General Interest

Viral Cuteness

posted June 15th, 2016 by
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Viral Cuteness – Spreading the love of a boy and his dog

By Anna Holton-Dean

Viral CutenessWhat’s cuter than a baby or a dog?

The answer can only be a baby and a dog.

Photographer Jarod Knoten thought so when he snapped a photo back in 2012 of his 2-month-old son Porter and rescue pooch Pixel, snuggling together.

Knoten was snapping photos of his newborn when Pixel jumped up on the bed and joined him. “Pixel was lying behind Porter, so I propped him up on her chest between her front and back legs,” he says. “After a couple of shots, Porter fell over on top of her front legs, and she pulled her leg out from underneath him and snuggled up with him. Of course, I started firing away.”

Knoten posted the photo to reddit.com (via imgur.com) with the caption, “Just my dog spooning my baby. Nothing to see here.” As the views kept growing, it became apparent he wasn’t the only one who found it adorable.

Since the photo’s original posting to reddit, and an updated posting by Knoten’s wife Claire with an additional photo, the  two photos combined on imgur have collected over 2 million views, reaching viral status. The photos have been featured on numerous sites including Animal Planet, Disney Family, Huffington Post, The Chive, BuzzFeed and the ASPCA.

For all the shares, reposts and love the original photo received, there was criticism and judgment. As with anything on social media, people can and will find something to criticize.

“The photo of Porter and Pixel got as much backlash as it did praise,” Knoten says. “A lot of people complained that we were putting our infant at risk by exposing him to our dog.

“Obviously, we would never put our child in a situation where he could be hurt. We knew when we got Pixel that it wouldn’t be too long before we thought about having children, so we did our research and trained her accordingly.

“We tried to play with her like a child would, playfully tugging on her ears, tail, etc. By the time Porter was born she was unfazed by getting tugged on and was prepared to handle how Porter may interact with her during their supervised interactions when he was very little. Porter turned 2 on Nov. 2, and they are best buds and partners in crime.”

As confirmation of their responsible parenting, Claire’s updated photo posting to reddit, stacked with the original of Porter and Pixel, displays the caption, “She’ll bite they said… 9 months later still only kisses.”

The original photo’s popularity hasn’t waned almost two years later. In February 2014, a representative from National Geo-graphic contacted Knoten about licensing the photo for use in a new book, “67 Reasons Why Cats Are Better Than Dogs.” The publication is a silly, witty take on the “age old battle: cat vs. dog.”

The photo’s caption in the book says, “Without the slightest hesitation, dogs will often abandon their own children for the first interesting looking human baby they come across, as this reprehensible photo demonstrates.”

It’s all in good fun, but truthfully, as far as they know, Pixel didn’t abandon anyone (or any puppies). She was found on a rural road as a small puppy by the Knotens’ friends while they were moving. The couple posted a photo of her on Facebook, looking for someone to take her in.

Already discussing the addition of another dog for a while, Knoten said to his wife, “Let’s go look at her,” to which she replied, “You never go to look at a puppy; you go to pick a puppy up.”

“She was the perfect size and sweet as  can be, but she was in pretty bad shape health-wise,” Knoten says.

Pixel had a range of ailments including mange, an infected tail wound, malnourishment and the “home run” of intestinal parasites, according to the veterinarian. But with a lot of love and a little time, she was on the mend, playing with the Knotens’ older Shih Tzu and making friends at the dog park. “Truly the perfect addition to our family,” Knoten says. 

When the photos went viral, commenters wanted to know Pixel’s breed. Their best guess is a Border Collie mix, “or in our opinion, the best mixed breed ever,” he says.

No stranger to viral photos, Knoten had a previous run with his work making the Internet rounds. Perhaps without even knowing it, you’ve seen Knoten’s “skeptical baby” photo, which he originally posted to his blog in 2011. It quickly turned into a popular meme (i.e., spread from person to person online) with various captions.         

Despite being a professional photo-grapher with a previous viral photo, Knoten says he never thought the photo of Porter and Pixel would be as popular as it has been; he just hoped someone would find it as cute as he did.

Today, 2-year-old Porter and Pixel (4 years) are still best buds who like to get into mis-chief together. One of Porter’s favorite things to do is fill his dump trucks with dog food and deliver it to her. “There’s the occasional sneaking food to the dog from the dinner table as well,” Knoten says.

Porter also recently learned to play fetch with her. They still snuggle, and “I imagine,” Knoten says, “when Porter is sleeping in a big kid bed, we will no longer be sharing our bed with Pixel.”

Undoubtedly, Knoten will capture it, and it will be just as cute as their early snuggle days. Until then, the Internet—and all of us—will be waiting for the photo.

“67 Reasons Why Cats Are Better Than Dogs” can be purchased on amazon.com.

Treating Your Pets

posted June 7th, 2016 by
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What's in Your Dog Shampoo

Treating Your Pets

By Kiley Roberson

 

Whether it’s your constant companion, best friend or first child, your pet is truly someone special. So when you treat them with a snack, it should be special, too. And what if that snack did more than just satisfy your pal’s taste buds… what if it also satisfied a need in your community? That’s the goal of Tulsa’s Bridges Barkery.

The Barkery is part of Tulsa’s Bridges Foundation, an organization that offers education like vocational training, employment opportunities, living skills and community resources to individuals with developmental disabilities.

“We showcase the strengths, capabilities and talents of each individual we serve,” explains Karie Jordan, President and CEO of the Bridges Foundation. “By assisting each person in the attainment of their individual goals, self-sufficiency increases, positively impacting the entire community landscape.”

Karie says her 4-year-old English Bulldog, Miss B, was the inspiration for the organization’s Barkery and is now their mascot and biggest fan.

“Miss B is our mascot, and we love her,” she says. “Baking dog treats was our way of sharing our joy and enthusiasm for her. We knew this would be a great way to give a healthy treat to our community pets and create an employment opportunity for our clients. After baking a few trays of treats,  the clients were in love with the idea and wanted to do more.”

Today, the Barkey is hard at work baking dozens of doggie treats a day, all under the careful eye of Miss B, of course. She goes to work with her owner every day.

“She likes to walk the halls, ensuring she is kept in the loop on all things happening,” Karie says. “Her favorite thing at the Barkery is when the clients bring her treats and spend time with her. She loves to have her back scratched after eating her treats, and then she’s off for a nap.”

Miss B is also the official taste tester for the Barkery and has so far settled on four yummy, all natural flavors of biscuits: beef, chicken, cheese and peanut butter. The baking takes place at the Barkery’s commercial kitchen located at the Brides North Campus. Bridges clients start by choosing a flavor to bake. Then they carefully identify and measure the ingredients into a large mixer. After a thorough mixing, they roll the dough, cut the biscuits, place them on the tray and bake for approximately 30 minutes. After a proper amount of cooling time, they proceed to the assembly and packaging of each bag.

“All of the biscuits are baked fresh daily and contain no preservatives or harmful ingredients,” explains Karie. “We only use human grade ingredients, so these treats are a healthy and delicious snack for your pets.”

But Karie says the entire baking process offers so much more than just great treats; it builds confidence and life skills for clients, too. And the Barkery’s Master Baker is a perfect example.

“When Ms. Chelsea began attending our training program at Bridges two years ago, she was shy and lacked confidence,” Karie says. “When Chelsea graduated from the training program, she was offered a position in the Barkery baking treats.

Over the last year, Chelsea has grown to be an independent, confident young lady and is now the Barkery’s Master Baker.”

The employment opportunity with the Barkery allowed Chelsea to continue working on her vocational skills, learning how to bake, cook and earn a paycheck. The Barkery gave her confidence to grow at her own pace and try new skills she could use at home with the assurance that she has all the support she needed to succeed in her goals.

“The Barkery is important for everyone involved,” Karie says. “It helps clients like Chelsea learn at their own speed, gives pet owners an opportunity to learn about the Bridges Foundation, and finally, you’re favorite four-legged friends get a tasty, healthy treat baked without preservatives and made with lots of love.”

You can find out more about the Bridges Foundation by checking out their website   at www.thebridgesfound.org. There, you can even buy a bag of their delicious treats through their online store.

Pet Prevention: Saving Homeless Pets

posted May 15th, 2016 by
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Pet Prevention: Saving Homeless Pets

By Kiley Roberson

IN every community throughout the country, there are homeless animals. In the U.S., there are an estimated 6 to 8 million homeless animals entering animal shelters every year. According to the Humane Society of the United States, barely half of these animals are adopted. Tragically, the rest are euthanized. These were healthy, sweet pets that could have made great companions.
We have thousands of homeless animals in our shelters right here in Oklahoma. These are not the offspring of homeless “street” animals—these are the puppies and kittens of cherished family pets and even purebreds. Oklahoma, like most states, has several animal rescue groups, adoptions centers and more, but one local organization says it’s not enough.
Anita Stepp is the president of NeuterSooner, an organization that provides low-cost options for people to have their pets spayed or neutered. She says rehoming the animals isn’t solving the initial problem.
“We have rescued and sheltered far more pets than we can count, and the problem was still staring back at us,” Anita says. “So we decided to change our focus and solve the problem by prevention.”
NeuterSooner was founded in Bartlesville in 2009 as a non-profit organization dedicated to preventing cruelty to animals by offering low-cost spay/neuter programs to those who can’t afford the cost. Neuter-Sooner sells spay/neuter vouchers available to families with incomes less than $40,000 annually. Cost for the vouchers is based on family income.
“We were concerned about the number of pets ending up in the Tulsa City Shelter and having to be killed,” Anita says. “There was a need for more spay and neuter services that were easily accessible and affordable. NeuterSooner decided to help fill that need by providing mobile spay neuter clinics in the Tulsa area.”
Oklahoma Alliance for Animals agreed to help fund the clinics, and NeuterSooner has partnered with five regional veterinary clinics to provide the spay/neuter surgeries.
Today, NeuterSooner has spayed or neutered more than 2,200 pets at clinics in Bartlesville, Tulsa, Dewey, Ochelata, Ramona, Skiatook, Nowata, Cleveland, Jennings and Broken Arrow. Even with this success, Anita says there is still a lot to do.
“The need is so great, and we need help, too,” she says. “We can always use more volunteers at the clinics. We especially need people who can answer phone calls, do the scheduling, help with set up and clean up afterward. Donations are also needed to help make spay/neuter services affordable.”
The decision to spay or neuter your pet can be the single best decision you make for his or her long-term welfare. Not only does spaying or neutering help control the pet population, but it also has positive health and behavioral benefits for pets. According to the Humane Society of the United States, neutered male dogs live 18 percent longer than unneutered male dogs, and spayed female dogs live 23 percent longer than unspayed female dogs.
Part of the reduced lifespan of unaltered pets can be attributed to their increased urge to roam, exposing them to fights with other animals, getting struck by cars and other mishaps.
Another contributor to the increased longevity of altered pets involves the reduced risk of certain types of cancers. Unspayed female cats and dogs have a far greater chance of developing pyometra (a fatal uterine infection), uterine cancer and other cancers of the reproductive system.
Medical evidence indicates that females spayed before their first heat are typically healthier. Many veterinarians now sterilize dogs and cats as young as 8 weeks old.
Male pets that are neutered eliminate their chances of getting testicular cancer, and it is thought that they have lowered rates of prostate cancer as well.
Veterinarians also suggest that spaying and neutering pets can help curb bad behavior. Unneutered dogs are much more assertive and prone to urine-marking (lifting of leg) than neutered dogs. Although it is most often associated with male dogs, females may do it, too. Spaying or neutering your dog should reduce urine-marking and may stop it altogether.
For felines, the urge to spray is extremely strong in an intact cat, and the simplest solution is to get yours neutered or spayed by 4 months of age before there’s even a problem. Neutering solves 90 percent of all marking issues, even in cats that have been doing it for a while. It can also minimize howling, the urge to roam and fighting with other males.
In both cats and dogs, the longer you wait, the greater the risk you run of the surgery not doing the trick because the behavior is so ingrained.
When you factor in the long-term costs potentially incurred by a non-altered pet, the savings afforded by spay/neuter are clear, especially with the help of low-cost spay/neuter clinics like NeuterSooner.
Caring for a pet with reproductive system cancer or pyometra can easily run into the thousands of dollars—five to 10 times as much as a routine spay surgery. Additionally, unaltered pets can be more destructive or high-strung, destroying furniture, household items and fighting with other unaltered pets.
With all this in mind, NeuterSooner says the answer is clear. If we want empty shelters and healthy pets, prevention is key. And the “Sooner,” the better!
You can find out more about Neuter- Sooner on their website (neutersooner.org) or give them a call at (918) 332-6341.

A Fancy Fish Tale

posted April 30th, 2016 by
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Nicole Castillo

A Fancy Fish Tale

FishHello, sweet pet lovers. This is the blog of a fish named Smaug. He is my new male double tale betta and a total delight. I named him Smaug after JRR Tolkien’s dragon from the Hobbit series. He is blood red and extremely grumpy looking. I knew by his sullen expression that he was going to be picky about his habitat. This was a fish that was not going to be satisfied by just a few pretty plants. I researched tank décor and was amused to see a product called a Betta Hammock by Zoo Med Laboratories. It’s basically a silk leaf attached to a suction cup. The thought of a fish needing or even wanting a hammock was comical to me, like a gag gift for your pet. I then looked at the reviews and beheld multiple pictures of happy bettas lounging on the leaves. I could not believe it. Those visuals sold me, and I ordered one at once. When it arrived, I followed the directions and installed in it Smaug’s tank. For the first few hours he relaxed under it, like a big umbrella on a bright sunny day. Then, quicker than I expected, I saw him resting over the leaf, his bottom fins laying on the hammock. So there you have it. Bettas enjoy a good hammock just like the rest of us. Probably more, because the experiences I’ve had with hammocks have not been pretty.

 

FishSmaug also has a floating jellyfish and two moss balls in his tank. The jellyfish is anchored to the bottom with a suction cup. It’s a fun decoration, unique and colorful. He loves to swim through the jellyfish tentacles and hide under it. The moss balls are good for the tank and Smaug likes to pick at them. Finding accessories for this little guy has been fun. Do you have a betta that likes his accoutrements? Is Smaug missing out on a vital betta luxury? We can’t have that! Let me know in the comments or email me at [email protected].

 

You can also contact me about any upcoming pet events. This weekend is the Thunderkatz Cat Show, Meowy May Day at the State Fairgrounds, Centennial building, April 30-May 1st, 9a to 4pm. There will be a variety of cats to see, vendors and hairballs. The Iron Thistle Scottish Festival is on Saturday, April 29th at Kirkpatrick Family Farm, 10am-5pm. This event is pet friendly and will have dog rescues, bagpipes, Scottish dancing, games, vendors and our friends at The Pet Food Pantry will be there.

Pet Overpopulation

posted April 30th, 2016 by
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Pet Overpopulation – What is the Answer?

By Kim Schlittler

Each week we hear about cats and dogs needing homes. Every cage and kennel in the animal shelters has a pet or two (or more) in it. Rescue groups and foster homes are full, so it’s difficult for them to take in another pet until one is adopted.
Pets are adopted every day. Some shelters and groups are very creative with their promotions seeking adopters. Mega adoption events are held several times a year with rescue groups and shelters coming together to find homes for hundreds of pets in a few days.
Yet the pet overpopulation problem continues. Last year, the Oklahoma City Animal Shelter alone took in 25,000 cats and dogs. More than 14,000 pets were adopted, reclaimed by their owners or transferred to rescue groups. Sadly, 10,300 pets were euthanized for various reasons. Pet owners failed to look in the shelter for their lost pets or, tragically, waited too long to look. Pet owners surrendered their pets, thinking a behavior problem was a lost cause. Not enough potential adopters thought of the shelter as a place to adopt a pet. And some pets were too ill or too aggressive to be adopted.
Of the 10,300 pets euthanized, 3,800—more than one-third—were puppies and kittens whose only crime was being born into a community where not enough people wanted to adopt young pets. These numbers are repeated on a lesser scale at animal shelters throughout the state.
With so many companion animals and too few adopting homes, what is the answer? The best answer is spaying and neutering.
Every pet lover likes to know someone is helping homeless pets. Best Friends of Pets seeks to prevent pets from becoming homeless and part of these statistics. Its spay/neuter program, which offers two low-cost, high-quality opportunities for pet owners to have their pets spayed or neutered, helps keep pets in their homes and prevents unplanned births of puppies and kittens. More than 6,000 cats and dogs were spayed or neutered in 2014 through the program.
SpayWay of Oklahoma City offers spay/ neuter, vaccinations, canine and feline tests, and microchipping. Spay/neuter fees are $30 for cats and $40 for dogs. Rescue groups and pet owners with a gross household income of $50,000 or less can call SpayWay at (405) 414-8142 for an appointment. SpayWay also goes mobile during the year and spays or neuters pets in towns throughout the state.
Cost is often the biggest reason why pets are not spayed or neutered. “We find people are tired of their pet having litter after litter of puppies or kittens, and they are excited when they can afford our services. One dog had eight litters of puppies—all accidents—in four years. Even the neighbor was excited when they found out about our low-cost spaying and neutering.”
Low-income pet owners receiving Medicaid, OKDHS or SSI (Supplemental Security Income) benefits, or meeting Best Friends of Pets’ income guidelines, can have cats spayed or neutered for $10 and dogs for $20 through its Spay/Neuter Assistance Program (SNAP).
General public assistance is also available based on income. Rabies vaccinations are $5 and are only offered when the pet is spayed or neutered. SNAP works with veterinary and nonprofit spay/neuter clinics throughout the Oklahoma City metro area. For more information about SNAP or to request a SNAP application, call (405) 418-8511 or visit www.bestfriendsofpets.org.
Puppies and kittens as young as 8 weeks or weighing at least 2 pounds can be spayed or neutered. In addition to preventing un-planned litters of puppies and kittens, spaying and neutering makes dogs less likely to roam or bite, ends yowling by cats in heat, and makes cats less likely to spray and mark their territory. Pet owners often find their pets are more calm and affectionate after being spayed or neutered.
Schlittler says now is a great time to have a pet spayed or neutered. Spring is just around the corner. With the flowers blooming, windy days and people enjoying outdoor activities also comes the arrival of stray and abandoned puppies and kittens.
Animal shelters and animal welfare groups refer to this as ‘puppy and kitten season,’ a heartbreaking time of year. Now is a great time to have a pet spayed or neutered to ensure that unplanned litter is avoided.
Best Friends of Pets is a local nonprofit organization that began in 1994 under a similar name to help increase pet adoptions and improve conditions for pets at the Oklahoma City Animal Shelter. In 2005, Best Friends of Pets started its Spay/Neuter Assistance Program (SNAP), the first year-round community spay/neuter program of its kind in the Oklahoma City area.
In 2006, Best Friends changed its adoption program to work with small groups and individuals who rescue and foster pets until they are adopted. Best Friends of Pets strives to reduce the pet overpopulation problem of too many homeless pets by helping pets, their owners and our community.

Ozzy’s Tale

posted April 15th, 2016 by
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Ozzy’s Tale

By Holly Brady Clay

How One Dog’s Story Became A Book And Is Still Teaching Lessons Along The Way

It has been said, “Saving one dog will not change the world, but surely for that one dog, the world will change forever.” I believe this is true more than ever. Let me introduce Ozzy to you (also known as Scooburt), my lovable 8-year-old mutt I adopted when he was 18 months old. The decision to adopt Ozzy was the absolute best “worst” decision I ever made. 

Ozzy was very “special” from the beginning. It was not until I stood at the desk of the shelter to adopt Ozzy that I heard his very fascinating backstory.  Ozzy had previously been adopted—twice—before being returned to the shelter both times by his previous owners. It seems his former owners, who shamed Ozzy by changing his name to Winston, owned a delicate set of china dolls.  Maybe he was speaking out in angst against his newfound dog name, but, whatever his motive, he did not waste any time shredding the dolls to pieces, leaving his new owners a little more than frustrated. While for some this should have been a warning sign, I ignored all indications that he might be trouble. If I had only known what I was getting myself into! 

The day I drove Ozzy home from the shelter I experienced what I refer to as the “bad side of Ozzy.” While in line at Petsmart—my cart full of overpriced toys and dog food, all of which I really couldn’t afford—Ozzy chewed through his leash and broke free. If that wasn’t warning enough, the next indication he was special was the countless undergarments Ozzy stealthily stole and tore up, which belonged to my wonderful and ever-so patient roommate. Another indication he was “special” was the fact that he ran away from me every single chance he could as I embarrassingly chased him for miles down the road.

Call it blind love, but from the day I brought him home it truly was love at first sight. I always compare it to what my mother would tell me as a child: “It doesn’t matter how many mistakes you make, I could never stop loving you.” Well, I didn’t have a biological human child that I carried in my womb for 9 months and then miraculously gave birth to, but I finally got what she meant after all those years. No matter what he did, I still loved him. He followed me everywhere. I couldn’t be out of his sight. 

I never even knew I needed a companion in the bathroom with me! Because of this “needy” bond, we had some issues when I would leave the house. It was nothing major; a few loaves of bread would go missing, and a package of potato chips here and there disappeared mysteriously. There was also the time he stole an entire birthday cake.  Oh, and the entire plate of hamburgers that vanished. There was the dozen or so bagels incident, a tub of cream cheese, a whole pineapple, (yes, whole with the prickly covering) bananas, avocados, and potatoes… Suffice it to say, Ozzy had some learning to do. 

Through the years and with much patience, Ozzy has matured into a very well-behaved dog. We moved to Colorado together as I finished up my undergraduate degree in film, video and media. I have always been drawn to a creative lifestyle and often find myself documenting stories, whether through writing, photography or film. So one cold, wintery day in the small, mountain valley where I resided, I grabbed a pen and paper and started writing. I looked at Ozzy, and endless stories popped into my head. How could they not? I wish I could say all this just happened overnight, and then “poof!” I had a book. Quite honestly, it took me several years to find the motivation to complete my story, but once I did, the book title seemed obvious: “Scooburt Steals a Meatball.” 

What better story to write about than a dog that steals food! I submitted it to Tate Publishing out of Mustang, Okla., and together we collaborated to bring Ozzy’s story to life. This could not have been done without the help from one truly amazing friend, Zay Shaeffer. Zay, an Oklahoma native, is responsible for all of the artwork in the book, and he is truly a present day Dr. Seuss. He invokes passion and humor into every single one of his art pieces, and because of this, I knew he had to do the artwork for the book. 

The premise behind the book is about Scooburt stealing a meatball from a Great Meatball Clerk, but then understanding what he did was wrong. The lesson goes much deeper than that, delving into what it means to have a conscience and how we determine right from wrong. It is a humorous tale of a tail but with a great message for kids. The book was finalized and released in the summer of 2012. Since then, we have had many great opportunities to share Ozzy’s story, as well as the importance of adopting shelter pets. Ozzy and I have traveled throughout Oklahoma, visiting numerous elementary schools. Our main goal behind visiting schools is not only the one-on-one interaction that students are given with having a dog visit their school, but also to teach them kindness to animals.

It is also important to help them understand if they have a dream, nothing can stop them from pursuing it. I explain that I wanted to write children’s books from an early age and made it happen with perseverance. When you are 8 years old and a dog visits your school, it is safe to assume the dog must be famous. We hear kids screaming from the hall-ways about the famous Scooburt! Kids line up for hugs, and Ozzy adores them. Sometimes a good hug from a dog is all you need to turn your day around. 

As far as continuing the Scooburt series, I do have plans    for more books in the near future. You can stay up-to-date on “The Adventures of Scooburt Humperdink” by visiting    our Facebook page at facebook.com/scooburthumperdink or visiting our website (hollybrady.tatepublishing.com). For signed copies, send us a Facebook message.

Seven years later, Ozzy and I have been through some rough patches, but I wouldn’t trade him (or the experiences together) for the world. Just like so many things in life, with patience and willpower we can make anything happen. I believe the same was true for my book, as well as Ozzy. He needed someone to believe in him, and I knew I could be that person. Adopting a dog isn’t easy, but it is so rewarding. Everyone can do his or her part.

As for Ozzy, he thinks I changed his world forever, but he has no idea how much he has changed mine.