Our tribute to pets we knew who have crossed the rainbow bridge

Gingy

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Gingy came from a Londonderry cattery where the owner had been hording cats. They were in such bad condition and were being neglected. The severe flooding that occurred out in the Blue Mountains is what finally saved them. A fellow neighbour came to help rescue the cats and that was how Gingy was rescued. Some had drowned but Gingy was one of the lucky ones.
Michael adopted him and said he was a shy puss at first but he always wanted company whether it was another human or animal. He just loved being affectionate towards people after spending years in a cage with no one to love him. He spent the remaining time he had being loved and enjoying what life had to offer, often spending time visiting neighbours and getting into mischief. I know Michael still really misses him and said he often has laugh thinking about his antics.


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Loni  

Loni was a beautiful big fluffy gentle cat who belonged to Jillian. I visit Jillian’s home to feed her cats and was always warmly welcomed by Loni who had the most gorgeous eyes. I miss him when I visit now. He had a special presence and a beautiful soul.


Gus

Gus – Was such a lovely young boy.  He was so friendly, inquisitive, very affectionate and had a fun loving nature.  He is sadly missed but not forgotten by his friend Tiger and his human family.  We miss having him here to stay with us too.

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Tess

What a special girl she was. She loved life and even though she was old for a Labrador at the end, she thought she could do anything. I found myself constantly having to remind her to slow down! Her body just couldn’t keep up with her exuberant nature. She is pictured here with my dog Charli (on the right) who absolutely adored her.


Dolly

Dear Dolly was another exuberant and spirited older lady. She was very camera shy!  Dolly loved her walks and didn’t muck about sniffing, she just got on with taking you for a walk and could have pulled a sleigh!  She was quite a character who loved my cats and Charli and slotted into our family effortlessly when she came to stay. Dolly could also be quite playful at times. What a sweetheart. We do miss having her here to stay.

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Jye

Last but not least is one of my favourite dogs who did stay with us on the odd occasion. She was the Clinic Dog at Struggletown Vets when I worked there and I adored her. She was brought in for euthanasia as a morbidly obese neglected dog. Having been a retired guide dog our head vet Simon thought she deserved better and convinced her owners to surrender her. We gradually got her weight down through diet and gentle exercise. She loved being my helper in the Puppy Theory classes until she got too wobbly to be able to do the job anymore. I distinctively remember working at reception and leaning down to touch her velvet soft ears during the day. She sat by my side whenever I was working. Miss you Jye. 


How to enrich your Dog’s environment

We humans lead such busy lives that we sometimes forget that our dogs may be bored just watching us run around all the time. Like us they need mental stimulation as well as exercise and lots of love to keep them happy. Dogs who are not given enough exercise and offered interesting things to do, can become creative in the garden, decide to remodel furniture, or find that barking gives them an outlet for their pent up frustrations. So to avoid these destructive and problematic behaviours becoming an issue you need to give them adequate exercise and provide them with a variety of things to do throughout the day.  It is easy and doesn’t necessarily have to be expensive.

Cardboard rolls

Get your dog to help you with the recycling. You can give them cardboard rolls to chew on and boxes with all the staples and tape removed. They can rip them up for you to put in the recycle bin!

If you see your dog EATING the cardboard then this activity is NOT suitable for them. 

 

 

 

Always test out new toys when you first introduce them. Make sure you are around to supervise and see if they are suitable for your dog or not? If your puppy tears out the stuffing and music boxes from soft toys then they are not suitable to give as play things when you are not around to supervise. If you pup is gentle with their teddies and stuffed toys then they are suitable.

 

 

 

 

 

Food dispensers

Try feeding your dog in a slow release food dispenser instead of in a bowl all the time. This works particularly well for food orientated individuals. Ask your dog to sit and present them with their breakfast in any of these dispensers. This way you will stimulate their mind and leave them with a job to do as you walk out the door.

Different enrichment items

Attempt to provide your dog with a minimum of four or five different enrichment items per day. Be sure to rotate, so they don’t get bored with them. If they have a real favourite leave that one with them on a regular basis. When you get home pick up any empty slow release food dispensers and pop them away. You don’t want to leave these lying around all the time as they might lose interest in them.

Treasure hunt

Creating a treasure hunt is another good idea for the food orientated dog.  Scatter or hide their dry food in the garden, rather than just putting it in their food bowl, so they are busy searching for it when you leave for work. Most dogs will do several laps of the back yard making sure they have not missed a bit! If you have children get them involved in setting up the treasure hunt. Dry sunny days are ideal for this idea.

Ears and snouts

Lambs ears, pigs ears and snouts are great for self settling and chewing. The lambs ear can be squeezed into the Holee Roller to make it even more of a challenge. If your dog is not interested in food buy a Holee Roller with a ball inside it instead to keep them busy. 

Please note when you are not at home to supervise - These food orientated ideas are NOT suitable if you have more than one dog, as they may resource guard and end up fighting over them.

Interactive toys

Interactive tug toys and rope toys are great for two dogs to play with together. The beauty of having two dogs is that they can entertain each other! 

Iceblocks

In the summer time you can make doggy iceblocks which will help keep them cool on hot days. These can be made from tinned tuna or meat stock, and frozen in ice cream containers. They are a great way to keep your pet entertained on hot days.

Paddling pools

Children's plastic paddling pools are another good idea, particularly for dogs who love the water.

Albert has the right idea cooling off his pads!  

Albert has the right idea cooling off his pads!  

How to enrich your Cat’s environment

For cats that live indoors it is vital that we provide them with lots of things to do, that will use up energy and be mentally stimulating at the same time. We don’t usually take our cats out walking like we do with our dogs so we need to make sure they get some sort of physical exercise or they will become fat and lazy! You can walk a cat on a harness, but you have to be very careful where you go.  If you have a backyard you can give it a try.

Scratch post & gyms

Cat Gyms are a great investment as they give your cat a climbing outlet and they can use the scratchy post pieces for sharpening their claws on, instead of doing it on your furniture!  If you live in a small apartment and don’t have room for a big cat gym there are plenty of smaller versions to choose from be they upright or horizontal.

Food dispensers

Instead of putting your cat’s food in a bowl try feeding them their dry food in either a slow release food dispenser or something similar. I feed my cats their dry food using a Maize every day.

There are other great ways to get your kitty to work for their dinner. Here are some examples.

 

 

Fresh cat grass

I always offer fresh cat grass and mint. The vast majority of cats love cat grass and there are some who go mad for the mint.  There are several theories as to why cats like to eat cat grass and I tend to agree with the theory that it may help with the passing of hairballs. It seems to assist the cat to either vomit them up or acts as a mild laxative. 

 

Tunnels

I haven’t met a cat yet that doesn’t love the cat tunnel! Someone made a fortune when they invented these. Every cat should have one!

 

Hammocks

Make your cat a hammock.  You can hang them up inside the home or outside in the garden.               

 My cat Meeko loves hanging out in his!

Dangling toys

Set aside time to play with your cat for 10 – 15 minutes per day. Dangling toys on sticks are great for this sort of activity.  There is a huge variety of these sorts of toys available in pet stores and online, or if you have time you can be creative, cut costs and make your own.  These sorts of games are not only fun, they nurture the bond between you and your cat and wear them out at the same time

 

Cardboard boxes

Before you recycle your cardboard boxes put them out for your cats to play in. They also love getting into cloth and paper bags. Keep your cats busy - they will love you for it!

Atrium

Perhaps you could consider building your cat an Atrium or alternatively get someone professional in to do it for you.  There are several companies that do this sort of thing.  Do a search on the internet and see what you can find.  This means your cat will be able to go outside enjoy the fresh air and laze around in the sun in a safe enclosed outdoor area.

This is our Atrium and both our cats love spending time out there!

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Mia playing in the Atrium

How to teach your cat to sit and give high five

Each month we will feature a video on how to train pets to do tricks. Too often dogs take the limelight in this department so we thought it would be novel to start off this segment using our beautiful cat Meeko. In the video he shows us just how clever he really is. Why not have some fun with your cat and teach them a trick or two. 

Method for SIT

  • Place your lure (treat or toy) at your cat’s nose level.  Slowly move the lure up over the nose, in between the eyes and back toward the ears.
  • Normally the cat will try to follow the lure, and in their attempt to do so, their hindquarters usually sink to the floor into the sit position.
  • As soon as their bottom hits the floor you need to praise and treat immediately! This way you mark the point of behaviour you were looking for.
  • Repeat this step three times. Once you get them sitting reliably you need to introduce your verbal cue. To do this you say SIT right when their bottom hits the floor. 
  • Now you have shaped your cat into the sit position and labelled what they are doing.
  • TAKE A BREAK then come back and repeat these steps three times to make sure your cat is sitting consistently. In other words they know what you want them to do and they understand the exercise.
  • This is when you need to fade your lure, as you do not want to have to have a treat or toy handy every time you want your cat to sit. In other words we do not want the lure to turn into a bribe.  Which it will if you lure for too long!
  • To fade the lure you need to introduce your hand signal, which is similar to the luring motion. So instead of luring anymore, you are now going to ask your cat to sit by using your verbal cue, accompanied by your hand signal. These need to be given at exactly the same time as each other.  
  • As soon as they do sit you need to praise and reward them from your other hand.
  • Note – If you have trouble luring your cat into a sit here are some points that may help.
  • If your cat keeps backing up when you are trying to lure and shape them into a sit, try doing this with their back facing into a corner junction of some cupboards perhaps. This will mean that when their bottom comes into contact with the corner junction they will sit, instead of continuing to back up.
  • If your cat is jumping up for the lure, simply bring it back down to their nose level, and don’t raise it so they will jump again.
  • Make sure your hand movements are slow and deliberate. 
  • If you or your cat are becoming frustrated as you are not succeeding – TAKE A BREAK
  • Remember to keep your training sessions short and fun
  • If they are simply not interested don’t take it personally. Cats unlike dogs are not as motivated to please us and may find your attempts beneath them! 

Method for High Five

  • Place your lure (treat or toy) in between you first two fingers and hold it nice and firmly.
  • Present your hand in the high five position between the cats nose and shoulder level
  • Wait and see what behaviour your cat offers you. They may try to eat the lure (if it is a treat) from between your fingers so squeeze them together tightly so they don’t succeed.
  • Hopefully they will raise their paw to see if they can get the lure that way.
  • The moment they do you must praise and reward them by giving them the lure as a reward.
  • Once they are doing this reliably it is time to introduce your verbal cue. So next time they raise their paw to your hand you say ‘’HIGH FIVE’’ and give them the lure as a reward.
  • TAKE A BREAK then come back and repeat these steps three times to make sure your cat is giving you High Five consistently. In other words they know what you want them to do and they understand the exercise.
  • This is when you need to fade your lure, as you do not want to have to have a treat or toy between your fingers every time you want your cat to give you high five.  In other words we do not want the lure to turn into a bribe.  Which it will if you lure for too long!
  • To fade the lure you need to leave your hand in the high five position without it between your fingers. So instead of luring anymore, you are now going to ask your cat to give you high five by using your verbal cue, accompanied by your hand signal.  These need to be given at exactly the same time as each other.  
  • Put up the palm of your hand in the high five position and say “HIGH FIVE” and as soon as they raise their paw to your palm you need to praise and reward them from your other hand.

THIS TRICK CAN BE TAUGHT TO DOGS AS WELL USING EXACTLY THE SAME METHOD!