Archive for the ‘Helpful Advice’ Category

Ann Arbor, MI.

Starry Skies Equine Rescue and Sanctuary in Ann Arbor, MI.

Starry Skies Equine Rescue and Sanctuary in Ann Arbor, MI.


It’s National Dog Bite Prevention Week again!

Check out  our blog from last year for some pointers on how to prevent dog bites:

Dog Bite Prevention Week 2012

Remember, the most important thing is to ALWAYS ask the owner before approaching a strange dog!

Here’s a chart to also help you determine what a dog’s body language is telling you:


When the time has finally come, and you are ready to adopt a new animal into your family, the excitement can make you forget some very important questions. Some of these questions can be critical in your decision making process. So we have created an easy way to keep track of your information! (This format can be used for any type of animal.)

Please FEEL FREE to use this template of questions on your journey to the rescue/shelter you have selected. Just copy and paste into whatever Office program you have and print away! Print multiples if you will be looking at multiple animals. And most importantly….don’t forget to take along a writing utensil as well!

Animal Adoption Questionnaire

Shelter/Rescue Org:___________________________________________________
Animal Name:_______________________________

Are they up-to-date on vaccinations? Any other medical background information?

What is their background? (Stray, owner surrender, abuse case, etc.)

Do they like dogs?
Small Animals?

Are they house broken?

What, if any, behavioral problems do they have?

What kind of energy level do they have?

Selecting Where to Adopt From

Previously we explained the main differences between adopting from a rescue or adopting from a shelter. If you missed it, you can find it here:

Let’s say that you have decided to adopt through a rescue. The first thing to do is find rescues in your area or within the distance you are willing to drive. Second, find their web page and find out what their adoption process is and how much the adoption costs. Third, check out the animals they have available for adoption. If you find an animal that may fit your lifestyle, you may have to fill out an adoption form and email it to the rescue before you can meet them. This may seem inconvenient but actually serves a good purpose for both you and the rescue. First, the rescue will see that they have a serious potential adopter. If they made appointments to meet up every time someone thought an animal was cute but then weren’t serious about adopting them, it would be a waste of time and resources for the rescue. Second, if you fill the adoption out at home, you’ll be filling it out at your leisure and not make mistakes because you were trying to listen to someone talk or playing with the dog while filling out the paperwork. This will also help the rescue find other animals at their facility that may be fit for your life style, in case your first choice doesn’t work out.

A very important factor is feeling comfortable with the rescue you are working with. They should be willing to answer all questions you have. Whether by telephone, email or in person. A good rescue is one that is intent on finding the perfect home for their animals and helping people find the perfect animals for their home. The more time spent making sure everybody will be happy, the less likely it is that that animal will be returned to the rescue.

Another important resource if available to you is talking with people that have adopted through the rescue you are interested in working with. Do you know someone who has rescued an animal themselves? Talk to them! They are a valuable resource to have! They could point you in the direction of a great rescue. Keep your options open and ask questions when they arise.

Tomorrow we will post a questionnaire to take with you to the rescue or shelter. Many times while talking with someone you may accidently forget to ask a very important question. Having this sheet and a pen with you will help you to remember all the most important questions. Plus, if you are looking at multiple animals it can help you keep track of their different information and help you to select the best option for adoption.

Puppies Vs. Adults

Another major thing you should be thinking about when adopting a dog is, do you want a puppy or an adult dog? This should also be considered when adopting a cat or kitten.

Puppies: Puppies are a LOT of work and I’m telling you this from experience. They are very much like having a toddler in the house. They will get into anything and everything. It is a wise decision to puppy proof your home before bringing one home. This means hiding wires, keeping trash and plants out of reach, and blocking off any stairs. If no one is home for long periods of time, house breaking can be difficult. Puppies are small which means their bladders are as well. Expect trips outside every hour for the first few months if you want the least amount of accidents as possible and successful house training. (Note: Positive reinforcement is the best training method. Treats, kisses, and praise after a successful trip outside will show them that great things happen when they do their business outside!)

When you bring a puppy home, it is entirely up to you to shape a small impressionable being. If you do not take the time to provide proper training, you are guaranteed to have an out of control dog when it gets older. It won’t know right from wrong, because you didn’t teach it! Training should always be fun for you and your dog. If you are boring, the dog will find something more entertaining to do. Good times make for great learning and bonding.

Adults: Adopting an adult dog can be intimidating for some people. People automatically expect that because an older dog is at a shelter or rescue it is because of behavior problems that were unbreakable. I would guess that this is untrue 90% of the time. A lot of the time a dog has been dropped off for one of the following reasons; owner could no longer afford food and healthcare, owner moved to a non-pet friendly place, allergies of children, owner didn’t research breed before bringing it home, or any combination of these.

So let’s focus on the positive side of adopting an older dog. Adult dogs have seen a lot in their lifetime, so socialization may not be a big issue. They may already be okay with other dogs, cats, small animals, or kids. Or they may not be okay with one of the previously mentioned groups. In this case, you know that this animal is not a good fit for your home. Always ask the shelter/rescue about this. Older dogs have also grown into their personalities. You will know whether they’re mellow or would rather be running most of the day. Many times, since they may have come from a home situation, they might already be house broken.

Old dogs can still learn new tricks! The key is finding what motivates them, food or toys. (Again, I will note that I find positive reinforcement works the best.) If they do have some sort of behavior that you find undesirable, take the time to train them to do the right thing. Training is an easy way to build a bond with your new best friend.

Go ahead….bring your face closer! Mwahaha!


This week we are going to focus on tips to help aid your adoption process. If you have chosen to adopt it means you are rather serious about finding a lifetime friend/family member. Being prepared in every aspect of adoption, prior to adoption itself, can make the process easier and less daunting. In a way, it can be like preparing to bring a child into your household.

First and most importantly, evaluate your lifestyle. If you have chosen to adopt a dog, are you home enough? Almost everyone has to work part of the day, but how long is the dog going to be left home alone? There are two reasons to this question. One, small dogs have small bladders and are not going to be able to hold it for 8+ hours. Two, you must be prepared to provide entertainment during this time. Boredom can result in bad behavior which is a big reason some animals end up in the shelter or rescue in the first place. This is easily remedied by providing your animal with toys to focus that boredom on. Kongs filled with peanut butter, frozen, and then given to the dog when you’re leaving is one commonly used option. Look up various toys online. There are companies that specialize in making toys that keep them thinking, which keeps them occupied.

What is your energy level? Do you like just hanging out at home? Or do you jog frequently? This should be a major consideration when choosing a new pet. Certain breeds have distinct energy needs. If you like to hang out at home, a Dalmation, Border Collie or Husky is not going to be a good option for you. When not exercised properly or given any outlet for their energy, they make up their own games to keep entertained. You will most certainly NOT be pleased. Conversely, if you love to jog, hike, or bike and want a companion to do these things with, you are not going to want a bulldog, pug, or shih tzu. They will not be able to keep up and trying to make them do so, may potentially kill them. Obviously a majority of dogs in shelters/rescues are mixes, but by knowing what they may be mixed with you can save yourself a lot of heartache.

Which brings us to the very KEY of every adoption: Do your research! Having a working knowledge of various dog breeds can help you find the perfect match. NEVER be afraid to ask questions. Knowledge is your most powerful ally.

(We will have a section completely devoted to the adoption of small animals. Dogs are a common adoption that a lot of people have many questions about, so we wanted to address them first.)

Frisbee is a great sport to compete in with your high energy dog!

Ever hear the phrase “you break it, you buy it”? Well, to some people, even when it comes to animals that rule just doesn’t seem to apply. Many people start their children out on small animals as their first pets. Unfortunately some do not make sure their children are mature enough or bother to teach them how to properly handle these animals first. This can lead to animals being dropped or played with too roughly, resulting in them becoming badly injured. In some cases, the people who brought the poor animal into their home decide they no longer want it and return it to the store. But what happens to these “broken” pets once they’ve been returned into the world of retail, where everything revolves around making a dollar as quickly as possible? We caught up with one big-hearted woman who told us the facts and what she did to help some of those hurt animals.
MiCritterChitter: What do places like the one you worked for do when animals are brought back in such rough shape?
They can’t be re-sold, so they are put in the backroom until they can be sent back to the original seller. From there I am not sure, but I doubt anything good for the animal comes from it. Where I worked though they were nice enough to let me buy the animals for a dollar or two (they can’t just give them away) and I would take them home to see what I could do for them and give the animals a loving home. A lot of the times they would save animals that had been injured for me since they knew I’d take them.
MCC: Sadly, a lot of people are not willing to give handicapped animals a chance, so what inspired you to go out of your way to make sure these animals were able to get a second chance at life?
I was raised around animals and have always loved animals. They’re living creatures, just because they have special needs does not mean they should be thrown away or killed. They needed help. I would do it for a person, or an animal. Just because it is an animal, doesn’t mean it isn’t a life worth saving.
MCC: What advice do you have for people considering adopting handicapped animals?
Long story short, do your homework. If there are medical needs find out the costs, because if you get the animal and you’re not prepared, the animal can end up right back at square one. That can often happen. People have big hearts and want to help, but making sure you CAN help in the way that the animal needs before you get it is very important.
MCC: What were some of the animals like that you brought home?
They were mostly rodents. I brought home a few partially paralyzed guinea pigs that could only use their front legs to move around, but they ended up having great lives anyway. One of our female dogs spoiled them with affection. She thought they were her puppies.
Another was an adorable, white hamster who had been born with no eyes. His eyelids were always closed, and no one had noticed it at first when he was brought in with the other hamsters. I kept noticing that no one would buy him. He always shied away when people stuck their hands in, but after talking to him and sticking my hand in for him to smell he got used to me. They were going to send him back, but I bought him and he was a wonderful addition to our family. He could not see, but that did not stop him from living a full life. He had everything neatly organized in his cage at all times and was a friendly little guy, never biting anyone.
One of the others was a parakeet that had been returned to the store with a broken wing. I brought him home and it took a while, but his wing healed and he was able to fly again.
Unfortunately some of the animals were so badly injured that they did not make it long. Some would only live for a day or two, and even though I knew they didn’t have much time left I couldn’t just leave them there. I really do think each of the animals I brought home were able to sense that I was trying to help them. It was worth all the effort. Even if the animals were hurt so badly that they only had one day left, those animals spent their last day in a home with love and care instead of being alone in a dark room in the back of some store. Every living creature deserves to feel loved, even if it is only for the short bit of time it has left. Animals aren’t just objects you play with, break, and throw away. They’re living creatures that deserve more than that.
MCC: How did your family react to you bringing home these animals?
Open-heartedly. They were perfectly fine with it. I was brought up to help animals, and I’ve raised my daughter to do the same. Fortunately my husband is also a big softie for animals as well.
MCC: What advice would you give people getting their young children their first pets to prevent more unnecessary injuries to little animals?
Most importantly, take the time to teach them about holding animals properly.
A lot of the time kids have their hands in food and other things without washing them before they pick up animals like rodents. That is the first way to get bit.
People tend to think smaller equals better when it comes to getting their kid their first pet. I’ve seen so many people buy dwarf hamsters for their little children and bring them back when they’ve bitten their child. Some people may be put off by rats, but they really do make great first pets for children since they generally bite far less often than hamsters do.
Also, when your child is learning to hold small animals have them SIT DOWN. If the child loses their grip on a squirming animal and is standing that can be a long drop to a very hard floor. A lot of damage can happen. That is exactly what happened to a lot of the animals I saw returned. Have them sit on the couch or on the floor so if there is a tumble, it is much safer for the pet.
When you first get a pet, teach your child not to just stick their hand in the cage to grab it. Let the animal know you are there so you don’t spook it. Speaking to their pet and having it’s attention before they reach in for it is one way they can avoid being bitten. A lot of the times when a child is bitten their first instinct is to drop the animal.
Before buying a pet, do your research and make sure it is appropriate for your child. Also, if your kid is old enough for a pet, they are old enough for the responsibility that come along with it. Small animals can get dehydrated easily and always need fresh, clean water. Making sure their cage is always clean is important for their pet’s health as well.
By taking a little bit of time to make sure your child knows how to handle animals gently and responsibly you can assure the safety of both your child and their pet.
Sootie aka Mama Pug with one of the injured/returned guinea pigs.