Oh those doodles

We’ve all seen those ads in the paper. The perfect family dog. They must be amazing, practically magical, just look at how valuable they are. Doesn’t your family deserve one?

Retrievers are wonderful family dogs… unless you have allergies. Poodles are nice but they’re too frou frou looking. It sounds like a good idea. Mix these two great breeds together and you get a fabulous retriever that is hypoallergenic, right?

Not exactly.

Standard Poodle in a show trim.
Standard Poodle in a show trim.

There simply is no guarantee which attributes the offspring will have. Some may have the perfect nonshedding, hypoallergenic coat, others may be a combination. Aside from the allergy issues, there are a myriad of health concerns that may come from one or both sides of the equation. Hip dysplasia and seizures are just two of the conditions the breeds share. Dogs from lines having such devastating health problems should not be bred, let alone crossed with another dog carrying the same genetic traits. Reputable breeders will replace a dog if genetic defects appear. They want and need to know so they can adjust their breeding program accordingly.

“Designer” mixes are on the rise. There are labradoodles, goldendoodles, newfydoodles, even saintberdoodles (huh?!), just oodles of doodles. Isn’t it interesting that what they have in common is the standard poodle? If the poodle is so special why not just get a Poodle? They are very smart and versatile. It’s possible to purchase a purebred, health tested poodle for less than a doodle.

If it’s the frou frou thing that has you bothered fuhgeddaboutit. There is no rule about how to keep the coat, unless you plan on showing. Your dog doesn’t need bracelets or poms or poufy top knots. In fact you can clip them short all over for a very low maintenance style.

Standard Poodle in a short trim. Photo by Sherri Regalbuto
Standard Poodle in a short trim. Decidedly not frou frou.

Photo by Sherri Regalbuto.

So “doodle” if you must, but do your homework. Investigate the lineage of both sides of the equation. Make sure the dogs have been health tested. Ask about replacement if genetic problems arise down the road. If your breeder does not stand behind their puppies you need to know that before you fall in love with that cute little ball of fluff. Remember, today’s designer dog is yesterday’s mutt. (It’s not just poodles that are getting all mixed up. Click here for more on this topic.)

After you’ve found your perfect dog, don’t forget to have your favorite communicator help smooth out any bumps in your relationship. It can make all the difference.

Want to spread the word about doodles? Stumble It with the button below.

It's a toxic world, especially for our pets.

Toxins surround us to the point that it is nearly impossible to avoid them. Even those fillings we got as kids are toxic, leaching into our systems causing who knows what damage. Our water is so toxic that we buy bottled water hoping it’s pure, but that’s not necessarily true either.

I try to avoid toxins as much as possible and that practice carries over to my pets. As is so often the case, this enlightened attitude came about as a result of life with my four-legged friends.

My beautiful mare, Misty, developed vaccinosis after just a few years at a boarding barn that required semi-annual 7-way vaccinations. It began as an elevated temperature accompanied by swelling at the injection site. Each successive round of vaccinations brought with it a worse reaction until she developed a full-blown case of laminitis.

During this time I was diligently researching options trying to find an acceptable alternative to meet with the barn owner’s approval. (Moving wasn’t an option at that point.) Finally I found my own vet who concurred with my assessment that it was vaccinosis and prescribed no more vaccinations ever for this mare.

With that battle behind us, I expanded my research into detoxing and better nutritional alternatives to the junk food typically served at barns. It took six months to bring Misty back to health from that last set of shots, but we got there. Thankfully it wasn’t long after that I was able to purchase my own place and bring her home, safe at last from the dangerous, out-dated, ideas of that barn, no matter how well meaning.

I was reminded of this episode recently when I read the account of a beautiful, standard poodle who died horribly, painfully, after being sprayed with weed spray. From what her owner was able to piece together, she approached the fence, probably barking, to protect her puppies who were all playing in their private yard. The person spraying turned the spray directly on her in an act of incredible cruelty and stupidity. Unfortunately this part of the story was only pieced together after the fact and after her suffering had ended. It’s unlikely she could have been saved, even with immediate treatment, as those powerful toxins were inhaled and absorbed through her skin to begin their destructive work on her entire system.

RIP beautiful girl
RIP beautiful girl

Would this person have sprayed the dog in the face had he known it would kill her? Perhaps, but I’d like to think he would have made a better choice had he been educated on the dangers of the toxins he held in his hands.

Shortly after hearing this story, I came across a post from Dr. Mercola’s site about summer time dangers to our pets. While a bit late in the season, the information is still valid and worth sharing. I hope you’ll take a moment to read and educate yourselves and please spread the word. You just might save a life.

Blessings to you dear pet lovers.

If you found this information useful, please click the Thumb This Up button on the right. Thank you!

Pet Identification: Microchip vs. Tattoo

My pet is missing!

That is the worst nightmare of a caring pet owner. When our old border collie, Joshua, was spooked by fireworks and ran off, we thought we’d never see him again. He was twelve at the time and infirmities were setting in.

We searched the neighborhood, put out flyers, contacted the SPCA, posted to online groups and anything else we could think of. Joshua was wearing an ID tag from North Shore Animal League where we had adopted him from, but he had lost it somewhere in his blind panic. Fortunately for all of us, a kind woman found him and alerted the SPCA who then called us. Three days later we had our precious boy back and were blessed to have another two years with him. We were very lucky.

According to the American Humane Organization’s website:

  • 56% of dogs and 71% of cats that enter animal shelters are euthanized. More cats are euthanized than dogs because they are more likely to enter a shelter without any owner identification.
  • Only 15% of dogs and 2% of cats that enter animal shelters are reunited with their owners.

When Saphyre, a standard poodle, joined our family, we wanted to have her permanently identified so if she were ever lost we would have the best chance at recovery. The options we considered were Microchip and Tattooing.

First I researched microchips, the popular choice. Once implanted they are permanent and shelters will check for them. Vets, shelters and some rescue groups offer chipping for a range of fees. There is no battery involved. All that’s required is a scanner and Pet/Owner Identification is easily retrieved.

However, I also learned there is anecdotal evidence that chips can migrate from the injection site and they may cause cancer if a sarcoma forms around the chip. Owners are advised to regularly check the area of the implant for tenderness or swelling. Hard to do if the chip has migrated.

Chips are not visible to the naked eye. The pet must be taken somewhere that has a scanner and that scanner must be the universal type that can read all kinds of chips.

Logic tells me that inserting a foreign body into an organism could lead to problems. There have been reports of nerve damage and even death from improperly inserted chips. These cases are rare, but that is little comfort if it is your pet that dies.

Veterinary Oncologists quoted in an Associated Press article, Chip Implants Linked to Animal Tumors, concluded that more study was needed and that anyone considering a chip should be apprised of the risks.

Next I researched tattoos. I learned there are two main registries: Tattoo A Pet and National Dog Registry. They are easily identifiable from the lettering of the tattoo. Authorities are familiar with these registries and call the appropriate one and the registry supplies contact info for the animal’s family.

Tattoos can be applied by a vet or someone authorized by the registry (often they are groomers). The tattoo is applied either in the ear flap or along the rear inner thigh. There have been reports of dogs having their ears cut off to eliminate tattoos so the thigh has become the more common site.

The procedure takes just minutes and requires no anesthesia. Once applied it is easily visible to the naked eye. The drawbacks are that darker skin may be harder to read, the area should be kept shaved for best visibility and the tattoo may fade over time. Fading can easily be addressed by reapplying the tattoo so that issue is negligible.

For Saphyre we opted to go with a tattoo. I contacted the registry and got the names of some local tattooists, made the appointment and vóila, Saphyre was permanently identified as part of our family.

Our Saphyre
Our Saphyre

The procedure really did take just minutes. The tattoo instrument reminded me of an engraving pen. Each letter and number were simply drawn on leaving a large blotchy spot. Saphyre never whimpered or otherwise indicated discomfort beyond being restrained on the table. When the ID was complete, the area was swabbed, revealing an easy-to-read code that uniquely identifies our Saphyre. Filling out the paperwork actually took longer than the tattooing.

If you choose to have your pet permanently identified, I encourage you to take a little time and research your options. Choose the best one to meet your needs. Then you can rest easy knowing should your pet ever get lost, there is a greater likelihood you will have a happy reunion and beat the statistics.

If you found this information useful, please click the Thumb This Up button on the right. Thank you!

My foray into fostering

His name was Beau. He was purportedly a shepherd mix. Maybe, but there was definitely some Bull Mastiff in there. He had a huge head which I was soon to learn he used most effectively.

I had decided to try fostering dogs after reading repeated pleas in my local paper. Our county SPCA had closed down and local rescues were doing their best to fill the gap, but they needed foster families to house them.

I also thought it would be a great way to see if a second dog would fit with our family. You see we have this wacky, hyperactive, standard poodle, Saphyre, who we absolutely adore, but her antics can sometimes be a bit much. A companion for her could be exactly what we all needed. Fostering seemed like the perfect way to find out.

Beau was about 80 lbs of sweetness and love. He wanted to kiss everyone and was just happy to be part of a family. He and Saphyre hit it off immediately. They wrestled with intensity and then collapsed until the next time. Yesssss!

Saphyre & Beau wrestling
Saphyre & Beau wrestling

However, like with all things there was good and bad. Beau did not like being confined, even in our generous fenced yard. He immediately began digging under the fence and escaped repeatedly. Once he was loose there was no catching him until he was done with his adventure. Worse, Saphyre escaped with him so there were two dogs running around wildly.

Luckily we have a lot of rocks which I immediately began hauling and placing around the fence. With all the rocks in place and the yard appearing secure, I let the dogs out again. Beau very shortly put that big head of his to good use pushing the rocks! The ones he didn’t push he flung, some as much as two feet, as he went to digging past them!

After more chasing down loose dogs, and some very scary moments involving the road, they were once more captured. This time I hauled small boulders. These were large enough that I had to use a lever and tractor to gather and place. At last, success!! The dogs were now safely contained and we could begin to enjoy our foster boy.

One thing I noticed was that Beau did not respond to his name. I checked with the rescue group and learned that he had been found wandering the streets. The shelter had given him the name Beau and he had lived primarily in a kennel before going into foster care. Little wonder he didn’t respond to the name. (Being an animal communicator comes in handy at times like these.) I asked him what he would like to be called and heard Sampson. But he didn’t answer to Sampson so I tried Sammy. That was it! When I called him Sammy he visibly relaxed and came to me.

We had a really nice couple of weeks before Sammy found his new family. They made sure to reinforce their fencing before his arrival, and by all reports, he is a perfect fit.

Don’t you just love happy endings?

Farewell little poodle

I’ve previously posted about Nyla, the little poodle who went to live with the draft horses. Little Poodle finds home with Giant Horses and Update on the Little Poodle

Nyla had a great life and lived each day to the fullest. She was adored by her family and never taken for granted. She made it her mission to rid the farm of ground hogs and excelled at the task. Much to her chagrin, she had even begun having short “rides” on the horses. Her guardian delighted in seeing Nyla sitting on the back of the gentle giants.

Sadly, Nyla was recently killed in a trailer accident when she decided to go visit her friend, Noella. Her family was devastated and asked me to communicate with her. They needed answers and some closure and I was privileged to be able to act as their conduit.

When I contacted Nyla, she was spending time with two dogs (Princess and Mystery) who had previously lived with her family. They had been there to meet her when she transitioned. Nyla communicated with me both in words and pictures. What Nyla shared with me is below in bold blue. Her guardian’s comments are interspersed in italic green.

She’s hanging out with Princess and Mystery. They are swapping stories about the horses. Mystery particularly wants to hear about the ground hogs. Sitting under a shade tree just relaxing and visiting.

It’s just like Mystery to enjoy hearing about ground hog hunting. She always stood by and cheered Princess while she hunted. It’s fascinating to know Princess and Mystery teamed up on the other side – just like they did in their life with us – to help Nyla.

Nyla says she’s sorry. She just wanted to see Noella so badly and wasn’t as careful as she should have been. She didn’t feel pain. There was just a thud then dark and floaty. Next thing she remembers is being in this new place. Princess and Mystery were there when she woke up and explained what happened. That helped because she was confused. She’s not sorry she crossed over, she rather likes it there. But she is sorry that she broke your heart. She treasured your time together and would not have deliberately hurt you like this.

Nyla’s choice of words, “break your heart”, is significant. I have not said those words to anyone, but Nyla. When Princess and Mystery passed, my heart was broken, but not by them. However, this time, it feels as though Nyla directly broke my heart with her abandoned recklessness.

I appreciate and accept Nyla’s apology. My pain is soothed knowing she, too, treasured the life we shared.

She loved sitting in your lap. It made her feel so special. She wonders if you understood how important that was to her?

Nyla was so undemanding, so perfectly independent – I never refused her need for cuddles. She was irresistible. I’m so glad it meant something special to her. It seemed as though she was here to make everyone she met feel loved and needed.

She says please don’t be sad. She would like you to remember how happy you were and hold onto that. Don’t let the sadness block out the good memories. It’s ok with her if you get another dog but pick a good one so you will be happy together for a very long time.

Our hourly joys were so intense, they easily out shine the pain of my loss. As for my next dog(s), I am already scanning the possibilities.

She says she’ll come back to you if you want. She would enjoy another lifetime riding on the quad and sitting in your lap. It was a good life and she appreciates that you gave her a chance at such a good life.

Nyla will always be welcome in my life. She knows my breed, age, gender, size and price specifications. I wouldn’t want to bore her by asking her to return with the same temperament and personality. Instead, I  challenge her to find a way to improve on her already perfectly perfect self.

As soon as she is ready, I want her back in my life.

Her thoughts are still a bit jumbled from the shock so there wasn’t much else but she will fully come back to herself in time and be capable of more fruitful conversation. She’s sorry to be so slow but that’s just the way it is right now.

I will continue to talk to her and enjoy her presence, no matter where she is.

Thank you, Debbra, for giving me such a beautiful message from Nyla, my perfectly perfect poodle.

With gratitude,
Gayla of Serenity Equestrian Center
Photos of Nyla, Princess and Mystery

Xylitol, poodles and seizures

A friend sent me some links to poodle breeders as she knows about my quest to find the perfect dog. While browsing them, I came across a very valuable blog post from ParrisHill Standard Poodles in New Jersey relating how they nearly lost a valuable poodle to xylitol poisoning. Click the link for details:

Xylitol warning!

In a later post they warn that Rescue Remedy, the popular Bach Flower essence, which they previously used on their dogs, now contains Xylitol. Please pass the word to all the pet owners you know. Xylitol should join chocolate, grapes and raisins on the list of foods that are deadly to dogs.

Reading this post lead me to reminiscing about Joshua, who is never far from my thoughts. As a puppy he suddenly began having seizures. Our vet recommended putting him on phenobarbitol for the rest of his life. Had we followed this advice he would likely have been lethargic and it certainly would have shortened his life. Since they were never severe, lasting less than half an hour and only occurred once or twice a month, we opted to forego drugs. A few months later, quite by accident, we discovered that his monthly heartworm medication was a contributing factor. Upon researching, I learned that this was not uncommon. We stopped the heartworm meds and the seizures became infrequent, perhaps once or twice a year, and later they ceased entirely.

Annual checkups were always “fun” as the vet warned of the dangers of heartworm and we pointed out the cure was worse than the malady. We could never convince him that there was a connection, but in our minds it was incontrovertible. Eventually he stopped bringing it up, much to our relief.

After a few years of no seizures, there was one more episode. During a visit from my parents Joshua suddenly seized. By this time I had begun using Dynamite products and had a bottle of Relax on hand. I liberally spritzed Joshua’s face and got as much in his mouth as possible. Less than five minutes later the seizure stopped entirely never going to the “glazed-eye stage,” as I used to call it.

Much later that night my mother awoke having a panic attack, which she had from time to time. Normally she would have to pack up and immediately head home (a 10+ hour trip). This time having witnessed Joshua’s recovery she grabbed the bottle of Tranquil (similar to Relax) and liberally sprayed herself. Within minutes the attack passed and she was able to go back to sleep.

When she related the story to me the next day I was left to ponder the amazing “coincidence” that Joshua had a seizure out of the blue, after several years of having none, just when my mother was here to witness it and the affects of Relax. I was convinced it was not a coincidence, which was confirmed for me by an existential friend. She said that sometimes animals, particularly dogs, will “volunteer” themselves as examples in order to help humans.  That made total sense to me, and was absolutely something Joshua with his generou heart would do, but for many people must be filed under the category of “things that make you go hmmm…”

Update on the little poodle

Nyla, the four-year-old poodle who went to live with the giant horses continues to thrive. She loves to sit on her new “mom’s” lap and has settled into the family routine as if she always lived there.

Daily she rides out on the quad to feed and visit the horses. Initially suspicious of these giant creatures, she has developed quite the friendship with the smallest horse, a thoroughbred. He seems to enjoy her company as well. He will often leave some of his feed for her to clean up and stand back while she enjoys the scraps. Nyla being very clever quickly learned which horses were willing to share.

One day she uncharacteristically began barking at the herd as they came down the hill to eat. Her guardian was curious what that was about so in a followup communication session I asked her how she felt about the horses and why the barking:

NYLA: “They’re not so bad after all. But does that one big guy think he’ s a dog? He keeps sniffing after me like he thinks I’m in heat. I sure hope he doesn’t think he can breed me. Please explain to him that we are different species and are not meant to mix. I’ll be able to breathe much easier if he backs off.”

“I like visiting with them if the visits are brief. But they were taking too long to come down to eat and I wanted them to hurry up so I could go back to the cozy cabin with my mom. I wasn’t mad at them, just trying to help out. I think mom and Jocelyn appreciated it because they were cold and surely must have wanted to go back inside with me.”

Her guardian reports that the youngest stallion is indeed quite fascinated with Nyla and always wants to sniff her. She has explained to him that he needs to go slower and give Nyla time to adjust. We expect they will become great friends, like with the thoroughbred, as they get better acquainted.

Nyla has been in her new home for ten weeks and her progress has exceeded expectations. Her guardians and I are delighted that she has turned out to be the perfect dog they were seeking.

Law of Attraction: Finding The Perfect Dog

Five months ago we lost our dog, Joshua. He was a huge part of our family’s lives for fourteen wonderful years. Since then we’ve talked about getting another dog, we even visited a humane society adoption day. They had some lovely dogs but it was too soon.

I’ve always wanted a standard poodle and, coincidentally, one became available on our local Freecycle. He wasn’t getting along with his pack mates, and to restore peace, his owner reluctantly decided to rehome. Out of all the responses, and there were many, she chose me! I was convinced this was Law of Attraction in action, and just days after I had put out the desire.

My almost new dog.
My almost new dog.

Before meeting in person, I had an animal communication session with him. It turned out he had a very high opinion of himself and a very low one of his pack mates. He showed me pictures of them as a bunch of hound dog mutts. Imagine my surprise when I found out from his owner that they were all in fact poodles . . . far from mutts! I explained to him during another communication session that they were every bit as special as he and he needed to treat them with respect. We chatted about the situation and he agreed to make an effort.

When I finally met him in person some weeks later his owner reported that his behavior had improved. Observing him it was obvious that he was quite bonded and should stay right where he was, if at all possible. He very clearly let me know that, while I was nice enough, I wasn’t his “mom.” Later I had another communication session with him and explained that he could stay right where he was, it was up to him. Since then he continues to do well, and harmony has been restored to the pack.

During my visit one of the other male poodles totally charmed me and removed any doubt that I was ready for a dog. He intuitively felt my grief (over losing Joshua) and leaned his body against mine filling me with healing energy. I had a thoroughly delightful time with him and the healing he freely bestowed upon me was incredibly restorative.

So now I’m looking for my “perfect” dog in earnest. I’ve decided to put my strong, clearly defined request out to the universe (Law of Attraction) and “allow” the right dog to cross my path. I don’t really care about color, although I do like silver, and I want a natural tail. I’d like a young, healthy, adult (six or under) so that we can have many years together. Sex is not important, but I’d like a gregarious personality.

My dog should enjoy romping with my husband, accompany me on treks into the woods, and enjoy sitting quietly together of an evening being petted. He/She should be smart and lively, but able to remain calm when appropriate. My dog will enjoy our horses but not act aggressively towards them. He/She will function as my ears, alerting me to visitors and activity outdoors, but will politely greet visitors.

I’m visualizing spending time with my new dog. I can feel how wonderful it is to have that special companionship again. I’m doing my part and I expect the universe will deliver, it’s just a matter of perfect timing.

Little Poodle Finds New Home with Giant Horses

Since this blog is titled Pet Chatter, I thought it was high time that I included a post from an actual Pet Chatter Animal Communication consultation. This poodle was a delight to communicate with, and her adventures with the “giant” draft horses are very entertaining. Enjoy!

Pet Chatter Nyla

Photo courtesy of Serenity Equestrian Center

Nyla is a four-year-old black miniature poodle. Through no fault of her own she found herself in need of a new home. She was sad to leave her family, yet she knew that it would be best for all concerned. Nyla sent out powerful yearnings for a gregarious, stimulating family environment.

Meanwhile, quite nearby, Gayla was ready to find a new family dog, having lost her two some time ago. Her ideal dog would be a small poodle that was cuddly and would enjoy spending time together on her farm.

In one of those wonderful universal alignments, they were brought together. It’s only been a short time, but they are both convinced it was a perfect match. Gayla is delighted at her cuddly, lap dog who was an instant hit with the family, and who loves to go out and visit with the horses. Things are going even better than she hoped. And Nyla, she has some strong opinions, which she communicated recently during a Pet Chatter consult:

NYLA: “It’s a great place to live. I get lots of attention. They carry me around and are really glad to see me. I missed feeling like part of a family. They also have these big creatures that live out back. I haven’t figured them out yet but I will. They are very big but I can tell that they are also gentle. I tried bossing them around but they just laughed at me and thought I wanted to play. That strategy didn’t work so I’m planning another. I haven’t quite figured out what it should be yet.”

The Pet Chatter: “Why don’t you try talking to them to see if they want to be friends?”

NYLA: “Can I really do that?” She mulled that over and decided to give it a try.

The Pet Chatter: “Try being kind to them and they will be kind in return.” That was a foreign concept to her. Being a natural predator, she’s more in line with fear and intimidation.

NYLA to Gayla: “Thank you for picking me to be part of your family. I knew you were coming because I heard you calling out to me. When we met I felt I already knew you. You were familiar and comfortable all at the same time. It’s a strange thing, but that’s what happened. I knew that things were shaky at my former home and it was hard to sleep or feel safe. When I get anxious I overeat, that’s why I’m so fat. Now I don’t feel the need to gorge myself as if tomorrow will never come. I feel safe, secure and appreciated. Warm, fuzzylicious. I like it here and I think I’ll stay.”

Since integrating into her home Nyla has gotten more exercise and the excess pounds are coming off. She’s more energetic and vibrant and Gayla reports that after our Pet Chatter session her attitude towards the horses is greatly improved.