Kitten Season

[Kitten Season]

Written by Sydney Walker, SAIT Journalism Student

All photos courtesy of some of the amazing cat foster moms at AARCS.

As the days get warmer, and spring becomes reality, kitten season is already in full swing. With litters upon litters of new kittens being born, calls regarding newborn kittens that appear to be abandoned are becoming more frequent. And although the introduction of new life into the world is beautiful and wondrous, it leads to the increase of abandoned, homeless, and neglected animals within our province.

IMG_8926

What’s better than one sleeping kitten? Two!

What should you do if you encounter a mom and her babies in loud or dangerous environments:
  • Call your local animal welfare agency to assist
  • Minimize moving the mom or the kittens
  • Do not move the kittens if the mom is not present – mother cats commonly leave their kittens unattended for extended periods of time to look for food or hide in fear if disturbed.

It’s important to be aware that it is difficult to determine whether or not their mom is to return without hours of distant and quiet observation of the area where the kittens are located.

If you find a potentially orphaned litter of kittens:
  • It is best to leave them where they are and call a local animal welfare agency, or animal services (list of Calgary-based organizations below)

  • If the kittens are in imminent danger due to an environmental danger, or a predator, make precise notes of the location and take them to a local veterinary clinic. Your notes and contact information are used by animal rescuers to search for a mother cat within the area the kittens were found.

Foster kitten Cricket looking mighty cute!

Foster kitten Cricket looking mighty cute!

The kittens’ greatest chance of survival is with their mother. Young kittens are very fragile, and even when being bottle-fed by experienced foster parents, their chance of survival is still not as high as it would be with their mother present.

When kittens are removed, the mother will go into heat again almost immediately, and thus the cycle of kittens will continue.

If the entire family can be rescued, the chances of survival are much greater. Ultimately if more people become more educated on what to do in these circumstances, together we can help stop the cycle of homeless kittens. One person can make a difference, no matter how small! It can feel daunting to see or read about homeless cats, but ultimately even if one is saved, to that one cat, their entire life changes, and that’s always worth the effort.

Calgary Resources:

Calgary Humane Society

Southern Alberta Veterinary Emergency (SAVE)

Alberta Animal Rescue Crew Society (AARCS)

VCA Canada Calgary Animal Referral & Emergency Centre

McKnight 24 Hour Veterinary Hospital

Fish Creek 24 Hour Pet Hospital

Calgary Animal Services / 311

If outside of the Calgary area, you can call your local animal services, emergency veterinary hospitals and/or humane society.
Foster Tekashi, just look at those baby blues!

Foster Tekashi, just look at those baby blues!

AARCS_adopt_feline
Kitten cuddle puddles!

Kitten cuddle puddles!

Thank you kindly for reading, I hope this was helpful and informative!

Ioana Busuioc
Blog and Website Content Creator

Got ideas for our next blog? Email me at blog@aarcs.ca!

Finding a new home can be difficult. It doesn't have to be.

[Facilitating Safe & Successful Dog-to-Dog Intros]

Written by Ioana Busuioc, March 2019

As of January this year, we’ve had the wonderful Sammy join the AARCS team as a Behaviour Coordinator. She has already demonstrated an amazing attitude and willingness to offer her knowledge, insight, and support for all things dog related, from fostering, to ownership, to care, and beyond! She has her own blog, from which she has graciously agreed to let me use posts and photos. This will be the first post from her own blog, which can be found at Bear and Foster Friends. Enjoy!

Will sweet Hannah win you over?! AARCS ID# A40716766

Will sweet Hannah win you over?! AARCS ID# A40716766

Written by Sammy Musgrave

Congratulations on making the best decision ever to adopt a dog into your family! How are you feeling? Over the moon happy? Nervous? Overwhelmed? A little bit of all of the above? Let me help you dispel some of those worries with a concrete Fido-Proof plan so we can focus on all the good feels that come with bringing home your new-to-the-family sweet and furry companion.

Gather Supplies and Prepare your Home

Before you bring home Fido home for the first time, make sure you’ve already done your supply run for a leash, collar, harness, food, etc. Once you have the basics, here are some less obvious preparations that I recommend in order to make your life that much easier in the long run:

  • If you will be using a crate, make sure it’s already set up before you bring your new dog home. Witnessing the set-up could make Fido even more hesitant to trust the dog-eating contraption that you are asking him to get into.

  • Designate and prepare a dog-proof space. I can’t stress how important this step is! I bring 10-15 new foster dogs into my home per year, and this was a rule I had to learn the hard way… (a few times). Save yourself from the potential destruction, accidents, and stress that can result from not having a dog-proof space. In many homes, this looks like a gated off area in the kitchen, mudroom, or other non-carpeted space, using baby-gates, x-pens, crates, turned over coffee tables, and creatively placed chairs. This area should include Fido’s water and food dishes, a dog bed, a crate (if you’ve decided to use one), and a few chew toys (bully sticks, frozen stuffed kongs, etc).

Vida plotting her escape from her dog-proof space.

Vida plotting her escape from her dog-proof space.

  • If you have children, now is a good time to teach them how to interact with their new furry friend. It’s also crucial that they not approach your new family member while he is eating or sleeping during the first few weeks.

  • If you have other pets in the home, be prepared to separate them for the first three days. Yes, your home is safe, and your family is likely the best thing to ever happen to Fido, but here’s the catch – he doesn’t know that yet. Something called a ‘stress event’ triggers when a dog’s schedule and environment changes. This means a whole lot of stress hormones flood Fido’s system, and continue to increase over a 3 day period before stabilizing to normal levels. It is a best practice to separate your new canine from the rest of the pack until he has had some time to decompress in his new environment. Even after 3 days, they should not be left together unsupervised during the first few weeks or perhaps months. It can take a long time for dogs to acclimate to one another in a new home, and spats over jealousy, territory, and miscommunication are to be expected.

  • Find out what food he is currently eating so that you can keep him on it to avoid any tummy troubles. You can gradually transition him to a food of your choice over a 1-2 week period. Adding flora Fiora or pumpkin can assist with this transition but isn’t necessary.

  • Stock up on some training treats. Kibble can be used for a lot of training, but I recommend high value treats for anything that may be particularly challenging for your new dog (keeping in mind, that for some dogs, something as ‘easy’ as stairs might constitute a challenge that requires payment in a much higher currency).

  • Kongs and bully sticks! Give Fido something appropriate to chew on so that he isn’t tempted by your delicious looking baseboards.

Be Prepared for the Drive Home

Crate your new canine companion for the first ride home, or if he isn’t crate trained, have a second person with you to hold onto his leash during the drive. As much as you might want to show him off or introduce him to fun new experiences, avoid making any stops on the way home. Your first stop should be the area where you want him to do his business. Once he has done his business outside, you are ready to introduce him to his new home.

Who could say no to this face!? Jally is up for adoption, AARCS ID# A40332781

Who could say no to this face!? Jally is up for adoption, AARCS ID# A40332781

Create an Effortless Schedule for the First Week

It’s a good idea to keep a 10-15 feet lead on him as he explores the house. After he has had a chance to explore, help him get acquainted with the area that you’ve prepared for him. You can spend some time hand feeding him, and petting him while he gets adjusted to his designated space, but do make sure to leave him for an hour or two, preferably with a stuffed chew, to allow him some time to rest.

This is a general outline of what his routine should look for the first few days. When Fido isn’t in his designated area, it is a good practice to keep him on a 10-15 foot lead at all times during the first few days.

  • Wake up and let Fido out for a bathroom break
  • Feed breakfast
  • Bathroom break
  • Exercise, play, and/or family time
  • Bathroom break
  • Fido’s designated area
  • Repeat bathroom break-exercise, play and/or family time-bathroom break-Fido’s designated area circuit until it’s dinner time
  • Feed dinner
  • Bathroom break
  • Exercise, play, and/or family time
  • Bathroom break
  • Bedtime in Fido’s designated area

Note that there are tons of bathroom breaks to remove any room for error. You might be wondering why all the extra precautions? Perhaps your dog has already been housetrained and has never gotten into anything he wasn’t supposed to in his foster home. Here’s the thing- dogs are terrible at generalizing. Just because he knew the rules in one household doesn’t necessarily mean he is going to realize those same rules apply to your household. That, coupled with the stress and anxiety of moving into a new household makes an accident that much more likely to occur.

Make the First Week Utterly Unspectacular

The first week should be relatively quiet and stress-free. This week is all about bonding with Fido and teaching him his new routine. Avoid introducing him to all kinds of new people, places, and animals. He needs time to feel safe, and to adjust to his new environment, people, and routine. This is also a good week to practice a few short departures to prepare your new dog for the first time you have to leave him for an extended period of time.

Bear makes boring look cute!

Bear makes boring look cute!

Thanks for reading everyone!

Love, Sammy & Bear

AARCS_adopt_canine

Thank you kindly for reading, I hope this was helpful and informative!

Ioana Busuioc
Blog and Website Content Creator

Got ideas for our next blog? Email me at blog@aarcs.ca!

Coping with the Loss of a Pet

[ Coping with the Loss of a Pet ]

image3

Written by Ioana Busuioc, February 2019

Losing a pet is never easy, particularly around the holidays. Pets become members of our family, and their support and comfort can brighten the darkest of days. There’s something inherently different about losing a pet, perhaps because much like children, they are completely innocent beings. To this day I have yet to come across a bad animal, the same way I have never come across a bad child. In a loving home, a pet can flourish and offer a special kind of support that cannot be obtained from friends or family. In protecting your pet and giving them a good quality of life, there is an unspoken agreement through which they commit to giving you the same type love you give them, but tenfold.

The loss of a pet can leave an irreparable rift in not only your home, but your soul. When my family lost our beloved Mitmit two weeks before Christmas, I thought my world was ending. It came so suddenly, and the feeling of hopelessness we all felt over not being able to cure her of her sickness put a stop to a lot of day to day activities. Mitmit was my soulmate, and beyond being a family pet, she was essentially a lifeboat for the turbulent seas of mental health I had learned to navigate throughout my teens and young adult life. She was my best friend, and despite the constant changes in life I went through, she was a constant and consistent source of laughter, care, and support. It’s hard to put into words just how special a pet can end up being, but ultimately they become the glue that holds a family together. Pets are there for us throughout hardships and sadness, but they are also there with us to celebrate the happy moments. Every pet has their own unique quirks, and the realization that you will have to face a home devoid of those quirks that had become part of your routine can be beyond disheartening. Whenever anyone came home, Mitmit always ran up to the door, like a dog, to offer a friendly meow and to immediately ask for pets. The first day without her, I realized I wouldn’t have her greeting me anymore, and I wouldn’t be able to call out to her and have her jump on my lap for a cuddle. I felt like our house was simply no longer a home without her presence, and all the things that once brought me joy felt dull and unnecessary without my dear companion by my side. I didn’t want to talk to anyone, I didn’t want to eat, or even move from my bed. As a matter of fact, I took a whole week off of work because I physically was unable to function, and I was in tears permanently, to the point where my eyes swelled so much that I couldn’t keep them open. The only periods of respite were when I was asleep, but even then, my dreams were plagued by vivid nightmares and upon waking, I had to again face the reality that my best friend was gone. As the days passed, I felt like there were so many moments I had taken for granted; I wish I had known that Christmas 2017 would be her last Christmas, or that my birthday that year would be the last one celebrated with her, or that I’d never see her roll around in the grass as she did in the summertime. The lesson she taught me is that we really do not know what life holds in store for our loved ones, ultimately we have to be thankful for the time we’ve had with them, and to be able to continue honoring their memories.

As I mentioned, it was quite hard for me to ground myself into reality after Mitmit’s passing. Life felt so surreal, and it felt like time was passing me by in slow-mo, without me being able to move on with my day, or even care for myself. I secluded myself from my loved ones and wanted to skip to the part where I would feel okay. I think deep down I knew that day would never come, not in the way I would want it to. I knew I would mourn for my furry friend endlessly, but I so badly wanted the pain in my heart to stop. I feel very fortunate to have had the support group I had, understanding coworkers, and to have had my family exercise patience and care between the three of us so that we could start to heal. I may not have had the best coping, but I know I did my best, and ultimately taking a week off to mope and sulk ended up helping me, though this may not be the case for everybody. We all cope differently, and it’s important to listen to yourself and take the appropriate measures to begin the healing process after losing a pet. What worked for me, might not work for everybody, but I’ve compiled a list of things to do to at least try to ease the suffering after the death of a pet.Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

1. It’s absolutely necessary to just sit and have a good cry. I personally am a big crier, whether it’s from actually being sad, or from watching cute animal videos on YouTube, I wholeheartedly have embraced that I am a crier. Crying is uncomfortable but I really do believe when something seriously devastating happens to a person, they can benefit from the unleashing of emotions that is crying. If that means just one good cry, that’s okay, if it means a week of crying uninterrupted, that’s okay too. Nobody can tell anyone how they should or should not cope! Also, it will take way more than a week to heal after such a devastating loss. I’m not ashamed to admit this week, a month and a half after Mitmit’s passing, I cried and held on to her ashes late one night. There is no expiry date on grieving.

2. One of the hardest things to do was take care of myself; like I mentioned, I couldn’t bother drinking water, feeding myself, showering, leaving my bed, etc. There is nothing glamorous about suffering and grieving, and it certainly can take time to regain a routine, but it’s important to recognize that it will get better. My boss called me to remind me to drink water and go for a walk, my mom made me get out of the house to eat some soup, my coworker and friend came to drop off a care package for me, and I had numerous offers from close friends wanting to keep me company. Though I was reluctant to accept help, knowing that I had people there for me pushed me to try to take better care of myself, one day at a time. It started off really slowly, with me only managing to drink water and juice and eat some fruit, but gradually I got out of bed for longer periods of time and started making myself soups and teas, cleaning, doing face masks, and so on. I got back into my normal routine about a week later, but I am very glad I took my time so that it wouldn’t have led to me crashing and burning too early on. Naturally not everyone has the ability to take time off of work or school or their other responsibilities, and in those cases I think it’s very important to at least drink water frequently. Dehydration can lead to migraines and overall grogginess, and that’s the last thing anybody needs when they already feel like they’ve hit rock bottom.

3. Looking at pictures of Mitmit was initially really hard, but after a few days I started compiling photos and videos of her and would look at them whenever I’d get sad again. Mementos are great for keeping a pet’s memory alive, but also to turn to for comfort. We got two paw print prints to frame, a ceramic paw print with her name, her ashes in a beautiful box, and a pillow in her shape with her picture on it. It’s important to take the necessary steps to do whatever it is that will bring you the slightest bit of relief, and for me personally, it was surrounding myself with reminders of her bright spirit and kind soul.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

4. Take time for your loved ones, especially family members if they had also experienced the loss of the pet. My mom and I had spent a lot of time together, and still do, and we feel that her memory is preserved in us getting along and spending time with each other. As much as I didn’t want to socialize, I made myself go out for dinners and short activities with my friends and loved ones as much as I could. I knew Mitmit would not want me sulking in the darkness of my room all day, so I made a conscious effort to surround myself with positive people who I knew would be patient with me.

5. Doing some soul-searching was something that I knew I would benefit from when a few weeks had passed. I really felt like a part of my identity was now gone; I was always a “crazy cat lady” among my friends, and now I felt like being cat-less made me less of the person I knew I was. A lot of doubt can cloud your judgment when a pet passes away, but it is important to remember your pet would not be treating you like this or talking to you so negatively, so you shouldn’t do it to yourself. When some time has passed, it would be beneficial to remember the special bond with a pet and know that it could never duplicated. I initially thought I could never own another cat again, and we definitely are not ready yet, but ultimately having rescued Mitmit from a shelter, I know the best way to honour her legacy would be to continue giving other shelter pets a chance to thrive in a loving home.

I would also like to say that while it was incredibly hard to see her last moments, she died in the comfort of her home, on my dad’s lap, with my mom and I petting her. We had called Vets to Go since Mitmit was never very good with car rides and we did not want to stress her out further. The vet that came was beyond patient, her professionalism was evident from the start, and she never made us feel rushed. Thanks to her, we were able to have our beloved Mitmit pass over the rainbow bridge as peacefully as possible, and she herself had stated that there truly would not have been an easier or better way for her to pass away. In her saying this, I found solace, because to me, ultimately, the best gift you can give to a pet, other than a loving home of course, is to be there for them and to make sure they know they are loved when it is their time to go. Comfort in a loved one’s passing is truly the most selfless gift one can give, in my opinion, and my family and I are very blessed to have been able to give that to our dear Mitmit.

It’s never easy losing a pet, especially because for the most part, our pets will not live for the entire duration of our own lives. Most people have many pets throughout their lifetimes, but for those pets, their person or people become their whole lives. It is so important to honor that time spent together, but to also be aware that there is life after loss, and I know in my heart that all departed pets are waiting for us and the day we meet again will be so pure and joyous that it will truly transcend time and space. As Anatole France once said: “Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened”, and so to lose is to have loved and lived. If you are dealing with the loss of a pet, please be gentle, kind, and patient with yourself above all else, and hug your loved ones a little tighter; we don’t know when anyone’s time, human or animal, will come, so we must make the most out of every single moment while we can. I know I will miss my kitty until the day I die. She was so special, as I know each pet is to their own owners, but I know she is here in spirit, and I will continue to live in a manner that honours her, today and always.

Rest in Peace my dearest friend. We will see each other over the Rainbow Bridge one day.

Thank you kindly for reading, I hope this was helpful and informative!

Ioana Busuioc
Blog and Website Content Creator

Got ideas for our next blog? Email me at blog@aarcs.ca!

“We are so proud of our contribution to their happy-ever-after-life. We’ve met so many amazing volunteers who’ve become friends because of our shared passion for rescuing.”

Kelly A.
Kelly A.

“My heart has grown in ways I didn’t know it could!”

Victoria H.
Victoria H.

“I leave each time happy knowing I made a difference in an animal’s life.”

Janice B.
Janice B.

“Just the knowledge that I have helped a fellow creature live a better life makes me a happier person.”

Tami M.
Tami M.

“Knowing that what I am doing is really making a difference in the lives of so many animals helps me feel good about humanity and the compassion that so many people have and show.”

Annik T.
Annik T.

“I will continue to foster forever. It’s nice to see all the people trying to make the world better for our animals.”

Emily D.
Emily D.

“Volunteering is my therapy from daily life stresses!”

Shelby W.
Shelby W.

“Whether you foster one and decide to adopt, or foster 100 and adopt none, it’s still having a positive impact!.”

Candice B.
Candice B.

“I have learned that it is okay to show our emotions on our sleeves. Volunteering with AARCS has allowed me to grow in so many ways!”

Amber B.
Amber B.

“I am so much happier since starting with AARCS. I have a purpose in my life now other than my day to day tasks like work and home life!”

Erin K.
Erin K.

“AARCS gives these animals a chance at a better life and I am so grateful!”

Brenda B.
Brenda B.

“Volunteering is a great experience, you meet lots of people and you help the animals no matter how much time you give. Even 5 minutes of your time can make a difference!”

Shelia W.
Shelia W.

“I have learned so much about myself through fostering each of the dogs I’ve met. When I foster, it feels like I’m really making a difference for animals and people in our communities.”

Samantha K.
Samantha K.

“I feel revitalized after a shift at Safe Haven!”

Cindy G.
Cindy G.

“The people at AARCS are all amazing and it’s great to work with so many people that share my love of animals. I honestly can’t imagine my life without AARCS!”

Lori U.
Lori U.

“I love how flexible it is and even popping in an hour to help out makes you feel like you’re part of the team and part of a bigger picture.”

Bianca D.
Bianca D.
Ioana Busuioc

Ioana Busuioc

Blog and Website Content Creator

Ioana is a soon-to-be business graduate with a passion for animals and educating the public about their care. Ardent advocate for animals big and small, she can typically be found juggling her academics and work with her love of food, kitty and bearded dragon cuddles, video games, hiking and boxing.