Careers for the Animal-Loving Millennial

As a senior in high school, I know firsthand what it’s like to be asked every five minutes by any adults in the vicinity what it is I want to do with my life. Fortunately for me, I have always known that I wanted to go into veterinary medicine as a practicing veterinarian, but for some young animal lovers, the path to take isn’t always clear. Here are some careers for college-bound animal fans:

Artificial Insemination Technician
AI technicians use the latest in artificial insemination technology in order to safely breed cows, horses, and even dogs or cats. Technicians work with veterinarians and specialists to regulate breeding and to monitor the heat cycles of animals. More information here

Canine Nutritionist
Canine nutritionists create dietary plans for dogs and work with clients to find the best food options for their dog, whether the dog suffers from allergies or weight problems or anything in between. More information here

Animal Cruelty Investigator
Animal cruelty investigators investigate cruelty, document cases, and enforce laws against animal cruelty. This job can be heartbreaking, as investigators deal with harrowing scenes of abuse on a daily basis. More information here

Pet Adoption Counselor
Pet adoption counselors advocate for adoption and match potential owners with their perfect shelter pet. More information here

Veterinary Pathologist
Veterinary pathologists prevent and treat pathogens found in animals, domesticated or otherwise. More information here

Wildlife Rehabilitator
Wildlife rehabilitators work to rehabilitate sick or injured wildlife and educate the public on what to do if a sick or hurt wild animal is found. More information here

Octavian & Marc Antony

After my chinchilla Caesar was euthanized, I missed him and continue to miss him terribly. My room felt empty without him watching me do my homework or climbing over my pillows. While I knew I could never replace him, I started looking for a chinchilla breeder.
Caesar had been bought from a pet store, and I didn’t want to support the cruel business of mass-bred animals any longer, as I had done so unknowingly with Caesar. I loved him, and I still do, but it is always best to go through a small breeder rather than a pet store. I can’t say that what Caesar suffered from was caused by his birth in a small animal mill, but it could have contributed to it and I didn’t want to make that mistake again, or support an inhumane business.

I started looking online at shelters and breeders, and none of them had any chinchillas available. A furry friend would come along when it was the right time, I was sure, but it was still disappointing to receive emails from breeders saying that they wouldn’t have any chinchillas up for adoption for a long time.

I finally found a breeder in Keene, New Hampshire, and we sent her an email asking what she had for chins available. She got back to us and said she didn’t have any babies, but she did have two 2-3 year old chinchillas, one being a mosaic and the other a pink-white. She said that they had been housed together for a year and a half, and were adopted out, but the man who adopted them couldn’t take care of them any longer and returned them. I had been looking for a baby chinchilla, and only one of them, but I decided to go to New Hampshire and check them out.

I thoroughly cleaned out Caesar’s old cage, which, coincidentally, is the recommended size for two chinchillas, and my mom and I headed up to Keene. It was a two and a half hour drive, and when we slid up the snow-covered dirt driveway, we were greeted by an arsenal of angry geese. The breeder had an array of animals on the property, but the geese were certainly the most fearsome.

We were led inside a garage by Kitt, the breeder we had been communicating with via email. The two chinchillas were in a box, and my mom and I each held one of them while we talked to Kitt about their temperaments. She said they hadn’t been held since being returned to her, and that they were docile and shy. They seemed  to be content to just be held, and I already knew I wanted to take them home. The pink-white chinchilla had a mangled ear that Kitt said he had injured when he fought with another chinchilla he was originally housed with, and the mosaic chinchilla had a missing toe that I presumed he got from whatever cage he was housed in before.

Unsurprisingly, I adopted the chinchillas, thinking of names the whole way home. As a nod to my little pal Caesar, I named them Octavian (mosaic) and Marc Antony (pink-white) to continue the Roman name legacy I had started with Caesar. While I knew I’d never be able to replace Caesar, Marc Antony and Octavian nosed their way into my heart, and I love them very much. It’s been a little over six months since I adopted them, and they have been great from day one.

When adopting a new pet  after another one’s death, it is important to remember that you can never replace the bond or the pet you had before with a new one. It is best to wait for a little while to give yourself time to properly address the loss of a pet before hurrying into adopting another one; the bond you have with your pet is special, and it is different for every person and pet. If you are expecting to replace a beloved animal, you are going to be disappointed and miss your old companion more than ever. The best thing to do is give yourself time, and when you are ready, invite a new furry friend into your home with the expectation of a different but valuable human-animal bond.

16 Things To Do With Your Pet In 2016

2015 went fast, so fast that many of us were unable to stop and enjoy it before it was gone. To make sure you don’t miss out on spending quality time with your pets in this upcoming second half of 2016, here is a list of 16 things to do before the year slips by.

 

1. Grow Some Catnip
Cats love catnip, and if your cat is an outdoor cat, planting some of these perennials in your flower or vegetable garden is a good way to attract your cat and to keep rodents away. Just be wary of your cat’s behavior around the plant, because some cats like to lay on it and therefore could destroy whatever else you have growing around the catnip. If that’s the case, growing the catnip away from the rest of your garden is a good idea.
If your cat is an indoor cat, satisfy his/her catnip cravings by planting it in pots and rotate between having some outside and inside. Catnip needs a lot of light, therefore indoor pots should be rotated outside periodically.

2. Walk Your Pet
This doesn’t only apply to your dog; some cats enjoy walks on a leash as well. Before you walk your pet, it is important to make sure you invest in a collar and metal collar tags with your pet’s name and your address and phone number in case your pet escapes and is found. While you can walk a dog or a cat with just a leash and a collar, it is beneficial to invest in a harness as well. Collars can choke your pet and put unnecessary strain on their neck while a harness spreads the pressure and makes for a more comfortable, controlled walk.
Not all cats respond well to walking on a leash, however; it is wise to test out your cat’s walking preferences in your yard before taking him/her on a walk. Many cats find enjoyment in the walk just as many dogs do, and the stimulation received by the smells and sights of the outdoors get your pet’s mind thinking actively. Walking with your pet is a great tool to strengthen the bond between you and your pet.

3. Invest In Some Pet Toys
Dogs and cats alike love toys, and playing with your pet helps to form and strengthen the bond between you, whether it is playing Frisbee at the local park with your dog or using a wand toy with something dangling on the end for your cat to bat around.

4. Go Backpacking With Your Dog
Before you take your dog on a backpacking trip, make sure that both you and your dog are experienced hikers. Make sure to pack enough water and food for you and your dog, and be confident in your first aid abilities if either one of you were injured. Backpacking trips can be a fun way to become one with nature and spend time with your dog.

5. Go Hiking With Your Dog
If you don’t have the expertise or training to go backpacking with Fido, fear not; a small hike through a nearby national park or trail once in a while is just as enjoyable.

6. Make Some Homemade Treats
Dogs and cats love treats, and it is important to give your pet the best nutrition. Sometimes it is hard to tell what ingredients are really in treats for your pet, but when you make homemade ones, you can ensure that they are the best for your furry best friend. Many recipes can be accessed online, and below I have a couple links to treat recipes you can try.
Dog Treats – thekitchn.com
Cat Treats – pet360.com

7. Sign Up For Obedience Training
Spending time with your dog by teaching him/her to listen to vocal or hand cues is rewarding for you and your dog; it builds trust between you two and also helps promote safety when the training is applied to situations where your dog has escaped. If Fido has been taught to return to you on command, there is a lesser risk of him or her becoming lost. Obedience training can be basic or advanced, and whether you continue it to the level of obedience trials and contests is up to you. Either way, you and your dog will enjoy the time you spend together.

8. Build a Cat Tree
Cats love scratching and climbing, and to prevent that urge from being taken out on the wall or couch, it is beneficial to have some sort of cat tree in your home. There are plenty available at your local pet stores, but if you want to customize it, there are plenty of DIY tutorials online depicting how to build one yourself, whether you want one that is elaborate or simple.
Here is just one of many DIYs for this project online: blog.diynetwork.com
more elaborate ideas:  boredpanda.com

9. Bring Your Dog On A Trip
There are many hotels, restaurants, stores, and tourist attractions that are pet friendly. Next time you’re planning a getaway, check out websites like bringfido.com.

10. Train Your Pet To Be A Therapy Pet
If your pet is patient and loves visitors, you can sign up to be certified to have your pet be a therapy pet. You can volunteer in nursing homes or hospitals and bring the joy your pet brings you to other people. Or, for a less intensive commitment, you can start a Reading With Dogs event at you local library, where you can organize to have your pet and other people’s pets sit with children while they read so they can become more comfortable with reading out loud.

11. Host a Pet Party
Whether it’s your pet’s adoption anniversary, birthday, or simply just for fun, a pet party is a great way to socialize with your friends, and your pet’s (often new-found) friends. For ideas on themes for the perfect dog party, click here.

12. Organize A Dog Walk For Charity
Get your community involved in a cause by organizing a dog walk for charity! Advertise it through fliers and local media outlets, and have the proceeds go to a local shelter or your favorite animal organization.

13. Have A Photo Shoot With Your Pet
Feeling photogenic? Get professional photos of you and your pet, or invite a friend and do an informal shoot at your house or a park.

14. Make Social Media Accounts For Your Pet
Social media is a fun way to share your pet’s antics with the world, as I and my family know firsthand with our Instagram account for our mutt Watson (@watsonthemutt). Make a Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram account for your pet and invite your friends to follow it so they never miss the next cutest thing your pet does.

15. Play Piano With Your Cat
My cat Shadow loves to step on my keyboard while I’m practicing, and sometimes it can be a lot of fun. You can even record what your cat plays and mix it into a song!

16. Spend Quality Time With Your Pet
If we’re being honest, it doesn’t matter what activity you do with your pet – whether you throw an extravagant pet party or simply go for a walk with your pet, they are going to love the quality time you spend together. Pets make any occasion a better one, so no matter what you do, make sure to spend quality time with your pet.

Saying Goodbye To Caesar

One of the saddest things I’ve experienced happened to me this week when I went to the veterinary clinic with my chinchilla, Caesar. I knew it was coming, had known for almost two weeks, but as soon as the vet left me and my mom for a few minutes with him to decide on burial options, I started to cry. I didn’t want to have to make any decisions, and I didn’t want to go through with any of it, not when I was holding him, his little heart beating fast in his little chest. Whenever I picture a pet going through euthanasia, I picture one that is old, unable to walk, clearly in so much agony that signing the paper for the needle is a blessing for the poor animal. Caesar was in pain, his energy was minimal, but it was different. Chinchillas hide their symptoms of sickness and pain very well as a defense mechanism; predators target prey that appears to be weak. This makes it hard for owners to know caesarwhen chinchillas are sick sometimes, and it makes diagnosis difficult. It also makes it hard, when the decision falls upon an owner’s shoulders, to go through with putting a beloved chinchilla (or any pet, really) to sleep. It was the right thing to do, he was in pain, but it was hard to visualize the magnitude of suffering he had to have been enduring during the last week.
I first brought Caesar to Norton Animal Hospital in November. He had been drooling and pawing at his mouth, which are two textbook symptoms for tooth problems. I was nervous when we went to the clinic but we were soon introduced to Dr. Thomas Silberhorn, who always told us all of our options and kept us informed. Caesar’s bottom front incisors had grown up into the top of his mouth because he had stopped chewing on the chews (including his wood hay manger, lava rocks, and wood chews) that were in his cage for him. Dr. Silberhorn clipped Caesar’s teeth down, prescribed an eye lubricant for his runny eyes, and we left, hoping that periodic tooth trimming would be our only worry.
It soon became apparent that something else was wrong. His teeth had become overgrown again, but Dr. Silberhorn also found an infection by Caesar’s back molars. His teeth were trimmed easily, but the infection was problematic. It was also discovered that his teeth were growing downward into his mandible, causing him pain. The latter was the most grim; surgery was possible, but the odds were not good. In order to fix it, Caesar would have had to be put under anesthesia (which was risky in itself) and his mandible would have to be drilled carefully so the teeth could be taken out. A chinchilla’s mandible is very small and fragile, and if it were to be fractured during the surgery, he would have to be put to sleep. Caesar’s lifespan and our options depended on whether or not the teeth pushing through his mandible would stay the same or get worse. Dr. Silberhorn prescribed an antibiotic for the infection and told us to come back in two weeks and see if anything had changed.
I decided right away that if it came down to surgery, I wouldn’t make Caesar go through with it. The surgery was risky, a procedure that Dr. Silberhorn himself didn’t like doing. To go through hours of surgery with the odds so badly stacked against my little friend was not a fair option. I tried not to worry about it, but the truth was that it scared me to death. We administered the antibiotic, but after a week, it was clear that Caesar was suffering terribly. He ate very little and wouldn’t even accept treats, he was drinking half as much as he did before, and he was extremely lethargic. It seemed as though the infection had gone away, but the teeth pushing through his mandible were relentless. Administering the antibiotic was not pleasant for Caesar, and after a week and a half I stopped. I didn’t want him to be mad at me for forcing his mouth open to give him medication if this was the end for him; I wanted him to know that I loved him.
This past Wednesday was our two week check in, and I couldn’t have felt worse. I wasn’t letting myself believe what was probably going to happen, and the inevitable wasn’t something I was ready for. Caesar’s infection had cleared up, but there wasn’t much to celebrate. Caesar had lost almost 100 grams in two weeks, a big drop for such a little guy. Dr. Silberhorn told us that X-rays may be the next step, but that was before he felt Caesar’s jaw, and had us feel it too. What had been a small bump before had grown huge in a matter of only two weeks. Things were going downhill extremely fast, and our choices became even more grim. Dr. Silberhorn could prescribe a painkiller, which wouldn’t solve anything, only keep Caesar alive for a little longer. The other option was to put him to sleep. We were given a few moments to decide, but I already knew what I didn’t want to do, but had to do. I couldn’t just keep him alive out of selfishness; if nothing was going to get better, and there was no medications that would help him rather than just keep him going, I had no choice but to put him to sleep.
It was the first time that I had ever cried at a veterinary clinic. Caesar was fully my pet; he lived in a huge four-level cage in my room for four years. I thoroughly cleaned his cage out every week, gave him periodic dust baths, and let him run around on my bed. I taught him to come to the cage door when I shook his treat bag, and he wasn’t afraid to jump into my hands and up my arm when invited. My grandparents had gotten him for me when I was visiting them (my grandfather had read somewhere that chinchillas were on sale at a pet store and mentioned it to me) and my parents (much to my surprise) agreed to let me go get him. I named him after Julius Caesar, my favorite historical figure after completing my 7th grade history class. I loved him so much, and letting him go was extremely hard; I’ve been upset ever since. I know that he isn’t in pain anymore, which is something to take comfort in, but I wish he hadn’t been hurting in the first place. I don’t know if he understood what was happening or not, and I don’t know if chinchillas (or any of us) go anywhere after they (or we) die. All I can do is hope that he is happy wherever he is, and that he understands that I loved him and did what I believed was best for him.

Is Your Pet Prepared for a Natural Disaster?

Pet RecueNo matter where you live, a natural disaster can strike at any moment, whether it be a wicked Kansas tornado, a South Carolina flash flood, a Texas drought, or a New England snow storm, you and your pet must always be prepared. Many dogs, cats, birds, and other animals are lost in hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, and other natural disasters, and the loss of a pet can be devastating. Make sure  Fluffy, Fido, and Polly are all safe in case of a natural disaster with these helpful tips.

ID Your Dog/Cat

Dogs Resue

The best way to ensure the return of a lost or displaced dog or cat in any situation is to get them collars with ID tags, stating your pet’s name and your phone number and even address for safe return. Another option that would be even safer is to get both an ID tag, and get a microchip inbedded in your pet’s skin. The microchip has your address, name, and phone number and can be scanned for the safe return of pets. ID tags can be bought and ingraved at most pet stores and microchips can be imbedded in your pet at your local and trusted veterinarian.

Do Not Leave Your Pets Behind

No matter the situation, never leave your pets behind. They may be trapped, drowned, or otherwise killed in the disaster. Always make sure to bring your pet with you when you evacuate, and make sure that they’re with you at all times. If the situation is so dire it isn’t safe for you and your family, why would you leave your pets to weather the storm?

Pack Accordingly

While Fido may need only food, water, a leash and a carrier, small animals, such as chinchillas, would require a secure carrier, toys, sticks to chew on, water, food, bedding, salt licks, etc. Whatever is normally provided for your pet should be brought along in a good amount; in a natural disaster, you never know how long it will be until you can restock on items, so plan and pack accordingly. Ask your local veterinarian for a complete list of first-aid pet items needed for a natural disaster, or buy an emergency kit at the online ASPCA Store. Handbooks and fliers are also available, and should be available upon asking at your trusted veterinarian clinic.

Emergency Contacts List

Put together a list of emergency contacts and information about your pet that would be brought with you at the time of evacuation. Have a list of your veterinarian clinic and/or hospital numbers, emergency pet caregiver numbers, and certificates of vaccinations, as well as pictures of your pet with the family.

No matter the situation, make sure that your pets are well taken care of and just as safe as you and your family. In the wake of the destruction of homes and lives, don’t add a pet’s abandonment, loss, or death to the heartbreak that comes with natural disasters.