Sniffing out other dogs’ scents: It’s been said that dog pooh is canine social media. Carlo Siracusa is the director of the Small Animal Behavior Service at the University of Pennsylvania Veterinary Hospital. He explains, “These messages can tell your dog how many other dogs are in the immediate area, the sexual status of those dogs…whether a particular dog is a friend or an enemy, what he or she had for lunch, and when they were last in the area.”
Anxiety: If your pup has anxiety issues in other areas of her life, it’s likely that this will also be a source of anxiety, especially if you have her perform in a public area. If this is the case, walk your doggie on a quiet street and/or at a quiet time of day or evening to give her the privacy she craves.
Stalling: If the only time your furbaby finds himself in the great outdoors is during potty time, he’s going to want to take his time to enjoy the experience. If that means it takes extra time to find the perfect spot, so be it. So yes, he might be stalling to get to stay in the fresh air for just a little while longer.
To be in line with the magnetic poles: According to a study in Frontiers in Zoology, dogs may prefer to do their business with their bodies aligned along the North-South axis.
Here’s how Wired magazine sums it up, “The (Frontiers) study observed dogs’ eliminating (both urination and defecation), and ruled out other influences such as time of day, the angle of the sun, and speed and strength of the wind. In the end, the scientists conducting the study were left with compelling evidence that the earth’s magnetic fields might influence how and where your dog drops a you-know-what.”
So now that you know why your doggie has a particular pooh routine, you’ll hopefully have a bit more patience with him or her. Just don’t forget the bags. I once did and I had to use my mask to clean up!
Virtual hugs! ❤,
PS: Want to have some fun on Facebook? Join us in the women-only private group, South Jersey Girls Who Wanna Have Fun! Don’t let that name fool you. You can join no matter where you live. PPS: Check out our upcoming virtual events! PPPS: Photo credits: Two dogs looking out the window: Reagan Freeman. Dog looking out on the horizon: Jonathan Borba.
The joke about COVID-19—and there are many—is that family pets all around the world, got together and orchestrated the pandemic to be sure their humans would stay home with them for an indefinite period of time.
It’s a bizarre and improbable thought.
Another such thought came during a phone conversation this week with my sister, Molly. She and her husband have recently moved into a lovely CCRC (Continuing Care Retirement Community), where, unfortunately, COVID-19 has hit. It’s moving slowly. It started on one wing on one floor. One week later, it’s on another. Because of HIPAA, Molly and Martin have no way of knowing if it’s on their floor or their wing. About a month ago, when we went for a visit, we were asked to fill out a very short form. A week later, the form was longer. Now, no visitors are allowed. The residents are no longer permitted to eat in the dining room, and their meals are being delivered to their apartments. First, they were encouraged not to leave the premises. Now, they’re not permitted to leave their apartments. She joked to me, “I feel like we’re living in a really nice prison.” We laughed. And then we stopped.
Worldwide, every one of us is feeling pretty much the same way—a combination of uncertainty and fear. We’re feeling defenseless for ourselves and our loved ones.
The worst things that could have happened, have actually happened. Way too many are sick, way too many have died, and way too many are living in abusive situations* which only get worse in circumstances like this. Way too many have lost their livelihood and way too many are now among the homeless.
We fear for our lives, and for those of our revered essential workers—police, firefighters, EMTs, doctors, nurses, aides, orderlies, hospital housekeepers and maintenance workers, grocery store, pharmacy and gas station workers, delivery people and so many others. These people are all putting their lives on the line as they are literally keeping us alive.
And now, we are all in prison. Sadly, some are very difficult prisons to be living in. Some are actual prisons. Some are very nice prisons. And many are in prisons that might not be fancy, but are safe and clean and comfortable, with more than enough food and medicine. And yes, even toilet paper.
And the sunlight is peaking through. People are showing their goodness and kindness in countless ways, large and small, by helping those they know and love, as well as those they’ve never met.
This horrific pandemic has an unexpected facet for those of us who are fortunate. It is giving us a bit of extra time, as we shelter in place. Time to have a conversation, to read, to reflect, to cook, to bake, to binge watch TV shows and movies, and to make new friends on Facebook that we may never get to meet in person. That, happily, happened to me just the other day!
For my safety and good health, I am thanking God and the Universe every single day. I am also asking for relief for those in despair, and I’m saying a prayer that we all come out unscathed on the other side. If you’re like me, lucky enough to be living in your own clean and safe prison, you might be scared, lonely and bored, but here’s the thing. We all have just one job to do, and that is to stay where we are (if we can do so safely*), for as long as the scientists tell us to. If we do our job well, we will hopefully all come out on the other side, counting our blessings.
Happy Easter, Happy Passover–and Happy Birthday and Anniversary to those who are forced to low-key it this year.
Sending you my ❤,
PS: What are you doing to keep your sanity? Please let us know in the comments below.
PPPS: We’re now doing our events virtually! Check out what’s coming up!
*PPPPS: I hope you don’t need this, but if you do, please contact the New Jersey Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 572-SAFE (7233), 24 hours a day/7 days a week. Or call the Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233. Click here for a variety of resources for those living in New Jersey.
COVID-19 doesn’t just affect humans. It touches our pets, too.
For those of us sheltering in place, self-quarantining or in isolation, while making deals with God in hopes that we haven’t been exposed, don’t think for a moment that our pets aren’t absorbing our anxiety.
Recently, I spoke to Rachel Waltzer, VMD, of Garden State Animal Hospital. I asked her if pets can pick up on our apprehension. “Yes, absolutely! There are studies that demonstrate the rise in cortisol—a stress hormone—which occurs in pets when people are anxious. They can even smell when a human is anxious!”
But don’t get her wrong. It’s not all bad for Fluffy, “Pets are certainly enjoying the extra time with their humans at home.”
That’s the case with Rolo, a seven-year-old dachshund from Essex, England. He’s been so overjoyed by his family being on lockdown, that he sprained his tail by wagging it nonstop. Rolo’s owner, Emma Smith, said he is, “currently on pain relief and the vet said he should be healed within a week.”
You can’t make this stuff up.
Thankfully, Dr. Waltzer, a Penn Vet School grad, has the prescription for chill cats and dogs. “You can reduce your pet’s anxiety by reducing your own. Try to control your own emotions. Move slowly and act calmly around your pets. If you rush around with nervous energy, your pet will pick up on it.
“If finding ways to reduce your own anxiety is difficult, try distracting your pets by playing soothing music or working on advanced training. This is a great time to perfect that trick you’ve been thinking about teaching your dog! If all else fails, just toss their favorite toy around.
“Did you know you can teach your cat tricks? My own cat knows how to sit, lay down, and roll over on command. But for all animals, especially cats, try to maintain a normal routine as much as possible. Feed them at the same time as you would on a normal day, clean the litterbox every day, and if you have dogs who are normally confined during the day, try to give your cats a little dog-free time or access to a dog-free space if you feel they need it. For additional help in reducing feline anxiety, check out The Ohio State’s Indoor Pet Initiative.
“Pheromone products can be calming for both cats and dogs. For dogs, I recommend Adaptil brand products. For cats, I recommend Feliway. Plug-ins, sprays, and collars are available at pet stores and can be ordered online. If all else fails, contact your vet to see if anti-anxiety medications may be helpful.”
Some people are concerned that their pets might expose them to the Coronavirus. “Currently, there is no evidence that pets can carry or spread COVID-19. Theoretically, it is possible for pets to act as fomites (object surfaces which may transmit disease). This risk may be limited, but more research is needed in this area. In the meantime, if someone else handles your pet’s leash, carrier, or other accessories, you can minimize your risk by washing your hands and disinfecting these items.”
And to those who are considering or have already taken their beloved pet to the shelter because of concern over the Coronavirus, Dr. Waltzer assures you that, “According to the World Health Organization and the CDC, there is NO evidence that pets can become infected with, or spread, COVID-19. Concern about catching or spreading COVID-19 is not a reason to give pets up to a shelter.
“When at all possible, please try to avoid surrendering pets at this time. Many shelters have had to limit or suspend adoptions and public access, and they are requesting your help to ensure that they are able to care for the animals currently in their care. Limiting surrenders to only those that are urgent will allow them to focus on the pets already in the shelters while adoptions are down.”
And the best news of all, “While pets can certainly pick up on human anxiety, they are also a great way to help reduce anxiety! Research shows that dogs can help lower blood pressure, so don’t give up on your canine or feline friend at this time. Try to remain calm around them, and let their presence soothe you as well.”
Do you have a pet story during these trying days of the pandemic? Please share it in the comments section below.
In the meantime, please stay safe and healthy. And as silly as it might sound, stay home. And wash your hands.
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