Archive for November, 2014

“Roughneck Homes” – Outdoor Protective Cat Shelter Instructions

What are “Roughneck Homes”?

Roughneck Containers are large Rubbermaid Bins used for storing goods in your home or commercial setting and have become a popular means to providing a safe and secure living environment for stray cats. With a little creativity, these containers can be transformed into adequate shelter to protect against environmental and predatorial dangers. Cold weather insulation and feeding stations are also easy improvements in areas where feline lives are at ever greater risk.

Roughneck Homes are easy to make and a lot of fun. Using the instructions and pictures below, you can construct your feral cat shelter in just 15 minutes. Always use the utmost caution when using a blade or knife to make the entrance/exits of your shelter.

 Simon Smith (age 12) pictured with his shelter and cat - Scratches. Simon is the driving force behind the Roughneck Homes Program


Simon Smith (age 12) pictured with his shelter and cat – Scratches. Simon is the driving force behind the Roughneck Homes Program

Depending on the climate, shelter may actually be more important for survival than even food.  Dry, wind-proof shelter can do a large part in fending off frostbite in the ears and paws from elements such as freezing winds, snow and rain.  While feral cats typically build a thick protective coat for winter, the effectiveness of their fur as insulation is greatly reduced as it becomes wet or frozen and can often times result in hypothermia.

“Roughneck Homes” Shelter – Easy to make home suitable for one to two cats

(1)Rubbermaid Tote - 18 GL Pictured. (2) Styrofoam Cooler. (3) Hay or Straw. (4) Duct Tape. (5) Exacto Knife

(1) Rubbermaid Tote – 18 GL Pictured. (2) Styrofoam Cooler. (3) Hay or Straw. (4) Duct Tape. (5) Exacto Knife

Start by cutting a 6" diameter hole in the tote to act as an entrance or exit. *Always cut away from your body*

Start by cutting a 6″ diameter hole in the tote to act as an entrance or exit. *Always cut away from your body*

Insert your StyroFoam cooler insulation and cut a matching 6" diameter hole to match the tote.

Insert your StyroFoam cooler insulation and cut a matching 6″ diameter hole to match the tote.

Add hay or straw in and around the Styrofoam cooler for added insulation, using as much as possible

Add hay or straw in and around the Styrofoam cooler for added insulation, using as much as possible

Add your Styrofoam lid for added insulation. Secure lid in place with a few pieces of duct tape.

Add your Styrofoam lid for added insulation. Secure lid in place with a few pieces of duct tape.

Complete by adding your lid back onto the tote. You may want to place additional duct tape on the lid as well

Complete by adding your lid back onto the tote. You may want to place additional duct tape on the lid as well

From www.erubbermaid.com/roughneck-home

Concept by Indy Feral. Application by Simon Smith (pictured above)

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November 16, 2014 at 5:50 pm Leave a comment

Hero Dog Awards 2014 – and a fun trip to Los Angeles

Susie winnerMy daughter Heather works for Trupanion, a pet insurance company based in Seattle, WA.  They sponsored one of the finalists of the Hero Dog Awards held in Los Angeles this year and Heather was in charge of making all the arrangements for her company for the event.  Since it fell on her son Declan’s first birthday, she asked if I would go with her so she could take Declan and be with him on his birthday.  What a fun trip it was!

Declans first plane ride

Declans first plane ride

Off we flew to the Beverly Hilton where we were met with a nice bottle of Champaign and a platter of assorted fruit, courtesy of the hotel.

s 013s 014Our first night we met my niece and her husband (who, it just so happened, were honeymooning at the same hotel) and went to the Hotel Bel Air for dinner. (One more check off of my bucket list!)

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The next morning, as Heather was whisked off to an event, Declan and I enjoyed our coffee on the veranda.

s 029We managed to get a few pictures with some of the Hero Dog Award finalists.

Declan with Bretagne, winner of the Search and Rescue catagory

Declan with Bretagne, winner of the Search and Rescue category

Over her long career, Bretagne has made a significant contribution to the search and rescue community through her many deployments including the World Trade Center after 9/11, the 2002 Olympic Winter Games, and Hurricane Rita in 2005. She now continues as an ambassador for search and rescue dogs as she visits elementary schools where she helps first graders learn to read.

Heather and Declan with Susie, winner of the Therapy Dog category, and Hero Dog Award 2014

Heather and Declan with Susie, winner of the Therapy Dog category, and Hero Dog Award of 2014

A puppy that was set on fire and a woman who suffered a brutal dog attack became a dedicated team that eventually changed North Carolina animal-cruelty laws. Susie the Pit Bull mix began life with terror and pain when she was beaten, burned, and abandoned. Susie and her owner both triumphed over pain and fear to become voices for abused animals that have no voice. They visit hospitals, schools, and nursing homes to inspire people never to give up.

Heather with Kota, winner of the Law Enforcement Dog catagory

Heather with Kota, winner of the Law Enforcement Dog category

A member of the Winchester, Virginia police force, this dog was injured by an eight-foot fall while responding to a burglary in progress. Undeterred, he helped his fellow officers finish the call, fighting with a severely fractured limb to ensure their safety.

Heather with Xena, winner in the Emerging Hero Dog category along with the owners.  Xena is the dog that Trupanion sponsored.

Heather with Xena, winner in the Emerging Hero Dog category.  Xena is the dog that Trupanion sponsored.

This pit bull was knocking on death’s door when she was brought into a Georgia shelter outside Atlanta. Emaciated and dehydrated, she was given just a one percent chance at survival. Unbelievably, she defied the odds, made a full recovery and was adopted by a family with a little boy with autism. Before, the child had closed himself off to the world, but the arrival of Xena sparked something in the child, and now he went from once silent to constantly singing to and chatting with Xena the Warrior Puppy.

We had some free time to enjoy the beautiful pool

Enjoying my niece and her husbands cabana by the pool!

Enjoying my niece and her husbands cabana by the pool!

We even got to take a stroll along Rodeo Drive!

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Aww yes, the LA life!

Ahh yes, the LA life!

Soon it was time for the Award Ceremony.

Heather on the Red Carpet

Heather on the Red Carpet

There were lots of celebrities attending who support the cause.

Heather with Pauley Perrette (Abby from NCIS).  She is a wonderful supporter of the Hero Dog Awards

Heather with Pauley Perrette (Abby from NCIS). She is a wonderful supporter of the Hero Dog Awards

Our last morning in LA, Heather, Declan and I went to Chateau Marmont for brunch.

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A pretty fancy place for Declan to spend his first birthday

A pretty fancy place for Declan to spend his first birthday

I have to include this picture of Johnny Galecki at Chateau Marmont.  I didn’t actually get to see him but my niece and her husband did who stayed there a few days earlier.  I admit watching The Big Bang Theory is one of my guilty pleasures and I was SO bummed that I missed him 🙂

Johnny Galecki (Leonard from Big Bang Theory) at Chateau Marmont

Johnny Galecki (Leonard from Big Bang Theory) at Chateau Marmont

After a busy and exciting few days in Los Angeles, we were on our way back to Seattle.

Too much for Declan!  Fast asleep on the plane ride home.

Too much for Declan! Fast asleep on the plane ride home.

It was a wonderful trip for a wonderful event!  Besides enjoying all the fun and beautiful things in LA, it was so heartwarming to hear all the stories of these very deserving dogs.

November 10, 2014 at 8:28 am Leave a comment

Vets Corner: Harmful Household Items

By: Dr Landorf, Oakwood Hills Animal Hospital

In recent weeks several cases have happened that I would like to share as many people do not know the danger of these items.  We all like to feel that we have “puppy proofed” our home against most dangers.  It is amazing how many things that dogs put into their mouths and usually do not have a concern. Here are three things that I have seen only a few times in over 20 years of practice, but are very common.  One is a food that most of us have that we would never think of as dangerous, another is something considered lucky, and the third is known poison that has changed.

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Sour Grapes

Lyla is a sweet mixed breed dog who decided to eat an entire container of raisins.  For humans grapes and raisins are completely safe except for the occasional upset stomach.  For dogs, for some unknown reason, eating grapes or raisins can cause severe acute kidney failure and in some cases be fatal.

Lyla was presented lethargic, with abdominal pain and vomiting after the owner noticed that she had eaten the raisins.  Blood work confirmed that she was in kidney failure.  She was treated for 3 days in intensive care with intravenous fluids and fortunately responded to treatment.  She was left with no permanent damage.  Unfortunately for Lyla and her parents she has no clue about what made her so sick.  The raisins are now on the top shelf of a closed cupboard!

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Unlucky Penny

Another case we have recently seen involved a Shih Tzu puppy named Murphy.  Unknown to his owners, Murphy had ingested a penny.   Who would think that something so small and insignificant could cause a problem?  Many children swallow coins including pennies with no ill effects and they pass right through.  For some reason dogs retain them in their stomach allowing the stomach acid to dissolve them.  This releases zinc which is absorbed into the blood stream.  Zinc poisoning in dogs causes a severe anemia in which the red blood cells burst in the blood vessels.  In this puppy an X-ray showed the presence of the penny.  Note how the center of the penny has been eaten away by the stomach acid.  Endoscopy was performed to retrieve the penny.  Unfortunately after removal of the penny and a blood transfusion Murphy passed away.

rat poison

Mouse Bait (and switch)

Ingestion of rodenticides (Mouse and rat poison) are probably the most common toxicity that we see and has been for as long as I remember.  The poison is made to taste good for the rodent to eat, but also tastes good to our best friends.  The vast majority of these poisons have used an active ingredient that prevents blood from clotting and causes the animal to bleed to death internally.  Many years ago they included warfarin which is a short acting anticoagulant.  In recent decades the companies switched to a longer acting anticoagulant which required only one ingestion to cause death.  The substance remains active in the body for about a month.  The good thing about anticoagulant rodenticides was that they took a few days to cause illness and Vitamin K could be used as an antidote.

In the past year companies have changed the active ingredient in an effort to eliminate anticoagulant resistant rats.  The most common anticoagulant in recent years was named brodifacoum.  The new rodenticides include a toxin called Bromethalin.  Bromethalin poisons the central nervous system and can cause tremors, convulsions, paralysis, and death.  There is no antidote.  The treatment involves inducing vomiting if symptoms are not too severe, activated charcoal to prevent absorption, and supportive therapy with IV fluids to flush the pesticide out of the body.  The packaging and material looks exactly the same and there is no test for bromethalin, so it is critical if a pet in your care is exposed to rodenticide to find the packaging if at all possible and look for the active ingredient.

With exposure to any substance that might cause illness it is important to immediately contact the pets’ veterinarian or emergency clinic.  It is an excellent idea to have the number for the ASPCA poison control hotline in your phone.  They can give immediate life saving information over the phone. (There is a charge for this service)  The number is 888-426-4435.

November 8, 2014 at 5:42 pm Leave a comment