ABC Dog Training Program
Student of the Month
In 2010, ABC student Linda Domer was diagnosed with a very serious form of cancer. Throughout multiple rounds of chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgeries, the one thing on her mind was, “What will happen to Holly Belle if I die?” Holly Belle was a rescue dog who had come to Linda as an 8-month-old puppy with many issues. She was very guarding and aggressive, and made life with her a challenge, to say the least. By the time Linda was diagnosed, Holly Belle was a senior dog with bad behavior and her chances of being adopted were slim. Fortunately, Linda recovered and Holly Belle remained with her until she died. As Linda continued to recover, she decided that no one facing their own mortality should have to agonize over the fate of the pets they might leave behind. She made the decision to learn as much as she could about animal behavior and how to modify it- and she has never looked back.
What was/is the biggest challenge you faced during your externship and how did you overcome it?
The greatest challenge was when I took Delilah to her first training session with my Mentor Trainer, Chris Bevillard, in Frederick, Md.. Delilah was young, not food motivated and exhibited every single stressor on the list. She could not function at all in the class environment. It was time for a plan. I took her to Petsmart or Petco every day. At first it was only for a few minutes, and then we slowly built up to longer periods of time. We eventually began asking her to perform behaviors she would routinely give at home. By the time her second class rolled around she was a little improved but still not at all comfortable. So, we continued our trips and by week three, she was ready to work in class.
What has been your most rewarding moment during your externship?
My most rewarding moment was that week three when we walked into class and Chris said, “What’s up with Delilah? She is calm, what happened?” My only reply was, “Lots of hard work.” She continued to do well during the remainder of her formal training. We still continue training at home and she is brilliant.
Describe one pet story that touched you the most during your volunteer hours. Do you plan on continuing your volunteer work?
I have many great stories about the dogs I have worked with at the Washington County Humane Society, but the first always sticks with you the most. Deuce was a 2-year-old, unaltered, 51-lb male American Pit Bull Terrier who had been surrendered by his owner. He was terrified, aggressive and lashed out. The first few days I just sat by his kennel door and talked to him and offered treats. By day three I was in his kennel with him. By day five we were outside doing leash work. He would walk on the leash, sit, down and relax when asked. He no longer jumped on or lunged at people, and he was becoming a really great dog. I worked with him for about three weeks total; three days a week for about 1.5 hours each day. I left Deuce one Friday feeling really pleased for him because he was really “getting it” and for myself because I was making a difference in his life. When I returned on that Sunday to work with Deuce, he was not in his kennel. I hoped he had been adopted, but was told upon inquiry that he had been euthanized. I was devastated and left the building certain I would not go back. But, I did go back. I have worked with many other dogs and brought them successfully to adoption. I will always continue to work with shelter dogs and Deuce will always be right there with me.
What has your experience been like in the ABC Dog Obedience Program?
I have loved every minute I have spent in this program. It is well paced and help is always available.
ABC Veterinary Assistant Program
Student of the Month
Ashley Morse lives in Jessup, Md., and works part time in Glen Burnie at the veterinary clinic where she did her externship. She initially heard about Animal Behavior College when she saw a commercial on Animal Planet. Ashley has wanted to work in the field of veterinary medicine since she was a child, and ABC presented the perfect opportunity for her to pursue her dream.
What prompted you to become a veterinary assistant? Was there a specific event, circumstance or person who inspired you to pursue this career?
I was obsessed with animals when I was a child, especially exotics. To this day I firmly believe that a home is incomplete without at least one pet. I wouldn’t say there is a specific event or person in my life that inspired me, it was actually an organization. The United States Humane Society and SPCA have always been a major motivator for me.
Describe a humorous moment you witnessed or took part in while working at your externship location.
There were quite a few interesting moments, patients and clients during my externship. However, I think the most entertaining was when I helped the lead tech clip the nails of a yellow Labrador. This was no ordinary Labrador, though. I am not sure what he was mixed with, but he was big and stocky, and weighed in at more than 120 lb. of mostly muscle. There were a couple of times while I was attempting to restrain him that he dragged me on my knees down the hallway and back. His leash was ready to fall apart, because he apparently had a habit of chewing on it. We were all expecting it to bust at anytime as he dragged me down the hall. It ended up taking three of us to restrain him long enough to finish the procedure. He was a very sweet dog, but he just didn’t like having his feet touched. It was definitely a little humorous to say the least.
What has your experience been like in the ABC Veterinary Assistant Program?
Overall, I have had a good experience with Animal Behavior College. My program manager Penny Derbyshire-Baldyga and my externship coordinator Serina Baerga have both been very helpful, understanding and considerate. This has made the online [portion], which was a little different for me, much easier to manage.
What skills do you want to master during the next 12 months?
I would like to master my comfort and instinct levels when handling different animals for procedures, especially those they will be uncomfortable with. It is really the only aspect of this field that I’ve discovered isn’t really learned as much as it is acquired through experience and understanding of different animals.
If you could work with any exotic animal, what would it be and why?
Honestly, big cats, namely cheetahs. They are my absolute favorite, but if I ended up working at a zoo or a wild life rehabilitation center, I would be happy working with any exotic animals; even the large, smelly ones. I love them all.
Veterans With PTSD Finding New Purpose in Life With Service Dogs
Many soldiers who make it home from war bring the war home with them. Each day in the United States, 22 veterans take their own lives, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The debilitating effects of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) lead many veterans into a lonely battle with themselves, facing flashbacks, nightmares, anxiety, hypersensitivity, anger, sleeplessness and depression.
This debilitating disorder affects 30 percent of post-9/11 veterans, the VA reports. And despite the alarming effects of PTSD, the American Psychological Association reports that more than two-thirds of these veterans never seek treatment. The negative stigma associated with mental illness makes soldiers hesitant to seek help for fear of appearing weak or vulnerable.
Nonprofit organizations like War Dogs Making It Home and Soldier’s Best Friend provide a cutting-edge approach to help these men and women. These organizations pair homeless dogs facing euthanasia with suffering soldiers seeking reasons to live in a beautiful, dual effort to save lives.
How Service Dogs Benefit Veterans
About 2.7 million healthy, adoptable pets are put down in this country each year, the Humane Society of the United States reports. Rather than waiting for a service dog to become available for home placement, the struggling veterans in these programs actively take part in the rescue and training of their dog. In most situations, the dogs are pre-trained to handle PTSD symptoms and know how to interrupt attacks of panic, stress and hyper-vigilance.
Weekly training continues once the vets are paired with their dogs. Oftentimes, these courses take place in a group setting among other soldiers dealing with PTSD, providing a safe and welcoming environment.
Why Service Dog Training Works
Unlike traditional service dog programs, organizations that pair shelter dogs with veterans are often offered at little to no cost, creating a financially approachable means of therapy. These programs offer an alternative to standard therapy and medication, and veterans tend to look at the process as a means of helping animals in need rather than seeking help for themselves—thus decreasing the fear of seeming week or vulnerable. Veterans feel a sense of accomplishment, knowing they’ve played an active role in saving a life.
How You Can Help
Spouses and family members are essential to a successful recovery. Follow these tips to increase the success of a service dog program.
- Get involved. Show your support by taking part in the training process. Help your spouse by staying up to date with the training methods being used. As an added incentive, military spouses often qualify for free tuition at Animal Behavior College.
- Keep your pet healthy. Your new service dog is not just a pet, it’s an integral part of your spouse’s healing process. Keep your new family member healthy by ensuring proper nutrition. Sites like Dog Food Advisor keep you up-to-date on food recalls, reviews and quality ratings.
- Make your home pet-friendly. Don’t let the added responsibility of a service animal infringe on your independence. Make this a positive experience for you, your pet and your soldier by adding a pet door for easy access to the outdoors. Electronic dog doors offered by PetSafe are equipped with self-opening technology activated through a smart-key attached to your pet’s collar. Keep unwanted critters out while giving your service dog the freedom to come and go independently.Another great resource for enjoyable pet products can be found here. You may also find that hiring a certified dog trainer can benefit the quality of your pet’s home life.Other Resources:
Train A Dog Save A Warrior (TADSAW)
Big Paws Canine Foundation
Dog Obedience Instruction Program
Canadian Student of the Month
Tanisha Shea Hasson
As a registered veterinary technician, Tanisha Shea Hasson was used to working with animals while they were under anesthesia on an operating table. However, it became clear to her that she preferred working with animals while they were awake and well, which ignited her interest in dog training. Tanisha began searching online for different programs and decided that Animal Behavior College best suited her needs; as it would afford her the flexibility to continue working while completing the program. After successfully completing the Dog Obedience Program, she has since gone on to launch her own business, Pet Pro Services. While dog training is the main service she offers, she hopes to expand her business to include grooming, pet-sitting, dog walking and cat behavior modification. Even as her business continues to grow, Tanisha still makes time to volunteer at her local shelter, helping homeless dogs become more adoptable.
Where do you live and train now?
I live and train in London, Ontario. I currently train part-time, but I am looking to expand my business and start training more.
What was the biggest challenge you have faced during your externship and how did you overcome it?
There were a couple of body postures that I was originally performing incorrectly. I just made sure that I listened closely to my mentor’s instructions, and practiced them until I had them down correctly.
During your volunteer hours, describe one pet story that touched you the most.
There was a dog at the shelter who was extremely stressed out. She had been there for quite a while. As I worked more with her, she really began to show her true colors. She was smart, attentive and eager to learn. I was able to help draw those qualities out of her, and she was adopted later that week.
How did you hear about the ABC program and what convinced you to become certified?
I found out about the program online while researching about dog training. I am a firm believer in continuing education, and the flexibility of the ABC program gave me the ability to continue working while I studied. I wanted to earn my certificate in order to achieve the level of professionalism I feel is important when starting your own business.
Which dog breed best describes you and why?
I would say that I am like a Husky/Lab mix. I like my independence yet I am friendly and outgoing.
At Animal Behavior College it is important to us to attend trade shows throughout the U.S. for many different reasons. Each show has specific industry experts and professionals that we love to connect with. Many times trade shows provide a great opportunity to build relations with new Mentor Trainers and be introduced to program instructional techniques that we can incorporate into the ever growing curriculum’s for the ABC Certifications. Trade shows are also a wonderful chance for industry career professionals to purchase Continuing Education Programs at a wonderful discount, up to 50% off.
After completing your certification consider one of the 6 great, Continuing Education courses offered by Animal Behavior College:
Continuing Education Courses offered by Animal Behavior College
Training Shelter Dogs
This Continuing Education Program (CEP) will teach you how to approach shelters and their staff, appropriately and professionally, to assist in identifying dogs with the potential to be adopted. You will be able to consult and advise them on defensive handling and safety, understanding shelter stress points and assessing canine behavior. This CEP will also teach you to demonstrate building drive in shelter dogs, pet health and consideration, labeling training goals and challenges, circumventing behavioral issues, training dogs for a family setting. You will be given the skills to:
- Identify shy or fearful conditions
- How to properly work with aggressive dogs
- Charting and keeping records
- Facilitating an assisting in adoptions
- Act with ethical and professional conduct
This course will provide certified trainers with the knowledge and skills needed to start a shelter training program. You will have the ability to rate dogs’ social skills, how they handle tolerance, barrier aggression, food aggression, and resource guarded thresholds. These skills combined with the Assess a Pet & ASPCA Meet Your Match Safer tools, will enable you the trainer to become an ASPCA Tester for Shelters throughout the U.S.
The Art of Selling Private Lessons
Private in-home lessons are quickly becoming the most popular among professional trainers in the dog training industry. In this Continuing Education course you will learn how to out-sell your competition and develop successful training lessons every time. Your knowledge of how to obtain clientele and conduct efficient private lesson will assist you in maximizing your potential income as a dog trainer. This course will cover imperative topics such as:
- Sales techniques and tips
- Understanding communication styles
- Diverse types of lesson plans and training packages
- Developing your class routine
- How to teach off-leash behaviors
- Client compliance
The Training Shelter Dogs CEP will maximize your effectiveness as a professional certified dog trainer. Training Shelter Dogs also includes advanced tips for marketing yourself and your business locally in your community. This Continuing Education Program will provide you with an increased proficiency and aptitude in administering effective private lessons within a client’s home, at a local park or at your own facility.
Pet Sitting & Dog Walking
The Pet Sitting & Dog Walking CEP discusses how to properly work with and care for pets with fur, feathers, scales, and more. Topics range from identifying and understanding body language, canine, feline and avian behavior, basic nutrition an hygiene, creating mental and physical stimulation, building relationships with animals and the people who love them, personal and home owner safety, maintaining consistent scheduling, walking dogs calmly on a leash, building your clientele, sample client forms, insurance and more! Pet Sitting & Dog Walking are sought after skills that provide differentiation to any established pet trainer’s business.
Cat Management & Training
Many households have both a cat and a dog or multiples of them. Since cats out number dogs throughout the United States, learning how to manage and correct cat behaviors can be a profitable venture for pet training professionals. This course will teach you the proper socialization techniques for developing a healthy feline-to-trainer relationships, as well as feline-to-feline and feline-to-canine interactions. You will learn how to read and interpret feline body language and vocalizations. This course also teaches how to teach basic behavior training cues (i.e. sit, stay, come) and how to address problem cat behaviors like: scratching, spraying, and howling. This course will provide the trainer with the ability to teach cats “fun” behaviors, such as roll over, tightrope walk, hoop jumping, and more. having the skills to train cats is a big advantage for dog trainers and veterinarians. By completing this course you will gain invaluable knowledge necessary to help your client pet owners solve unruly cat behaviors and issues.
Pet Nutrition and Diet
This Continuing Education Program discusses basic nutrition, the regulations governing commercial pet foods, and the nutritional needs for both cats and dogs. In this course you will be taught to read pet food labels including the importance of:
- Protective nutrients
You will also learn about the different types of diets (i.e. dry food, canned food, raw foods, and supplements) and how food can play a huge role in a pet’s behavior. After the competition of this CEP you will know how to educate your clients on providing their animals with the best nutrition based decisions for their pet’s age, weight, and health condition.
The Pet Massage CEP gives pet groomers, dog trainers and veterinary staff the skills to calm each pet they interact with. The ability to soothe and calm dogs and cats through touch improves the human-animal relationship and promotes trust bonding. Pet groomers have the benefit of having a calm animal on their grooming table which allows them to move swiftly through the process of grooming without the problems that heavy-handed groomers experience. Veterinary assistants are able to minimize discomfort and pain, while helping pets recover from injuries and soothe the aches of the elderly. Dog trainers will have the ability to create a more positive training experience, because they will have an enhanced knowledge of canine anatomy and acute awareness of touch points. Pet massage is a growing occupation. The completion of this Continuing Education Program can also open the door to operating a profitable pet massage business. This CEP will cover information on:
- General anatomy
- Principals and concepts of a pet massage
- Setting up your work space
- Preparing to administer a pet massage
- How to develop a pet massage business
The Pet Massage CEP course also includes step-by-step instructions that will guide you through the details of a pet massage session, (for many animals of different species and size).
ABC enjoys meeting with our students, graduates and mentors at the trade shows. This is a wonderful opportunity to meet, greet, and obtain feedback on the programs from our students and Mentor Trainers. In February 2014, Animal Behavior College will be attending the Western Veterinary Conference and the Groom & Kennel Expo.
*All CEP programs will be offered at a 50% discount to those attendees who purchase a Continuing Education Program at the shows.
10 Dog Breed Myths
Revealing the truth behind these common misconceptions.
By Audrey Pavia
Urban legend isn’t limited only to stories about Bigfoot and Pop Rocks. A number of dog breeds have also fallen victim to rumors that have spread like wildfire through the years. Here’s a look at 10 myths about dog breeds and the truth behind the rumors.
It’s hard to know how this rumor started. It could be because of the Irish Setter’s puppyish, clown-like nature. Not serious and stoic like some sporting breeds, the Irish Setter likes to goof around. The truth is that Irish Setters are intelligent dogs bred to work closely with hunters out in the field.
Not surprisingly, people think that because Greyhounds are famous for their talents on the racetrack, they need a lot of exercise. The truth is that Greyhounds are actually couch potatoes who prefer to cuddle up on the sofa than run around digging up the backyard. Although they love long walks, Greyhounds actually make great house dogs.
Although Rottweilers were bred to be guard dogs, they are also very trainable and affectionate. They are not mean by nature, as some people believe, and like any dog, make wonderful companions if they are properly trained and socialized. Although a Rottweiler will give off a ferocious bark when protecting his territory, a well-socialized Rottweiler will greet strangers with a wagging tail once his owner lets him know guests are welcome.
Some people are under the impression that Pugs just want to lay around the house all day. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Although by no means hyper, Pugs are active and happy members of the family, and are often underfoot, looking for the next adventure. Even though they aren’t bred for jogging alongside their human companions, they still enjoy running around the yard chasing a ball or another dog.
Pit Bulls suffer from very bad press, and one of the stories often repeated by those who don’t know better is that these dogs can lock on to a human or other dog during a fight. In truth, Pit Bulls have the same mechanics in their jaws as other dog breeds.
Although dogs such as Siberian Huskies, Chow Chows and American Eskimos might look uncomfortable in the summertime with their long coats, nature has provided them with fur that allows the heat to escape from their bodies when the weather is warm.
As a general rule, this is actually true: Smaller breeds tend to live longer than larger breeds. While a Saint Bernard might only make it to 7 years, a Chihuahua can live to be 14 or more.
Although Shelties might look like small Collies, they are actually a completely separate breed. The American Kennel Club recognizes the Sheltie and the Collie as two distinctly different dogs, both with inborn instincts to herd livestock.
Jack Russell Terriers are busy dogs with a lot of energy, but they aren’t hyperactive. While they do need lots of exercise, more than anything, Jack Russells need something to occupy their minds. Interactive toys and playtime with their human companions usually fit the bill.
As odd as this may sound, it’s actually true; Labs do have webs between their toes. This feature was bred into the Lab to help him swim, as the breed was originally created to retriever downed waterfowl. Labs can also use their tails as rudders when they are swimming.
About the Author: Audrey Pavia is an award-winning freelance writer and author of “The Labrador Retriever Handbook.” She is a former staff editor of Dog Fancy, Dog World and The AKC Gazette magazines. To learn more about her work, visit www.audreypavia.com.
It’s Pet Dental Health Month
Pet Bad breathe isn’t the only thing that improves with proper oral care.
By Lisa King
The condition of your dog’s teeth and gums affects not only whether his breath is stinky or not; poor dental health can influence his quality of life and even his life expectancy. Although cavities are relatively rare in dogs, they can suffer from plaque and tartar buildup, gingivitis and periodontal disease just like people. These in turn can cause painful gums, loose teeth and bone loss.
Periodontal disease can be very serious; bacteria and toxins from diseased gums can enter the dog’s blood stream and be carried to the organs. The brain, heart, liver and kidneys are the most likely organs to be affected. These toxins and bacteria can cause inflammation and infections in the organs, leading to permanent organ damage or even death.
It’s your responsibility as a dog owner to keep your pet healthy by caring for his teeth to prevent these painful and dangerous conditions. Ideally, this means brushing them every day.
This might sound like a tall order if your dog is not used to it. The trick is to get him accustomed to brushing. If he’s a puppy it will be easier, but an older dog can also be taught to tolerate tooth-brushing. Start by massaging the outside of his mouth for 30 seconds or so a couple of times a day. When he’s used to this, try massaging his teeth and gums. Let him lick a little doggie toothpaste off your finger.Never use human toothpaste.
When he will accept this type of touching calmly, get him a doggie toothbrush, either one that looks like a smaller human toothbrush or one that fits over your finger. Apply toothpaste and move the brush in small circular motions, lifting up his lip as you work around his mouth. If he gets impatient, you can skip cleaning the inside surface—most of the tartar buildup is on the outside of the teeth.
Another tool in your dental arsenal is the chew toy. Hard rubber, rawhide and rope chew toys help keep your dog’s teeth clean and his jaws strong, as well as relieving stress. You can also purchase dental treats that are designed to clean tartar off a dog’s teeth and dental rinses that you can put in your dog’s water. But as with people, there’s no substitute for regular brushing.
A well-balanced dry food is less likely to cause tartar buildup than wet food, and human food is worst of all when it comes to your dog’s dental health, so keep table-scrap treats to a minimum.
It is important that your veterinarian checks your dog’s teeth regularly. She will need to handle issues such as cysts under the tongue or tumors in the mouth. Between vet visits, be on the lookout for bad breath, increased drooling, loose teeth and swollen or inflamed gums (the tissue is red instead of pink). An apparent loss of appetite can be caused by painful teeth or gums. Any of these can indicate that your dog has a dental problem and should see the vet.
If you haven’t been taking care of your dog’s dental health or if he is simply an older dog, he might have developed tooth or gum disease. If so, it’s time for a professional deep cleaning. Your vet will need to anesthetize your dog so she can do a thorough job, including cleaning under the gum line. She will also X-ray your dog’s mouth to ensure the roots of his teeth are healthy. This procedure can cost hundreds of dollars, but it can make your dog pain-free and add years to his life.
The best approach to maintaining your dog’s dental health is prevention. Start as early as you can to brush his teeth and check the condition of his teeth and gums. Provide him with a good diet and plenty of chew toys and dental treats. Take him in for regular vet visits. A dog with a healthy mouth is a happier, healthier dog.
About the Author: Lisa King is a freelance writer living in Southern California. She is the former managing editor of Pet Product News International, Dogs USA, and Natural Dog magazines. Lisa is also the author of the well-received murder mystery novel “Death in a Wine Dark Sea.”
Living in an Electronic World
How to automate your home for pets.
By Stacy Mantle
There is no better evidence of our arrival in the golden age of computing than the introduction of electronics in the pet industry. Home automation is the name of the game in 2014 and it seems as though everyone is entering this field.
While I would never advocate spending less time with pets, those of you who must deal with long days at the office or a particularly bad rush hour will be relieved to know your pets are comfortable, fed and secure in the comfort of your home as they wait your arrival. Here is a look at a few of my favorite new electronic products available for pets and people.
Two of my favorites are the Samsung Pet Cam and the Motorola Scout 1500 Digital Wireless Video Pet Monitor. Both offer infrared monitoring for anytime viewingand can be used from your phone, computeror tablet. The Motorola Scout allows you to control the camera with nearly perfect 360® vision. The Samsung has slightly better night vision, but doesn’t allow you to move the camera around remotely. Both are excellent selections for any home monitoring. The apps are free and easy to download and use.
Automated Pet Feeders
You want to make sure your pets are fed at the proper time each day, but occasionally traffic or work makes that impossible. Your pets wont’ have to wait anymore; now you can control feeding time with your phone.
The Wireless Whiskers automatic feeder monitors the diets and feeding levels of up to eight pets. Each animal wears a small chip and the feeding doors automatically open or close, depending on the animal’s individual feeding requirements.
Automated Pet Doors
PetSafe is known for its excellent use of technology, and its automated pet doors are some of the best we’ve seen. This custom pet door essentially gives your pets the decision to come in or go out. Using RFID technology, the door reads the special chip on your pet’s collar and allows him to enter at will. This is especially valuable for dogs who “steal” food from other pets (or raid litterboxes). By installing an extra door flap in your cat’s room, you can offer full access to your cat while keeping your dog out of the room. The SmartKey™ can detect up to five programmed SmartKeys and operates in two locked or unlocked modes.
Remote Potty Training
Train ‘n Praise is another new product from PetSafe. Using a special treat dispenser and moisture-detecting “pee pad”,the automatic dispenser offers your pet a treat when it senses moisture on the pad—the moisture is trapped in the lowest layer. The remote training device protects your floors and rewards your dog for using the pad correctly.
Nearly anything in the home can be automated these days and as they become more advanced, so do pet products. A home’s ambient temperature can be controlled from your phone, energy consumption can be monitored, lights can be turned on and off, doors can be remotely locked or unlocked.
Security companies are now offering extra coverage for homes and special features for pets. Take some time to explore the many features available for even the oldest of homes. You’ll probably be surprised to learn what your smart phone is capable of doing!
About the Author: Stacy Mantle is the founder of PetsWeekly.com and the bestselling author of “Shepherd’s Moon.” Learn more great tips for living with animals by visiting PetsWeekly.com or get to know a little more about the author at www.StacyMantle.com
For the Love of Cats
Valentine’s Day gift ideas for your favorite feline companion(s).
By Sandy Robins
There’s no question that our pets get to celebrate the holidays throughout the year, too. However, the next one up on the calendar, Valentine’s Day, is actually a difficult one for cats to celebrate by copycatting tradition people gifts because felines neither appreciate red roses nor chocolate, which is a big toxic no-no.
So what to do?
Cats are not that easy to shop for on Valentine’s Day in terms of themed merchandise. That said, you simply can’t go wrong with anything catnip, such as a plush mouse that can be filled and refreshed with dried catnip or a fresh catnip plant.
Kitty Cat Garden
Live plants should be placed in a bright position such as on the kitchen counter. Cats love to nibble on greens and a planter with different types of seeds—such as Pioneer Pet’s KittyGarden—makes a great gift, especially in multi-cat households. The wooden planter has four separate sections for 100 percent organic oats, wheat, rye and barley seeds. They begin sprouting in four to six days. And if you keep harvesting fresh greens for your cat, it can yield quite a crop.
A small, sealed aquarium of exotic fish or even a single betta fish, as long as it’s in a sealed, sturdy bowl, makes a nice decorative feature in a room and will provide endless hours of feline entertainment.
Super Cat Paper
Cats love crumpled paper and paper bags. So the feline paper items from Supercat—available in pet specialty stores and online—make great gifts for cats. Not only do they enjoy the sounds of the crinkly paper, but the products are infused with catnip to increase their enthusiasm!
Nothing says love quite like treats. This is a time to splurge and head for the pet store and purchase a variety of different flavors. However, it’s really important to know whether your cat likes her treats soft and chewy or crisp and crunchy. Some cats really enjoy treats that are crunchy on the outside with a soft center.
For cat lovers and pet parents, a nice coffee mug is always a welcome gift. If you simply Google “cat + coffee mug” a slew of fun designs will pop up. Even Grumpy Cat has her own mug, channeling Garfield and protesting that she hates Mondays …
The website Cafepress.com has a slew of fun cat-themed merchandise, including magnets, aprons, jewelry,, mouse pads and iPad covers. You name it there’s a variety of slogan and paw prints on everything imaginable. The craft site Etsy.com is another great place to explore.
For The Love of Cats
I can’t let this Valentine’s Day opportunity slip by without mentioning my cat book, which is aptly named “For The Love of Cats.” It’s a coffee-table collectible with beautiful illustrations by the talented Mark Anderson. The book is an alphabetical collection of fun rhymes and interesting feline factoids that cover everything from why the ancient Egyptians loved cats to the many “features” cat’s whiskers have. It’s available at www.SandyRobinsOnLine.Com.
While gifts are fun, there is no substitute for spending quality time with your favorite feline (or canine) and dispensing lots of extra hugs and kisses on Valentine’s Day. With love in the air, this is undoubtedly the best way to show your feelings to your pets.
About the Author: Sandy Robins is the 2013 winner of the “Excellence in Journalism and Outstanding Contribution to the Pet Industry Award.” Her work appears on many of the country’s leading pet platforms, such as MSNBC.com, MSN.com and TODAYShow.com. She is a regular contributor and columnist in multiple national and international publications, including Cat Fancy, as well as the author of the award-winning books “Fabulous Felines: Health and Beauty Secrets for the Pampered Cat” and “For The Love of Cats.” Learn more about Sandy on her website or Facebook page. #welovecats
ABC Veterinary Assistant Program
Student of the Month
Edith Theadora Haralampous
Edith Theadora Haralampous or “Thea” is an ABC Veterinary Assistant Student from Cleveland, Ga. Growing up on a farm, Thea was lucky enough to be exposed to a lot of different animals. That is where her passion for animals started. When she was younger, her cousin and his wife started an animal rescue operation and Thea worked with them every day after school and on the weekends. This is where she learned a lot about the care of animals and it definitely boosted her longing to help them. While in the program, Thea completed her 90-hour externship at Animal Medical Care where she was hired on for a full time position as a vet assistant due to her knowledge and wonderful work. Thea is now being trained as a veterinary technician. Continue reading