Amy Shojai is my go-to writer friend for all things related to pets. Talk about an expert! Amy has written twenty-two (!) pet care books, blogs at NBC-Universal's petside.com, writes a weekly catchow.com column and a weekly PETiquette newspaper column. Why is she so in demand? I'd say it's because she's an animal behavior consultant who really knows her stuff. (They love her at Animal Planet, too!)
I bought her PETiquette book immediately after meeting her at Thrillerfest and it was my constant companion those first weeks after we purchased our Rat Terridobie (yep--I made up that breed) puppy from a shopping cart in the grocery store parking lot. If you have fur-kids, check out her website and subscribe to her very helpful newsletter.
Oh, and how did we happen to meet at Thrillerfest? Amy's current work-in-progress is a thriller featuring a feline with "c'attitude," a hero dog, and, of course, those pesky but necessary humans!
PS--The other thing that I love about Amy is that she always sparkles!
Welcome, dear Amy!
Tis the season--for ghosties and ghoulies and things that go BUMP in the night. If you like to deck your halls--and yourself--with Halloween décor, chances are you want the pets in your home to wear costumes.
If your outgoing, confident dog is willing, you can have great fun with costumes. Even shy, retiring cats may be willing to endure a small fashion statement, such as a fancy “jester” collar with bells on each point, or washable hair coloring. You can also purchase the Soft Paws nail protectors for cats in Halloween orange and black--a fashion statement that also keeps clawing furniture under control.
Just make sure that anything you put on your cat or dog is pet-safe, and that your pet can’t reach the bandana or painted area and chew/swallow anything. Talk with a professional groomer about any hair colorings.
Not all pets enjoy wearing costumes. Cats generally are not good candidates and some dogs simply hate being looked at or laughed at. Reserve the fancy princess get-ups, Star Wars characters, chicken outfits, ‘hot dog bun’ and Shrek costumes for outgoing pooches. But even tolerant critters should be gradually introduced to the notion. (How-To tips are in the October issue of PET PEEVES E-newsletter.)
It’s also a good idea for you to wear your costume around your dog or cat ahead of time. Cats and dogs identify friendly people not only by scent, but also by appearance, the way they walk and the sound of their voices. It doesn’t take much to turn humans into monsters in the eyes of your pets. An unexpected hat on a beloved owner leaves some dogs wetting in fear, and cats diving under the furniture. Make sure your pets know it’s YOU under that cape or mask.
The opening/closing door tending to trick-or-treaters offers a prime opportunity for pets to slip out and get lost, so provide proper pet identification: collar and tags, microchip, even a Sharpie marker with your phone number scribbled on the bare-nekkid tummy works in a pinch.
It’s best and safest to confine pets in a safe room on Halloween night during peak trick-or-treat hours. Even easy-going pets get rattled at repeated doorbell rings and wee goblins shouting or (shudder!) TP-ing the bushes. Bring outside pets inside or confine in the garage. Cats--especially black or solid white cats--sadly can become the target of cruel stupid humans during Halloween festivities. Keep your kitties safe.
Canine gluttons get in trouble with candy, so keep it out of reach. Dogs rarely unwrap these treasures, and swallowed wrappers or sucker sticks can cause dangerous internal blockages. And if you think King’s hyper now, look out if he finds your hidden chocolate stash! Chocolate contains a stimulant called theobromine that sets him into overdrive. A chocolate binge prompts volcanic eruptions from both ends, or worse--it can kill your pet.
Have fun this Halloween, but be safe. You want your entire family, including the fur-kids, to enjoy the howl-iday celebration.
Thanks for the tips, Amy. No way would Hrothgar tolerate anything more than Scout hanging off of him. And Scout eats like a goat in a puppy suit. He's definitely not handing out candy this year.
Readers: Amy has a special treat for you! If we have four or more comments on the blog this weekend, on Monday we'll draw a winner who will have a choice of the books PETiquette: Solving Behavior Problems in Your Multi-Pet Household, or Chicken Soup for the Dog Lover's Soul (or Cat Lover's version). Otherwise they'll go into the Handbasket for the drawing at the end of Octoberguest! And don't forget about the other books and the $100 Godiva and Harry and David giftbaskets.
Monday's guest: Reviewer Joe Hartlaub