Last Walk — A Love Story

Posted on February 5th, 2012 by admin

As we come up on Valentine’s Day its time to talk abut love. And what better love than that between rescuer and rescued?

This story is dedicated to all the brave, marvelous people who adopt old dogs.


Last Walk

This story is about love, love that carries through death. Oh, it’s not a story about romantic love. There are plenty of those. This is a story about an unselfish love. This is a story about love that accepts unconditionally and asks for nothing. This is a story about the love between a rescuer and the last dogs she saves.

Margaret was an old woman who loved dogs. She loved big dogs and small dogs, short-haired dogs and long-haired dogs, quiet dogs and not-so-quiet dogs. She loved puppies, too. But what Margaret loved the most were old dogs. You know, the ones who sleep a lot and maybe can’t see so well any more. They’re the ones who hang back when the treats and pets are being given out because they have a little arthritis or aren’t so sure on their legs. They don’t want the other dogs to bump them or even knock them over. They’re the dogs who might have trouble eating hard food but try anyway. You know those dogs.

Read the rest of this entry »

Watch Tip: Plants Dangerous to Dogs and Cats

Posted on May 20th, 2011 by Anna Nirva

Watch Tip LogoWatch Tip for the week of May 22:

Learn about yard and garden plants that are toxic to dogs and cats. Watch for changes in your pet’s health or behavior and call your vet if you suspect a problem. In an emergency, you might call the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) poison help line, 1-800-213-6680 (a fee applies).

Plants Dangerous to Dogs and Cats

By Joy Ward

It’s spring time and beautiful flowers fill our gardens and parks. But while those gorgeous flowers fill our lives with beauty, some plants fill our pets lives’ with danger. Too often we design our yards without checking out how those plants will affect our dogs and cats. That oversight could cause them physical harm and even death.

There are many, many more dangerous plants than I could ever list here. So what should you do?

1)      Check out ANY plant you consider adding to your yard. There is a list of good sources of information at the end of this post.

2)      Watch for any change in your pet’s behavior or health. Talk with your veterinarian if you suspect something in your yard is causing the change.

3)      Keep a veterinary poison control phone number near your phone in case of emergency. Your local poison control may not be aware of plant threats to animals. The ASPCA poison control call center number is 888-426-4435 (there is a $65 charge). The Pet Poison Helpline number is 800-213-6680 (there is a $35 charge).

There are many excellent web sites that can help you check out plants before you bring them into your yard. They can also help you identify the plant-based causes of your pet’s ailments.

Here is a short list of some of the plants that can injure and even kill your four-footed family members.

Aloe Vera – Aloe Vera is great for human burns but not so great for dogs and cats. It causes vomiting, depression, diarrhea, anorexia, tremors, and change in urine color.

Amaryllis and other lilies – Amaryllis and other lilies may add festive touches to our homes during holidays but the effects of ingesting them include vomiting, depression, diarrhea, abdominal pain, hypersalivation, anorexia and tremors.

Apricot, Peach, Plum and Cherry trees – It’s nice to have these fruit trees in our yards but we have to make sure our pets don’t eat the cyanide-laden leaves, stems and seeds. Symptoms of poisoning from these plants include dark red mucous membranes, dilated pupils, difficulty breathing, panting, and shock.

Begonias – There are more varieties of Begonia than I could ever list and all of them are dangerous to dogs and cats. While the tuber is the most toxic part of the plant, every part should be kept away from your pets. Signs of poisoning include oral irritation, intense burning and irritation of mouth, tongue and lips, excessive drooling, vomiting, and difficulty swallowing.

Caladiums and Elephant Ears – Caladiums make excellent additions to shady porches but they can play some nasty tricks on your dogs and cats. If you suspect they may have gotten into your Caladiums or their giant-sized versions known as Elephant Ears look for oral irritation, intense burning and irritation of mouth, tongue and lips, excessive drooling, vomiting, and difficulty swallowing.

Carnations – Also known as Dianthus and Sweet Williams, Carnations produce showy flowers and sick pets. Symptoms of carnation poisoning include mild dermatitis and mild gastrointestinal distress.

Chamomile – Chamomile is a common addition to many herb gardens but if you have cats and dogs you will need to make sure they don’t spend time around it. If your pet shows any contact dermatitis, vomiting, diarrhea, anorexia, or allergic reactions check your pet for chamomile exposure. Long-term use can lead to bleeding tendencies in your pets.

Chrysanthemum – Who doesn’t have a mum plant in their home or yard? They are marvelous for adding color both inside and outside your home but they also add danger for your pets. If you notice that your dog or cat is stumbling around with poor coordination, vomiting, suffering with diarrhea, hyper-salivation, or dermatitis, you may want to check him or her for Mum poisoning.

Eucalyptus – Koala Bears love Eucalyptus leaves but keep them away from your dogs and cats. Eucalyptus poisoning causes salivation, vomiting, diarrhea, depression, and weakness.

Foxglove – Foxglove is the source of digitalis which is used to treat cardiac arrest. But if your pets ingest it Foxglove can causes cardiac problems such as heart arrhythmia. Other signs that your dog or cat has gotten into the Foxglove include vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, cardiac failure, and death.

Garlic – Many people love garlic for its human health benefits but don’t try to share that garlic with your cats and dogs. Eating garlic has some very bad effects on them including breaking down their red blood cells, vomiting, blood in the urine, weakness, high heart rate, and panting.

Geraniums – Geraniums are often used to organically protect gardens against some insect pests. But make sure your pets stay away from them or they risk suffering from vomiting, anorexia, depression, and dermatitis.

Hibiscus – Also known as Rose of Sharon, Hibiscus can cause vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, and anorexia.

Morning Glory – This ubiquitous weed can cause some very serious risks for your dogs and cats. It causes gastrointestinal upset, agitation, tremors, disorientation, ataxia, and anorexia. Ingesting the seeds may cause hallucination and cause diarrhea.

There are hundreds more plants that can be dangerous to your feline and canine loved ones. Here are some online sources of information on toxic plants:

ASPCA Poison Control Information —

Cyber canine —

Cornell University —

Pet Poison Helpline —

Hi there! I’m Joy Ward and I’m one of your Sunbearblogsquad bloggers! My advisors (also known as the Ward pack) are Weimaraners Sol and Star and Beagle Beatrice.And we are pleased to be here! I’m going to share a bit about us and I am sooo looking forward to hearing from you.

You might know us from Dogster’s For Love of Dog Blog. I was the founding editor and am still listed as Editor Emeritus. We spent a little over two years writing about dog (and sometimes cat) issues, reviewing books, movies and products and talking about the marvelous Dogsters and Catsters. If you read the For Love of  Dog Blog way back in my day then you know I am passionate about changing human awareness of animal needs and changing laws to protect animals from abuse such as puppy mills and dog-fighting.

You might also know me as the author of Haint: A Tale of Extraterrestrial Intervention and Love Across Time and Space. We might have met at one of the many conventions I’ve attended over the last four years. Since Haint came out a few years back I’ve been busy on some other products including some short stories (one of which is included in the 2009 compilation Dragons Composed which is a USA Book News Best Books Award Finalist). I’m still working on the Haint sequel but it keeps getting pushed to the back of the writing bus. Right now I’m working on what I hope will be an amazing book with animal translator Melissa Dixon. No title yet but we’re shooting for a Spring release.

Before Dogster and Haint, you might have read one of my columns or articles I’ve been writing since 1994 or thereabouts. I was a staff and freelance writer with a wide variety of publications covering politics, business, technology, women’s issues, shopping and pretty much anything else you can name except maybe sports.

Sol Ward

That’s a bit about me on the writing side but what about dogs and other animals? I was raised with all kinds of  animals. My family was very animal friendly! We had dogs, horses, chickens, a myna bird, turtles, snakes, hamsters, goats and probably more species I just can’t remember. I spent a lot of my early teen years hanging out with my horse (who would probably have said I was his girl) Red. You haven’t lived till you’ve woken up with a horse knocking on your bedroom window or opening the kitchen door to find him standing on the steps headed inside!

I also spent a good bit of time with our Weimaraners. My mom was a responsible breeder who showed and occassionally bred what I will humbly call a great line of dogs. One of her females was probably one of the most photographed dogs in the world. She left that passion some years ago so don’t write in to tell me how we should all stop breeding dogs. I’ll agree with you to some extent but maybe not as far as you’d like.  So I learned how to birth babies when I was around eleven or so. Some day I might even tell you about waking up to my Mischka delivering her first puppy in my bed while I was asleep. Talk about a wake up call!

Sol and Star are father and daughter. He is one of the loves of my life and she is his only daughter, the last of my mom’s line.

Star Ward

Beatrice invited herself into our lives.  I was on the way to a concert in Iowa City with a dear friend and her daughter. We stopped for lunch in Hannibal, Missouri. When we emerged Beatrice was sitting next to my car. For all the world she looked like she was waiting for us. After some back and forth (you can imagine how my friend felt about putting a strange dog in a car with her eight-year-old daughter) Beatrice jumped in the car and well, you know how this goes. I planned on turning her over to a no-kill shelter or even a responsible rescue but, well, take a look at those eyes and you tell me you could give her up.

Beatrice Ward

We share a home in St. Louis, Missouri, one of the most dog-friendly places in the US. Really. I often wonder if there is some regulation requiring that every other home MUST have a pet, preferably a dog. Sol’s not keen on all our neighbors but he and the other dogs love having lots of squirrel TV to watch.

I’ll be writing about animal issues of course. I’ll also be giving you reviews of books, movies, products and who knows what else. I already have a pile of books and movies to review but if you’ve got something you think other animal lovers would love to watch or read, feel free to let me know about it.  As many of you already know, I am also passionate about sharing creative work that many people might miss because it comes from a small press or producer.  Some of the best and most exciting work is coming from these relatively unknown sources.

That’s pretty much it for now. I look forward to getting to know you and your furfriends.  Bark in and let me know what you want to talk about.

Fostering 101 (Dogs and Cats)

Posted on May 10th, 2015 by Anna Nirva

Definition of “fostering”

Providing a temporary home for a shelter or rescue animal, while they are on their path to permanent adoption, as a volunteer for a shelter or a rescue. Foster-to-adopt situations, also known as trial adoptions, are not addressed here. There is a difference between fostering homeless animals and pet-sitting family pets for family, friends and neighbors. Homeless animals usually don’t know their names nor the people helping them along the rescue road. They don’t know anything about where they are at first. And they are typically grateful for your role in saving their lives and getting them out of the shelter. They know.

Typical foster responsibilities may include:

Provide food and shelter

  • In-home living 24/7 usually required for cats and pocket pets; foster dogs might enjoy some outdoor time such as walks and backyard play time
  • Crate sleeping and feeding often recommended
  • Meals twice daily
  • Fresh water availability at all times
  • Dogs are provided appropriate pottying time outdoors
  • Dogs are always leashed outdoors, unless the yard is securely fenced (no free-roaming allowed)
  • Cats are provided litter boxes, cleaned daily
  • Socializing time with family members and other family pets AFTER the foster dog or cat has had appropriate time to settle in and relax

Provide some additional services (these will vary depending on foster type and shelter/rescue organization)

  • Attend training classes with the foster pet, to help the pet become more adoptable and better socialized
  • Attend adoption marketing events with the foster pet, to help the pet meet potential adopters
  • Drive foster pets to and from vet appointments
  • Answer email inquiries, speak with potential adopters on the phone, meet with potential adopters, all to provide essential information about the temperament and health of the foster pet


Types of foster homes needed

  1. Kitten/cat
  2. Large-medium dog/puppy
  3. Small dog/puppy
  4. Behavioral needs
  5. Medical needs
  6. Seniors
  7. Undersocialized cats
  8. Respite care
  9. Momma & litter of cats
  10. Momma & litter of dogs
  11. Transport overnights
  12. Service dog
  13. Military family dog
  14. Animals that may be awaiting a court disposition

Read the rest of this entry »

Humane Dog House Considerations

Posted on August 27th, 2014 by Anna Nirva

wwtips_a2If you must keep your dog outdoors, construct an excellent dog house and kennel based on considerations of your dog’s breed, age, health status, your climate and environment, and safety and health features. Schedule daily activities so that your dog doesn’t become depressed or frustrated, leading to difficult behaviors. Never chain your dog.


It is now a well-established fact that dogs are social, pack-oriented animals who thrive on human companionship and are happiest while living indoors as part of the family. When you bring a new dog into your family, the dog learns to view your family members and your other pets as his or her pack. Read the rest of this entry »

Traveling by Car or Truck with Pets

Posted on July 11th, 2013 by Anna Nirva

[Reprinted from Trucker’s]

We found this article to be good stuff and we wanted to share it with readers. Thank you Caroline, a middle school student, for sharing this good information with your team! It eventually found it’s way to us via Coonhound Companions!

Traveling by Car or Truck with Pets

Taking the family pet along for the ride is a part of the vacation plans of families across the nation. These trips can be quite memorable and enjoyable—but only if you take the proper safety precautions for your animals. This guide will help you travel safely and comfortably with your favorite pet.


Before You Travel

When you and your family are traveling, planning is essential to make sure you get everything packed and are fully prepared for your journey. Such planning is also a must when it comes to traveling with pets:

Find a Place to Stay With Your Pet

Not every hotel, campground, or other lodging allows pets to stay on the premises, and the last thing you want is to pull into your lodging and find out that your animal is unwelcome. While planning your trip, you should make sure to find pet-friendly accommodations at every stop along the way on your journey. Figure out where you will stop and plan accordingly. Read the rest of this entry »

Watch Tip: Traveling by Car or Truck with Pets

Posted on January 26th, 2013 by Anna Nirva

Watch Tip Logo

By Edward Green,

Taking the family pet along for the ride is a part of the vacation plans of families across the nation. These trips can be quite memorable and enjoyable—but only if you take the proper safety precautions for your animals. This guide will help you travel safely and comfortably with your favorite pet.

 Before You Travel

When you and your family are traveling, planning is essential to make sure you get everything packed and are fully prepared for your journey. Such planning is also a must when it comes to traveling with pets: Read the rest of this entry »

Watch Tip: Keep Pets Safe Around Water

Posted on June 3rd, 2012 by Trish Roman-Aquilino

Watch Tip LogoWarm weather is here, bringing increased activity in and around bodies of water; coupled with the common misconceptions that animals inherently know how to swim and that all dogs enjoy being in the water, this increases risk of tragic accidents.  Please be sure that you are taking the same care and concern with your pets that you would with small children, as the dangers are quite similar, and please kindly educate any family, neighbors, and friends on the proper pet water safety precautions, as outlined here.

Water Safety Tips for Pets

These tips are geared towards canine care, but could be used with those special felines that are offered closely supervised exposure to the outdoors, as we do not encourage allowing cats to roam freely. Read the rest of this entry »

Are you looking for a great present for a new pet parent? Pick up a copy of Perfect Puppy in 7 Days: How to Start Your Puppy Off Right. Dr. Sophia Yin has written a book with lots of excellent advice for first time pet parents as well as those of us who have spent more time with puppies than we can remember.

Yin has done a top notch job of taking us through the pups’ developmental stages and showing the best way to move them through their socialization to become the best possible companions. The directions are very thorough with many helpful pictures.

What I really appreciate about Perfect Puppy in 7 Days is Yin’s attitude towards puppies as individuals. These are not “one-size-fits-all” directions. Instead, Yin explains how dogs develop and learn. This info helps us to tailor the training for the behavior, not the age,

There is something for everyone to learn from Yin’s book. Even the most experienced dog lover can pick up tips but Perfect Puppy in 7 Days should be in every puppy starter kit.

Watch Tip: Finding My Old Companion

Posted on February 5th, 2012 by admin

We have a guest blogger this week, Jeannette P. Ward, PhD. Jeannette is a retired physiological psychologist and animal behavior consultant. She lives with two older Weimaraners.


Well, it’s all good now.  My companion and I are all snuggled up together on the big couch.  It has to be a big couch because he is a really big boy.  This happy story is about how I found my companion.  You may find some of these points helpful.

A few months ago I retired from my job of many years.  For awhile I was busy with farewell parties and lunches out with friends and relatives.  But soon the retirement activities slowed and my little house got very quiet.  Oh, there were still outings from time to time, but in between times, most of the time when I’m home alone, it is very quiet, even sometimes lonely.  So it came to me that I needed a full-time companion, a 24-hour buddy. Read the rest of this entry »