple of years to have a second child, and it isn’t until you are pregnant again that you remember how bad it was the first time.
That must be what she did. She just forgot how bad it was the first time, or maybe she thought she had actually gotten through to her clients and they took her advice and put their dog on a diet. Well when she opened the door today, she found out that the dog had gained an additional 30 lbs. in the past two years, and his waist size has ballooned to a whopping 53 and a half inches around! A 290 lb. golden retriever! Now that has got to be some kind of a record.
Why is this dog so overweight? Does he have some kind of thyroid imbalance or immune disorder which is making him gain? Well, we just don’t know because the owners never took him to the vet to find out. It seems they live on a farm and he eats the grain that the cows eat along with 4 cups a day of his dog food, and eats the barn cats’ food, and whatever else he can get into. I’m pretty sure a vet would’ve read them the riot act over letting this dog get so heavy.
At his enormous weight, the dog is having difficulty walking; his hocks are breaking down from carrying the immense weight. I know that his heart has to be working on overload, along with his other vital organs. The dog is getting pressure sores on his body from lying down, and of course he was a mess from not being groomed in two years.
I’ve seen clients kill their dogs with kindness by over-feeding them. Just because he’s giving you those “doggy eyes” doesn’t mean you have to give in and feed him more. On every bag of dog food you’ll find a chart on how much to feed a dog that weighs x amount of lbs. Now, you are supposed to feed the amount for what the dog SHOULD weigh, not what he currently weighs. If your dog weighs 50 lbs, and should weigh 30 lbs, then you need to feed him what a 30 lb. dog should eat daily. Measure it with a REAL measuring cup, not the extra large cup your coke came in from McDonalds. There is a difference!
My friend Linda told her clients after she had completed the grooming that unless he lost weight, she would not groom him again. The clients were shocked and confused as to why she would say such a thing. Then she felt bad later. I told her not to feel bad because she had to protect her own body. None of us are getting any younger, and nobody can afford to hurt their back or shoulder etc. She took some pain relievers and hot bath and hopefully with some luck, she will get out of bed tomorrow and face another day of grooming. Unless you’ve been a groomer, or done some of your own dogs’ grooming it’s hard to understand how physical this job is.
I only hope her clients see the light and take some action to get their dog to the vet, and put him on a strict diet and confine him so he can’t get into the other livestock’s feed. It won’t be long until he does collapse and they will not be able to pick him up and take him to the vet. The one who ultimately suffers is the dog.
Don’t kill your dog with kindness, be loving but firm, food and treats don’t equal love and attention.

5/24/10 I have ARRIVED!


You know you are a creative groomer when photos of your creations stir up people and they feel the need to tell you how you are abusing your dog and being cruel. I’ve seen comments on creative grooming from some very uninformed people who think that coloring and cutting designs in the dog’s hair is the epitome of animal abuse. Nothing could be further from the truth of course, but how can we change the public’s perspective and let them see how very loved and pampered our dogs are?

TLC has made a pilot of a new show called Extreme Poodles that will air June 13th. It features some of the top creative groomers. I am hoping that this show, instead of sensationalizing and dramatizing our art, shows that we do love our dogs and we most certainly are not abusing them. I’m a little skeptical, only because the only run-ins I’ve had with the media have been the opposite. If it’s not exciting enough, they’ll make it exciting. The media likes to cut out the boring truthful messages, and highlight the controversy. I guess that’s what sells and pays the bills.

I am friends with many of the creative groomers that I compete with and one lady in particular, Sandy Hartness whose creations are probably more well known has received death threats by some over zealous animal rights enthusiasts who think what she does is wrong. My question is which is worse, a dog neglected, tied out on a chain that gets no attention or a pampered poodle who happily enjoys grooming and showing off?

The people who are sending the hate messages seem to think that we don’t allow our dogs to be dogs. All they see are the photos. They have no idea how or where this animal lives, or how it spends the rest of its non-creative life back at home. Somehow I think their minds may change if they would only listen. But you can’t make people listen.

Sandy Hartness tells me that it’s official, I am now a member of “the club” since I received my hate mail. “Yes! I’ve arrived!” I told her, because she tells me you have to be good to get people to do this. One of the “greats” in creative grooming thinks I’m “good”. Wow, that is the biggest compliment I can receive!

Due to the new TLC show about creative grooming, of course there are others who are airing their take on it. For instance, at the Knoxville show I just attended, ABC’s “Nightline” was there filming our competition. I’m anxious to see how they view it, or if their story will only stir up more controversy. If you see a couple of cute dogs who look like Clydesdales pulling a “Pupweiser” cart on “Nightline”, that would be us. We took second place in our division. The “Today” show will also have a couple of competitors on their show in the near future.

The funny thing is, creative grooming has been around since 1900 when a groomer first started carving designs into the hair of the dogs he groomed. It may go back earlier than that. I have seen photos of his work and considering no electric clippers back then? AMAZING! I’m actually proud to be part of this elite club of artists, so I’ll take my hate mail as a compliment, and smile knowing that my dogs don’t hate me, and because of what I do, they are living a good life, anyone who knows me can testify to that.

5/6/10 Green Hair!

“Green” Hair?

I found out something interesting that is being done to help with oil spills in the Gulf. There is a group that makes oil absorbing mats and booms out of human and pet hair!
The idea is that hair absorbs oil, and they weave all the hair into mats or stuff it into nylon hosiery and float it on the water, and it actually does work! Now that’s a way to be “green” that I never thought of! You can go to this website, www.MatterofTrust.org to sign up, and they will take donations of hair, hosiery, pet hair or sheep’s wool and you’ll be matched up by state and told where to send your donation. I’m presently awaiting an e-mail to tell me where to send my pet hair. Meanwhile, I will be bagging it up and putting it aside. Who knew there was another use for cut hair? This is great for all beauticians and pet groomers, sheep farmers, as well as anyone who wants to bag up and save any amount of hair. Think of the space we’ll save in the landfills, now that’s some creative recycling!
The entire operation of how they make the hair mats and booms is on that site, and it’s fascinating! They accept donations all year round, not just for major disasters that we hear about on the news. From the website:


Every year, an estimated 706 million gallons of oil enter our planet's oceans:
By far the greatest source of spilled oil is households. We can make a difference, according to the Smithsonian Institution and the Environment Protection Agency:

Used Motor Oil - accounts for 363 million gallons in our oceans!
50% of Americans change their own motor oil, but only 1/3 of that oil is collected and recycled.
2/3 are dumped down drains or spilled on driveways and onto streets. One typical 5 quart oil change improperly dumped can contaminate millions of gallons of freshwater.

Routine ship maintenance and washing containers - account for 137 million gallons of oil in our oceans.

From air pollution - 92 million gallons

Natural seepage of oil bubbling up from the sea bottom - 62 million gallons

Large Spill Accidents - 37 million gallons

Offshore drilling - 15 million gallons

Wow, those are scary statistics! It’s nice to know someone is out there doing something about it and we can all help in some way. This group is hopeful that they can bring the textile industry back to the United States, since China has the lion’s share of it. Wouldn’t THAT be nice! Just think, it all started with a haircut, or a pet groom. Who would’ve thought hair could save the world? I’ve seen some pretty interesting things done with hair, heck I do some of them, but I do love minds that think outside the box.

All of this is making me feel very guilty about the way I deal with garbage, and recycling. I’m not exactly a “tree-hugger”. I think there’s still hope for me though.
So now every time you brush your pet, get your own hair cut, get your pet’s hair cut, or sweep up hair dust bunnies you can think, wow, this could save a fish, or seal or bird or some kind of wildlife, and of course, it can save us. The great circle of life ends with us and “green” hair.

4/23/10 Politics, religion and dog food.

Politics, Religion and Dog Food

Recently on my online groomers group, we had a discussion about pet foods and which brands are better than others, which companies are “safe” and so on. Of course it started a heated debate, much like discussions about religion or politics. There were those of us with personal stories of what we have seen and experienced, vs. those who are staunch proponents of their brand of xyz dog food, with only information given to them by the maker, not necessarily the truth. No matter how hard we tried to convince them to look further into the brand and see exactly where their ingredients came from and what the ingredients mean and include, they wouldn’t listen, they only defended their brand and lumped the rest of us into a “new age tree hugger group”. I find that happens with many people and vets that have been educated by companies about products but don’t have a clue what the ingredients mean.
Face it, when it comes to OUR food, most of us don’t read labels and have no clue what all the ingredients are, especially when you add preservatives we can’t pronounce let alone define. So I’m not surprised when people think they are feeding great food to their pets with all the commercials that say how wonderful and happy your dog will be if they eat xyz brand dog food, or that the food is veterinarian recommended, which would be great if it the vet wasn’t only educated by the company itself, with little to no education on what each ingredient was or where it came from. That’s one-sided and biased. I have a problem with that.
I’ll admit it, I’m a grudge holder. I may forgive but I will never forget. I have a tough time putting faith in any of the companies that were involved in the recall, even thought they claim they have better testing now in place. Just when I think oh that company has come out with a healthier formula, something else happens and kills that trust.
When we had the great pet food recall of 2007, I personally know 3 dogs that died from the tainted food. At the time, they didn’t link it to the food; they died shortly before the recall. But after seeing their brand was in the recall, their pet was already buried and had the same symptoms as the pets that ate tainted food; it was pretty clear what had happened. There were thousands of pets that died, but so many died before the recall, that nobody suspected the food, and now it’s too late.
I recently found on truthaboutpetfood.com something they call “vindication” which is a permanent memorial to the pets that died or remain ill due to the contaminated food that was recalled. While it won’t bring them back, and it’s not a lawsuit and no compensation is made to those owners, it will be a reminder that those pets mattered to us. If you lost a pet to the recall, please get online and put in your pets name so a permanent memorial can be made and your pet can also be included in “vindication”. See below for details.

If a pet food has ever sickened or killed a Pet of yours, a friends,
or a family members… please read and share with others.
Losing your dog or cat because a pet food was contaminated is one of the worst experiences a Pet Owner can endure. You feel guilty. You feel taken advantage of. You feel alone. Saying good-bye to your dear friend, BECAUSE OF A PET FOOD, is the worst emotional roller coaster ride imaginable.
From the 2007 melamine pet food recall alone, some estimates are as high as 300,000 U.S. and Canadian Pets became sick, died, or are still fighting kidney disease. Countless thousands more pets have become sick from recalls or silent recalls of tainted pet food since.
They all mattered to someone;
They all matter in Vindication.
Vindication will Never Forget Them;
Nor why They Died.
Vindication is five acres of land at Keystone Lake, Tulsa, OK donated to Pet Owners.
Vindication will provide a permanent memorial to Pets that have died or remains ill due to a poisoned/contaminated pet food. Vindication is being groomed into gardens with cascading pathways lined with handmade stones; each stone bears the name of a Pet that has died or remains ill due to a pet food. For the first time in history, there will be a visual count of the deadly effects of tainted pet foods. The land, the garden, the handmade stones are provided by an anonymous Pet Family whose lives where shattered by a poisoned pet food. The five acres of Vindication will remain in trust to Pets and Pet Owners.
No laws have changed, no lawsuits have been settled, none responsible have been jailed. No one has told us how many died or remains sick; no one tells us how many continue to become sick and/or die from new recalls. Countless thousands of Pet Owners have felt they had no ground to stand on, they have been abandoned by the pet food manufacturer and the FDA, alone with the memory of their beloved friend…until now.
Vindication will be an emotional visual display of how deadly pet food has been. The demand for safe pet food will not be denied with these thousands of Pets as our foundation.
If your Pet has become sick or died due to a pet food, please include them at Vindication.
Go to www.TruthaboutPetFood.com click on the Vindication banner on the right.
There is no charge to any Pet Owner to include their Pet in Vindication.
Each Pet that has died or remains ill because of a pet food deeply mattered to someone…Each Pet matters in Vindication.

March 29, 2010 Hello Dolly

Hello Dolly!

We have a new family member home now. Dolly the standard poodle has been living with us for a couple of weeks now. She fits in great! She gets along with the other dogs and cats and all humans and is as sweet as pie! I don’t think I’ve ever had a dog that has cost me so much money right off the bat. Her adoption fee was only $135.00 which is relatively cheap. After all she came with all shots, freshly spayed, and you can’t get that done for $135.00. Gasoline to go get her in Detroit was about $120.00. She had contracted kennel cough from the kennel cough vaccine. What is wrong with this picture? I’ve now heard from several other rescues and individuals who tell me that most of their dogs that get the kennel cough vaccine come down with it within the week it’s given. Um, call me crazy but then WHY do they continue to give the vaccine? Don’t you think that would be a big red flag? Guess I’ll have to find out who makes the vaccine and ask them what the deal is. From what I understand, it’s sort of like a flu vaccine. Some people get the flu from the vaccine. When I had a flu shot many years ago, I didn’t get the flu but I caught every bug under the sun that year. I won’t get a flu shot again.
So before she even got to come home she spent three weeks at the vet in isolation recovering from kennel cough. I had to make sure she was no longer contagious before I brought her home. I don’t want to give my clients dogs kennel cough. Vet bill for that was $300.00.
The next problem was that the eye goo she had running from her eyes wasn’t just from having kennel cough, it seems she also had entropion, which is when the eyelashes roll inwards and rub on the eye irritating them. Surgery is the best way to fix that. Well as long as she was under anesthesia, may as well have those dew claws removed too. Normally in poodles, they are removed shortly after birth and it’s not a big deal. But wait much longer and you have a major surgery. So I asked the vet to take those off. In long haired dogs, dew claws get in the way and can accidentally be cut when you are grooming them. I figured it was better to lose them now. After surgeries, medicines and etc. another $450.00.
If that wasn’t bad enough, after a week of healing from the dew claw removal, the stitches began to itch. I had a soft e-collar on her to prevent her from chewing on her legs, but no such luck. She has long legs and a long neck and she managed to tear off her bandages and unravel her stitches. I called the vet, and it didn’t look that bad, so over the phone she advised me what to do. I rewrapped her legs, and even put some nasty tasting stuff all over the bandages to discourage her from chewing on them. I thought it was working until the next morning when I woke up and saw that she had the bandages off, and a big hole in her leg where she had opened up her stitches! Off to the vet we went again this time for staples, more stitches and more bandages. This time we bought a cone type e-collar. Like in the movie “UP”, we call it the cone of shame. She does a great impression of a lamp now. But at least with this cone, she can’t chew out the stitches again. Luckily the vet felt sorry for me and I only had to pay for the antibiotics this time and not the re-suturing. Whew!
Dolly has become a very expensive dog. I’m used to vet bills, just not so much before I’ve even had the dog a week. Yikes! I’m thinking we should call her Gucci or Versace since she’s so expensive. Too bad she knows her name so well already or I’d be tempted to change it.
The goal of course, is that I can do some creative grooming with her and Jasmine and win back a little of the money I’ve spent on her so far. I have a great idea for the next show, and Jasmine’s hair is already carved in, problem is I need Dolly to match her and she came to me rather naked. She was matted when they got her in Detroit so she had a very short buzz. It’s growing in but not as fast as I’d like. I think I’m really going to have to get creative with her. Guess I’m going to have to learn how to do a weave.
The best part is that Dolly does fit her name, she is a doll! She is as wonderful and sweet as Jasmine but also reminds me of my dearly departed Katy. She has traits of both and she is wonderful!

March 19, 2010 Things that make you go GRRRR!!!

Things that make you go GRRRRR!!!!

I am not a member of any animal rights groups, but after lobbying last year at the statehouse, I have gotten to know some members of the Humane Society of The United States, and Anne Sterling, the Indiana director of HSUS. Mainly what the HSUS does is they lobby to change laws to protect animals. It is nothing that is too over the top in my eyes. Most of it is common sense, but if you know anything about government, you realize common sense is rarely seen…
Here is part of the email I received from Anne this past week:
House Bill 1258, the animal fighting and pet store bill, cleared the House of Representatives the week of February 1st with a strong bipartisan vote of 71-26.
Introduced by Rep. Linda Lawson, the bill would make it a felony to be a spectator at an animal fight, would add animal fighting to the list of crimes in the state RICO statute, would require pet stores to provide consumers with information on the origin of their puppies prior to purchase, and would require people who own horses to provide them with shelter that is free of standing water.

Nothing too outrageous about that seems pretty sensible to me. Later in the week, I received another email from Anne, which read:

Hello! I hope this email finds everyone well!

I’m very sorry to report that our bill, or language, technically, died Wednesday night when the Senator Brent Steele refused to allow his caucus to sign the conference committee report.

To recap: the bill, HB 1258, would have required people to provide their horses with shelter, required pet store disclosure & would have made it a felony to attend an animal fight. The bill itself officially died several weeks ago, when the chair of the Senate Committee (again, Senator Steele) to which it was assigned, failed to schedule it for a hearing. The deadline for a hearing came & went & the bill was officially dead.

However, because the language passed one chamber (the House of Representatives, with a vote of 71-26) it was eligible to be amended into another bill, so we still had some options. The legislature is scheduled to end this week & we had already tried amending another bill, to no avail. In a final attempt, we tried to amend just the animal fighting language into a bill yesterday & 3 of the 4 conferees from the conference committee were ready to sign the committee report, to allow it to move forward, when Senator Steele objected & refused to allow the Republican Senator assigned to the committee to sign the report. If all 4 conferees do not sign the conference committee report, the bill is dead.

It’s obviously incredibly unfortunate that not even the animal fighting language made it through this year, due to the objections of essentially one legislator. This is particularly frustrating in light of the August 2009 dog fighting raid in Orange County, Indiana, in which 109 dogs were seized from deplorable & inhumane conditions.

As always, Representative Linda Lawson, the sponsor of the bill, was a true advocate for the animals in Indiana and did absolutely everything she could to try and get this through. Please take a moment to contact her and thank her for her tireless efforts to protect the animals Indiana. She can be reached via email at: h1@in.gov or via phone at: 1-800-382-9842.

If you would like, you can also take a moment to call or email Senator Steele’s Office & voice your displeasure with him for killing, for the 5th time, a provision that would have made it a felony to attend an animal fight in Indiana. With his refusal to support this common-sense legislation, he is consistent in his support of those who participate in the blood sport of animal fighting, and has secured yet another win for the dogfighters in Indiana. Senator Steele can be reached via email at: s44@in.gov or via phone at: (317) 232-9814.

On a happier note, Representative Lawson also introduced a resolution to declare October 1st ‘Adopt a Shelter Pet Day’ in Indiana. Thankfully, this resolution passed overwhelmingly.

The last paragraph was what really irked me, our state senators will not protect dogs from dog fighting and make it a felony to attend these illegal fights, but they will make another “Hallmark” holiday? What is wrong with this picture? Big deal, so we have a day that says it’s adopt a shelter pet day, do you honestly think that means more people will go out and adopt a shelter pet? I mean, its not as if we get another paid holiday off or anything, it’s just a nice way of saying, we like animals enough to add them to our calendar.

Frankly I’m floored at the stupidity of our government. I know others feel the same way for other reasons. We have a whole lot of reasons frankly to not like our government. I guess being the blue collar person that I am, I don’t “get” people in offices of power who fail to understand common sense! I’m sure that’s part of the problem of government in general, they don’t seem to understand the real world. We elect them to represent “us” the people, the real working people of the world who help make their lives cushier, and they spend their time, instead of working on real problems, they unanimously vote to make a cutesy holiday that will do NOTHING to help the problems. (Slams head into wall)

Who is this senator Brent Steele anyway? Is he a personal friend of Michael Vick? Does he put down some big bucks on dog fighting? So it’s ok to attend a dog fight, and we all know if you are watching, you are betting….yet betting on the Super bowl, which doesn’t hurt animals and is done EVERYWHERE…is a huge problem. Hmmmm…..
Does anyone besides me see the irony of this? It’s no wonder they need secret service and bodyguards for political figures.

3-1-10 Establishing the Pecking Order

Establishing the Pecking Order

Fans of “The Dog Whisper” will be saddened to learn that Daddy the pit-bull has passed away at the ripe old age of 16 years. Daddy was a constant companion of Cesar Millan and helped him to rehabilitate hundreds of dogs over the years with his calm demeanor.
That’s the wonderful thing about calm, older dogs; they are great teachers to younger dogs. I know that my older dogs have taught each of my younger dogs I’ve brought home, or that are clients proper behavior.
Some people may think that an older dog that growls at a younger one is bad, but really it isn’t. Older dogs have established the pecking order and younger ones tend to test that line that we humans may not understand.
It is “human” of us, to bring home a new dog and shower it with attention and unknowingly ignore the other members of the pack. That can backfire and cause a real problem. We may perceive the other dogs behavior as jealousy, but really what we did by accident is mess up the pecking order. Your dog, who may growl or press you for more attention when the newbie arrives is just telling the newbie “This is my place, I was here first, and I outrank you, so listen to me and don’t get pushy with me or we are going to tangle”. You shouldn’t interfere unless it gets ugly.
When you bring a new dog home, remember to keep the pecking order as it was, feed the older pack members first. Give them attention first, (only if they are behaving, don’t reward bad behavior by giving attention) and let the dogs work it out in dog speak.
For instance, when I had Katy and brought Jasmine home, a client came in and Jasmine being young and exuberant jumped up on the lady. Katy leapt into action, growled at her, pinned her to the ground and had one paw on her neck looking her into the eyes and growled. She was telling her, “Jumping on people is a dominant behavior, I am the top dog and I don’t do that, neither will you.” Jasmine gave a little “yip!” and that was it. She never jumped on people again. I didn’t interfere. I knew what Katy was doing, and all my animals know that “I” am the top dog period. Now, how they figure out pecking order below me is up to them to work out normally. I don’t interfere unless I have to change a bad behavior.
Pecking order in EVERY household should always be humans first, then animals. Not because we don’t love them like our children because we do, but because when you put an animal in a pack leader position, ahead of the humans, you will create an animal with behavior problems, anxieties, and possibly aggression. You must set boundaries and rules with your pets just like your kids. If you let your kids do whatever they want and give them whatever they want, you will create a “brat”. Nobody likes bratty kids anymore than they like bratty dogs.
You don’t have to be a control freak, but you do have to do things in language that your dog understands. Body language is what dogs read. Quit talking, and show your dog in your body language that you are serious. Stand firmly, feet apart, hands on hips to show your position. Look your dog in the eyes and stand firm when you are trying to stop a bad behavior. You’ll be surprised how fast your dog catches on.
If you are trying to stop a dog from darting out the door every time you open it, first you have to claim the space around the door. Have someone come to the door and knock on it or ring the bell, your dog will go to the door. Before you open it, first get in between the dog and the door, turn and look at your dog and take a step towards him, your dog will take a step backwards. Do this until your dog is several feet away from the door, then open it. If your dog starts towards the door, close the door and repeat the process until your dog is several feet away and has calmed down and stays put. Do this consistently and you will no longer have a door darter.
Remember, you pay the mortgage or rent at your house, your dog does not own your house. He’s just a guest and should act like a guest. Never let your dog go out the door before you do, not even just to let him out to potty! Put your dog on a leash, or do the door darter exercise, and make your dog sit several feet away from the door. Open the door, and YOU take the first step out, turn around, look at your dog and say “Okay” and then allow your dog out. Do the same thing going back inside. You go in the door first, make your dog wait a few seconds then tell him “Okay” and let him in.
Little actions like these will make you the pack leader in your dog’s eyes and will greatly improve his behavior.

2-15-10 Adoption Hoops

Adoption Hoops

You know, I’m all about adopting pets. Everyone in this house is a rescue and the adoption bug has hit me again in my search for another white standard poodle. I want to get another one because the boys and I share Jasmine for 4H, and inevitably a grooming show pops up that I’m not ready for due to having to keep her hair a little shorter for summer time activities in 4H.

I applied to a few rescue groups on petfinder.com when I found some dogs that I thought would work out. I have to tell you, when you use a reputable group, it’s probably worse than adopting a child. They have several pages of questions on their applications, and they want not just vet references but personal references as well. Then they call and check out all your references. You may get a home visit as well to make sure YOU are the right home for the dog. Some of the requirements for different groups may be must have a fenced yard or no homes with small children. They ask you about your current pets, what are they, what pets have you had in the past? Have you ever given away a pet? Have you even taken a dog to a shelter? Most of these very thorough groups I really appreciate because they want the best home for the dog. I can live with that.

My references called me to tell me that they were contacted about the dog. They were surprised not only because I didn’t warn them they’d be getting a call, but because some of the questions were pretty over the top and frankly hit me the wrong way.
My neighbor and another friend told me that they were asked if they had ever witnessed me “over correcting” my children or my dogs. I have NEVER had that question asked. I understand that they don’t want to put the dog into an abusive situation, but after hearing the glowing reports of my references, checking out my records with the vet, and speaking with me for an hour on the phone, I was a little shocked to hear they asked that! I told my neighbor she should have told them that no I don’t have to over correct my kids because I keep them in cages! PULEEZE! What’s next? Fingerprints and an FBI background check?

What about letting me meet the dog? When do we get to do that? How will I know if it’s the dog for me if I don’t ever meet it? I’m jumping through hoops for them, yet nothing is said about the dog in question to see if it’s the dog for my family. No meeting will be arranged until said dog goes through all of its health checks at the vet, etc. Then WHY is the dog listed on petfinder.com if it’s not already vetted and ready to go?
The road goes both ways.

I contacted another group in Chicago but they have strict limits. They will not adopt any animal out unless it’s within a 60 mile radius of them. I thought, well surely they would make an exception for “me” after all, I’m a groomer with a long history of adoption, and I have impeccable references, and several from Chicago, but they could only be contacted via email. So I emailed them and asked them if they would call me or give me a number to call them so I can ask some questions about the dog. The email I got back said, “How far are you from Chicago?” so I told them I’m about 3 hours South but I have Chicago references and I filled out and included their 4 page application. I never heard back from them.

My problem with all of this is, there actually ARE good homes out there in the world, but they may not be within a 60 mile radius of your rescue. It’s not that I’m not willing to travel to meet the dog, I am. In fact, when I adopted Katy my first standard poodle several years ago, they didn’t do out of state adoptions, but after speaking with me on the phone, they made an exception and I drove to Texas to get her! I still keep in touch with her rescue.

Which brings me to another dog I found, actually the link to this rescue was actually given to me by Katy’s old foster Mom in Texas. This dog is in Michigan, near Detroit but it’s not a rescue so much but an animal shelter. Shelters usually don’t have such strict adoption rules. This dog is a 5 year old female white standard poodle named Dolly. She is already spayed and vaccinations were given. In her photos she looks pretty scared. I spoke with them on the phone and they told me that she is very sweet and friendly, but I could hear the dogs barking in the background so I can understand why she was nervous looking in her photos. Shelters aren’t usually the most calming place for a dog that is suddenly given up, away from its home. Who can blame any dog for being a nervous wreck?

Well today they emailed me and told me that Dolly has come down with kennel cough. I had planned to go there tomorrow and get her but now she has to be isolated for a couple of weeks. I told my vet and she told me she would keep her in isolation for me. I can’t bring home kennel cough to my house. So the trip is back on. It’s a 6 hour journey for us to get there one way. Now there is no way for her to meet my dogs first, since she’s sick now, but at least she will be at my vet in very good hands. I know she will get better a lot faster in my vets care, than she will at the shelter in isolation rooms. I’m a sucker for a sob story. There is something about this dogs face, a look, she actually looks rather pitiful. I remember that look when I found Katy, she was so depressed looking in her photos, nothing a little love couldn’t fix. So I’m hopeful Dolly will end up as great as Katy was. Jasmine needs a buddy to play with; Dreamer just likes to bark at her. He’s getting elderly now, and not in the mood to play. So I should have “bookends” soon. Wish me luck!

2-1-10 In loving memory of Bogey

In loving memory of Bogey

It has been such a tough year last year, and this year has gotten off to a rocky start as well. A few weeks ago, we lost Bogey, our 15 ½ year old Bichon. He was really a permanent foster dog for us, because he belonged to Libby Barnhart, who had to find him a new home due to her moving and health. She felt it was for his benefit to go to a home that could care for him better than she could at the time. She reluctantly found a new home for him, but about a year later, they too couldn't care for them as their health declined. I had heard about her needing to find him a home, and I had someone in mind, but when she called them, they didn't feel they could devote the time to him he deserved. So I volunteered, at the time he was 13 years old.

Bogey fit in from the start. He became best buddies with Jasmine and Dreamer, and was really no trouble at all. He was adorable with his sitting up and begging, and I dearly love older dogs. He was very happy here and even managed to find a few girlfriend dogs in some of my clients. He was quite the flirt, and would sit and watch me groom the object of his affections.

Bogey was well known in Attica when Libby lived here. She would walk him down the street and her friends would visit him when they came over to her home. He never met anyone he didn't like. He charmed everyone.

Bogey even got in the creative grooming fun when I made him into a football and turned Jasmine into a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader when we went to Dallas a couple of years ago. He was a great sport and everyone fell in love with the “little football”.

Libby came to visit him occasionally and he enjoyed his outings with her. He was a great traveler, and enjoyed trips to the ice cream parlor especially! He was a sweet little “old man” and I and many of my clients will miss him.

It’s never easy to say goodbye to a special pet, but it was especially hard to say goodbye to Bogey. I had done all that I could do to keep him happy and comfortable but ultimately, he told me when it was “time to go”. I recognized the look in his eyes. I was his groomer for a few years before he came to live with me, so the two and a half years he spent as a member of my family seemed longer.

Libby handled the news well under the circumstances, and I delivered his ashes to her and a few keepsakes last week. Most dogs are lucky enough to be loved by one family, but Bogey had at least two. He left paw prints on our hearts. I know I we were blessed to have him here.

1-18-10 Updates for the New Year

Updates for the New Year

I got another call from Nancy Glass Productions this morning. They have decided that they will feature all the contestants that plan to attend the show in California, but paying for me to get there is not going to work and they said that when other shows closer to me happen then they will feature me. I can live with that. I’m expecting Hershey, Pennsylvania in September to be the next show to shoot for.

I guess paying for 4 plane tickets for us, plus one for the dog on a dog airline, since they don’t fly large dogs in the cabin (there is no way I’m sticking her in the luggage area) is a bit of a stretch. I suppose chartering a Lear jet was out of the question. I wasn’t up to driving 4 days in a car with everyone one way to do this show. I know there are those who do that, but I made that trip every year when I was a kid, before we had to wear seatbelts or be in car seats and it was hard on me then. I can’t put us through that. I know a few who will drive all the way across the country to do this show, and for them, it may be worth it, but not for me. My creative grooming television debut will have to come later on. I wished the other gals good luck in the competition and can’t wait to watch it on TV!
That said, she did mention how impressed they were with the videos I sent them and all the work I’ve done so far. (She let me down easy.)

Meanwhile, I’m finding out that I have some wonderful clients and friends out there that really care about me and all that I’ve been through lately. The New Year has not gotten off to a great start yet, but it’s nice to know I have so many wonderful people in my life who understand and support me. I’m starting to feel like a jinx lately, but from what I hear, it’s happening to a lot of people. We have some bad juju in the stars I guess.

I am currently taking an online course in cats through the Nash academy, and I’m learning some fascinating things about cats I didn’t know.
For instance, (and if THIS doesn’t make you want to run out and SPAY your female cat, nothing will); I found out that the male cat has barbs on his uh… personal parts and that when they mate; the PAIN of the mating is what makes her release her eggs. OUCH! Okay ladies, time to call up the vet NOW to make your spay appointment for your kitty! Just the thought of that makes me cringe! That explains the reason why the female cat will attack the male after mating. Men may not understand this, but trust me all the women reading this will run to their phone and call their vet immediately!

Also I found out that if a female doesn’t get bred when she’s in heat, she will come in heat again within 2 days to 2 weeks UNTIL she does get bred! Holy screaming cats! Another great reason to get her fixed, no more midnight serenades! I also learned that some cats can go into heat at only 3 to 4 months old! I know some vets that will not spay until 6 months old and that may be too late! We really do have a huge cat over-population problem, and Hoofstock Veterinary Service in Pine Village is VERY reasonable on their cat spays and neuters. I know that they will do early spays and neuters, as will North Central Indiana Spay and Neuter in Battleground, and also The Neuter Scooter Mobile Clinic who travels all around Indiana and only does cats. Worth kidnapping a stray cat – and/or an entire litter and spaying and neutering to stop the madness! Many vets will offer a stray cat spay or neuter deal if you just ask them. Don’t be shy, and if it’s not affordable for you, call around! It’s not something they normally advertise, but they are all willing to help stop the over-population problem.
Alright, before you erase that horrible mental image I gave you from above, get on the phone, call the vet and make an appointment NOW! I will never look at cats the same way again, and now neither will you.

1-4-10 Happy New Year

Happy New Year!

Another year is again upon us, wow, where did the time go? 2009 was not the greatest year for us, and many people I know. Financially it was hard, though we've fared better than many have. Emotionally though, it was very difficult. I've lost more dear friends, clients and pets this year and it’s been hard. Here’s hoping 2010 is much kinder to us all.

Now for resolutions…

2009 was the year for miscommunication!

I almost lost an opportunity of a lifetime just this week when I was called by Nancy Glass Productions about a new show they are making a pilot for in February in California about creative grooming! Why? Because I didn't check my voicemail! Half the time I can't get to the phone, find the phone in time or hear the phone ring due to the noise of drying dogs, or barking dogs etc. I am rarely away from the house, but it never fails, the minute I step outside the door the phone rings. Or when I'm on the phone with a client, call waiting always comes in. I can't switch over, most of the time I won't because I think it’s rude, but why does the phone ONLY ring when I'm already on it?

Another pet peeve about phones is caller ID. This does no good when it’s a cell phone. If it’s in another area code, is it a telemarketer, or a client? I know of many people with out of state numbers on their cell phones. So the only logical thing to do is answer all the calls and hang up on the telemarketers. Caller ID has become pointless.

Remembering to check voicemail after you get the client’s dogs groomed, feed the family and do the home-schooling and housework is the hard part. Then by the time I manage to get to the voicemail, oops it’s too late to call anyone back! UGH! I need a secretary!

So now I'm up to making a video interview for them, and it needs to be to them by Monday, January 4th, no pressure! I hope get picked to go to California in February. If not, they plan on going to other shows later on so there’s always hope. I am from California and still have friends there that I can stay with so a reunion with old friends is REALLY the reason behind wanting to go on this trip. They haven't met my kids; it’s been a really LONG time since we've been together in person, although we regularly e-mail each other and keep in touch, a free flight for the family and dog would be a wonderful way to get my year off to a fantastic start!

So for 2010 I am VOWING to do much better to check voice mails, and e-mails and get back to people quicker.

Organization is also high on my list of resolutions. I have to get it together! (When I do I'll probably forget where I put it.) I preach it, but I'm bad at doing it. Better communication and more organization is my plan to get the New Year started off right. Is there hope for the chronically disorganized? It’s not so much getting organized as it is keeping it organized. Putting things back where they belong is a big one I'm trying to change.

Weight loss? Puleeze! I won't even go there! I will not beat myself up over that issue. I am what I am like it or not. Okay so I'm not perfect, nobody is. We all have things we'd like to change about ourselves or our lives. My pets love me the way I am, so that’s good enough for me. They also have the good manners not to point out any of my many shortcomings, which most humans don't have. Next time you are feeling a little bit down on yourself, go hug your pets and remember what is really important, and let’s all be glad that 2009 is OVER and we can start fresh once again!