Blog the Change: Reasons Not to Adopt a Cat

Blog the Change 

Adopt a Shelter Cat Month may be long over but I am sure there are still plenty of people out there interested in adopting a rescued feline for their own. If you are one of these people you may want to re-think your plans. Sure, cats make wicked pets. It’s a privilege to share your life with one. However, there are several caveats to cat ownership that may change your mind:

– As Pamela from Something Wagging This Way Comes learned, cat people are way cooler than dog people. Say goodbye to those hoodies and jogging pants. Cat people move in high style. If your fashion budget isn’t prepared for the sheer sartorial splendour a cat will bring you, then it’s best to back out before it’s too late.

– Cat videos are the most commonly searched item on Youtube. If you don’t have a camera with which to capture all your cat’s moments of magnificence, there is no point in having a feline pet at all.

– Cats make dogs look downright foolish. Shiva is around 40 pounds of muscle. Our cat is 11 pounds of fluff. He frequently sends her fleeing with a lift of his paw. From the first day she entered our home he made it very clear she would be subservient to him. If you aren’t ready to see your rugged shepherd turn into a cowering puppy, you may not want to get a cat.

– When you have a cat, you are no longer in charge of your household. Everyone knows that dogs have owners and cats have staff. Even the loyal Kenzo learned to obey the cat first and his people second. Forget about keeping them off the furniture or attempting to retain ownership of any high space in your home. Windowsills, mantels, chairs, beds, shelves, the top of the refrigerator, these all belong to the cat now. You are just going to have to find another place to put those picture frames.

Speaking of photos, any you take in the home are all going to include your cat. They practically invented the concept of photobombing. You may think you are snapping a shot of Aunt Margaret standing by the window but if you give it a closer look, you’ll probably spot your kitty hovering somewhere.

– You may have heard that cats are very clean animals. This is definitely true. Unfortunately, this obsession with neatness and grooming causes some not-s0-tidy consequences. There is nothing like the sound of a cat puking up a hairball at three o’clock in the morning. Especially when you know the cat is somewhere between you and the light switch. And your feet are bare.

– Your dog probably greets you at the door with a wagging tail and a lolling tongue. Your cat will greet you too but more likely with a sneer and an accusatory meow. If you have low self-esteem, a cat may not be for you.

If you are a man, a cat will get you far too much attention from the opposite sex. Any doubters can just ask my PH. Heterosexual females should check out I Have Cat’s Man Cat Monday and I bet they’ll have to agree. What male wants countless women hanging around his front door or begging for his phone number? What a hassle.

– Finally, cats are beautiful creatures with individual personalities and many gifts to share. They deserve just as much love and affection as a dog and if you don’t think you can provide this, then it’s probably best you steer clear. There are enough neglectful cat owners out there, the world doesn’t need another cat abandoned on the street because a human wasn’t prepared for the responsibility of a pet.

So what do you think? Have I changed your mind? If you are brave enough to take the risk and willing to lose your heart to a feline friend, – snobbish ways, puke, and all – the right one is just a few clicks away.

Dog Rescue: The Power is Yours

Dog Rescue Success

As I thought on what I wanted to say today about dog rescue, I became a little discouraged. My experience is so limited. I’m no John Gagnon, driving from city to city, pulling dogs from high-kill pounds. I’ve only adopted a single dog from my local no-kill shelter. What do I know about saving lives?

In so many ways adoption was the easier choice for me. For one, it was a heck of a lot cheaper. Not only did I not have to pay upwards of a thousand dollars for a purebred puppy, but Shiva came to us spayed and will all her initial vaccinations. We even received a free first vet check-up. With all we would have spent that first month on a puppy, the nominal adoption fee seemed positively cheap!

I’ve shared this chart before but I think it is a great example of how much you can actually save by going to a shelter, even when compared with the free pets one can find online.

Secondly, adopting an older dog with a normal-sized bladder meant I didn’t have to wake up five times throughout the night to take Shiva outside. Shelter dogs are often already house trained, which was a huge selling point for me. We didn’t have to waste time with pee pads or cleaning up accidents, we could just get right to enjoying our lives together mess-free.

Of course, that’s not to say that you can’t find adorable puppies at a shelter or rescue, if that is what want. You are just far braver than I!

The third reason adoption seemed like the easier choice was that I knew there was a chance the dog we chose would already have some manners. Many dogs are surrendered to shelters and rescues because their owners can no longer care for them. These dogs are already used to living in a home and know some pretty handy skills. Also, depending on the shelter or foster home, many dogs receive foundational training while waiting for their forever home. For example, check out this video of a dog at my local shelter.

Though I wasn’t this lucky with Shiva, I can’t help but think how awesome it would be to have a dog who already understands the concept of recall. You can skip all the boring stuff and just get right to the fun!

For all of the above reasons, it really don’t feel like I did anything that special or sacrificial by adopting my dog instead of purchasing her from a breeder. At the time it seemed like the practical thing to do for a woman of modest income who works full-time. And yet…

When I see the statistics for the number of dogs killed in shelters and pounds every day, I have to wonder. Shiva may not have been in danger of euthanasia but hundreds of thousands of other dogs are. While I may not have technically saved her life, I do have the power to  save other dogs, just by sharing her story. Perhaps she can serve as a sort of adoption ambassador, helping convince others to adopt some of the dogs who are in serious danger.

As hard as it is to believe, there was a time when Shiva didn’t snooze on the couch with her blanket and pillow pet, when she had to scrounge the streets for garbage and hide from potential dangers outdoors. You wouldn’t know it to look at her now but life wasn’t always so cushy for our silly dog. The way she was able to rebound from her early difficulties is an inspiration. Her time as a stray is long forgotten. She is just a regular dog now, no different than any other.

That’s just it, I think. Dogs are dogs, it doesn’t matter if they cost thousands of dollars or if they were rescued from the side of the road. You are just as likely to find a pretty awesome companion either way.

Besides all poop, even the expensive show dog kind, is disgusting when you pick it up. May as well save a few bucks, right?

What do you know? I guess I had something to say after all.

Thanks to Blog CatalogDog Rescue Success, and  Be the Change for Animals for organizing today’s big dog rescue event. If you would like to join in, there are many ways to help:

  • Write a blog post related to dog rescue
  • Leave comments on other blogs and share the links with your social media network
  • Share your dog’s adoption story with friends and family
  • Donate to a local dog rescue organization
  • Contact a local rescue organization about adoption or fostering
  • Volunteer at a local shelter or rescue organization
  • Spread the word and encourage others to join in

No matter how small you think your actions, you have the power to make a difference in the lives of animals. You never know what Tweet or Facebook status or blog post will find a dog his forever home.

*All photos used in this post are of dogs listed on



Blog the Change: Don’t Miss the Chance to Stand for Dog Rescue

Blog the ChangeComing up on July 23rd is an important event that is close to all our hearts. Chances are if you are reading this you have already adopted from, volunteered at, fostered for, or donated to a local animal shelter. Pet bloggers and pet lovers are amazing people. I’ve benefited myself many times over from your generosity. You don’t just talk about change, you actually get out there and chip away at the mountain with every tool you can find. Sometimes it feels overwhelming but pebble by pebble, you are making a difference in the lives of countless animals.

Eight days from now is teaming up with Blog Catalog, Dog Rescue Success, and activists like you to showcase the vital cause of dog rescue in a huge international online event. It may be the biggest blog the change yet. We all know about the thousands of dogs whose lives are at stake every day. It’s time everyone else did too.

If even one dog is adopted from a shelter instead of purchased from a pet store, all of our efforts will be worthwhile. We have witnessed the changes that can come from the smallest actions. You never know what will touch someone or who is listening to your story. It could be a friend; it could be someone who has never commented; it could be someone on the other side of the planet. We may not see the results directly, but by blogging about the causes about which we are most passionate, we can – and have – saved lives.

Never doubt the power of the written word. Every time I start to question my ability to reach others I think about Fenrus.

Fenrus was a senior dog surrendered to a local shelter in Nova Scotia. For my very first Blog the Change for Animals event in October of 2010, I shared his photo. If you scroll down to the bottom of that post you’ll see a comment made by a kind woman named Sandra. After seeing his picture and reading his story, this same woman ended up becoming Fenrus’ new family.

If my little website –  which back then I don’t think more than ten people read – could help a dog find a new home, what could all of us do if we worked together?

Don’t miss the chance to do something pretty brilliant. On July 23 unite with other bloggers and animal lovers and help save the lives of dogs in need. Let’s see how many new homes we can find for the dogs we love so much.

Don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten the kitties. As much as I hate to relegate cats to the backseat once more, I do have something pretty big planned for them. All those videos and stories I have been collecting will be put to very good use so keep them coming! While the July 23 event focuses on dogs there are going to be many more opportunities for cat love. I will see to it!

Blog the Change for Animals: Cats are Dogs Too

Blog the Change

In human society animals have very little worth as sentient beings. Sure, we value them as a food source and we don’t hesitate to use them as tools when they can make themselves useful. However, on their own, as living creatures that exist and have needs, we care for them very little. I am sure everyone reading this knows this fact as well as I do. And we are all guilty of it in various forms. For instance, I am probably not going to rush to the aid of a magpie but I would probably help a fellow human, even if doing so put myself in danger. I’m not saying this is right or wrong, it’s just the way things are.

Obviously some animals have more public worth than others. It’s all relative. While I may be indifferent toward magpies, others may see them as beautiful creatures for whom it is worth risking one’s life. North American society in general values different animals than does Asian. Dogs and horses are probably near the top of this list. And it’s understandable. Humans have a long history of working and living with those two species. Furthermore, dogs and horses have become incredibly useful in our evolution. They are tools who have a very large return on investment.

Dogs aid humans in countless ways. There are police dogs, military dogs, disability assistance dogs, and therapy dogs. We put them in shows to raise our personal status. They are our companions and family members. We put pressure on governments to protect their welfare. We license them and write by-laws to keep them off the streets. We train them and play with them and judge others for not training and playing with them enough.

What baffles me is that there is another species who has been domesticated and has evolved in a similar way to dogs but has almost no value in our modern society. Like dogs, we raise them in our homes, buy them toys, and post pictures of them on the Internet. Yet the public at large grants them minor worth. These animals are abandoned every day in terrifying numbers, left to fend for themselves without even any by-laws in place to pull them off the streets.

Of course, as per the title of this post, I am talking about cats.

According to The Canadian Federation of Humane Societies out of over 84,000 cats admitted to shelters in 2008, over 45,000 were killed. 45,000. It’s a frightening number. Those are just the cats lucky enough to make it to a shelter. How many cats were killed on the streets? There is no way to know. There is no record.

For whatever reason, cats have a negative connotation. They are associated with “crazy cat ladies” and hoarders. They are bird-killers like Sylvester in Looney Tunes. They ruin gardens and harrass our dogs. They are a public nuisance on the level of raccoons and Canada geese. Even as pets we dislike them. Cats hiss and scratch and destroy our things. They are too independent. Cats do what they want and can’t be trained. They aren’t affectionate and loyal like dogs. They don’t greet us at the door when we come home.

Of course, if we treated our dogs with the same negligence we do our cats, they’d probably react much the same way. Cats are far more tolerant of us than we deserve.

The title of this post is misleading. Cats are definitely not dogs in any physical way. As I’ve discovered, they don’t think in the same way either. My point is that cats can and should have just as much value as dogs. Both as pets and as useful helpers. Perhaps there will never be cats in the military, but I don’t see why they can’t help children learn to read like dogs do in multiple literacy programs. I am sure cats can provide assistance to people with disabilities and give comfort to hospital patients, just like dogs.

I’m making it a mission of mine to help change public perception of what I think are loving and useful creatures. Even my own fumbled attempts at bonding with my cat have blown me away. I like to think I can prove that not only are cats trainable – even older, grumpy ones like mine – they are just as intelligent, just as affectionate, and just as much fun as dogs.

There is one caveat. I am just one person. If I am going to show the world just how awesome cats are, I am going to need your help. 

For this Blog the Change for Animals I am asking for submissions of photographs, stories, videos, drawings, letters, haikus, or whatever other creative mediums you can come up with that showcase the importance and value of the cat. I am hoping to collect as many as possible to share in July’s Blog the Change Event. If I get enough, I’ll share them in multiple posts. I’d love to make the celebration of the cat a regular feature. After all cats have endured, I think they deserve it. Don’t you?

If you love cats and have something positive to share, please respond in the comments or email Let’s show the world how worthy these beautiful animals are!

Blog the Change for Animals: Shake-A-Paw is a Radical Act

Blog the Change

For the past couple days, I’ve been going back and forth about participating in today’s Blog the Change event. Not because I don’t care, please don’t accuse me of that. But I am tired. And angry. And feeling at a loss. There are so many wrongs in so many areas and I don’t feel like this platform is truly getting the message across. There doesn’t seem to be anything I can say that others haven’t already said much better.

Educating the public has never been one of my aims. It takes work and research and eight-letter words. I write a blog about my dog and my wee corner of the world. Whatever academic aspirations I had are now long behind me. Position papers and political debates are memories of the past. These days, I am lucky if I catch the evening news. I used to pride myself on being able to name all the prominent world leaders. Today, I might be able to come up with five.

Yesterday morning I took a long walk with Shiva. It was early for a Saturday and there weren’t many others around. I decided to risk it and wandered over to the less than savoury part of my neighbourhood. Right away we spotted a man heading in our direction, an energetic Am Staff by his side.

Cautious, but happy for a training opportunity, I continued forward. Typically, I will slow down when I see an approaching dog. I like to give the other person a chance to cross the street or duck out of the way. It also gives me a chance to observe from a distance. I could tell the dog was young; he was pulling on the leash but the person seemed unconcerned. As they moved closer I stepped to the side and had Shiva sit beside me, expecting the man and dog duo to pass. When they stopped as well, I took one look at the Am Staff’s large, goofy head and gave Shiva permission to say hello.

As the dogs went through the usual sniff-and-play-bow-and-sniff routine, the man and I chatted. Mostly about his dog.

Gunner, I learned, was his name. He was thirteen months old. He had been adopted from a local pit bull rescue as a puppy. The man was quick to boast about Gunner’s impressive roster of tricks. The pride in his voice was also reflected in his eyes. He was clearly head over heels in love with his dog.

After demonstrating Gunner’s waving skills, the man said goodbye and they went on their way. I watched them leave, unable to stop smiling.

If only all Am Staffs had owners like him, I thought. If only all those in favour of BSL could meet Gunner.

This evening, as I think about animal welfare and about being the change I want to see, I can’t get Gunner’s gorgeous brown face out of my head. It may be small, but the man I met by the side of the road is performing a radical act. He probably doesn’t realize it but by loving and working with his dog, he is taking steps to change the world for all other dogs like him.

I’ve been told by many much more brilliant than I, that it’s impossible to control anyone else’s actions. All I can do is change how I behave and hope that it inspires others to follow. Until now, it never seemed like enough. But perhaps I was wrong.

As the human of a crazy rescue dog who may or may not be an Am Staff, I like to think I have done something to make a difference. Things could have turned out a lot differently for Shiva if I hadn’t been as stubborn, or if I had decided to wait another week before adopting a dog. Shiva’s story is largely a success. I hope by helping her become a (relatively) well-mannered (almost) canine good neigbour, we have changed some minds of our own.

I guess I will never know.

For this blog the change, I would like to encourage you all to keep adoring and keep working with your dogs. Keep showing off all your amazing skills. Keep walking your dogs and playing at the dog park and posting your videos on Youtube. It may not seem like a lot, but you never know who’s heart you may touch or who’s mind you may change.

We can’t all run for political office or open our own shelter, but by training our dogs in positive ways, I think we can reach others. You never know who is watching.

Social Media for Social Good

Is there anything sweeter than a man in love with his dog? There are several such people in my neighbourhood whom I have had the good fortune to observe.

First, there is the recently retired gentleman with his little Westie. He tells me he originally brought home the dog as a gift to his teenage daughter. Much to his surprise, the puppy immediately bonded to him and showed no interest in playing with the young girl. The two became inseparable. As he looks down at the pretty white canine, now six years old, the love between them is evident. Funnily enough, he’d never lived with a dog before.

Second, there is the quiet man with his two mixed breed dogs, one a shepherd mix, one a boxer. I have seen him around since I started walking Shiva. Never was a man more devoted. He is out there every day, braving the elements. Often he is the only other person I see at six in the morning in the pouring rain. We’ve never spoken – the man seems very shy. But we nod to each other as we pass, an action full of understanding. His dogs are as quiet as he is. I smile as I watch him pause to allow them to check out a bush. His demeanour is all patience. There have been no leash corrections in these dogs’ lives.

Third, and my favourite story, is the cranky old man with his wee chihuahua. Before he brought home the teeny little girl, he didn’t have much to say to anyone. I would see him sitting out in front of his apartment building, glaring at the world. After a few failed attempts to say hello, I started scurrying past, feeling his hard gaze. But then he got a dog. Too little for even the smallest sweaters, he carries her around in his coat to protect her from the cold. He smiles now as I say hello and will even stop to chat. He worries greatly over his dog’s exposed ears. Normally reticent around chihuahuas, I don’t hesitate to give her a little pat. The dog is as sweet as the man has become.

When people scorn the amount of money put into animals, I never know what to say. In harsher economic times, they declare, they would rather give their donor dollars to charities that fight human problems. I understand that. I certainly would never tell someone the life of a dog is more important than the life of her grandmother who died from cancer. We spend our money on things that matter the most.

However, animals are human problems.  Just look at those three stories above. Those four dogs have changed three lives in very meaningful ways. Our pets often fill holes we never realized were empty. By saving an animal, we just may be saving a human life. We never know where that rescued dog may end up.

That’s why when I heard about the Holiday Blogging Event for Pets in Need, created by Two Little Cavaliers, I had to join in to do my part. Naturally, the chance to win some extra cash didn’t hurt either. I encourage you to enter the contest by checking out the other bloggers using the Rafflecopter below. You just never know who’s future rescuer you might be saving.

What animal welfare organization is dear to your heart? If you win the big prize, who will you share your money with?

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a Rafflecopter giveaway

Helping Pets for the Holidays

This time of year I always struggle to find my festive spirit. I know it must be down there somewhere. Everyone has a celebratory side, right? Mine must get lost amidst holiday card hand cramps and the stress of knowing I only have two weeks and I haven’t purchased a single thing. When I was a kid it was easy to be excited. I never understood why my mother always looked to the holidays with dread.

Well, Mom, I get it now. And I am sorry. Reason #182 for why I should never have children.

I find what helps the most is involvement. Kinda like Charlie Brown. I need to participate in holiday activities in order to kindle whatever flame may be lurking in my frazzled heart. If there is a play going on, I need to buy tickets. If there is an office Secret Santa game, I need to sign up. If there is a tree-lighting ceremony, I need to volunteer. The more things I do, hopefully the more I will feel the love.   

That’s the idea anyway.

Yesterday on Vizsla Inspiration I read about a fantastic holiday photo contest put on by Life+Dog Magazine. It seems every Friday they run a small pet photo contest with a particular theme. Today’s theme is “Holiday Dogs”. But that’s not what interested me the most. As part of  IAMS Home For The Holidays campaign, IAMS is donating 100 Meals to homeless animals in need for every photo submitted to this week’s contest. Now that is the kind of thing that is guaranteed to help perk up my spirits!

Cookies in hand, I once more conned Shiva into posing for me. It may not be professional quality, but it’s worth at least 100 meals.

 She looks so thrilled about it too.

There is still time to enter and help homeless pets. Life+Dog will be accepting photos until midnight tonight. Check out their Facebook page to see the pictures already submitted. Some of the images have already given me the traditional warm-and-fuzzy feelings.

Also, I have mentioned this before, Two Little Cavaliers has come up with a unique way of helping pets during the holidays. Called “Social Media for Social Good”, they are encouraging bloggers to sign up to promote their Facebook Fan Pages, Twitter links, and their Google+ pages for just $10 for all 3 links. The $10 will be divided 60/40. $6.00 will be given to the winner’s charity and $4.00 will be given toward the winner’s cash prize. It’s a super-fun way to combine holiday commercialism and animal welfare! Guaranteed Charlie Brown-approved.

Hopefully I have helped others out there like me, suffering under the holiday blues. Even if the holiday spirit passes me by again this year, knowing I have done something to help animals in need prevents me from going total Grinch. The Whos will be safe from my wrath for another season.