General Interest

WING IT

posted July 15th, 2013 by
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by Lauren Cavagnolo

One afternoon, over the course of a couple of hours, four WING IT volunteers fielded multiple calls from the public with questions about wildlife, orchestrated pickups of various animals from different veterinary hospitals, fed bunnies, birds, a raccoon and a flying squirrel and discussed the best way to tell whether or not a mother bunny had returned to the nest to feed her babies.

It was a chaotic and thrilling two hours, to say the least.

“It’s real typical for what we do and the time of year. I’ve already been on the phone a couple of hours today,” said Kim Doner, one of WING IT’s organizers. “We attempted to fix a duck problem that we still need to resolve. I’ve talked to vets today; I’ve talked to three other rehabbers today… and been emailing and everything else.”

WING IT, which stands for Wildlife In Need Group In Tulsa, has been together officially for about a year. However, many of the volunteers have been rehabbing and caring for wildlife much longer than that.

The group has since been taken on as a nonprofit extension of the Tulsa Audubon Society and is now working on attracting dedicated volunteers, educating the public about wildlife and raising donations.

At the time we spoke, there were roughly 140 animals in the care of about 10 active volunteers. Of course, the number of wildlife changes daily based on intake and release. The homes of the volunteers have become a revolving door of orphaned and injured wildlife, mostly birds and small mammals.

While there are larger wildlife rehab facilities in Oklahoma that receive funding and grants, they tend to be overwhelmed, Doner said. In addition, people are not always willing to make the drive two or three hours to get animals to the facilities.

And there are advantages to having people in town dedicated to caring for Tulsa’s injured and needy wildlife.

“We are able to spend more quality time with an animal,” said volunteer Kathy Locker. “I can pick up on the slightest changes in an animal’s health, which may take a center longer because of the multiple staff members and volunteers who handle them.

“Also, one ‘mom’ is a lot less stressful to a baby. We have the luxury of evaluating each animal separately and holding them back if need be instead of keeping everyone on the same schedule.”

Dr. Welch, DVM at Forest Trails Animal Hospital, agrees that having a group in town like WING IT is vital.

“The problem is when [people] bring [animals] here, I can put them back together and things like that, but if you don’t have someone to take them, then I’m dead in the water,” Welch said.

And that is where WING IT steps in, taking in wildlife that have been stabilized but are not yet ready for release.

Forest Trails is one of three animal hospitals in the area that works with WING IT. Oklahoma Veterinary Specialists and South Memorial Animal Hospital also accept injured wildlife from the public and coordinate with the group.

“I can’t do what I do unless they do what they do,” Welch said. “But the goal is for them to be the primary and me be the helper instead of me being the primary and them being the helper.”

Welch said during baby season, his staff can spend up to two hours a day answering calls about wildlife.

“That’s probably the reason that more vets don’t do this sort of thing,” he said. “And this is all free. Not only is it free, but we now have a responsibility to do something with [the animals]. If it weren’t for the volunteers I wouldn’t be able to do it.”

VOLUNTEERING WITH WING IT

“We will warn you, rehabbing wildlife is a contagious situation,” Doner said. “You drag everyone in your life into it.”

And she’s right: several of her neighbors are now involved in wildlife rehab, one even has an 8x10x12 pen for rehabbing raccoons.

Though having an outdoor pen for wildlife is not necessary.

“People often believe they need a lot of room at home or that the commitment is to create your own zoo. These are misconceptions.”

Most of the baby animals taken in by the group need a small box or cage for the duration of their care. Depending on the animal, it can be released in as little as a few days or stay as long as a few weeks.

“We are super appreciative of those who are serious about learning and applying skills to truly help the wild babies,” Doner said. “For people who are interested, just contact us. Some people will try it and say oh, this isn’t what we had in mind; this is much harder and more demanding. If a volunteer would call and say I can drive, I would be sending them to two different vets right now and having them run a loop.”

When it comes to training volunteers, oftentimes the group has to ‘wing it.’ Because they never know what the day will bring, the group can’t plan to train volunteers on a certain species until they have that animal in their care.

“What happens is you might end up with 12 of one animal that afternoon, and you’re trying to feed it, heat it, stabilize it, medicate it and show someone else who is scared and nervous and unsure of proper procedure,” Doner said. “It’s not for the faint of heart or people who want an easy thing.”

The group also advises new volunteers to get a state license through the Tulsa County Game Warden.

“It’s not hard or complex, just necessary,” Doner said.

And like any nonprofit, if someone does not have the time to volunteer, donations are always appreciated.

“The people who do this are from all walks of life, and some of them are pretty strapped but very willing to spend a ton of time with the animals,” Doner said. “So donations are wonderful to ensure everyone wins.”

MYTHS AND MISCONCEPTIONS OF WILDLIFE REHAB

One big issue the group faces is public perception that baby wildlife are cute and can be turned into pets. Though people are acting with the best of intentions, it usually does not end well.

“People think ‘Oh this is cute. It will be a pet of mine,’ or ‘I can rehab it.’ And then when the animal starts failing, they realize ‘Oh no, I don’t want to watch it die, here take it,’” Locker said. “And then we have to deal with something that’s dying.”

Much of the public also assumes that the volunteers get paid for their work. Though they are now a nonprofit and are working on fundraising, the group currently receives no funding or grants. All of the money for supplies and food comes from the volunteers’ own pockets.

“To be given a hatchling owl and have it raised up to release is about $300 in mice. And it comes out of the rehabber’s pocket. Which is why we got started with WING IT as a nonprofit, so that people can contribute if they would like,” Doner said. “It’s always a considerate thing to do when you are asking someone to take an animal for you.”

One scenario that has played itself out repeatedly is the rescue of baby animals that don’t really need to be rescued, much to the frustration of the group and area veterinarians.

“A lot of these babies that come in here don’t need rescue,” Welch said. “They are baby bunnies, and baby bunnies aren’t going to outrun you, they are just going to sit there. Leave them, they’ll hop away later on or mom will come take care of them.”

And when it comes to baby birds, it is OK to put them back in the nest, Doner said.

“You can touch them; you can touch mammals, and you can touch birds,” Doner said. “It’s not the scent; it’s the drive of the mother, and she will overcome any fears to feed and come back and take care of her babies.”

If you find an animal and have any question about its needs, call WING IT and ask before taking the animal to a veterinarian. The group has a shared cell phone, and a volunteer is always on call to answer questions.

Watson Does Disney

posted July 15th, 2013 by
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by Anna Holton-Dean

Vacation season is in full swing. While some families board their pets at that time, it’s a perfect opportunity for service dogs in training to experience unique situations and places. Watson, a service dog in training for Therapetics, was lucky enough to travel with his trainer and temporary mom, Casey Rose Largent, and her family to the happiest place on earth—Disneyland.

Therapetics Service Dogs of Oklahoma Director Susan Hartman and full-time Instructor Donna Willis knew the trip would provide excellent training for Watson. “Everything from the flight to California, the hotel stay and the Disneyland parks were all new experiences for him, and thus, great exposure for him too,” Largent says.

The trip did prove to be full of new experiences for 2-year-old Watson, starting the moment they reached airport security. “Getting through security was a bit challenging,” Largent says.

“I had to take everything off of him—backpack, vest, harness, leash and collar. Then he had to walk through the metal detector by himself. When you factor in the fact that I had to remove my shoes and put my carry-ons and his gear through the conveyor and have him walk through the metal detector before I could go through it, it was a bit hectic and time consuming.”

But with his laid back personality, Watson wasn’t too fazed—probably less than most human flyers would be after a run in with TSA.

“He did great on the plane ride,” Largent says. “We rode on the first row of the plane, so he had plenty of room to stretch out. When we first boarded, he wanted to look out the window. He watched the ground crew load luggage onto the plane. When we took off, he laid on the floor and slept. He did pretty well for a first-time flyer.”

Once reaching California, what better place could one go to experience sensory overload than Disneyland? Watson’s response to the house of mouse was in keeping with his typical personality. “There were lots of new sights, smells and sounds at Disneyland,” Largent says. “There were lots of kids, food and rides everywhere, but he didn’t seem bothered or nervous at all. He’s a pretty easygoing boy, so not much gets to him. He stuck close to me though as it was a little crowded.”

Disneyland even has a list of service dog approved rides, so Watson was able to enjoy Haunted Mansion, Alice in Wonderland, Buzz Lightyear As- tro Blaster and Jungle Cruise at the Magic Kingdom. At California Adventure park, he rode Toy Story Mania, Monsters, Inc.: Mike and Sully to the Rescue, The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Undersea Adventure, and he watched Muppet Vision 3D. And Largent says he had an obvious favorite.

“He really seemed fascinated by the Jungle Cruise, a riverboat ride featuring animatronic animals,” she says. “The animals all move and make noises, and that seemed to really get his attention. He sat in the seat next to me and watched as animatronic hippos, elephants, lions and monkeys moved around and made lots of noise.”

The other rides didn’t elicit much excitement or interest from Watson, which is actually a sign that his Therapetics’ training is working well. “Since he’s been exposed to everything since he was 8 weeks old, not much gets to him, including the rides. He doesn’t pay a whole lot of attention to his surroundings; mostly, he pays attention to me, which is what he is trained to do,” Largent says.

While he may not have gotten any iconic Disney treats like the Mickey ice cream bar—he ate his usual treats—he did get his own pair of Mickey ears, which he wore long enough to humor Largent for a photo.

Watson seemed to take the whole trip in stride, but how did others react to the pooch in the parks? Largent says cast members (the term for Disney park employees) and park guests were all very accommodating and complimentary. While the average Joe can’t bring an average Fido (aka: non-service dog) into the park, Disney welcomes true service dogs.

“Watson got lots of compliments on how handsome he is,” she says. “Cast members are pretty used to seeing service dogs. There were several other service dogs there on the days we visited. I think people were surprised the most to see him actually riding the rides with me.”

Watson even turned out to be an attraction himself for characters like Alice, the Mad Hatter, Donald Duck, Cruella De Vil, Pinocchio and Peter Pan who all came over for a photo. “They loved him and couldn’t wait to have their photos taken with him,” Largent says. “Those costumed characters didn’t bother Watson either. In fact, there’s a photo of him giving Pinocchio a kiss.”

In addition to Disneyland, Watson checked out other destinations like Anaheim Garden Walk and Bubba Gump Shrimp Company. So far, it has been his biggest public experience, but Largent says for Watson, it’s probably just another outing.

However, it is one more step toward his certification. Next fall, he will take his Public Access Test designed to ensure he is stable, well-behaved, and unobtrusive to the public, along with a skills test. He will then be matched with a qualified applicant to serve as his or her mobility assistance dog.

Largent says she gets a little emotional imagining the day she has to part with Watson, but their time at Disneyland is one more memory the pair will always have to cherish.

Philbrook’s ‘Purrrfect’ Personnel

posted July 15th, 2013 by
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by Kiley Roberson

Hiding in the cool, tall grass, he waited. Watching his subject with intense, knowing eyes, then he laughed to himself at the thought of just how sneaky he was. Surprises were his specialty. Slowly, he shifted from the brush then darted across the lawn where his victim sat unsuspecting.

He was to her before anyone could shout, before anyone could move. There was a click, a flash and a beautiful black and white Tomcat forever remembered in a young girl’s senior pictures. Just another day’s work for Acer, the tuxedo cat at Tulsa’s Philbrook Museum.

The Philbrook is home to numerous works of art, a majestic garden and a little known pair of very spoiled siblings. Acer and Perilla joined the Philbrook staff when they were just tiny kittens, now they’re 7 years old. Their names reflect the horticultural influence of their colleagues—”Acer” is the Latin name for the maple tree, while “Perilla” is the Latin term for a certain type of multicolored vegetation, in reference to her calico markings.

Melinda McMillan, manager of the Philbrook gardens, actually refers to the duo as her employees and says they play a very important role in the garden. “They are excellent at rodent and pest control,” McMillan says.

It’s up to this brother and sister to keep the garden’s rodent and rabbit population from overrunning the place, and Acer takes this job very seriously.

“He likes to lie up on top of the Tempietto area, surveying his kingdom, or down under shrubs hiding,” McMillan explains. “He is the hunter, big time.”

Perilla, on the other hand, is more of a princess. She doesn’t like to work and prefers to be chauffeured around her palace grounds.

“Perilla knows that she is pretty and is more affectionate,” says McMillan. “She doesn’t work very hard and likes to ride the garden vehicles to get to her preferred destination rather than walk. It’s pretty funny to see a gardener headed out to work in their sections and then to look back and see a cat riding on the back end, or even riding shotgun. She is quite the character.”

As employees of the Philbrook, the “purrrfect” personnel receive a very nice benefits package, which includes full veterinary care, unlimited treats and toys, and scratches in return for their hunting prowess.

“They actually have an “employee file” if you can believe it,” explains McMillan. “It’s where I keep all of their veterinary records. They also have Christmas stockings that are overflowing every season. And it’s not just the garden staff that spoils them; they have many benefactors on the museum staff that randomly drop off presents for them too.”

McMillan admits that these fancy felines never really had an option but to be spoiled with attention. As kittens, their human colleagues took turns taking them home at night and with them as they went about their jobs during the day to help the cats bond both with the staff members and the concept of the museum’s grounds as their home. Seven years later, their reign still stands supreme.

“They are special felines for sure,” Mc- Millan says. “They are incredibly spoiled, and visitors love them, especially children. They have a following of sorts on Philbook’s Facebook page, receiving as many if not more “likes” as our other posts. People have even left comments that in their next life they want to come back as a Philbrook cat.”

Facebook isn’t their only presence in the tech world. These cats are also equipped with cameras. The “cat cams” hang around their necks and record in about 12-minute increments, including sound. The small cameras are about the size of a cell phone and offer a special glimpse into the daily lives of these kitty companions. Then the staff posts the feline footage to the museum’s website and social media accounts. So far, Mc- Millan says they’ve learned that napping in the shade is a very common occurrence.

The rest of their day is pretty standard. Actually, Mc- Millan says they are on a pretty regular schedule just like all the other employees. Their day begins when the gardeners arrive to work at 7 a.m., but they’re usually in their beds sleeping at that time. They have their own cat door, so they have access in and out all the time.

They get up and make the rounds for a good scratch and pet, taking the time to find a nice lap for a few minutes. Then they wander out to the greenhouse area or the parking lot, snooping around. When they’re ready, they often jump on a vehicle to hitch a ride or wander into the gardens in their own sweet time. They hang out all day, sleeping in the shade, checking out groups of kids and occasionally hunting. At the end of the work day, they come back to the garden building for their afternoon meal.

“When the staff heads home, the cats just continue to do what cats do best, whatever they want,” Mc- Millan laughs.

When it gets too cold or hot outside, or in stormy weather, the cats take their escapades inside the museum to a downstairs studio. “They don’t like this very much and typically protest,” she says. “But while they are indoors, they get many staff visitors going down to check on them and play.”

With 75 owners to love and care for them and a 24-acre backyard to call home, you would think the spoils might go to their heads. But these pampered pets still make time to socialize with the little people, especially Acer. The museum actually thinks of him as ambassador of the gardens. He likes to make an appearance at wedding ceremonies, senior graduation pictures and other museum events. After all, he does already have on his tuxedo.

McMillan says he has been photographed more times than she can even count, but posing for pictures isn’t all this diplomat does. He is also known for his bipartisan abilities to really reach across the aisle, literally.

“He is great at breaking the ice at weddings,” McMillan says. “The groom’s family and bride’s family are total strangers with a divide between the aisle, and [there are] some uncomfortable moments for the families. Acer tends to just walk right down the aisle or between the chair rows and gets the attention of the children. The kids from both sides of the aisle will start to play with him, and then the parents come over to see what the kids are up to. By that time, the families have been forced to mingle with one another, and the wedding begins on a more comfortable note.”

Bringing people together and to the Philbrook, these cats have definitely earned their keep.

“They really are special kitties,” McMillan says. “We wouldn’t be able to have as much character in our gardens without them.”

Schooling for Success

posted July 15th, 2013 by
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Free Training Classes Help Shelter Dogs
and Their New Owners

by Nancy Gallimore Werhane, CPDT-KA

It is 6:15 p.m., on a Thursday at Pooches, my dog care facility in Tulsa. Boarding dogs are being fed dinner, and daycare dogs are heading out the door to their homes—another busy day is winding down. At the same time, several dogs and owners parade in the door and head for the training room where their work is just beginning. There, they are greeted by the wonderful smile of Beth Sharp.

Beth Sharp is a dog enthusiast, trainer and unsung hero who well understands the journey a rescued dog and new owner can take. Her interest in working with dogs was born when she adopted her dog, Cooper, a stray that showed up on her property about nine years ago. Cooper uncovered the “latent dog lover” in Sharp, who had not had a dog since her childhood.

“The training bug bit while taking classes with my unruly Pit Bull mix,” Sharp says. “It was fascinating to watch him learn and to have this completely different species understand what it was I was asking. You can actually see the wheels turning in their little brains, and I love it!”

Sharp participated in several training classes with Cooper, exploring different training methods until she was introduced to force-free, positive training techniques. “I completely geeked-out on it and read every book about learning theory and animal behavior that I could get my hands on— and I still do,” she says. “The results I got were amazing, and I never looked back.”

Sharp’s experience with Cooper inspired her to want to help other dogs, but she wasn’t ready to commit to adding another dog permanently to her family. Instead, she opted to foster dogs waiting for adoption. Providing a temporary home for a variety of dogs not only helped local rescue groups but also gave Sharp a great opportunity to develop her training skills. “I loved the idea of fostering, of helping a dog past its fears and showing it how to be part of a family,” she says. And a bonus was the strong sense of accomplishment she felt when her foster dogs were adopted into good homes.

In addition to providing a foster home, Sharp also started volunteering at the City of Tulsa Animal Welfare shelter (TAW). “I’d been feeling like I wanted to try to have a bigger impact on the animal overpopulation problem in Tulsa. Helping one or two dogs at a time is a lot of fun and very much needed, but I was looking for ways to do more,” she says.

Initially, she helped out at the shelter by walking dogs and assisting with adoptions. As she spent time at the shelter, she realized that it would be helpful to offer some basic training tips to new dog owners in an effort to help adopted dogs settle into new homes successfully and reduce the number of dogs that are returned to the shelter. “I would have loved some tips when I got Cooper to help me avoid wasting time and effort, trying a litany of things that don’t really work,” Sharp says.

“Sometimes new and even experienced dog owners have issues with their dogs that seem overwhelming, but many issues have very simple solutions and that can be the difference between keeping a pet or having to return it to the shelter,” explains Sharp. That theory quickly developed into a free, three-session training class that Sharp would make available to anyone adopting a dog from TAW.

With the help of TAW Manager Jean Letcher, and volunteers Ann Stiles and Cindy Bucher, the training program started in May 2011. Classes were initially held in a small trailer behind the shelter but moved to the Pooches training room for additional space to accommodate more students.

According to Letcher, the program is making a difference. “It’s such a neat deal to be able to tell people about the class—especially if they are adopting their first dog. I have no doubt Beth’s classes have helped reduce our return rate,” Letcher says.

Sharp’s goal for the shelter training program is to show people how to communicate clearly with their dogs in a manner that focuses on positive motivation rather than correction-based training that might include yanking on the leash, yelling at the dog, or using prong collars and choke chain collars. “That stuff really is no fun and not terribly effective—in fact, it can actually be counter-productive to training goals,” Sharp says.

One of Sharp’s former students has nothing but praise for the free classes. Anne Lassiter adopted her Terrier mix, Woodstock, from TAW. A very fearful dog, Lassiter felt that bad experiences in Woodstock’s past had caused his issues, and she wanted to help him learn to enjoy his new life. When Lassiter and Woodstock arrived at their first class, the little dog tucked his tail, raised his hackles and immediately retreated to the space under Lassiter’s chair.

“I thought I made a mistake by bringing him, but Beth assured me that this was exactly what Woodstock needed,” Lassiter says. Sharp helped Lassiter understand that with time, training and positive experience, Woodstock could gain self-confidence. “He quickly fell in love with Beth and would not let her out of his sight,” she says. “He might be under the chair, but he was watching and learning from her.”

Sharp encouraged Lassiter to continue formal training with Woodstock following the three complimentary classes, and that’s exactly what they did. Since that time, Woodstock has graduated from four levels of training, including a trick class that required Lassiter and Woodstock to perform in a show.

“It was hard to believe the little dog I found curled up in the corner of the shelter cage was now on stage performing like a pro,” Lassiter says. “He now has boundless confidence… the transformation has been amazing, and I thank Beth for helping us get started.”

Lassiter says the jumpstart with training that Sharp provides is of vital importance during a crucial time of transition for shelter dogs. “Her gentle hand is reaching out to help, so they are not returned to the shelter before they have time to adjust to their new lives,” Lassiter says. She is certain Woodstock would not be the happy, wellbehaved dog he is today without Sharp’s assistance and encouragement. One glance at Sharp’s new group of students tells a story in itself. One dog is barking nonstop.

One dog is sitting in a corner drooling. One dog is straining at his leash, trying to visit everyone in the room. In the middle of the chaos, Beth Sharp smiles, introduces herself and dives right in, helping each owner/dog team learn how to work together. Before the hourlong class ends, the dogs have settled, the owners have relaxed and progress is underway.

When asked about her classes, Sharp’s response is immediate. “I’m having a blast doing this!” she says. “To date over 150 dogs and owners have gone through the program, and we’re adding more every month.” That’s a lot of dogs and people—past, present and future—who can be very grateful for the inspiration of a once unruly dog named Cooper and a very devoted dog trainer named Beth.

Pet Friendly Getaways for You & Elmo

posted July 8th, 2013 by
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See complete listings at:

 http://okcpetsmagazine.com/directory/category/pet-friendly-businesses/pet-friendly-getaways/

Nuyaka Creek Winery

OK Wine Country

35230 S. 177th W. Ave.

Bristow, OK 74010

(918) 756-8485

[email protected] 

Ambassador Hotel

Near Downtown Tulsa, OK

1324 S. Main Street

Tulsa, OK 74119

(918) 587-8200

[email protected]

MarVal Family Resort

Illinoise River, OK

Rt. 3, Box 60

Gore, OK 74435

(800) 340-4280

[email protected]

Bull Mountain Resort

Bull Shoals Lake, AR

2224 Central Blvd.

Bull Shoals, AR 72619

(870) 445-5971

[email protected]

The Campbell Hotel

Near University of Tulsa, OK

2636 E. 11th St.

Tulsa, OK 74104

(918) 744-5500

[email protected]

White Wing Resort

Table Rock Lake, MO

1028 Jakes Creek Trail

Branson, MO 65616

(417) 338-2318

[email protected]

Lake Hudson Inn

Lake Hudson, OK

178 Lewis Drive

Adair, OK 74330

(918) 785-2608

[email protected]

Honey Creek Resort

Grand Lake, OK

2511 S Main St.

Grove, OK 74344

(918) 786-5119

[email protected]

Lago Vista

Bed & Breakfast

Broken Bow Lake, OK

489 Bowfin Ln,

Broken Bow, OK 74728

(580) 494-7378

[email protected]

Beaver Lake View Resort

Beaver Lake, AR

3034 Mundell Rd.

Eureka Springs, AR 72631

(888) 253-8166

[email protected]

Retreat at Sky Ridge

Beaver Lake, AR

637 County Rd. 111

Eureka Springs, AR 72631

(479) 253-9465

[email protected]

Stone Meadow Resort

Table Rock Lake, AR

57 County Rd. 242

Eureka Springs, AR 72631

(479) 253-6118

[email protected]

Dinner Bell Ranch & Resort

Kings River, AR

4462 County Rd. 302

Eureka Springs, AR 72632

(479) 253-2900

[email protected]

Pine Lodge Resort

Grand Lake, OK

33635 Dock Road

Afton, OK 74331

(800) 640-3173

[email protected]

5 Ojo Inn

Bed and Breakfast

Downtown Eureka Springs, AR

5 Ojo Street

Eureka Springs, AR 72632

(800) 656-6734

[email protected]

Arsenic and Old Lace

Bed and Breakfast

Downtown Eureka Springs, AR

60 Hillside Ave.

Eureka Springs, AR 72632

(800) 243-5223

[email protected]

Sugar Ridge Resort

Beaver Lake, AR

1216 County Rd. 113

Eureka Springs, AR 72631

(800) 867-8439

[email protected]

From mountain trails to Victorian parlors, grape vines to pontoon boats, log cabins to luxury suites, down home breakfasts to yoga, campfires to shopping. It’s all there for you and Elmo to explore! There is an extensive listing about each of these unique Getaways in the OKC Pets Magazine Online Directory under “Pet Friendly” at: http://okcpetsmagazine.com/directory/category/pet-friendly-businesses/pet-friendly-getaways/ . That includes written descriptions, information, plenty of pictures, links, maps, and all of the contact information that you will need to arrange a GREAT TIME at any of these delightful pet-friendly destinations! Everyone’s pet policy varies, so be sure to check with the proprietor when making plans for your Pet Friendly GetAway! If you have a pet friendly getaway that we should know about, email [email protected] with the information.

Tribute for Misty

posted May 27th, 2013 by
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by Murray Thibobeaux

July 12, 2012, we put Misty to sleep. Misty could not overcome the complications that come with advanced diabetes. I buried her across the pond on the side of a hill, so we could always see the tree we planted over her.

A few weeks had passed when the radio fence alarm went off, showing the wire was cut. I geared up with extra wire, wire strippers, wire nuts and electrical tape and began my routine of following the 4,000-plus feet of antenna wire around our property.

While following the large loop of wire, I walked right past Misty’s grave. That’s when I saw it—a big rawhide bone was on her grave. This is odd, I thought. Why would my wife leave a bone on Misty’s grave instead of flowers? After I fixed the wire break and went to the house, I asked Frances if she put the bone on Misty’s grave. She didn’t do it. That’s when we knew. It was Boris.

A few days before, we had given Boris and Lucy big rawhide bones. We sometimes give our dogs something they really like when they seem stressed. Misty’s death had affected both of them. One-year-old Lucy was still a puppy and seemed a little confused as to why the other Great Dane she felt a strong kinship with was gone.

And Boris—even though our adopted Pit Bull had only been with us for about a year—had formed a strong bond with the towering matriarch of the small pack. Boris seemed to have lost the spring in his step, so we gave them the big bones to cheer them up. They immediately took their prizes outside to enjoy while basking in the sun.

We know Lucy did not go past the dam to the other side of the pond. We knew Boris patrolled the other side of the pond regularly. It had to be Boris. Instead of enjoying the bone himself, Boris took his bone to Misty and placed it on her grave.

Just as you and I place flowers on a loved one’s grave, Boris gave the most valuable thing he had as a tribute for Misty. The bone stayed on Misty’s grave for weeks until one day it was gone, probably taken by coyotes or some other wild animal.

Many experts, vets, and other dog owners have never heard of anything like this. They all have stories about a dog that sleeps on the grave of another family pet, or will not give up a toy that belonged to a deceased pet, or maybe clothing from a dead owner being faithfully guarded. None have heard of paying tribute to another such as Boris did with Misty.

I can no longer look at Boris without seeing him as a spiritual creature. Some say we are foolish to give human qualities to our dogs. Are we human because of the shape of our bodies or because we have intellect and emotions? Some days I think Boris is more human than some people I know.