Monday, November 19, 2012

Diary of a Diva on Deployment

It’s not day one, it is pre-day one. The night before, where I frantically, yet methodically rummage through my house, seeking out the necessary accoutrements that served me well during my last deployment. Luckily I had the good sense to wash, pack and organize my ‘ready/go kit’ before I shoved it into some small space deep down in the basement.
The check off list always seems to get longer when I have the luxury to take my own car to the deployment. It seems my car doubles as a Sanford & Sons (OK, now I am dating myself) junk-lugger when the deployments are within driving distance. Why not bring all of my favorite things along to make my extremely long, dog & cat poop filled, fur flying, junk food eating days and little-to-no (cot) sleeping nights more like home? Deployments never mimic the diva lifestyle I am accustomed to (friends who know me, can insert laughter now) but it’s the little things, like my pink fuzzy slippers, neck warmer, squishy pillow and cooler filled with comfort food that help soothe my soul while my emotions run high and my joints snap, crackle and pop.
Sleeping bag, personal hygiene items, PPE (personal protection equipment), warm clothes, boots, flashlights, batteries, IPod, vitamins, journal book (my SAFE place to vent: thoughts, frustrations, memories), perfume (to make ME feel pretty while slopping up urine with a paper towel) are all packed into the trunk, back seat and passenger side or my SAAB (Serving Animals And Beyond).
Directions posted on the dash, a bar of dark chocolate lurking by the shifter, (understanding its place as a sacrifice when I need a little pick-me-up) and Carol King & James Taylor “You’ve Got a Friend” jamming in the CD player all are rituals I perform for the journey ahead.
Now, to get a good night sleep in my own, oh-so-comfy- bed, with the anticipation that the next day’s travel will take me to a place where I can help make a difference in the animals lives.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Bunnies don't wear bonnets

Have you ever seen a rabbit wearing a cute flowered dress, donning a fancy hat or laying eggs? Well, I haven’t, yet Easter seems to have some strange connection to these cuddly and adorable creatures.
     Easter has customs with very ancient and nearly universal origins, yet I was confused as to why rabbits are of any significance with this Holiday. My search into the history of why rabbits are thought to make great Easter gifts led me to computer web sites, the local library and a clergyman. One thought was that the hare signifies fertility, which leads to spring, another had something to do with the lunar aspect of the moon and yet another claims that artists used hares or rabbits in their Easter art work, stories and fables. Yet none of these sources gave me the answer to my question, why are rabbits given as Easter gifts?
    It seems today, there is not much cultural awareness in regards to the origins of these once popular myths, so marketing has taken over where tradition once stood.
     The domesticated house rabbit are usually purchased from a breeder or pet store, given as a harmless, soft, fun loving gift for a child to hold, carry and cuddle, much like a stuffed toy. What the new pet parent doesn’t know it that Thumper and Bugs are actually frightened bundles of nervous energy that can scratch and bite when restrained.
     The average rabbit can live up to or over ten years. There are many varieties to choose from with sizes ranging from about three to fifteen pounds. They are very social creatures
and thrive on attention. They like to romp, play, dig, chew and don’t live on carrots alone. These prolific animals need a well balanced diet of pellets, fresh hay, as well as certain vitamins and minerals.
     It seems as if these impulse purchased pets are showered with attention for a few weeks then virtually forgotten about in an outdoor pen to live a life of solitary confinement with an occasional rub of the ears. There are also people who think that rabbits can survive like their ancestors, the wild hare, and once their novelty has worn off, cast these timid fur balls into the woods or parks, expecting them to fend for themselves. In the urban wild, life expectancy or these released pets can be very short. They cannot forage for food like their ancient relatives, and dogs, cats, cars and other hazards can cause a quick demise.
     This is not to say that some bunny parents don’t love and adore their sensitive, intelligent, social companions, but they know the responsibility and commitment that it takes to care for their furry little friends. If you want to read about proper bunny parenting, check out 3 Bunnies Rabbit Rescue.

So with Easter fast approaching and the children pleading for a cute floppy, lopped, long eared bunny, ask yourself this question, why are rabbits given as Easter gifts?

Friday, March 16, 2012

Bow Hunting for Bambi

It’s that time of year again; the CT Legislative Session is in full swing. While we go about our daily routine there are lobbyists, big corporations, special interest groups, individuals and elected officials, who are all trying to get new laws enacted. They are feverishly drafting language while locked behind closed doors and (sometimes secretly) plotting their course to be presented for review, favors to be granted, potential public hearings, committee votes, and if luck has it, a Governor’s signature that turns the bill into a law.

Ever search through some of the proposed bills (yawn city) or listen to the local news reporters interviewing an elected official about the latest (and sometimes kooky) proposed bill? Over the years, while visiting the Legislative Office Building in Hartford, I have read some rather interesting proposed bills. And this year, another, what I consider, unreasonable bill has been brought to my attention; a bill to kill Bambi. Yep, that’s right, another attempt from pro hunting coalitions and misguided sportsmen to kill a shy and vulnerable creature, while endangering the safety of people, right here in Connecticut.

This proposed bill will allow Sunday bow & arrow hunting in CT. Follow the link to read the proposed bill: it is SB 0083 ‘An Act Authorizing Bow & Arrow Hunting on Sunday under certain circumstances.’

Bow and arrow hunting is an extremely inhumane sport. It often times causes injury and long term suffering to the animal if the arrow does not immediately kill its target and the prey animal runs off, they end up dying a slow and painful death.

To some, deer can be a minor nuisance. They sometimes dart into oncoming traffic, eat ornamental plants and painstakingly planted gardens, graze at your neighbor’s bird feeder and encroach on humans’ living space. We have taken away much of their natural habitat, so what should we expect?

Personally, I like to see the deer frolic amongst the (limited) open space at Silver Sands State park and take privilege to know that nature has not been totally snuffed out by human encroachment into undeveloped property.
So to allow Sunday hunting and endanger the lives of the average outdoor enthusiast, confuses and appalls me.

According to the article, ‘Managing urban deer in CT/ DEP Wildlife Division’, the only requirement that I have found in order for bow hunters to get a permit is that they take a required 8 hour CE/FS (conservation education/firearm safety) course. Currently hunters are also allowed to use bait (on private land), to attract unassuming deer to be better positioned for the hunter to slaughter them.

Now, given that there are only about 60,000 hunting permits issued every year in CT, I don’t really understand why this bill has even been proposed. That small number equates to less than 1% of CT residents, leaving the 29 to 1 ratio majority who are wildlife enthusiasts, hikers, mountain bikers, horseback riders, dog walkers and nature lovers who don’t hunt. These nature enthusiasts outspend hunters by seven to one, and contribute over $500,000 million dollars to the state’s economy every year (The United States Fish & Wildlife Service).

Just the safety factor alone would be reason enough for our legislators to ignore this bill or make it disappear by voting against it, yet there are 6 co-sponsors on this dangerous and inhumane bill.

There was already a public hearing on this Senate Bill 0083, Sunday Hunting with Bow & Arrows proposal, but it’s not too late for you as a voter and concerned citizen to call your elected official (even if they aren’t one of the co-sponsors) and encourage them to not only vote against this bill if it shows up in front of them, but to encourage fellow legislators to abandon this bill in the name of public safety and our freedom to be out outdoors with our pets, horses and children.

Both Milford (118th) District and Stratford (122nd) District have co-sponsors (elected officials) who support this bill, as does the 52nd, 80th, 81st, 135th Districts. Call them, tell them to stop supporting this bill and not listen to special interest groups. In case you aren’t sure what district you live in or who your elected officials are, these are some important phone numbers to have handy. Legislative Information Center: 860. 240.0555. Senate: 860.240.0500 House of Representatives: 860.240.0400
Make the call now, you or possibly someone else’s safety could depend on it.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Santa’s Not a Puppymill

Ah, the holidays, a time for family and friends to gather in the name of religion and tradition. Some folks share stories, exchange gifts of gratitude, attend worship services, while others are on the mad dash to provide a plush puppy or cuddly kitten to some unsuspecting child on Christmas morning. Funny thing is though, I don’t remember seeing Santa’s elves making furry live animals on their assembly line, and I don’t recall Santa stuffing a breathing sentient creature into his bag full of toys to be dropped through the chimney stack and placed under someone’s tree. In other words, pets don’t make good gifts.

Christmas morning is a day of celebration, giving thanks and being with loved ones. Though a puppy or kitten might be a kind gesture to show someone you care, it is not a good choice for such a bustling and busy day. Puppies like to chew on just about anything, so every day holiday items like tinsel, garland and shiny decorations are too tempting for a curious little critter to avoid and many new pups end up at the emergency veterinarian after ingesting such dangers. While kittens like to climb and jump, their adorable and natural behavior could cause the Christmas tree to go tumbling. Dangers such as fires could also be caused by a frolicking critter that accidentally knocks over a lit candle or chews on an electric cord. Certain seasonal plants like poinsettias are also toxic to animals and could cause death when eaten.
Puppies require a lot of attention not only on the first day that you bring them home, but for weeks and months and years to come. Feeding a puppy several times a day, house training (which means cold visits out to the back yard in the middle of the night so they can do their business), constant play time mixed with short naps, obedience training and veterinary care are just some of the responsibilities of long term pet parenting. During the holiday season people are just too busy to take the time necessary for such a needy little fur ball of love.
Instead of giving a live pooch or kitty you can purchase items like a bowl, toys, bed, leash and collar for the gift that is found under the tree. Don’t forget a gift certificate to the local veterinarian and a book about the type and breed of pup or kitten that you want.
A new best friend should be planned by the whole family not a spur of the moment decision and precious pups and cuddly kittens can be found at local animal shelters not only the day after Christmas, but all year round.
On behalf of all those homeless animals that couldn’t be saved and for the ones that have found their forever homes, Happy Holidays and Peace!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Holiday Pet Precautions

Tinseled trees, chunks of chocolate and pots of poinsettias. Festive cheer abounds but with that comes potential holiday horrors for curious kitties and snooping Snoopy’s.
According to the National Animal Poison Control Center (NAPCC) there are thousands of accidental pet poisons reported every year. In the year 2007, The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) ( poison control center provided assistance in over 130,000 cases to animal caretakers as well as veterinarians in regards to toxic chemicals, poisonous plants and dangerous products.
Pet related injuries range from mild indigestion to hyper excitability, increased heart rates, muscle tremors, vomiting, diarrhea and unfortunately even death.
Bread dough, for example, when ingested and mixed with the animal’s body heat causes the dough to rise in the stomach. As alcohol is produced during this process the dough expands and could cause Fluffy or Fido severe abdominal pain, bloat, disorientation and depression. Alcohol toxicosis, which is caused by the fermentation of the dough, can also cause serious health risks for your beloved pet.
Chocolate ( is another delicious but potentially lethal treat. The cocoa bean from which chocolate is produced contains a drug called Theobromine, ( which is a xanthine compound, and is closely related to caffeine. This ingredient, if over ingested can cause your pet serious health hazards. But the misconception is about how much can really be a problem?
The good news is that on average it takes a large quantity of theobromine (100-150mg/kg) to cause a toxic reaction.
The average milk chocolate contains only about 44 mg per ounce, semi-sweet chocolate contains about 150 mg per ounce, and bakers chocolate about 390 mg per ounce.
Using this formula the average toxicity level for dogs is about one ounce of milk chocolate per one pound of body weight, one ounce of semisweet chocolate per three pounds of body weight and for bakers chocolate the average toxicity is about one ounce per nine pounds of your dogs body weight.
So if your fifteen-pound dog ingests 2 ounces of bakers chocolate, it is more serious than if they ingest two ounces of milk chocolate.
For a forty pound dog, dangerous quantities of milk chocolate average about two and a half pounds ingested, with unsweetened chocolate only four and a half ounces. That results in about 1800 mg of theobromine.
So the safest way to avoid chocolate poisoning is to make sure Fido is cocoa free.
Cats, with their finicky food demands seem not to enjoy chocolate like their pooch pals and therefore companion animal caretakers seem to worry less as much about cats as they should their dogs.
Other festive foods such as alcohol, avocados, macadamia nuts, raisins, onions and onion powder, grapes, moldy or spoiled foods should be kept far from your fluffy fur balls. Make sure that any sweet treat that contain the ingredient xylitol ( are far from Fido’s reach, it causes gastrointestinal issues.
For those curious canines and frisky felines, Christmas decorations such as tinsel, Christmas tree water (if it contains fertilizer and can also contain bacteria), electric cords, ribbons, batteries, glass ornaments, holly plants, mistletoe, peace lily plants are just to name a few, of the unsafe and potentially deadly ingredients to this special holy time of the year.
So, to avoid an unscheduled visit to the emergency veterinarian, be aware and take extra precaution while enjoying the holidays with family, friends and loved ones.