Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Lessons My Cat Taught Me

As pet owners, we spend a lot of time figuring out the best foods, products and care for our beloved animals. But what do they give us? In cat owner, author and psychotherapist Jennifer Freed's book Lessons from Stanley the CatNine Lives of Everyday Wisdom, we can learn the example our pets provide for us in living a fulfilling life.

Through her interactions with her late cat Stanley, Freed noticed how her cat's actions impacted her own attitude and even her approach to her career. From these observations, Freed has crafted a witty, sometimes serious, sometimes hilarious set of life lessons on subjects from loving ourself and others to getting our loved ones "off that darn computer". It is the example of her pet's innate ability to live the good life that guides us humans out of our dizzying schedules and toward a more natural approach to living life.

Some of our favorite lessons (each accompanied by quirky drawings by Swedish artist Tone Gellerstedt) include:

  • Take time out of your day to take time out of your day.
  • Sit quietly next to someone crying and look up at them compassionately. There is not really anything you have to say if you show them love.
  • Keep yourself well groomed and smelling wonderful. Everything will respond to you better.
  • Pursue your goals like prey. Take time to make a good plan and have the patience to follow through a number of times. Failure is simply another opportunity to create a different strategy. Do not take mistakes personally.
So, pick up a copy of Freed's book, put on your feline-colored glasses, and give yourself what she calls an hour-long "personal time out" with Stanley the Cat.

Lessons From Stanley the Cat: Nine Lives of Everyday Wisdom
By Jennifer Freed
$12.95, Perigree Trade;

Monday, October 25, 2010

Pets and Babies

Are you concerned about introducing a baby into your dog or cat-friendly household? Has your pet become protective or clingy with an expectant mother? This week, we have some 5 simple tips for making this transition an easy one.

1. Allow your cat or dog investigate the nursery once it is all set up. Make it clear that this is not your pet’s room and it is off limits unless he or she is invited. Spend some time in the nursery alone to let your pet know that you will be spending time in the room without them.

2. Begin playing a recording of baby noises around the house (particularly in the nursery), and reassure your pet that these sounds are safe and normal. When the sound of a baby crying happens in the recording, spend some time in the nursery. After a little while, turn down the volume so your pet understands the crying will eventually stop.

3. Bring home the baby’s cap or blanket from the hospital before the baby arrives. These items have both the baby’s scent as well as yours and are best preserved if kept in a sealed bag. Place the item in a location that is easily accessible to your pet so he/she can inspect it.

4. When mother and baby return home from the hospital, put the dog outside or cat in another room. Since your pet has not seen her in a few days, they could be very excitable. Once the baby is safely in the nursery, mom should spend some time with the pet so they can reacquaint themselves.

5. Introduce a new baby to your pet(s) about a day after he or she arrives home. This will give your pet a chance to hear the baby’s sounds. Let your pet sniff the baby’s blanket first, NOT the baby’s face. Pay attention to your pet…if the pet is unsure, try again another day. If things seem to be going well, you can allow your pet to continue smell the baby’s hands and finally, face. It may take a little while, but your pet will get used to your new addition.

Obviously, the most important thing to remember about introducing a pet to a newborn is to always be aware of the pet’s body language and behavior. An adult must be present at all times, as a baby has no defense mechanisms or ways of communicating with your pet. With some patience and careful guidance, your new baby and your pet will become lifelong pals. 

Friday, October 15, 2010

7 Tips for a Pleasant Lodging Experience

At Morris Animal Inn, we strive to make your pet's stay with us a healthy and happy one. Here are our top 7 tips for making this transition the best it can possibly be for your pet.

1) Consider scheduling some daycare appointments prior to taking a long trip. Bringing your pets to us for short stays prior to an extended period of time will help them adjust to the staff and the Inn. The next time they are here, the adjustment period will be minimized. 

2) For cats, get out the carrier a few days in advance so they can inspect it, sit inside it and make it part of their normal environment. This way,  your cat will associate it with a safe place.

3) Feed your pet a light meal in the morning. A full stomach is not always the best idea when bringing them in for lodging, especially if they are high-energy. All the excitement of a trip in the car may upset their stomachs.

4) Try to keep suitcases out of sight. Many pets associate suitcases with your leaving them rather than a fun lodging experience that awaits them!

5) Don’t change your routine on the day you plan to bring your pet to us. If a pet is used to a certain way of doing things, changing it can make him or her stressed and anxious.

6) Bringing your dog to us on a leash and your cat to us in a carrier is very important. This will not only help you to control and protect your pets, it will give them their own space to adjust to the new surroundings.

7) Give a relaxed and confident goodbye. If you are anxious and emotional in the lobby, your pet will feed off that energy. A quick and cheerful “Bye, Rover...see you next week!” and a scratch behind the ears is much better than a drawn-out exit accompanied by tears or hesitation. 

Friday, October 8, 2010

Dog Training 101

Is your dog perfect? Does he greet strangers politely, obey your every command and walk gracefully on a leash? If you thought, "Heck no!", then dog training might be worth considering.

Aside from gaining a manageable dog you can be proud of, dog training can strengthen the bond between you and your pet. By training a dog, you are giving him a job, and a dog with a job is a happy dog! It's instinctual to many breeds of dogs to expect and enjoy being asked to perform kill two birds with one stone by taking the time to learn more about your training options.

Training philosophies run the gamut, but Morris Animal Inn is of the school of thought that training should be a fun and positive experience that a dog is happy to engage in. Training may be introduced at nearly any point in a dog's life (yes, you can teach an old dog new tricks!). It's important to remember, however, that your expectations for each dog should be different. A dog's age, breed, size, health and personality will dictate how they will respond to training, their strengths, and their challenges. As long as progress is being made and you and your dog enjoy the process, training is a worthwhile activity.

Some of the basic components of dog training include commands and leash manners. In any basic training program, such as Morris Animal Inn's Lodge & Learn program,  you can expect lessons on the come, sit, stay and heel commands, as well as walking nicely on a leash (more on this later). Mastery of these skills will take repetition, rewards and respect. (Mastery meaning your dog will sit patiently when guests come over or when other dogs are around, not just when in a quiet room with no distractions.) But by having the ability to control your dog's behavior, you will be much more at ease with your dog both inside and outside the home. If you and your dog enjoy training, you might want to consider more advanced options offered at training facilities like Morris K9 Campus.

Not sure if training is right for you or your dog? Start with Morris Animal Inn's Lodge & Learn program, a regimen for dogs whose owners want them to master the basics. Drop off your dog at the place you know and trust, and leave the rest to us! Each dog will receive a pre-training questionnaire, balanced training focused on positive reinforcement, recreation sessions, business walks, gourmet treat, certificate of completion and training equipment for use at home. For just $99/day plus boarding, you can't go wrong!

Please call us at 973.539.0377 if you'd like to book or for more information.