Archive for the ‘Pets’ Category

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.
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.

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!

Then, check out Sara’s Rose Salih’s interview on  her new web site.

And, just posted on January 2, 2014, an author interview on Author Alliance:

Who did it?

We’re very excited about all this!

Loving Snow as Much as Pups

Written by on December 15, 2013 No Comments

Until this weekend, our two pups, Winston and Snickers, were just as happy playing inside the house as outside.

Winston and Snickers playing inside the house.

Winston and Snickers playing inside the house.

But with six inches of snow on the ground, the puppies preferred to be outside.  They ran around the front yard, then we took them to the back yard.

Pups in the snow.

Pups in the snow.


Snickers’ loved it.

Snickers in the snow.

Snickers in the snow.

Afterwards, inside the house, the pups  became rather pitiful looking as the little wads of snow slowly melted.

Winston, imitating a homeless dog.

Winston, imitating a homeless dog.

But after the pups were dried off and they had a wee nap, they were back outside to romp around in the snow again.

DSC_4045 take 2_edited-1


This afternoon I was wondering:  if I didn’t have to shovel the driveway to get my car out, shovel the deck so the birds and squirrels can find the sunflower seeds easier, and shovel a circle in the backyard so that the ducks can find the corn we put out for them, would I see the snow as merely something fun to play in?  Like a pup or kid?  So, I put on my boots and joined the pups outside, and as I ran around in circles chased by smiling fur, I felt a renewed love for the white, fluffy stuff that is after all, a part of a Michigan winter.   So thanks, pups, for reminding me how much fun the snow can be.  Next time:  snow angels!


Three Ways to Win a Free Copy of Something Furry Underfoot

Written by on December 11, 2013 No Comments

Great news!  The paperback version of Something Furry Underfoot fits perfectly in most holiday stockings!  Not to mention, at $8.55 on Amazon, it’s quite a stocking stuffer steal.

But in case you can’t part with $8.55 you have three–yes that’s 3–opportunities to enter into sweepstakes for a free copy of my book:

Lisa Taron, a.k.a. The Pet Blog Lady, recently posted my guest post and some of my cute pet photos and is offering a give-away.  Go here:  and enter a comment at the bottom of the posting. Lisa’s contest ends December 14.  It’s for folks in the US and Canada.

Secondly, my other new friend Ella Johnson posted an author spotlight on lots of her social media sites including her blog.  If you go to here:   all you have to do is enter a comment at the end of the spotlight and you’ll be entered to win!  Ella’s contest ends December 20.

On Saturday, December 14, all you have to do is listen to the radio, specifically, Talkin’ Pets with Jon Patch, as he interviews me starting at 505 p.m. EST.  As part of this show, he will give away 3 copies of my book, which I will sign and send to the winners.  The call-in number for this is: at:

So get going and get entering to win a free copy.  And if that doesn’t work for ya, just order a copy from!

Flip in an exercise ball.

Flip in an exercise ball.

Guest Post on The Pet Blog Lady and Radio Interviews

Written by on December 06, 2013 1 Comment

Fun things have been happening with my book, Something Furry Underfoot!  Today, The Pet Blog Lady posted my guest post on her web site–she has 25K followers!  My post is a fun, bubbly write-up that includes cute photos of some of the pets in my book.  So check out this nifty guest post:

Flip in an exercise ball.

Flip in an exercise ball.

Also, in the last month, I was interviewed on not one, but two radio stations!  What’s great about these interviews is that my every word is recorded so you can listen to me over and over again!   Or just once?  My first radio interview was on October 26 with Adrienna Turner on Dream4More Blog Talk Radio.  My interview follows Adrienna’s 15-minute summary of just some of the 30-40 books she reads a month.  Check out the interview at

On November 27 I was interviewed for 45 minutes by Eden Blackwell on A Kind Voice Blog Talk Radio.  Just imagine how much you’ll learn about pets in 45 minutes!  Check it out here:

Other possible things on the horizon:  a review by Ray Walsh, East Lansing’s Curious Books store owner and Lansing State Journal writer, and an author spotlight on Ella Johnson’s Mymcbook’s Blog  Oh, and I submitted a 140-word poem to the Oakland County Register in California about Winston and Snickers, our new pups.

Stay tuned!

This One’s for Pick Up That Poop

Written by on November 29, 2013 No Comments

About two weeks ago, I saw @Pickupthatpoop was not only following me on Twitter, they were reading my humorous, touching memoir about pets called Something Furry Underfoot. @Pickupthatpoop’s singular cause is to get people to pick up their dogs’ poop.  And since they’re helping me out, I figured the least I could do is to write something to help them.  This posting is to let everyone know why it’s important to pick up your dog’s poop.

See, dog poo contains bacteria E. Coli bacteria, which on a web site called–home of some very cute stocking stuffers–looks like this.

E. coli Plush Doll
So, if you don’t pick up your dog’s poop and your neighbor or their dog steps in it, then you’re exposing them to E. Coli.  Oh sure, dog poop can be washed off shoes and hands with water and anti-bacterial soap, but why expose people to something that may result in nausea and other related problems?

Now, for those that poo-poo E. Coli please note the other scary things in dog poop.  Say your dog has kennel cough and you leave your dog’s poo where others are exposed to it.  Your neighbors’ dogs could pick up this cute little fella, called bordetella.  Wouldn’t that make you feel kind of bad?

Cough Plush Doll

Dog poop might also contain giardia (a.k.a beaver fever), which will get your neighbors’ guts in knots and provide them quality time in their bathroom.

Giardia Plush Doll

And it can contain Salmonella,which will provide your neighbors the pleasure of feeling sickly at both ends, so to speak.

Salmonella Plush Doll

And then there’s my personal favorite, a tapeworm, which allows your neighbor to eat a lot but steals all their nutrients and can migrate to their brain and kill them.

Tapeworm plush doll

Now, I know there are few people who are not bothered by passing a few microbes to their neighbors, and to them I ask consideration of the environment, because the bacteria from dog poop can contribute to E. coli in our lakes and streams.  Too much E. Coli in our lakes and streams may make it so that you–and your dog–shouldn’t swim in said lake or stream.  And what’s more fun than that?

Little Dipper on Lake Michigan.

Little Dipper on Lake Michigan.

Finally, for those of you who still think I’m full of poo, I offer you this:

  • People don’t like stepping in dog poop.  Ever.
  • Dogs don’t like stepping in dog poop.  Mostly ever (okay, some dogs do roll in gross things, but let’s move on).
  • People shouldn’t have to look where they are walking to avoid your dog’s poo.
  • While there is no reward in this life for picking up your dog’s poo, it’s the right thing to do.  For people, for pets, for the environment.

To help support this effort, not only can you pick up after your own dog, you can follow my new pal at AND  go to where you’ll see information about picking up dog poop, and biodegradable poop bags, metal yard signs, and–coming soon–t-shirts. Something Furry Underfoot and those cute microbes at also make great presents for the holidays.

Now go walk your dog, and do the right thing.  Thank you!


10 Things You Should Know Before You Get a Hamster, Mouse or Gerbil

Written by on November 11, 2013 12 Comments


A lot of people get their kids hamsters, mice or gerbils as pets.  And the thing is, most of these small fuzzies only live 1-3 years.  Here’s 10 Things to Know to make those good years for your fuzzy pal:

  • Most pet stores will send your small fuzzy home in a cardboard box.  We live 7 minutes from our pet store and the hampy we got yesterday almost chewed her way out of the box by the time we got home!
Hampy we got yesterday about to escape from its box!

Hampy we got yesterday about to escape from its box!

  • A good cage is one that snaps securely shut.  Most cages for small fuzzies have plastic bubble-like end caps that are easy to forget to snap into place after cage cleaning and easy targets for your fuzzy to chew.  Habitrail Ovo cages snap shut securely and the end caps are less prone to being chewed completely, though, having said that, we did have one hampy that chewed its way out!  Habitrail Ovo cages can be as big as you want to make them, because the inter-connecting tubes fit snuggly together, allowing your hampy different cubbies for pooping, for peeing, for storing food, and for sleeping.  These cages are also very easy to clean.
  • Even with a Habitrail OVO cage, it’s still possible for a hamster, mouse or gerbil to escape, because all it takes is for someone to forget to re-latch a latch or not connect one piece well to another.  As a result, it’s critical to keep your little fuzzy in a room that will keep it contained if it escapes from its cage.  Our hamsters are secured in a spare bedroom; when two escaped the day after we cleaned all the cages, we found both on the floor behind a storage container, alive and well.
  • Hamsters, mice and gerbils are all chewers to varying degrees.  After our gerbils chewed their way out of their cage (and we got a new cage because they’d done such a good job destroying their first one!), we began feeding them our junk mail.  All three were like professional shredders.  Other small critters prefer apple twigs and chew sticks that you can get from pet stores.
Mama gerbil surrounded by her paper shreddings.

Mama gerbil surrounded by her paper shreddings.

  • Hamsters, mice and gerbils need access to food and water 24 hours a day because they have very high metabolic rates.
  • Hamsters, mice and gerbils are very fragile.  Put cages on short storage containers, shelves or dressers so that if your pet escapes, the distance from the cage to the floor is less than a foot onto carpeting.  Also make sure that if people handle your small pet, put the cage and the people that want to hold the pet on the floor so that if your fuzzy pal happens to fall, it won’t get hurt. 
  • Most hamsters, mice and gerbils don’t bite, but if one does—and no matter how hard you try–its bite will make you jerk your hand away, which may send the little fuzzy flying.  When you first get your small pet and until you are used to handling it, put the cage and yourself on the floor.
  • Hamsters, mice and gerbils can run over 5 miles a night on an exercise wheel, so be sure your cage has an exercise wheel suitable to the size of your pet.  For variety, you might allow your pal to run inside a ball for 30 minutes, but be sure he rolls around in a safe environment, free from stairs or other dangers should it escape from the ball.
Flip in an exercise ball.

Flip in an exercise ball.

  •  In chapter 5 of Something Furry Underfoot, my Tip #28:  It is important (although not easy) to know a boy gerbil from a girl gerbil.  The same is true of hamsters, gerbils and mice.  One boy and girl together almost always equals babies, so be sure to check and double-check the sexes of your hampies at the pet store.  The basic rule of thumb:  if the holes are the same distant apart, then they’re the same sex.  If they’re not the same distant apart, one is a boy, the other is a girl.  And if you’re wrong—or unlucky like we were when we bought a hamster we didn’t know was already pregnant—you’ll have babies to deal with.
Eight baby hamsters.

Eight baby hamsters.

  • Boy hamsters, gerbils and mice usually need their own cages.  Every set of boy hamsters, mice and gerbils we had needed to be separated and put into a separate cage. Female siblings may get along—we have twins that have been together over a year—but always be ready to separate your small pets.

Bonus tips:

  • As your hamster, gerbil or mouse ages, it may not be able to open and chew some seeds (like sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds).  I give my older hamsters small pieces of grapes and tomatoes and  pepitas (the inside, edible part of a pumpkin seed) which are softer than other seeds.
  •  Wet tail is a disease that’s not uncommon in larger (sometimes called Syrian) hamsters.  A hamster with “wet tail” has a wet tail due to having diarrhea caused by a bacterial infection. There are several online sites that provide ideas on how to deal with wet tail, including here. Sadly, most hamsters—including 3 of ours—do not recover from wet tail.  Ask the pet store or breeder you get your Syrian hamster from if there’s any history of wet tail.

Read more about hamsters, gerbils and mice in Something Furry Underfoot, available at and

Happy National Cat Day – 10 Things You Should Know Before You Get a Cat

Written by on October 29, 2013 No Comments


Today is National Cat Day, so congratulations to all the happy kittens and cats out there and all the happy people who own cats!!  In honor of National Cat Day I wanted to share some things I’ve learned about cats that may help other people before they run out and get a cat, or kitten, for that matter.  So, here goes:

  • Cats can live anywhere from about 5-7 years for an outdoor cat to an average of 13-17 years for an indoor cat.  I know of several indoor cats that lived to be over 20 years of age.  So consider the commitment involved with getting a kitten or young cat.
  • Compared to dogs, cats are generally less expensive to care for.   After Purrkins $100 hairball, described in Chapter 6 of Something Furry Underfoot, and one mishap with a sewing needle someone left lying around, we’ve had no medical issues with Purrkins.  Over the same time period, our dog, Little Dipper, cost us over $1,400 in vet bills for teeth problems.
  • Always take your new kitten or cat to a vet for a check-up.  Purrkins was a hit at our vet’s because he had both lice and fleas, which, thankfully, the vet treated with one shot.  After the basic check-up, note that there are differences of opinion as to whether cats need annual vaccinations.  Some vets encourage annual vaccinations, especially for outdoor cats, but many say a blood test should determine what the cat is susceptible to and what shots it needs.
  • All cats should be spayed (females) or neutered (males) because there are simply too many cats in the world in need of good homes.
  • Cats take to litter boxes with little or no training.  Purrkins was probably 12 weeks old when he showed up under our deck, yet he took to a litter box the first day he was inside our house.  To keep your kitten or cat happy, plan to empty its litter pan every day.
  • Cats have a natural instinct to kill.  Keeping a cat indoors will protect outdoor critters.  But if you have other indoor pets, you also have to keep them safe from your cat, too  Purrkins was great interacting with our rabbit and most of our ferrets, but when our ferrets got oler and were less inclined to play, I had to supervise them so Purrkins wouldn’t play with them.
  • Cats love fresh water. Purrkins seldom drinks out of the dog bowl on the floor and he ignored a special water bowl I once filled daily for him.  Instead, he follows me down to the bathroom for a fresh drink from the faucet.  If that’s not your cup of tea, you can find special watering devices for cats that keep the water fresh and bubbly.  The downside of these gadgets is that your cat may play in the water and splash it all over the floor like Purrkins did when we had one.
Purrkins getting a drink of water from the faucet.

Purrkins getting a drink of water from the faucet.

  • Long-haired cats create hairballs and will need hairball medication.  You can find anti-hairball medication in bite-size chews, laxative tubes, and included in dry cat food.  Purrkins would have nothing to do with bite-size chews or an $8 laxative tube I purchased, so he gets Iams Proacive Health:  Mature Adult Hairball Care which we mix with his preferred food, Purina Cat Chow, with a morning side dish of Little Friskies canned food.
  • Some cats are pretty communicative.  If Purrkins walks in front of me and falls over, he wants to get petted.  If he walks in front of me, meows and walks to the front door, he wants me to open the front door (with the storm door closed) so he can “hunt” by looking outside.  If he walks in front of me and guides me to his food bowl, he’s telling me I didn’t get put out the right kind of canned food and “Might you try again?”
  • Cats are independent for the most part.  Many cats merely tolerate a good snuggle every now and again. Purrkins likes a good rub-down in the morning, a brief snug when I get home from work, and a mere pat on the head when I wander to bed.  Other than that and a little play time right before I go to bed, he’s happy if I leave him alone.

Source:  PetMD and my own experience.  Read about Purrkins in Chapter 6 of Something Furry Underfoot.  Purrkins is also featured in my rhyming e-book for kids called Purrkins, the Cat in.  See comments at by clicking on “My books” or go to or and type in Amy L Peterson.

Happy National Cat Day to Purrkins!

Happy National Cat Day to Purrkins!




The Eyes Have it – Photos of Two Adorable Puppies

Written by on October 24, 2013 No Comments

This is a photo I took of Winston, one of our five-month-old puppies.  He melts my heart every time I look into his eyes.



This is Snickers, our other five-month-old pup.  When he posed next to the bay window, I snapped this photo.  Again, it’s the eyes that get me every time!





Thanks for posing, pups!

Blogging to Help Be the Change for Animals

Written by on October 14, 2013 3 Comments

I just stumbled upon this web site yesterday and wanted to join in their mission of promoting causes that improve animal welfare.  What’s nifty about Be the Change for Animals is that they are advocates for all animals.  For example, on their web page, you’ll learn about blue tuna, breed discrimination inherent in Farmer’s Insurance policies, and National Pet Fire Safety Day.

On October 15 Blog the Change for Animals is trying to raise awareness through animal blogs throughout the world.  I’m joining them because their mission is similar to the message in my book, Something Furry Underfoot–no matter where a critter comes from–a stray cat from under my porch, a rabbit released from a wild life area, or the mynah bird we didn’t know was coming via the US Postal Service–it deserves the best life possible.  Check out and become a stronger advocate for animals.  And for a humorous, touching read about trying to spoil a whole bunch of pets, you’ll find Something Furry Underfoot at and  Some proceeds from Something Furry Underfoot will benefit animal rescue organizations.