Thunderstorms & Lost Pets


We had a huge thunderstorm last night here in our corner of the Pacific NW.  Like Texas-size huge.  Our cats deal with it better than our dog, Saffron.  We gave her the valerian-based calming supplement we use (RelaxSaver), put her in her awesome Thundershirt, and draped her in a sheet.  I’m always thankful when the weather is bad that Saffron is with us now and not still a feral dog left exposed outside to such scary things.

Sadly, this morning our neighborhood blog is full of notices of lost dogs & cats and one found dog because they ran off during the thunder.  Unless they just let their animals roam, most people don’t expect to lose their pets.  So, any lost-pet posters you see and any pets you see running loose who clearly have a family belong to someone who didn’t think their pet would get lost—meaning those pets belong to someone like you and me, someone who thought their pets were safe & protected.  We can all probably do more to make sure our pets are safe.

Thunder actually factors into the decisions I make about our cats and our dog. (Of course, it isn’t the only thing that informs our decisions.)

Thunder means:

  1. Our pets are micro-chipped, and we keep the contact information up-to-date.
  2. Our dog always has a collar with tags on when she’s outside.
  3. We never leave our dog tied up anywhere.  Ever.  (This is a bad practice at any time, but even worse for a panicked dog since escape or strangulation are quite possible.)
  4. Our cats are indoor cats.
  5. We never walk our dog off-leash in an unfenced area.
  6. Our dog isn’t left in our backyard when we’re not home.
  7. Our yard is has a fence tall enough that our dog can’t get over it.  You should realize, though, that a panicked dog can clear extremely tall fences, tear through a fence, squeeze through very small gaps, or quickly dig under a fence.
  8. We keep our gates locked, so they can’t be opened by strangers.
  9. We have gate springs to automatically shut the gates.  (Check out this post on how to install gate springs.  It’s easy & cheap!)
  10. I taught our cats and dog to never bolt through an open door and we have storm/screen doors, all to avoid accidental escapes.
  11. I make sure any open window has a screen that cannot be knocked out.
  12. We have calming supplements and calming pheromone spray on hand.  (I’ve been using RelaxSaver for our dog & Comfort Zone Spray for our cats.)
  13. We have a Thundershirt.
  14. Our cats have lots of hiding places around our house.
  15. We reassure our dog Saffron.  It doesn’t reinforce their fear to comfort your frightened dog.
  16. We run a fan and play music or watch TV, to help mask the thunder.

If your pet does panic and run away, this very thorough article has excellent advice, including putting out items scented strongly with your smells and your pet’s like your dirty clothes and your pets bedding or your cat’s litterbox.  Here are more good tips from a pet detective on finding your lost pet. Advice on how to make the most effective posters for your lost pet.  Post lost notices on Craigslist, with newspapers, and on your neighborhood blogs.  Be sure to watch out for scams.

If We Can Teach A Whale To Pee In A Cup…


I LOVE Lili Chin’s work over at Doggie Drawing!  She does neato pet portraits and donates a portion of the proceeds to Boston Buddies rescue for Boston Terriers or to the rescue group of your choice.  Sweet!  Lili has illustrated books by very well- respected dog trainers & animal behaviorists, like Sophia Yin.  Equally awesome are her educational posters on dog body language, training, how to pet dogs, etc.

I particularly like this poster on what different wild & domesticated animals have been taught without resorting to force, intimidation, or pain.  If we can teach a whale to pee in a cup, can’t we train our dogs without force, intimidation, or pain?


We Like: Roger Abrantes’ 16 Things To STOP Doing To Be Happy With Your Dog

16 Things You Should Stop Doing In Order To Be Happy With Your Dog. (via Dogwise)  What a great approach to improving your relationship with your dog!  Instead of starting something new, stop doing things that don’t help.  Roger Abrantes is well respected in the world of animal behavior, especially canine behavior.  And he should be—he has a degree in Philosphy (yea!) and PhD in Evolutionary Biology & Ethology.  Abrantes also teaches, publishes, and advises on animal behavior in a number of capacities.

I really like all of Abrantes’ 16 suggestions, but these are my favorites:

2. Stop being too serious—have a laugh

If you don’t have a good sense of humor, don’t live with a dog. Dog ownership gives rise to many mishaps where laughter is the best way out…

5. Stop believing in old wives’ tales—be critical

The world is full of irrational, unfounded old wives’ tales. These days, the Internet provides us with quick and easy access to a lot of valuable information—and a lot of junk as well: bad arguments, bad definitions, unsubstantiated claims, fallacies, emotional statements, pseudo-science, sales promotions, hidden political agendas, religious preaching, etc….

10. Stop feeling bad—act now

If you’re unhappy with any particular aspect of your life with your dog, do something to change it. Identify the problem, set a goal, make a plan and implement it. Feeling bad and guilty doesn’t help anyone—it doesn’t help you, your dog, or the cherished ones you share your life with.

12. Stop dependency—untie your self

…Have a life of your own and give your dog some space. You and your dog are two independent individuals. Enjoy living together as free agents, not being addicted each other. Stop projecting yourself onto your dog.

15. Stop wanting what you can’t have—be happy with what you’ve got

…It’s amazing how dog owners say they love their dogs and yet they spend most of the time trying to change their behavior. Focus on what you do have, not on what you don’t, appreciate it and be grateful for it.

We Like! Catswall Design

Though their products are still only available in Taiwan, I am seriously lemming for almost everything from Catswall Design.  Hurry up and come to more markets!! The people behind Catswall started the company after they adopted their first stray cat and then 12 more.  (via Margaret & Modern Cat)  Be sure to check out the post on how to make your own DIY version!


I LOVE the idea of the Modular Cat Climbing Wall where you can rearrange things and add or subtract elements.  I mentioned in the podcast on environment enrichment for cats how kitties seem fascinated when something familiar gets moved or rearranged.  Being able to change up this cat wall would keep it forever interesting.  Awesome!


The Cat Scratching Board is brilliant!  Cats can prefer different surfaces for scratching—fabric, cardboard, sisal, carpet, and wood.  The can also prefer different orientations—angled, upright, or horizontal.  The best way to keep them from scratching inappropriate things is to provide options they like.  Wood cat scratchers are much harder to find, so this is great.  It also looks wide & long enough to really make a cat happy and you can have it at an angle, flat, or upright.


The Catwheel looks like so much fun for the right cat.  You may have seen the video of the cat wheel someone made for their bengal kitties?  This one from Catswall is pretty nice looking!  I know a certain rotund cat of ours who could definitely benefit from a catwheel, if we could keep him from just lying down on it.

We Like: The Roadie Harness By RuffRider

I love our Roadie harness!  Every time our dog Saffron rides in the car with us, she’s in her Roadie and buckled in in the back seat. If you’re taking your dog in your car, you’ll both be much safer if your dog is secured by a strong car harness and seat belt.  Find out why you should always buckle up your dog. If you have a dog who is nervous about riding in the car, a harness can make them feel more secure because they’re not constantly trying to keep their balance.  RuffRider used to have different models of harnesses, but have trimmed down to one, which I think is just fine because that one model is awesome and WAY better than all the other car harnesses I’ve seen.
The Roadie isn’t just a regular harness.  It was designed specifically to keep a dog comfortable riding in a car and safe in the event of an accident.  It was independently tested and can withstand over 6,000 lbs. of force.  (The Society of American Engineers standard for human seat belts is 5,000 lbs. of force.)  Unlike a lot of car harnesses, the Roadie doesn’t have any buckles or clips that could fail in an accident.  That does mean there is a certain way to put the harness on, but once you understand how, you’ll have no problems.  You can check out their instructions.  It’s easy to secure your dog in the car by threading the seat belt through the loop on the back of the harness.  Or you can use a carabiner to clip the harness in.  
It’s important that if you use a carabiner, get one used for rock climbing with a strength rating of at least 23 kN.  We use a Black Diamond Dynotron which is rated 25kN.  Don’t use some crappy carabiner you get at Wal-Mart—it isn’t strong enough.
(Note: I have no connections to RuffRider, I just really like thier product!)