Thanksgiving and Pets

The Thankful Dog

Chasing Dog Tales has a lovely poem, The Thankful Dog, written from Haley the dog’s perspective:

The Thankful Dog

I’m thankful for the day you adopted me
And your patience while I learned where to pee.
Sorry for the time I pooped in the hall
It was rough at first, but we got through it all.

You were so kind while I learned to behave,
You showed me the world, so I could be brave.
I have all the things a good pup should own,
Good food, fresh water and toys and bones.

Our house is warm and I have my own bed
But you don’t mind if I share yours instead.
When I’m sick, you lay with me on the floor
With my head on your pillow, I let out a snore.

I’m thankful for all those rides in the car
And all the vacations we’ve shared so far.
From off-leash hikes to beaches with sand,
So many adventures across this great land.

Read the rest here and thanks to Elaine Bryant.

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Ani the dog shares her thoughts about the harvest celebration, English style:

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Now, I know we don’t do Thanksgiving here, but we should; I like turkey. I have experience of turkey… most memorably that Christmas day when she didn’t quite shut the fridge and went out of the kitchen. Well, at least she didn’t have to eat leftovers for days on end…

Read the rest here and thanks to Sue Vincent for sharing her lovely furry friend with us!

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i-grub-thanksgiving-main320_1If you’re so inclined to make a special dinner for your own dog, here’s a great recipe from TheBark.com by Jonna Anne with Mary Straus, Canine Nutritionist, and Shawn Messonier, DVM, Veterinary Consultant.

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Important holiday reminders from the North Shore Animal League America:

1. Fatty Foods:  Too many fatty, rich, or unfamiliar foods can give your pet pancreatitis or gastroenteritis; two medical conditions that can be very painful and even life-threatening.

2. Diet and Exercise:  Maintain your pet’s regular meal and exercise schedule and avoid too many holiday leftovers. A disruption in his dietary routine can cause stomach upset, diarrhea and/or vomiting.

3. Bones:  Make no bones about it. Certain bones can lacerate or obstruct your pets’ insides. Save the bones for the broth – not your dog.

4. Onions:  Onions and onion powder, widely found in stuffing and used as a general seasoning, will destroy your dog or cat’s red blood cells, which can lead to anemia.

5. Grapes and Raisins:  Grapes and raisins contain a toxin that can cause kidney damage to both dogs and cats.

6. Chocolate:  Chocolate can actually be fatal to your dog or cat; so all those sweets must be kept well out of reach.

7. Food Wrappings:  Aluminum foil, wax paper and other food wrappings can cause intestinal obstruction. Make sure to place these items securely in the garbage.

8. Fresh Water:  Make sure your pet always has fresh water. When there are more people in the house, there’s more chance to bump into the water bowl leaving your pet dry.

9. Quiet Time:  Make sure your pet has a quiet retreat should the holiday festivities be too much for him. Watch his behavior to make sure he is not stressed.

10. Garbage:  Keep an eye on the garbage and keep it securely fastened! If your dog gets into it, he may think he’s hit the jackpot, but all he’ll be winning is health problems from something as simple as gastric disturbance, vomiting and diarrhea to the worst-case scenario – death.

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EMERGENCY FIRST AID FOR DOGS

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Even the most responsible pet owner can’t always protect their pet from a sudden accident or illness. Getting your pet immediate medical attention can be the difference between life and death. Download this e-book to learn more about what to do in an emergency situation.

 

Notes from a Graveyard Scholar

Ozark folklore is a recurring theme in my writing, and chasing down the old stories and tall tales has led me off the proverbial beaten path more than once. Sometimes, though, the stories fall right in my lap, as happened a few months ago when I attended the Books in Bloom Literary Festival and met Arkansas writer and independent researcher Abby Burnett.

Abby BurnettAbby has spent years researching death and burial customs, with much of that work presented in Gone to the Grave; Burial Customs of the Arkansas Ozarks, 1850 – 1950, published by the University Press of Mississippi. Other publications include entries for the Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture as well as articles for county historical societies. She lives in a log cabin in the Boston Mountains when she’s not out photographing tombstones in rural cemeteries. Here’s Abby, talking about her research and the ways we remember the pets who shared our lives…

The worn image on the tombstone in Hot Springs’ Hollywood Cemetery, lit up by afternoon sunlight, is puzzling. Is it a lamb? No, a dog – definitely a dog. A quick check of Stories in Stone; A Field Guide to Cemetery Symbolism and Iconography, by Douglas Keister (Gibbs Smith, 2004) reveals the meaning: “The virtues of fidelity, loyalty, vigilance, and watchfulness have long been symbolized by man’s best friend.” Surely this was intended on the stone of B.B. Porter, who died at age 42 in 1882, but elsewhere across Arkansas, images of dogs found on modern granite markers don’t have the same meaning. “Nowadays when one sees a carved dog in a cemetery it is probably homage to a beloved pet,” Keister writes.

There is no lack of such homages in pet cemeteries, of course, where humans eulogize their beloved animals. “Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, here lies our little boy with ears of rust,” is the verse on the grave of Rusty Bucket Bumstead (1991 – 1994) in Rest Haven Cemetery, in Bentonville, Arkansas. Tributes to other dogs and cats include, “You left paw prints all over our hearts,” “Our ‘love sponge’” and “So loved, so loving, so missed.” In Friends of the Pet Cemetery, a considerably larger pet graveyard near Springfield, Missouri, are found these tributes: “He lived for love and food,” “Always a puppy” and, “Friend – Gentleman – Athlete.”

I spend a lot of time in cemeteries because I research and write about death and burial.  I transcribe epitaphs, photograph tombstones, and compile information on everything from the symbolism at the top of a stone to the name of the carver often found near the base. The most heartbreaking epitaphs, or poems, do not upset me but my outpouring of grief in pet cemeteries always catches me off guard.  After all, I live with four elderly dogs and two cats, volunteer at my county’s pet shelter, and serve on its board. Though I wouldn’t cross the street to admire a stranger’s baby, I just might dart across several lanes of traffic to pet a puppy.

This has led to a fascination with the way pets are portrayed on modern markers, ones for humans, that is. I’ve found artwork showing every dog breed imaginable, portraits or cartoons of pets, and dog and cat figurines placed on the markers. Most interesting of all are photoceramics, little disks imprinted with actual photographs then bonded to the front of a tombstone. Photoceramics were invented in France in 1854, and they’re rare in the Arkansas Ozarks’ oldest cemeteries. Perhaps they were too expensive, difficult to obtain, or easily broken. Some tombstones contain circular indentations, evidence of a vanished photoceramic. In modern times, however, these little photos are affordable, unbreakable and plentiful, so much so that some markers sport separate ones for each family member and the dog.

What to make of the photos people choose? One husband and wife’s marker contains a photo of each spouse holding up the same tiny Chihuahua. There’s the haunting photo of the young woman holding her cat against her shoulder, the girl’s face tinted a flesh color but the cat standing out in stark black and white. Though hunter and hound photos are plentiful, one man chose to use a shot of his three hounds treeing an unseen prey. One older photo shows a husband, wife, and dog where both the wife and the dog are leaning away from the beaming husband, as though afraid of him. (People who knew this family assure me that the man was not abusive but I don’t know why wife and dog look so wary.) Others are like hidden puzzles, where the pet is somewhere in the picture.

Occasionally a photoceramic will feature an unconventional pet. Brian Harness, buried in Maplewood Cemetery in Harrison, Arkansas is shown cradling a large fox. Given that Harness was a hunter and a professional taxidermist I thought he might be posing with an especially life-like example of his work. But no, an online obituary showed a different photo of the two, and mentioned that Mr. Harness was survived by his pet fox, Jasper. In this same cemetery a stone bench, at one side of the Johnson family plot, is decorated with a photo of a cow wearing a jaunty razorback-red beret with “Arkansas” knitted in. The most unusual creature is probably found in Hugo, Oklahoma, a town where various traveling circuses spent their winters. There a female snake-charmer is shown holding what appears to be a python with, “To each his own” carved above the frame.

Modern technology has made it possible to put anything – anything – on a tombstone: aerial photos, sonograms, NASCAR logos, the deceased Photo-shopped into a portrait with Jesus. Perhaps someday someone will study these images as seriously as I do study the meaning behind the Ozarks’ oldest symbols (anchors, clasping hands, broken columns). If so, those graveyard scholars will have to make sense of the large numbers of dogs and cats populating the tombstones of the people who loved them so much they considered them members of the family.

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Abby’s book was first published by the University Press of Mississippi in 2014 in hardcover, and is now available in paperback and Kindle editions as well. While she was researching the book, the Arkansas Educational Television Network (AETN) featured her in AETN’s “Silent Storytellers” program. This documentary featured people and organizations “who are passionate about the preservation of cemeteries and memorials in Arkansas.” Here’s the clip:

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Have an image or a story to share? Leave a comment!

For the Love of a Cat

Book #2 in my series introduces a feral feline who settles into the kennel office as though he’d been born there. He’ll take on the customer relations work scorned by Momma Cat–a stray who “came with the house” and prefers dogs to people. I suspect both cats will play a role in forthcoming books, and I hope readers will share their stories of their own felines. Watch this space for a new slideshow dedicated to kitties, and send in your own photos!

In keeping with our current conversation of pets we’ve loved and lost, I’m sharing the words of fellow Arkansas writer Nancy Hartney, who penned this moving tribute to her cat Rosie. Here’s Nancy:

As we age, our worlds take on a different dimension. Cats as well as people even my Rosie, my Second Hand Rose. Named after the song, she passed from hand-to-hand before I was approached to adopt her.

A calico, my first thought had been getting her spayed quickly, followed by I do not need another animal in a three cat, three dog, two-horse household. As fate ruled, she and I lived together twenty-one years.

From the beginning, Rosie ‘talked’ to me. Whenever she needed something, usually from the kitchen, she sat next to my chair before tossing patience aside and meowing until I got up and followed – yes, followed her—to see what she wanted/needed. Ears cocked listening for my footfalls behind and tail held high, she ‘told’ me what she wanted and where in the household it was expected. Generally, two choices reigned supreme—‘I need to go outside’ and ‘I want more food.’

She roamed the yard, the pasture, the barn, the woods. The queen of all she surveyed, she ruled with a velvet paw.She could watch nesting birds come and go feeding their brood, scale the tree, and dig in the nest for their tender hatchlings. Such times, I captured and relegated her to the house until said feathered family grew and took flight. Rabbits and mice also fell within her domain thus consigning her annually to several spring weeks inside while wild creatures grew to independence. Except at night when only the moles were in danger.

Years slipped by and her world narrowed and her ‘talking’ took on an intense hue. She rested in my lap at night watching TV. She sat on the bench next to me at the table and scoffed tidbits. She purred. Bedtime? Rosie waited until I rose from my chair and began the nightly routine then assumed her ‘place’ on the bed.

She spent time hanging in the country flowerbeds, sleeping on deck chairs, and sitting in the sunshine on my patio. Her furry family circle ebbed and flowed, old friends passed and new arrived. Arthritis set in. Joints enlarged. She prowled less in her woods. She missed the sandbox as often as she was on target. Nights consistently spent in. She no longer climbed trees and nor jumped from chair to deck railing to roof. She napped when outside. Ate less. Napped inside. Her days unevenly divided into eating and sleeping with scattered minutes of time reserved for pacing and ‘attending’ to the household.

August 10, 2015, Rosie’s world is re-formed. She roams her beloved woods, sits in the sunshine grooming, and meanders out on feline adventures. Again.

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Nancy Hartney is the author of the award-winning short story collection Washed in the Water: Tales From the SouthYou can read more about Nancy, her pets, and her writing on her blog https://nancyhartney.wordpress.com/.