Archive for the ‘Animals’ Category

The Last of the Book Promos

Written by on September 15, 2014 No Comments

At some point a writer has to start writing again which means book marketing must come to an end.  My book Something Furry Underfoot came out as an e-book in May 2013 and a paperback in September 2013 and I’ve done marketing on and off since then.  My second to last marketing event was a short, fun interview on Pamela S. Thibodeux’s awesome site.  The interview was her Saturday Spotlight on September 13.

On September 26 I will end my marketing of Something Furry Underfoot at the Book Club of Grosse Isle.  The Club meets at the Grosse Isle Golf and Country Club.  I was invited to speak by my boss’s mother who is a member.  The bummer is that my boss’s mother fell while visiting my boss last weekend and is undergoing rehab.  And that means that I won’t get to meet the very person that is responsible for setting up my last promotional opportunity for Something Furry Underfoot.  That hardly seems fair.  More on that in my next posting.

The topic of my one-hour talk at the Golf and Country Club is:  Why There Will Always be Something Furry Underfoot in My House.  Surely, you know the answer to that after reading the posting about the Thousand Dollar Kitten.  The black kitten named Preto is now fully recovered from his botfly bite (and the tapeworms that followed afterwards) and an absolute joy to play with.

Preto in the box.

Preto in the box.

So this is my heads up to myself, perhaps, that marketing will be done for my book soon and I will have to choose to either start another book or venture off into a new hobby, like underwater basket weaving.  I’ve not done underwater basket weaving yet and I hear there’s a venue for that somewhere tropically warm.  In the meantime, watch for more photos and occasional blog postings about nature, pets and life.  And watch for fun stuff on my FB sites, too.

The Thousand Dollar Kitten

Written by on July 27, 2014 No Comments

First, thank you all for being part of International Author’s Day on July 18 and entering to win the free copy of Something Furry Underfoot.  Congratulations go out to Bonnie H. for being the winner of the free, autographed paperback version.  Everyone else that entered can still nab an e-version of my book for 99 cents through the end of July.

And now for the fun story about the latest critter Mark brought home.  Last Thursday, while putting his canoe in the water at a boat launch, Mark saw this tiny black kitten.  Mark had a friend with him and they left the kitten to wander the shore of the lake.  Hours later, the men returned to the boat launch and Mark called for the kitten in vain.  Part way down the road to his friend’s cottage, the men realized that a canoe strap was missing, so they returned to the boat launch and Mark called for the kitten again in vain.  An hour later, after having lunch at his friend’s house, Mark returned to the boat launch area, called for the kitten one more time and out came the kitten from the thick underbrush.

Mark named the kitten Preto which is Portugese for black and also the name of our Amazon fishing guide.  The kitten was mild mannered, gentle and sweet.  The puppies loved him.  I couldn’t get over how black he is.

Preto on Mark's lap.  Mark is wearing a black t-shirt with lightning on it.

Preto on Mark’s lap. Mark is wearing a black t-shirt with lightning on it.

Mark loved the fact that Preto would sit on his lap.  Snickers and Winston loved the fact that the kitty would play.  It took Purrkins 2 days to warm up to Preto.

Preto in box with Snickers, Winston and Purrkins watching.

Preto in box with Snickers, Winston and Purrkins watching.

I brought my mom over to see Preto on Sunday.  She thought he was pretty nifty, too.

Preto with my mom, yesterday.

Preto with my mom, yesterday.

On Sunday, Preto woke up but didn’t want to eat.  He refused milk.  He refused water.  And when I picked him up, he felt really warm.  We drove him to the MSU Small Animal Clinic where the vet suggested blood tests to eliminate the potential for a fatal virus.  And because what Preto had might be fatal, he was taken to an isolated area in the Clinic.  The vet called later to say the blood tests showed nothing and perhaps we should do an x-ray (for like $150) and an ultrasound (around $330).  We countered, suggesting an antibiotic and call us in the morning.

We left Preto overnight.  The next morning, Mark returned Monday and paid the $700 bill at the MSU Vet Clinic (AAAHHHHHH!).  Yes, for emergency services, an IV, antibiotic, fluids, isolation, blood tests.  Gulp. Mark took Preto to the Haslett Animal Hospital where we knew we’d pay less than an arm and a leg per day.  There, Preto was given a new IV, different antibiotic, but his temperature remained the same.  Monday turned into Tuesday with the same results. Tuesday night, I asked Mark how much more he was going to put into this kitten.  Mark said, “I don’t know.  But when I drove him home, I told him I’d take care of him.”

But of course.

This morning, Dr. Melissa Wyatt shaved various sections on Preto looking for a reason for his illness.  Dr. Wyatt shaved Preto here and there, looking closer, looking for reasons for his illness.  And then she saw it, a small hole in his neck where he’d been bitten by a botfly.  The life cycle of a botfly in a kitten or cat is the stuff of a horror movie, so I’ll spare you those lovely details.  I will share that it’s only the sensitive kittens/cats that develop a fever.  It’s just our luck that Mark brought home a sensitive kitten.

Preto sporting two shaved legs where the IVs were and a shaved neck.

Preto sporting two shaved legs where the IVs were and a shaved neck…where the botfly was.

Thankfully, Dr. Wyatt removed the botfly today and–get this–saved it in a bottle for her vet students to see (which is something Mark would do!).  In fact, Dr. Wyatt is my hero, not only for solving this mystery, but because she removed a sewing needle from Purrkins’ mouth once, removed all of Little Dipper’s teeth over the course of three surgeries, and kept her doors open just for me when I brought Dusty in after he’d been attacked by a bulldog.

At home this afternoon, Preto took to the comfort of Mark’s lap.

Snickers saying hi to Preto. Note Preto's shaved tummy.

Snickers saying hi to Preto. Note Preto’s shaved tummy.

Soon, Preto began eating the dogs’ food (in spite of his own food being nearby).

Preto eating the dog's food with the dogs.

Preto eating the dog’s food with the dogs.

After he ate, Preto curled up in the sun for a nap.

Preto sleeping in the sun.

Preto sleeping in the sun.

Winston came by to make sure he was okay.

Winston checking out the sleepy Preto.

Winston checking out the sleepy Preto.

Snickers goes out of his way to be with Preto.

Apreto with snickers on chair

My book Something Furry Underfoot is all about taking care of and spoiling a whole bunch of different animals Mark kept bringing home.  Preto, who has already wormed–or shall I say botflied–his way into our hearts, is just the latest example of why there will always be something furry underfoot in my house.  It just happens.  And it’s always a good thing.

P.S.  Don’t forget–you only have until the end of July to enter the Petspage.com giveaway for lots of great pet-related prizes, including a free copy of my book.

 

 

 

 

 

Happy International Author’s Day! And Enter to Win Great Pet Prizes!

Written by on July 14, 2014 6 Comments

A kindly woman by the name of Debdatta Dasgupta Sahay, who admits to being a book addict from India (and also a site host for my first  book blog tour a few years ago), decided that there should be an International Author’s Day to celebrate authors.  On her web site, she says that she was shocked to learn there wasn’t a day to celebrate authors and that she wanted “to show her appreciation for the hours of hard work that  authors put into their  books.”  She asked authors to join her in the celebration on July 18.  And she suggested we post something on or around July 14.  So here `tis!

As part of celebrating International Author’s Day…. the badge for which is here…

International Authors Day

…I am giving away a free, autographed copy of the paperback version of Something Furry Underfoot, my humorous touching memoir about a whole bunch of pets.  All you have to do to enter to win a free copy of Something Furry Underfoot–which, by the way, is averaging 4.7 stars out of 5 on Amazon.com– is comment on this blog posting.  That’s all there is to it. One winner will be selected on July 18.

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But wait, there’s more!

Since my book is about pets, its also part of the Petspage.com summer giveaway.  And in honor of Petpage.com’s month-long giveaway, you can enter to win one of several signed paperback of Something Furry Underfoot!  Just go to Petspage.com and enter to win!  There are a LOT of other pet-related products being given away, too, so be sure to check it out.  You have between now and July 31 to enter the Petspage.com giveaway.  Several winners of my book will be sent copies in mid-August.

So happy International Author’s Day to all authors out there!  And be sure to celebrate by entering one or both of these great contests.

P.S. Debdatta is sponsoring this blog hop to help get the word out about International Author’s Day.  She blogs at (http://www.b00kr3vi3ws.in/)

Ten Things You Should Know Before You Get a Ferret

Written by on May 02, 2014 1 Comment

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In Chapter 3 of my humorous, touching memoir, Something Furry Underfoot, I tell how our first ferret was soon joined by a second, then a third, until we had four crazy, inquisitive ferrets in our house.  As with the other pets that came into my house, I knew nothing about ferrets.  Here are a few things I learned.

  • Ferrets are still illegal in some states, and some local municipalities require permits, so check your local laws and regs before you consider getting a ferret.

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  • At pet stores near me, I can buy a ferret for somewhere around $150. A good cage, water bottle, food dishes, hammocks, toys, and litter can cost anywhere from $200-$300. Vet visits for basic shots and other preventatives, and continuing to provide good food, treats and bedding can cost several hundred dollars a year.  I found ferrets to be more expensive that our cat, Purrkins, and much more expensive than our hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs and mice.
  • A good cage is one that will keep a ferret safe during the approximately 18 hours a day they are usually in cages. A good cage will have very little spacing between shelves OR, if there is a lot of spacing, you’ll need to make the potential fall less than 4 inches with hammocks and old sweatshirts. As I wrote in Chapter 3 of Something Furry Underfoot, our sweet little ferret named Chunky cost $1,200 in vet bills because Chunky fell in his cage and the vets back in the late 1990s weren’t able to immediately diagnosis his broken back.  With a lot of help on our part, Chunky recovered, but we hope his story helps people realize the importance of reducing the distance a ferret can fall in a cage.
Big Wuzzy and Rocky snuggled up in their hammock.

Big Wuzzy and Rocky snuggled up in their hammock.

  • Ferrets mostly take to litter boxes, however, they’re not always perfect and they sometimes make messes on the floor. If you can’t deal with an occasional mess, a ferret may not be right for you.
  • Ferrets will explore every inch of every room you give them access to.  They can open and disappear in bathroom cupboards, they might dig up house plants, they can disappear in the overhangs of kitchen cupboards. It is important to ferret-proof your house, putting safety latches on all cupboards they can’t get access to and sealing any cupboard overhangs.
Big Wuzzy in a kitchen cupboard.

Big Wuzzy in a kitchen cupboard.

  • Ferrets need to be kept in safe places or supervised at all times if allowed to explore somewhere new. Our ferret, Rocky, got into the underside of our La-Z Boy chair, and since he could get crushed if someone sat down, we had to watch and wait until he came out, then seal up the underside of the chair with duct tape.  Ferrets were the most time-intensive pets we owned.  And we’ve owned a lot of pets!
  • Ferrets can interact with other pets, but keep an eye on any pet bigger than your ferret.  We had one dog that was great with the ferrets, another dog that tolerated them, and one cat that we had to watch at all times because he sometimes got rough with the ferrets.
Dusty, the Angel Pup, with Chip.

Dusty, the Angel Pup, with Chip.

  • In my book Something Furry Underfoot, Tip #12 is:  Ferrets are curious little thieves that will claim everything as their own. Keep erasers, lipsticks, lip balms, balloons and other similar items out of ferret reach. These non-edible items can cause blockages, which require an emergency trip to the vet.
  • Ferrets don’t make much noise, so it is easy to step on them. Owners need to get used to walking with an eye to the floor.  That’s true even if you have a bunch of ferrets.
Our ferrets loved fresh water, so we put small bowls of fresh water in the tub for them.

Our ferrets loved fresh water, so we put small bowls of fresh water in the tub for them.

  • A ferret can live 6-10 years.  During the first few years ferrets are vivacious, explore everything, and can get into trouble.  But for the last six to 12 months of their life, most of my ferrets needed help getting around.  Chip liked to be pulled around in a shoebox.

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The American Ferret Association web site contains great advice about what to feed—and what NOT to feed—your ferret. The site also contains important information about caring for your ferret, including the fact that because ferrets have high metabolism, it is necessary to get them to a vet as soon as there is a change in your ferret’s energy or behavior.

Because ferrets are quick, curious, fragile, and can get in and out of things quickly, they aren’t right for everyone.  But if one IS right for you, you’ll be taking in a very energetic, curious pet that will want to play with you and with other ferret pals.  If you have a real happy ferret, you’ll get to see a “weasel war dance” which is when they sort of bounce on their little feet and twist around.

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Read more about life with ferrets in Chapter 3 of Something Furry Underfoot, available at Amazon.com and Smashwords.com.  Or go to Amylpeterson.com and click on My Books.  Also, check out my children’s rhyming photo e-book Goodnight, Big Wuzzy about one of our ferret pals.

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Spoiling a Cat After the Arrival of Two Puppies

Written by on February 27, 2014 1 Comment

Two bits of good news! First, I’ve created a new networking opportunity with Critter Joe’s, a nifty site devoted to pets.  Critter Joe’s posted information about my book  Something Furry Underfoot on his site under Helpful Information!  So check it out and all the other great things Critter Joe’s has to offer.

Secondly,  I’ve hooked up with www.ebooksoda.com to promote my book on their site, and in so doing, have lowered the e-book version of Something Fury Underfoot to $1.99!

Now for the week’s post.  Purrkins appeared under our porch ten years ago, and he grew up with two dogs–Little Dipper and Dusty.  Last August, after both of our beloved pups had gone off to heaven, we got two new puppies with boundless energy.  Here’s what Purrkins looked like when he first saw the puppies.

Purrkins checking out the new guys.

Purrkins checking out the new guys.

As soon as the new pups came into the house, Purrkins headed for the closest hide-out he could find.  Lucky for Purrkins, it took the dogs several days to discover this hiding spot.

Purrkins hiding in his box.

Purrkins hiding in his box.

Another favorite hiding spot is the linen closet, but don’t tell Mark.

Purrkins in the closet.

Purrkins in the closet.

Purrkins also found respite in a cat platform he’d ignored for years.

The epitome of interactions between Purrkins and the two puppies.

The epitome of interactions between Purrkins and the two puppies.

Purrkins also got his own feeding station, one raised up high enough that the pups could not bother him while he ate.  

Even with all these get-away places, over the course of several months, Purrkins began to lose weight.  And when I finally stopped and thought about it, Winston and Snickers had gotten all the attention since last August.  So I began trying to spoil Purrkins.  I started by buying him different kinds of canned cat food to make him feel special.

Purrkins experimenting with new, better food.

Purrkins experimenting with new, better food.

Some canned food was better than other.  In fact, some he wouldn’t eat at all.

Various cans of food purchased for Purrkins' dining pleasure.

Various cans of food purchased for Purrkins’ dining pleasure.

We also spent more time together getting fresh water from the bathroom faucet, another of his favorites.

Purrkins at the sink getting fresh water.

And I made time at night to play with Purrkins again, after the dogs were tucked away in the back bedroom area.

Play time with a dog leash dragged under a throw rug.

Play time with a dog leash dragged under a throw rug.

What’s really nifty is that Purrkins started putting weight back on again.  And over time, he not only was spotted in the vicinity of the puppies…

Purrkins in box; dogs on their bed nearby.

Purrkins in box; dogs on their bed nearby.

…he actually let Winston curl up with him for a nap!

Winston snuggled up with Purrkins.

Winston snuggled up with Purrkins.

So I think all life is better for Purrkins, at least when the puppies are calm, if not sleeping.  But just to be sure, I got him a new play tunnel the other day.

Purrkins with his new play tunnel.

Purrkins with his new play tunnel.

See, I knew that it’d take a while for Purrkins to get used to our energetic puppies, but I felt bad that I was a bit slow to realize the real impact on him.  He’s nearly back to his usual weight again.  And every night, when the puppies disappear to the back bedroom area for bed, Purrkins knows it’s our time to play.

What Pups!

Written by on February 09, 2014 No Comments

Once upon a time, we had a dog named Dusty, the Angel Pup, who, with his pal, Little Dipper, filled our hearts and our days with happiness.  In August, 2012, Little Dipper passed away and in August 2013, Dusty went off to heaven to join her.  The next day my beloved, retired husband, Mark, spent a full day in the house without a pup.  And that was all he could take.  He was on the Internet looking for a pup the same mix as Dusty and Little Dipper–Lhasa Apso mixed with Bichon Frise.  Soon Mark found this black and white pup.

The face that won Mark over.

The face that won Mark over.

We drove from Michigan to Pennsylvania to look at the pups, and when he froze–absolutely terrified–we asked if he had a sibling.  Out came his brother who made everything okay.  We brought both pups home, get the black and white pup on August 24 and had a contest to name the pups , the winners of which received a free, autographed copy of my humorous, touching memoir, Something Furry Underfoot.  The winning names were Winston and Snickers.

Amy with Winston.

Amy with Winston.

Amy with Snickers.

Amy with Snickers.

The pups have been with us about five months and I can honestly say getting both of them was the best thing we’ve ever done.  From their perspective, having a sibling nearby probably made it easier to leave their mom and other siblings and travel cross-country with two strange people.  Getting used to the noises of the average suburban home–like the dishwasher, the squeak of the front door, and cars driving by the house–was probably easier with a brother around, as was going to the vet and the groomer.

From my perspective, coming home from work and being greeted by two happy pups is awesome.   Snickers likes to get picked up and gives me an old-fashioned greeting.

Snickers' greeting.

Snickers’ greeting.

Winston prefers to give what we call a “nose nib,” which is a super gentle nibble on the nose.

Winston giving me a nose nib.

Winston giving me a nose nib.

The puppies also remind me to have fun, which has been really import an during this very long winter.

Snickers and Winston running on the snow.

Snickers and Winston running on the snow.  (Winston has a leaf).

And for Mark, the pups are the best companions a retired guy could have.

Mark with the pups.

Mark with the pups.

So thanks for coming home with us pups and making our lives full up again.

For more tips and factoids about dogs and other pets, check out Something Furry Underfoot, my humorous, touching memoir about raising frogs, iguanas, hedgehogs, ferrets, hamsters, gerbils, mice, guinea pigs, rabbits, a stray cat, mynah birds and tropical fish.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Search of an Indestructible Dog Toy

Written by on February 02, 2014 2 Comments

It turns out our nine-month-old puppies, Winston and Snickers are big-time chewers.  And after the pups chewed a door frame, we decided we should try to find an indestructible dog toy before our house started falling down.

Winston by the chewed door frame.

Winston by the chewed door frame.

Here are some potentially indestructible dog toys.

A selection of dog toys.

A selection of dog toys.

So, let’s start with the  one at the top left, the chicken with the rope on it.  In action, that toy looks like this.

Winston and Snickers with chicken tug toy

This particular toy was a leftover from the “Dusty and Little Dipper Days,” being the days we had our two previous lhasa-bichon mixes (which, by the way, did not chew at all in comparison to Winston and Snickers).   This toy is probably 10 years old.  Its new projected life span is about two days, because after the dogs retrieve the toy, they play tug-o-war.  The good thing about this toy is that while the rope part of the chicken is a few stitches from coming off, the body of the chicken is actually doing quite well.

Next, we explore the multi-celled, super squeaky uh, dinosaur-looking thingy?  Mark had great hopes for this toy, but within hours of its arrival, Winston chewed the head off.  I pondered sewing the head back on, but instead, I repaired  the opening in the body and threw the head away.  The body lasted another day or so before the plastic insides start coming out and I back to was sewing again.

Love is sewing a dog toy.

Love is sewing a dog toy.

Next, we consider what Mark was hoping would be a super long-lasting dog toy.  It’s called the Tubba Wubba, made by KONG.

kong toy

This toy lasted exactly 20 minutes before the dogs tugged off four of the strands from one end.

Of the other toys, I can only say that none were able to withstand the maws of my puppies for long.  An old sock lasted just as long as a twisted piece of rope we paid $8 for at the store.  It turns out the toy that has lasted the longest is the one that has the most prongs on it. It’s a jack-shaped plush.

Winston and Snickers with the best toy.

Winston and Snickers with the best toy, a jack-shaped toy.

Now, for those of you thinking, “They’re plush toys, they’re not going to be indestructible,” I say, “How wise you are!”  See, we had some old toys of Dusty’s to offer our new pups, and after we gave our new pups those, we felt bad about giving them only old ones, so had to try that dinosaur-like thingy, and then Mark saw the KONG pull toy, and so it went.  The fact is, we now take stuffed toys away from the puppies when they are done playing and simply want something to chew–we then give them a dog bone.

Winston and Snickers have also proven that not even dog bones are indestructible.  We bought a Healthy Edibles bone made by Nylabone, busted it in half and found nary a trace of it  when we returned home from dinner an hour later.  And while rawhides do last a while in comparison, we limit the time pups chew on rawhides to reduce the potential for small pieces to cause blockages in their wee tummies.

Snickers with rawhide2

The bones that last the longest in our house are Nylabone DuraChews and the Busy Buddy Bouncy Dog Toy. Even they are not indestructible, and we have to watch to make sure the pups don’t eat any large pieces.

Winston and Snickers with bones.

Winston and Snickers with bones. Winston has a Nylabone DuraChew Double Bone Bacon Flavored Dog Toy, and Snickers has the Busy Buddy Bouncy Dog Toy.

Now, there is one toy missing in our discussion, and that’s the KONG classic dog toy.  We’ve had it for months and stuff it with treats when we leave the house for an hour or so.  There’s not even a knick out of it, making it truly indestructible.  But I struggle with calling this a “toy” because I watched the pups a few times and it seems when the treat is gone, the pups stop playing with the KONG classic dog toy.  So it’s really–at least in our house–more of a temporary treat holder, than a toy.

Indeed, it’s hard to keep one’s house from being chewed by puppies.  But we’re feeling pup to the task.  I mean up to the task, of course.

Snickers with the KONG basic toy, while Winston waits for his turn.

Snickers (right) with the KONG toy while Winston waits his turn.

For more stories about pets, check out my book, Something Furry Underfoot.  A p-awesome review of my book was posted Feb. 1 on GoneBookserk.    Also, the Pen and Muse posted an interview of me on Feb. 2.  AND, Megan Cyrulreski posted another fun interview of me Feb. 3.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy National Squirrel Appreciation Day 2014!

Written by on January 20, 2014 2 Comments

Thanks to my squirrel-loving friend, Chris Johnson–who recently shared two very cute photos of baby fox squirrels with me–I was reminded that January 21 is National Squirrel Appreciation Day!  Now, there are people who like squirrels and there are people whose spouses arm them with Christmas gifts in anticipation of the year’s event:  for example, a soft blanket, a t-shirt and a welcome mat.

Christmas presents from Mark coming in handy!

Christmas presents from Mark coming in handy!

Hence qualified to write about squirrels, I must share that over the course of the last year, we experienced some very interesting things in the world of squirrels.  We saw a mother fox squirrel nesting in a nest box in our front yard, but we didn’t see her babies until one day, late spring, when she guided them across our roof and onto the fence on the left side of our deck.  There, she tried to entice them onto the deck, which is usually flush with sunflower seeds.  As I took photos of the two babies with their mom, though, I realized that one of the baby squirrel’s tail was injured, as in chopped off.  We named the squirrel Stumpy.

Stump with his brother, shortly after his injury.

Stumpy with his brother, shortly after his injury.

While the mom jumped down onto the deck to show the two babies how to stuff one’s face with sunflower seeds, the two babies would not budge.  When one of them made a squeaky type noise, the mom ran back up the fence, nudged the one baby, then seemly wrapped her arms around Stumpy.  We felt we’d witnessed a very tender moment in the world of squirrels.

Stumpy being comforted by his mom.

Stumpy being comforted by his mom.

Moments later, she guided the babies off the fence, back across the roof, to their nest box in the front yard.  We didn’t see the family again for about two weeks.  When we did, it seemed Stumpy’s tail was healing over!  Mid-summer I took this shot of Stumpy.

Stumpy showing us his tail had healed over.

Stumpy showing us his tail had healed over.

In the fall, on another box in our front yard, we saw another touching moment between mother and baby squirrel.

Mom with baby in the front yard.

Mom with baby in the front yard.

Our yard is also home for a gray squirrel, which is sharing a box with two black squirrels.  She appeared as a young squirrel and is now rather, well, matronly.

Gray squirrel

We also are visited by her black squirrel friends.

Black squirrel dug his way down into the snow to get to the seeds.

Black squirrel dug his way down into the snow to get to the seeds.

I captured this photo after we shoveled the deck off for our pals, during a light snow.

Black squirrel in the white snow.

Black squirrel in the white snow.

And this fella showed me something I’d never seen before.  He was eating the snow, but it looks from the photo as if he was preparing for a snowball fight.

Black squirrel with snow.

Black squirrel with snow.

Our yard is also visited by squirrels that seem to be a mix of colors.

Black squirrel with red tail.

Black squirrel with red tail.

Today we saw six baby black squirrels emerge from a box in our backyard, along with their mom.  Soon, they were racing up and down our cottonwood and creating disharmony for the nearby, resident fox squirrel.  Below is a photo of six of the family members.

Five baby black squirrels on our cottonwood tree.

Five baby black squirrels on our cottonwood tree.

So happy National Squirrel Appreciation Day, all you fellow squirrel lovers!  Oh, and remember, this day was chosen because food sources for squirrel are at their lowest.  Don’t forget to put out some sunflower seeds or corn for your fuzzy pals.

 

 

 

 

New Year’s Resolution: 10 Things to Remember Before You Bring Home a New Pet

Written by on December 31, 2013 No Comments

In 2014, countless numbers of pets will get new homes.  Some pets will come from pet stores, some saved from puppy mills, some rescued from shelters.  Many pets are gotten on a whim;  other pets are brought home by people with a particular goal in mind, yet things don’t always work out according to their expectations.  Neither situation is good for the pet.  This blog posting is to help people make good decisions before they bring a pet home.

1.  Any existing pets.  Some pets are tolerant of other pets; others not so much.  If your existing pet does not adjust easily to new pets, then you shouldn’t consider bringing any more into your house.  Remember, your first commitment is to the pet(s) you already have.

2.  The lifespan of the critter you’re thinking about.  If you are considering a guinea pig, you’ll learn online that guinea pigs live on average 5-8 years.  But what happens if instead your guinea pig–like ours–lives to be 12 years old?  Will you be there for the guinea pig if it lives longer than you originally thought?  My recommendation:  take the “average lifespan” of the pet from online information and add several years, just in case.  Then look into the future and see where you might be down the road.  Can you commit to that pet for its entire life?

When we took in Purrkins as a stray kitten, we knew we were committed to what might be a 20-year lifespan.

When we took in Purrkins as a stray kitten, we knew we were committed to what might be a 20-year lifespan.

3.  Your pocket book.  When we got our two puppies, Winston and Snickers, we got them for a “deal” because they were four months old and because one puppy had a scratch on his eye.  But, while we “only” spent $450 on the two puppies, the vet bill for their exams, shots, and heart-worm and flea prevention cost over $450. When Winston had an allergic reaction to his rabies shot, an emergency trip to a clinic cost us another $125.  A couple of months later, both pups needed grooming; that cost another $90.  So we spent over $1,000 not counting food, beds or any of dozens of chew bones.  In Something Furry Underfoot you’ll read how we rescued a rabbit we had to get neutered to address some behavior issues; we also paid about $500 to fix several very bad teeth.  My recommendation:  before you bring a pet home, have $1,000 saved up, and build that account back up as soon as you can after your initial purchase.
Snickers, our "deal of a dog" that will likely need eye surgery in the future.

Snickers, our “deal of a dog” that will likely need eye surgery in the future.

4.  Whether the pet is for an adult or a child.  Keep in mind that buying a pet for a child is often actually buying a pet for an adult to supervise, if not, assume care for.  My stepdaughter did well caring for the guinea pigs every other weekend she visited, but between visits, and when she went to college, I was the primary caretaker.  Every parent should be prepared to stand in for their children.

5.  Your lifestyle.  Do you have time in your life to give a pet the attention it deserves?  Or, do you travel so much or have such a tight schedule that you’ll seldom be home for your new pal?  Do you work 12-hour days and hope that if you get a puppy it can “hold it” while you’re at work?  Finally, do you need a neat, finished, perfect look to your house?  Answers to each of these questions will help you figure out if the pet you’re considering is the right one for you.  Here are some pet-specific things to consider based on experiences I shared in my memoir Something Furry Underfoot:

  • If you get a ferret, you’ll need to ferret-proof your house so your fuzzy can’t get harmed.  Ferret-proofing our house resulted in adding plastic covers (secured with duct tape) to each of our potted plants, rubber bands on our kitchen cupboards, and duct tape on the underside of our La-Z-Boy recliner (because a ferret in a recliner can be lethal to ferrets if someone sits on the chair!)
  • Rabbits are cute and fuzzy, but our rescue rabbit clawed on a bedroom wall and door frame.
  • Our two iguanas were very messy and needed their cage cleaned at least weekly.
  • Our male hedgehog went missing for three nights before we finally found him…he emerged from the kitchen cupboard.  Finding him required three night sitting in the dark, waiting.  (Read more in Chapter 4 of Something Furry Underfoot!)
  • Our new puppies damaged one baseball hat, one of their own beds, one contour rug, and they chewed a hole in the doorway to our bedroom.  We think that adds personality to our home.  Would you?
Winston posing by the damaged door frame.

Winston posing by the damaged door frame.

 6.  What you need.  If what you’re looking for in a pet is a companion, you probably shouldn’t consider a hamster, because most hamsters are solitary creatures that are perfectly happy alone, albeit with occasional run in an exercise ball.  If what you’re looking for is something to care for, there are plenty of shelter pets that need your TLC.  If what you’re looking for is an interactive pet, I can tell you that many cats are stand-off-ish and some are more lively at night than during the day.  So, before you bring a pet home, think about why you’re getting a pet, then do research to figure out what pet best meets your needs.

Smokey Joe, the mouse we rescued in our barbecue, has a home with us forever.

Smokey Joe, the battered mouse we rescued in our barbecue he deserved better than to be battered any more. (Note the very short tail, the torn ear).

7.  Your abilities in relation to the pet.  Ferrets are like toddlers stuck in the “terrible twos–they need to be watched closely while romping around.  Ferrets can live 5-9 years.  So let’s say you’re 16 and planning to go to college.  Or let’s say you’re physically unable to get around quickly to grab a ferret when it opens a cupboard.  Either situation makes for a bad deal for a ferret–the college kid may subject the ferret to irresponsible college kids who, albeit accidentally, are likely to cause the demise of the ferret; a physically challenged person may not be able to prevent the ferret from getting into trouble.  My opinion is that college students have no business getting pets; physically challenged people should consider pets other than ferrets.  So, think about your abilities in relation to the pet.
Smiggles, one very energetic ferret.

Smiggles, one very energetic ferret.

8.  What you can adapt to. Keep in mind that the pet you bring home may or may not be the pet you were hoping for.  We had a ferret named Coco that loved to bite, and loved to bite me in particular.  We didn’t get rid of Coco; instead, we learned to deal with her bite-i-ness by wearing heavy sweatshirts and moving quickly to stay out of her way.   Before you bring a pet home, please realize it’s a commitment no matter what that pet turns out to be like.
Hampy we got that nearly escaped from his box before we got home.

A hampster that nearly escaped from his box before we got home.

9. Your Plan B.  My stepson works at the Great Lakes Rabbit Sanctuary and said somebody dropped off two rabbits because the two rabbits didn’t get along.  A Plan B–a plan to deal with the likelihood that their two rabbits wouldn’t along–should have been formulated before the owner got those two rabbits.  My friend, Brenda, came up with a Plan B when it turned out her two rescue rabbits didn’t get along:   one rabbit gets the run of the upstairs; the other the run of the downstairs.  Have your Plan B–your “What if?” game plan–formulated before you commit to a pet.
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9b.  Your Really Final Plan B.  Fact is, none of us make it out of this life alive, so it’s important to include in your “after-life” discussions with family and friends what you want to happen to your pets.  My friends all know that I own nothing I value more than my pets, so I know they will find good homes for all my pets should I not outlive them.  Be sure to have that conversation.
10.  Your commitment.  The common theme in this blog posting is that before you bring a pet home, you need to ask yourself whether you can commit to making the best home possible for that pet?  Will you be with it in sickness and in health, in good times and bad?  Will you always think of it before you make any life-altering decisions? I know of a woman who allegedly loved her pet parrot but fell in love with a guy and plans to move to an apartment out of state that does not allow pets.  Taking home a pet is commitment no matter what the future brings. 
Me and my two puppies, one of whom will likely need eye surgery in the future

Happy new year from from me and my two puppies, Snickers and Winston.

Book Review Posted in the Lansing State Journal; Book Review on Author Alliance; Author Interview Christmas Day and January 2, 2014

Written by on December 18, 2013 No Comments

It’s simple, it’s sweet and it’s wonderful to get such a nice review and local coverage about my book.  Check out this article by Ray Walsh, Lansing State Journalwriter and owner of East Lansing’s famous book store, Curious Book Shop.

http://www.lansingstatejournal.com/article/20131217/THINGSTODO07/312170055/Pet-lovers-will-love-these-offering

Also, hot off the press, Shemeka Mitchell of the Author Alliance posted a 5-star review of my book on the Author Alliance web site! http://www.authoralliance.net/author-alliances-s-mitchell-reviews-something-furry-underfoot-by-amy-l-peterson/

Then, check out Sara’s Rose Salih’s interview on  her new web site. http://sararosesalih.com/interview-with-amy-l-peterson

And, just posted on January 2, 2014, an author interview on Author Alliance:  http://www.authoralliance.net/author-alliance-interviews-something-furry-underfoot-author-amy-peterson.

Who did it?

We’re very excited about all this!

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