Why Write About Pets?

By Betty Thomason Owens

Why would we choose to write about pets? These (usually) quadruped members of our families add so much to our lives and have become wildly popular. Why not write about them? Stroll around any bookstore or library and I guarantee you will find books about animals/pets. I’ve found several books written from the animal’s POV. Seems like a stretch, but could be entertaining, which is probably the point. Those of you who are writers may often include a pet in your stories. Why? Because most of us have them. To describe a family situation without some sort of pet is almost un-American.

An odd sort of person who lives down the hall and has not one—not two—but a dozen cats in her tiny apartment might make an interesting side character. You’d just have to provide the occasional glimpse of the character, maybe a peek at the many cats. You’d have the smell and the noise to round out your sensory points. Odd character could be an ugly old crone or a sweetly gentle octogenarian.

One of my absolute favorite movies includes several dogs owned by an old Italian man. In an incredibly cute and funny scene, he’s walking all the dogs under a gorgeous moon. Care to venture a guess? Yes, it’s the one with Cher and Nicolas Cage: Moonstruck. The dogs add so much to that movie. I’m still smiling at the memory.

Yes, I live in the Bluegrass State!

Yes, I live in the Bluegrass State!

There are dogs and there are cats and then there are…horses. Beautiful animals! Horses can be as loyal and loving as any dog. They can also be mean and/or dangerous (as can dogs). Horses figure highly in the movie industry, from National Velvet to War Horse. Who didn’t fall in love with that wonderful horse in War Horse? These are also considered pets and they can become as much a part of our life as any dog or cat, but they usually eat more and require a lot more care. And the pooper-scoopers are a lot bigger (been there…).

When writing a family style story, you want to appeal to everyone, so why not include an animal and give it humanlike characteristics. Animals tend to communicate very well through actions and eye-contact. Have you ever been stared down by a cat? I have. Have you ever been licked by a cow? That has also happened to me. I mothered a couple of calves in my youth. So cute as calves, they’re just plain scary at a thousand pounds plus, especially when they’re running at you in the pasture. They come to a dead stop directly in front of you and toss their heads. “Just kidding—snort!” Yes, they are actually quite the kidders. I’ve had my heart stop on several occasions.

When writing their characters, you can use some of the same principles as when writing human characters. They have names, hair and eye color, height and weight, distinct voices, and oh yes, instinct. Their natural instincts can get them into a lot of trouble or deliver them to hero status. They can scare off a burglar or bite the hand that feeds them. An animal can be gentled in much the same way your heroine gentles her man. And a woman’s immediate rapport with a guy’s dog is akin to a guy’s immediate affinity with a woman’s child. Oh yes, that’s great romance.

And how much fun would it be to write a Milo and Otis-type story? One of childhood’s great adventures (my guys loved it). So next time you’re mulling over a list of characters for your WIP or you want to pump-up the humor in a story, you might consider adding a pet or two into the mix. Don’t hack the job though, as they can take away or distract from the plot. It’s a little like scratch cooking. You have to know how much to sprinkle in and sometimes it’s ok to add more sugar.

In looking over our articles this month, I thought you cat owners out there might be feeling slighted, so here’s some cuteness to tickle your funny bone at Dontpkethebear.com. These pictures prove there are some pretty clever cats out there.

If you have a few minutes, complete the prompt below or send us a comment to take part in this month’s contest. Thanks!

Friday Prompt: Numb and shaken, Doug stared at the stirrup. He’d seen this done, but had never actually ridden one of these critters. But his buddy needed help, and the horse was the quickest and best solution. So he sucked in a deep breath, grabbed hold of the pommel, stuck the toe of his boot in the stirrup, and…

Should I Get a Dog?

Chip-1

Pet Article courtesy of http://pet-articles.blogspot.com.

The short answer is, of course, yes! If you never had the fortune to grow up with dogs, or to know a friend who had a dog, you do not know the amazingly fun times you are missing. Depending on where you live and what kind of dog is right for you, you can take it swimming, hunting, walking around, on the bus, on a jog, or simply just to the dog park to meet other like-minded dog owners. While there are many considerations to go over as to whether a dog is right for you and your current situation (Do you have the space? Do you have the time?), dogs are scientifically proven to be good for the person who owns them and their family. So, if you have a house with a nice backyard and have a spare hour a day, get looking for a new sidekick! Following are some of the most impressive reasons that owning a dog isn’t just a costly endeavor.

One good thing about owning a dog is that they will help you live longer. That’s right! While pets provide their owners with the love and company they so desire, it is difficult to say exactly why people who own dogs live longer. There is evidence that dogs can help you reduce your blood pressure! This article probably does not have to tell you how fun it can be to play with your dog, cuddle with your dog, or just hang around and watch your dog experience new things. Well, owning a pet can lower your blood pressure as effectively as if you were to start eating a low-salt diet or restricting how much alcohol you drink. So get a dog, then grab a beer. This is why many hospitals and retirement community centers hire on a dog to come in and engage in “animal therapy” with the patients and residents: not only does it help old people by reducing their blood pressure and offering them a distraction from any worries or sad thoughts in their lives, but it also acts as a calming presence that eliminates loneliness. At this point in the article it is already clear that dogs are somewhat of a wonder cure for many of life’s ills!

Studies by the US Department of Health have come to the conclusion that pets helped victims of heart attacks–the study reads that 28% of heart patients who also had pets survived “serious heart attacks”, while only about 6% of people without pets made it through. If that’s not enough, you can also measure how much good it does you to own a dog by measuring your before-and-after waistline. A recent study has concluded that pet owners had 2% lower cholesterol than those without pets, and those pet owners’ chance of going through cardiac arrest was reduced by 4%.

Not only are dogs good for you, but they are good for your kids, too. You do not need to read studies to view the delight on children’s faces as they play with dogs. But, just in case that was not enough evidence for you, a few studies have been done to prove how good it is for kids to own pets. A certain study showed that children who were in the vicinity of a dog during their physical examinations had reduced blood pressure, less behavioral problems or distress, and lower heart rates than when a dog was nowhere to be found.

In conclusion, a dog is sometimes hard work. If you’ve never owned a pet before, you may have to become accustomed to picking up the feces of your companion at the most inopportune times. The dog, depending on what type it is, may be aggressive or too timid, very easy or very hard to train, and may either be too smart for its own good or not live up to your standards of intelligence. These are the facts. However, if you give them love, they will return it with all of their energy–it is what they were bred to do and why the humans have let them stick around for the past thousands of years.
Zorro

Today’s Writing Prompt: “But, Mom.” Taylor placed her hands on her hips, frown in place. “You said I could have a dog.”
Mom closed her eyes in silent prayer before she answered. “No, I said…

How to Spot Allergies in Your Dog

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Thanks Becky O’Neil for this informative article…http://www.articlesbase.com/pets-articles/how-to-spot-allergies-in-your-dog-6706617.html

Dogs are no different than people when it comes to allergies. Arlington, VA has some of the most highly regarded care providers when it comes to treating an extreme reaction in a dog. You do not have to be a professional to recognize and treat the symptoms of an allergy attack in your animal, however. Most allergens are common in many households and harmless to most animals. But, a dog with allergies will react in an extreme way when contact with the allergen is made. Allergens can be problematic when inhaled, ingested or contact a dog’s skin. As his body tries to rid itself of these substances, a variety of skin, digestive and respiratory symptoms may appear.

The Arlington seasons bring a number of allergens such a pollen, ragweed, various grasses and mold. Some pet owners enlist the help of pet sitting services to pay extra attention to their dogs over the allergy season. Pet sitting services have providers available to administer medication that may be needed and to ensure that your pet is as comfortable as possible when suffering from allergies.

What symptoms should you be aware of when trying to determine if an extreme reaction is occurring in your animal? Look out for Itchy, red or moist scabbed skin or itchy eyes. The back of the tail is also a prime spot for itchy irritation. More human-like reactions such as vomiting, diarrhea and runny nose are also signs that your dog may be suffering. Look out for paw chewing, constant licking are swollen body parts as well. Allergic dogs may also suffer from secondary bacterial or yeast skin infections, which may cause hair loss, scabs or crusts on the skin.

Some types of dogs are more prone to allergic reactions, though any breed is susceptible. Terriers, setters, retrievers, and flat-faced breeds such as pugs, bulldogs and Boston terriers are at the highest risk for extreme reactions. Common household items that may invoke a reaction include dust, dander, feathers, cigarette smoke, food ingredients such as wheat or soy, prescription drugs and flea control products. Also look out for cleaning products, fabrics and plastic materials. Pet sitting services have trained professionals who are constantly on the lookout for potential allergens and can avoid the common outdoor allergens in Arlington.

It may take time and research to discover the cause of the reaction once you notice that one is taking place. Visit your veterinarian and make sure a thorough check up is done yearly as many allergies can present themselves later in life.

The Naming Process

Hey ya’ll. Happy August. Ginger here, and today I’m going to reveal how I name my pets. You’ll be amazed. LOL

Actually, I’m rather boring when it comes to naming pets. A white cat named Snowball, and a black dog named Blackie are some of the names I chose as a child. So absolutely original, don’t you think?  LOL It hasn’t gotten much better now that I’m an adult.

Our family has a number of pets at the moment. Three dogs. One bunny. One cat. One hamster. 

Zorro

Zorro

Zorro is my baby. He’s a miniature Australian Shepherd. You can’t tell in this picture, but he has one blue eye, and the other is half blue and half brown. I named him Zorro because his belly and the front of his legs are white, and his back and the back of his hind legs are black–like he has on a cape. He also has the mask around his eyes. Looked like Zorro to me, though I should have named him Shadow, since wherever I am, he is too.

Midnight

Midnight

Midnight belongs to my oldest daughter. Midnight is a mutt–some type of short dog mixed with a black lab–and likes to catch and kill various species of wildlife, including small birds, chickens, and a wild bunny. I’ve also found her with a number of mice. Part cat?

Shaggy

Shaggy

Shaggy belongs to my second son. His name came from the Scooby-Doo cartoons, but he didn’t fit the Scooby size requirements, so he became Shaggy. LOL He is also a mutt–probably a German shepherd and pit bull mix, with maybe a little greyhound thrown in–and is afraid of thunderstorms, and fireworks. He digs to alleviate his anxiety. He is well-fed, despite his skinny appearance.

Sam

Sam

Sam, the bunny, belongs to my other daughter. We don’t know if it’s a boy or girl, so we chose a name that could go either way–Samantha (my daughter’s preference) or Samuel. Sam has recently moved into a new cage and apparently likes to dig. Good thing there’s wire four or so inches underneath her. She also likes tomatoes–another recent discovery.

Peeta

Peeta

Peeta is our cat. Can you guess how he got his name? He belongs to my third son. We adopted him from a local animal shelter. He is a grey tabby. He thinks he’s a dog though. In the picture he’s eating a bone. He also follows my son around, and comes when my son calls him.

Finally, there’s Teddy. He’s a teddy-bear hamster.  Teddy belongs to my fourth son. I don’t have any pictures of Teddy, not any that I could find anyway. He’s a cutie though. He’s also an escape artist. We have to rubber-band his cage closed so he doesn’t undo the door and run away, which he has done twice so far – once for almost a week.

So those are our pets, and their “original” names. How do you find the PERFECT name for your pet?

Blessings,

Ginger signature for Writing prompts