Tag: pets

Pet Swellness: Billie Jean’s origin story

Billie Jean puppy

Welcome to Who Do You Think You Are: Billie Jean Edition. 

I don’t know why it’s taken me over a year to look into Billie Jean’s origin story. Well, I know part of the reason is I often feel I don’t have time for anything…like all of us, ‘I am very, very busy,” haha. But the main reason is because when I asked Save Our Scruff about her back story when Billie Jean was my foster, all I was told was that she was at the rescue in the Dominican Republic for a year (and she was only a year old when she landed in Toronto, so she’d spent most of her life at a rescue) and I took this to mean little else was known about her.

Then a couple of weeks ago, I was on Facebook reading about another Scruff’s origin story and it included a link to a video of her dog, who also came from the DR. I watched it and then thought “How many rescues in the DR does SOS work with, can’t be that many…” so I clicked through to the Facebook page of Cocomutt Shak Dog Rescue and searched for “Billy Jean” (I changed the spelling to Billie Jean once I adopted her).

Billie Jean puppy 5

And BAM! Up came an album devoted to her! And my heart just about exploded. I never ever thought I’d see puppy photos of my sweetheart. I now look at them daily (and one is my screensaver, yes, I’m that person now).

Billie Jean puppy 3

A few days after that, I decided to message Cocomutt Shak. I explained that I’d been Billie Jean’s foster through Save Our Scruff and had ended up becoming one big foster fail. I let them know that she was doing great. I added that when she arrived she was extremely timid and terrified but that she has come so far, is now dog social and is great with people once she gets to know you a little. I asked if they could tell me anything about her as I was curious about her occasional anxieties and just wanted to know where my sweet pup came from.

And the lovely woman who runs it, Tauny, messaged me back right away! So what’s Billie Jean’s orgin story?

Billy Jean puppy 4

Billie Jean was being sold on the beach, her eyes were barely open and her ears not fully formed yet. When the woman could not sell her, she left Billie Jean on the beach. A beach vendor named Billy knew about the Cocomutt Shak rescue so they called them up and brought Tauny to see Billie Jean.

“We brought her home and she thrived. She was not too nervous here, but here she is surrounded by dogs and only Len and I.”

I shared some of Billie Jean’s recent photos, and Tauny told me she still had the beach bracelet they had on Billie Jean’s neck when she first lived with them at the rescue:

Billie Jean beach bracelet

And get this — they had to make the bracelet smaller to fit her week little neck! That’s how tiny she was!

Given puppies are best off to be with their moms until two months (that’s what I’ve always understood and what a quick Google search confirms), I consider it a miracle Billie Jean survived.

Billie Jean puppy 2

As for Billie Jean’s initial stressed-out state, I think it was due to not knowing anything other than Tauny and Len and the dogs she lived with. She went from living in a three-bedroom house (no kennels or crates) with the doors open so she  could come and go into the yard (which is on a half acre lot) as she pleased when Tauny or Len are home, to being stuffed into a crate, shoved into cargo on a plane and landing in a freezing climate and having a very excited person (me!) trying to show her love ASAP in a condo with a scary elevator and loud traffic and so many people all around . It’s no wonder she tried to bite me out of fear during our first interaction.

What is pretty wondrous is how quickly she adapted to life in the big city. I rejoice each time she playfully approaches someone in the park who wants to pet her or whenever she walks relaxed and happily beside me, but now knowing her beginnings and how her world was turned right upside down by coming to Canada (and making me the luckiest girl ever), every little success of hers is even more special. I’m so proud of her.

Thank you Cocomutt Shak for rescuing the most darling dog. It’s because of your care for this abandoned little beach bum that she made it into my life and I can never thank you enough for working with Save Our Scruff to help find her a forever home.

For more on Cocomutt Shak Dog Rescue, check them out on Facebook and Instagram. And Billie Jean’s got her own Instagram account, follow her @billiejeanxoxo.

 

 

 

 

 

1 Comment June 11, 2018

Pet Swellness: How to get my cats and dog to fall in love

 

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Unexpected animal friendships are some of my fave videos. Yes, I’m that person who always shares on Facebook the video of a goat and dog  frolicking, or of a pig snuggling with a mini cow. And let’s not forget the ol’ cat and dog combo — because not all of them fight.

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I adopted Billie Jean recently and a big factor in my decision was how well she hangs out with the cats. She generally ignores them. If she walks into the path or gets in the face of one of the cats, the cat will usually hiss, and Billie Jean usually pauses and either finds another route or scurries by. One cat is more curious, and the other just goes about his own way and ignores BJ. But my dream would be for the cats and Billie Jean to be besties.

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Last week, I had the chance to meet with ” the cat whisperer” aka cat behaviourist and author Mieshelle Nagelschneider at an event held by Arm & Hammer, so I took the chance to ask how I can help the cats learn to love Billie Jean. She wasn’t concerned about the hissing given I have only had Billie Jean about a month, the hiss is just the cats giving a warning, she said, and it’s still early days. The best way to help them all get along, she said, is to create a group scent. When you have multiple cats, they create a comfortable environment by creating a group scent — this is what they’re doing when they rub up against each other, furniture and you. I can help Billie Jean get welcomed into the household by creating a group scent by putting a pair of thin socks on my hands and rubbing the face of each animal in sequence, and repeating this ritual.

The other tactic she suggested I try is a counter conditioning exercise: play with the cats in near proximity to Billie Jean, and that way with their dopamine levels going up as they happily play, they’ll associate more of those feel-good feelings with the dog’s presence.

I haven’t yet had a chance to put these tactics to use for long but I can’t wait to see if this gets them all to love one another and snuggle, which is pretty much my life goal right now.

Arm & Hammer had hosted this meeting with Mieshelle as they’re promoting their new product Arm & Hammer Clump & Seal Slide Cat Litter — and there were two soon-up-for-adoption kittens from the OSPCA at this event making it pretty much the best event ever! This litter has a new technology that allows the litter to just slide on right out of the litter box (so no more scraping or scrubbing) so the task is easy peasy — I haven’t had a chance to pick up a box of A&H Slide yet, so I can’t speak to how well it works. Mieshelle says it’s best to replace the entire litter once a month (to maintain optimal freshness and cleanliness, making it a litter box your cats want to use), so this new Slide will make that monthly task easier and faster (I’ve scrubbed the litter box in the past and it’s not a fun chore). Other litter box tips that I learned:

  • The litter box should be uncovered. Cats don’t seek privacy when doing their business; an open litter box allows them to feel safer as they can more easily able to escape quickly if need be (this goes back to their cat instincts and living in the wild).
  • You should have one litter box per cat, plus one more. (I get this in theory, but it won’t be happening in my downtown condo!)
  • Cats need some light to see (looks like I’ll be needing to get a nightlight for them!)
  • Scoop the litter box once or twice a day, or else your cats may stop covering their business in the litter box.

Stay tuned to my Instagram for updates on the progress I make with Billie Jean and the cat love!

Leave a Comment March 27, 2017

Healthy Swellness: Nutram Optimum Transition Challenge wrap-up

Kobe pondering life

Well, I’m happy to report that the cats are healthy and happy. After switching from their former food to their new Nutram food (which I slowly transitioned them onto based on a schedule provided by Nutram), both Kobe and Mya are doing well on their new food regimen. The wholesome food, created by holistic nutritionists, agrees with them. I mean, sure Kobe is still a little crusty sometimes, but I think that’s more due to age and having a very in-your-face and hyper Mya to contend with day after day than being tied to what he’s eating.

Mya being Mya

Both the kitties have good appetites, their fur is nice and silky, they’re bright eyed (that is, when they’re not sleeping 23 hours of the day as cats do!) and they seem happy. Although Mya did dive into my plate of crumbs leftover from a homemade poptart the other day — could her new diet be causing her to crave sweets?? Nah, I doubt it; she also eats ribbon and plastic bags when left unattended, so there’s no explaining what she consumes.

All in all, the cats are more than alright.

To have your furry loved ones try the Nutram OTC, visit their website to find the right Nutram number for your pet.

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Leave a Comment June 16, 2016

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