Archive for the ‘Cat magazines’ Category

Expect the unexpected…(column #4)

Expect the unexpected..and then some

Expect the unexpected..and then some

By John Preston Smith – Contributing columnist

 


photo
“Expecting the unexpected isn’t even close.” UnknownIn 1963 I joined the Army. Following basic training at Fort Knox, Ky., I completed Advanced Individual Training at Fort Slocum, N.Y. graduating as a military information specialist. I was then stationed at Fort Lesley J McNair, the only military installation in Washington, DC and for the next two and a half years, I wrote articles for the Pentagram, the Military District of Washington (MDW) newspaper. The MDW was also responsible for providing public relations support for the Army.My job, as an information specialist, was outside the military base, housed in what were called Tempo Buildings. Those “temporary” structures, formed as huge igloo’s, were built during the Second World War. Forged from steel, they were sweltering in the summer and frigid in the winter.

Mostly, my workday ended at 5 p.m., except when my name came up for KP duty. Soon, I realized that I had a load of free time on my hands and very little spending money. Newspaper want-ads beckoned. And there it was…as if by wishful intervention. “Dog trainer needed. Apply in person at Animal TV Trainers.”

I had already tried selling pots, pans, and fine china door-to-door, with the only set of china sold being that which I bought for my mom. Since dogs couldn’t slam the door in my face, as did many housewives in DC, I knew dog training was the part-time job for me, even though I had no idea what it entailed.

I scheduled an interview with the manager of Animal TV Trainers.

The next day, following work, I walked the two-mile stretch from the military base to downtown DC, found Animal TV Trainers on 14th Street, and entered the captivating world of selling pets for profit.

The store measured about 25-by-45 feet with more animals per square foot than homeless dogs roaming the streets of New York City. There were cages jammed on shelves, stacked in corners, and hanging from the ceiling…all filled with a menagerie of animals…except for the ten to fifteen birds dive-bombing customers who mistakenly thought it was a sales gimmick. A mynah bird slung sun flower seeds at the cat cages; a boa constrictor’s dinner still withered in his stomach, and an employee chased a squirrel monkey who had released the birds from their cages.

The squawking, barking, screeching, and howling was crazy.

The manager, an attractive, blond haired lady, yelled at me over the intense racket, “Can I help you?”

Feeling foolish, I yelled back, “I’m here for the interview.”

Her smile was devious, and I should have known something was amiss when she yelled, “When can you start?”

Noting my stunned look, she mouthed, “Follow me.”

I cautiously followed, past monkey’s banging their heads on cage doors, de-sacked skunks with raised tails, and a whelping box with ten pups vying for eight nipples. An iguana the size of a broom closet watched as if he were contemplating his next meal. The office was large enough for a small desk, an upright chair, and for two people to stand nose to nose…personal space be damned. At least we were away from the ruckus. Her perfume was something out of Cosmopolitan. The hook set, she began reeling me in.

“There was a small mistake in the ad,” she smiled.

“Oh,” I said, still captivated by her fragrance.

“They left out a few words. Three to be exact.”

“Oh,” I said again.

“And cleanup boy. It was supposed to read dog trainer ‘and cleanup boy’ needed.”

Fresh out of college, a thousand miles from home, recently out of Army basic and advanced training schools and standing nose to nose with this beautiful lady in the mini-office of a pet shop of horrors in downtown Washington, DC…I was trapped.

Fortunately, they didn’t need a dog trainer for a couple of days. So, I spent Saturday and Sunday cleaning every kind of animal poop imaginable and those same nights studying how to train dogs by reading books in the Library of Congress. I read as many books as possible about dogs, training, and their history. When Monday evening rolled around, I planned to be as good a dog trainer as possible. Although, I had no idea what I’d do if the dog on the other end of the leash didn’t see things my way.

The precursor to dog training however, is to understand some very basic differences between dog and man. Differences that may not shock you but will surely surprise. Those answers come in my next column.

Thanks for reading, John

John Preston Smith is the author of nine novels, all are listed at jprestonsmith.com. Questions or comments can be directed to facebook.com/johnprestonsmith. Proceeds from his writing support Hoops Family Children’s Hospital in Huntington, W.Va.

Advertisements

A ‘buyer’s guide’ for National Adopt a Shelter Dog Month By John Preston Smith – Contributing columnist(column #3)

A ‘buyer’s guide’ for National Adopt a Shelter Dog Month

By John Preston Smith – Contributing columnist

 


photo
October is national Adopt a Shelter Dog month.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and the American Humane Association (AHA) have banded together to promote the idea of getting as many adoptable dogs in homes as possible…especially during the month of October.

Having trained and handled over 14,000 dogs I’d like to present my views on adopting pets from shelters.

Every dog of my childhood (heck, I was 27 years old before I purchased a purebred dog) was of mixed ancestry: Jeep, Taxi, Silver, and Chad, by name. All purchased by my dad from the city pound. Note: It is believed that the word “pound” came from the “animal pounds” where stray livestock would be “impounded” until claimed by their owners. Over time the word ‘shelter’ replaced the word ‘pound’ primarily because it sounded much more pleasant.

Today, there are approximately 14,000 government-supported and independently operated animal shelters in the US. All of which are attempting to provide shelter, promote adoption, and control the population through neuter and spaying programs for about 7.6 million animals annually, 3.9 million of which are dogs. About 1.2 million dogs are euthanized annually. However, the no-kill movement started about 20 years ago and is responsible for saving a significant number of dogs and cats.

Please excuse the statistics, but it’s the only way for me to get your attention and impress upon you this straight-forward plea: If you are considering a dog for your family, please consider adopting from a shelter as opposed to purchasing from a breeder.

When adopting from a shelter, here’s my thoughts:

Before visiting a shelter, know what you are looking for in a dog. Do you have a large or small family? Are you looking for a pup…who’s going to clean up behind him until he is housebroken and trained? Who will be responsible for feeding, exercising, and training? Are you looking for a dog who is older and housebroken? Older dogs are more difficult for shelters to find a home for…but if the dog is older (2 years or more) you will know if he is healthy, and (most importantly) you will know his temperament. The older feller might be just the mutt for you!

When you visit a shelter for the first time, observe how well the grounds are maintained: is the grass cut, are shrubs trimmed, and windows cleaned?

Generally, when you walk into an animal shelter, be prepared: pandemonium breaks out. That’s the nature of the beast and it’s ok. However, are cages and enclosures clean, are floors mopped, and are odors controlled. Do you get a “good feeling” about how the dogs are cared for?

Do not be overwhelmed by the number of dogs. Take your time. Look at each dog individually, as opposed to a sweeping glance. Do not necessarily pick the loudest dog or the one you think is vying for your attention more than any other. To a great degree, what you see in the shelter, is what you will see at home. If you are looking for an aggressive, outgoing, controlling dog…then the one bounding against the gate and barking like an idiot, might be just the dog for you. But, if you are looking for a quiet lap dog, maybe consider the guy sitting in the back of the cage. Look at the expression of the dog. Are his hackles up or down, is his tail wagging or held low to the ground, are his ears back or forward, does he pee when you approach, or does he seek a pat on the head? Are his eyes clean? Are his nails clipped?

Size matters. Looking at pup’s feet will not tell how big he is going to be. Fact is, there’s loads of big dogs with small feet. A pup mixed with German Shepherd and Beagle may grow to the size of a German Shepherd…or a Beagle. So, if you are looking for a dog of size, consider an older dog.

If you see a dog you like, take him for a walk, a ride in the car, or sit under a tree in the city park and see how he reacts to squirrels, other dogs, kids on bikes, runners and other commotions. You will learn loads about his disposition when distractions abound.

If he has not been neutered (spayed, altered) you will be asked to have that done as soon as possible. However, be sure that you get a reasonable period in which you can return him if he does not fit into your family. Generally, you will not get a refund but can choose another pet.

If you are purchasing from a no-kill shelter, be prepared to get the once-over. You may have to answer personal questions about your lifestyle and they may want to visit your home to assess how they feel the dog will fit into your living conditions. Can you shoulder the scrutiny?

Finally, never purchase a dog as a gift, unless you are positive the recipient will be overjoyed and accept the pup with open arms.

In closing, I want to assure you that I fully and wholeheartedly endorse acquiring a dog from a shelter. However, it’s at least a 10-year obligation…an obligation that should be entered with commitment, compassion, and consideration for all who will be involved with caring for your newest family member.

Woof!!! John

John Preston Smith is the author of nine novels, all are listed at jprestonsmith.com. Questions or comments: facebook.com/johnprestonsmith. Proceeds support Hoops Family Children’s Hospital in Huntington, W.Va.

Point Pleasant Register column #1

By John Preston Smith – Contributing columnist

 


Since 1963 I have trained over 14,000 dogs. All shapes and sizes. Some crazy, some not-so-crazy. Some with minor problems, some meaner than a teased rattler. Some docile, some aggressive.I’ve seen Dobbies that would snuggle across your lap as you watch the evening news, and Dachshunds that’d just as soon bite your ankle as take another breath.I’ve worked with fence-jumpers, fear and sneak biters, run-a-ways, car chasers, fighters, chicken killers, incessant barkers, boundary breakers, and dogs that would attack anything on two legs. I’ve trained with traditional methods, with psychology, and hypnosis.I’ve known dogs, without professional training, that would give their life for their master. I’ve heard of dogs that come between their master and mistress during an argument, during play-time, and even while lying in bed watching TV. Surely, you’ve also heard of this type of canine behavior.

I’ve trained dogs for the TV series “Movin’ On,” trained dogs to prevent break-ins at hotels, and trained them to protect Sisters of the Cloth. I’ve trained dogs for business security, for the disabled, and for personal protection.

I’ve seen dogs pine at the feet of a sick master, lie at the site of a buried friend, and refuse food until a lost litter-mate had been found.

Conversely, I’ve seen people spend thousands of dollars on a sick pet, talk to a dog as if it were human, and fix his every meal as if they were feeding the Pope.

I believe dogs to be mate-substitutes, empty-nest substitutes, and child substitutes. They are one of the reasons I believe in God. I’ve seen them do more for humans than humans do for humans. If the relationships, bonds, and friendships we have with others are our greatest assets, then too, a dog at our side is as immeasurable in value.

They help us stave off loneliness, fear, and need. They protect us from physical and mental aggressors. They remind us that food, water, and shelter is, in reality, plenty for anyone to be happy.

There are easily drawn parallels between dog and man. We share the fight against enemies and traitors, our charity for others is immeasurable, and we are quick to forgive those wishing us harm. We stand by our family and friends in prosperity and in failure…in sickness and in weakness…during happiness and loss. We deal with misfortune and danger to the best of our individual abilities.

We humans, though, have advantages…one of which is our memory, permitting us to relive bygone days with family and friends…but our dogs cannot.

In 2011, prior to writing of my novel, “The Bog, The Legend of Man’s Best Friend,” I ran a survey with 200 responses from 24 states, Canada, Belgium, UK, and France. Here are some tidbits from the respondents. (By the way, there are 43,346,000 households in the US. with an average of 1.8 households with a dog. That’s 78,022,800 dogs!) From the survey, 99 percent like dogs; 90 percent love dogs; 87 percent talk to their dogs; 98 percent believe dogs have emotions; 95 percent believe dogs make choices; 80 percent believe dogs are a gift from God; 75 percent believe dogs have a soul; 70 percent believe dogs go to heaven; 87 percent believe their world would be significantly changed if upon waking tomorrow there were no dogs. (I am particularly interested in your thoughts about the results of this survey.)

In the next few columns I will answer questions that eat at you about your dog. How was he chosen to be your best friend, does he possess a soul, how do you know when to let him go, where is his place of rest after death, will you ever see him again, what does he want when he licks your lips, and what are the two commands that will solve 95 percent of all canine problems? Where does the Bible stand regarding a hereafter for dogs? What does he think about, how does he handle time, and what are his three levels of attention?

Thanks for reading,

John

John Preston Smith, of Huntington, W.Va., is the author of nine novels, all are listed at jprestonsmith.com. Questions or comments can be directed to him at facebook.com/johnprestonsmith. Proceeds from his writings support Hoops Family Children’s Hospital in Huntington.

I saw you, Babe

I Saw You Babe, is my new CD of original songs and it is now available.  As a highlight, my son, Robert, joins me for Neil Young’s Long May You Run.  Your donation supports the Hoops Family Children’s Hospital.  Check it out:  http://www.jprestonsmith.com New cd cover for John.jpg

Here’s to Mom…

I was thinking today about writing a new book, entitled, The Legend of the Last Mom.  How would you feel if upon waking tomorrow there were no Mom’s…anywhere?  Of course, that’s just fantasy.  But I sure wish my Mom were still here, cause I miss her like mad.  So on this day of days, here’s to all the Mom’s…may you continue to watch over us as we fumble and bumble through this crazy and mixed up world.

First Lady prayer…

Wallow…

When you (or your dog) wallows with pigs, expect to get dirty!