House Of Horrors Greets Family After Dream Vacation

In the previous post, I mentioned about Pet Parents using teenagers as Pet Sitters . They generally do it to pay cheaper prices. Its another reason to do research and hire a Professional Pet Sitter. Here is a true story that happened in Buffalo, NY.

By: Lou Michel

House of horrors greets family after dream vacation

Steven Binder and wife Kristen Segebarth said that there were feces on carpet and footstool and that someone had urinated on the bed.Steven Binder and wife Kristen Segebarth said that there were feces on carpet and footstool and that someone had urinated on the bed. Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News

When Steven Binder, his wife and daughter returned home from a dream vacation in Costa Rica last month, they walked into their Parkside house to find the mother of the cat sitter they’d hired standing beside a vacuum.

There had been a problem with a bed upstairs, the woman sheepishly said.

She quickly added that she had taken a comforter and two rugs to a professional cleaner.

“What the hell went on here?” Binder demanded.

The answer was far worse than he could have possibly imagined. The house had been trashed, some valuable items had been pilfered, and there was thousands of dollars in damages.

The cat sitter, a trusted teenage friend of the couple’s 18-year-old daughter Zoey Binder, had apparently hosted an out-of-control party the night of Dec. 27 with about 50 teens, all from the Buffalo area’s best high schools: City Honors School, Nardin Academy, St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute and Canisius High School.

Binder and his wife, Kristen Segebarth, confronted the 17-year-old cat sitter and her parents, asking them to pay for damages.

The best that the cat sitter’s parents would do, Segebarth said, was write out a check for $90, the amount they had paid in advance for the girl to care for the cats. After waiting a month, Binder and Segebarth decided to come forward with their story. When The Buffalo News contacted the cat sitter Thursday afternoon by phone for her insights on what happened, she declined to comment. The News made several calls to the sitter’s mother that were not returned.

Binder recalled the horror of what he and his family encountered upon their return from vacation. There was urine, feces and pools of vomit on the rugs and bedding. There were used condoms strewn about.

A video clip Zoey later secured from a social media site showed teenage boys in her bedroom. One of them was urinating on her bed with an unseen narrator saying, “This is for you.”

The video also shows another teenager throwing an item against the wall and then shoving all of the papers off a desk and cursing Zoey.

Binder recounted feeling as if he’d been beaten in the face “with the flat side of a shovel” as he left the house to calm down and pick up their dog Atticus at the kennel.

As Binder went out the door, the 64-year-old homeowner said he could hear his wife and daughter crying out, “Oh … oh … oh ….” as they made their way from one room to the next in their normally well-cared for home on Florence Avenue, just down the block from Delaware Park.

Upon doing an inventory, the family discovered that a number of precious keepsakes, including matching mother-and-daughter gold necklaces with pearls, were stolen. More than $6,000 in cash was taken along with a large quantity of prescription pain medications for Binder, who had recently experienced a prolonged bout of lower back pain. But it was the state of their 2½-story home that he and his wife have fixed up over nearly two decades that has him distraught.

“The destruction to our house is considerable. There was human feces, urine and vomit in numerous locations. Every floor in the house was rifled. There was broken furniture and there were multiple used condoms,” Binder said Thursday as he and his wife explained that it wasn’t until just last week that they succeeded in eradicating the stench from the party.

“It took an industrial strength cleaning to get rid of the odors of urine and vomit, and we keep discovering more,” Binder said. “I don’t know that I won’t open a box in my attic at some point and discover more vomit. There was vomit everywhere.”

And while the family is slowly putting their house back together, it will take much longer, they say, to come to terms with the outrageous feeling of having their private space violated by dozens of strangers. “It’s a betrayal of trust,” Binder said.

Two of the cats were so traumatized, he added, “that they did not come out of their hiding places until two days after we had come home.”

Northwest District Detectives Margaret Dragoon and Edwin Perez are investigating the cat sitter’s role in the party and have obtained a list of names of the 46 known partygoers and their schools that she had provided to the homeowners. The teenager has not been charged at this point and whether there will be charges appears uncertain.

A police official confirmed that the house had been trashed and said the Erie County District Attorney’s Office has advised investigators that the case may end up being a civil matter, rather than criminal, though the investigation is continuing.

Twenty-five of the young people attended City Honors, seven were from Nardin Academy, six from Canisius High School, four from St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute, three from a Williamsville high school and one was an exchange student, according to the list.

The News is not using the names of the cat sitter, her family and the other alleged partygoers because they have not been charged.

Besides the video clip found, Zoey also discovered social media believed to have been made by the partygoers:

“If I didn’t die last night, I’m probably living forever.”

“I am DISGUSTED by every aspect of this night.”

“Never realized that I go to school with such horny people.”

“Roll another bowl.”

The family is now awaiting a damage estimate from their insurance claims adjuster, and it is expected to be in the thousands of dollars to repair holes in walls, fix flooring and pay cleanup costs.

Binder said they also recently met with the cat sitter and her parents and asked that they be reimbursed $8,500 for their vacation as a form of partial restitution. The vacation was in honor of Zoey’s high school graduation last June and her attendance at an Ivy League school, the University of Pennsylvania.

Segebarth said the cat sitter’s parents wrote out a check for $90, the amount that had been paid for the cat sitting job.

What deeply troubles Segebarth, she said, is that there seems to be an attitude that “kids will be kids.” She believes it is an entirely unacceptable reaction to the crisis she and her family have experienced. The message to the community, she said, is that parents need to start teaching their children to be accountable.

“These actions of destruction and disregard are wrong,” Segebarth said.

“We are not taking our role as victims lying down. We intend to hold those young adults and their parents accountable for their actions and/or lack thereof,” Binder said. “People need to understand that invading a home, vandalizing that home and robbing the homeowners is not just ‘teenagers being teenagers.’ ”

  • This bed frame was broken during an underage party at the Parkside home of Steven Binder and Kristen Segebarth.
  • Steven Binder and wife Kristen Segebarth said that there were feces on carpet and footstool and that someone had urinated on the bed.
  • This broken lamp in the Florence Avenue home of Steven Binder and Kristen Segebarth is just one example of the widespread destruction they discovered after an underage house party was held there while they were away on vacation.
  • Photos show some of the destruction that occurred at a Florence Ave home during an underage house party.
  • Photos show some of the destruction that occurred at a Florence Avenue home during an underage house party.
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He Dropped His Dog Off At The Sitter. What Happened Next Is Every Pet Owner’s Worst Nightmare

I always like to inform Pet Parents the importance of finding a Professional Pet Sitter to take care of your dog while you are away.
I recently read two articles where Pet Parents either utilized a teenager to care for their pet or Rover where people advertise just as a hobby and no insurance for both. Neither of these caretakers” had true experience in caring for animals. Loving Animals , while is great, is not a qualification for caring for animals. This story I have here comes from viralnova.com. Read to find out what happened to this Pet Parents beloved pet.

Before going away on a holiday at Christmas, this family decided to board their 3 year-old Shar Pei Akayla. Akayla’s dad used Rover.com to find a family to watch her. The website claims to be a mediator that will put you in contact with safe homes to care for your dog while you are away. “No more lonely cages, just happy homes full of love!”

The couple found a dog sitter with positive reviews. She was advertising herself as looking to start a professional dog-boarding business. On December 24th, Akayla was dropped off at the woman’s home.

Putting the well-being of a loved one in the hands of another person is always frightening, but to know that something went terribly wrong for Akayla would have been terrifying for this family. Thank goodness she survived the vicious mauling and was able to recover.

Source: imgur.com

If you ever use a dog sitter, do your research. Websites like Rover.com may have reviews, but you’re giving away precious cargo. Be careful! Please share this article with others so they can be cautioned.

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The Scary Truth About “Free to a Good Home” Dog Classifieds

Written By Brandy Arnold

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The Dogington Post is one of my favorite websites to read . They have a wealth of information on pets. This is an extremely important article for people who in good faith are either looking for a new pet or needs to re-home a pet. It bothers me a lot , the number of animals that are killed by evil people. So please share this article to help cut down on the number of pets that are used and murdered on a daily basis.

Every responsible dog owner or pet parent knows that getting a dog is a life-long commitment. From the moment you open your heart and home to a loyal dog, you’re in it for the long haul, through sickness and health, ups and downs, good and bad, through snuggles on the couch to picking up the pieces of yet another pair of shredded shoes.

Responsible dog owners make decisions with their dog in mind. We don’t move to a new home without making sure the furkids are welcomed in the new community, we don’t spend frivolously without making sure the dog is cared for first, and, when times get tough, we’ll skip a meal so that the dog still gets his.

Unfortunately, not all dog owners are responsible. Close to 4 million dogs enter rescue shelters each year in the United States alone, with about 60% of these facing euthanasia. Shelters and animal rescues are busting at the seams as a direct result of irresponsible pet ownership.

Still, even responsible dog owners can sometimes find themselves searching for a good home for their beloved pet. Unexpected circumstances, illness, injury, death, economic collapse. Things happen.

Because our rescues and shelters are packed full, responsible pet owners have an increasingly tough time finding a good home for their pets and are turning to direct-to-consumer classified ads, like Craigslist or the local newspaper, thinking that they’re doing the right thing for their dog. Sometimes, a good Samaritan finds a stray dog and, rather than call animal control and risk the dog being euthanized, will put up a classified ad to find a new home.

We visited Craigslist’s pet classified section and contacted several dog owners offering “free to a good home” dogs on the site with questions about their dogs, their reason for re-homing them, and their decision to use a classified ad for their precious dogs. Most advertisers ignored us, but a few responded. Here’s what we found:

A military family was deploying overseas and couldn’t take their pitbull-mix; a single mother was having another child and could no longer afford to care for her Catahoula-mix; another was re-homing his deceased father’s beloved Beagle. Though most of us would find ways to keep our dogs in each of these cases, none of them are particularly terrible reasons to re-home an animal.

All 3 were genuinely concerned for the well-being of their dogs and felt they were doing the right thing. All 3 listed their pets as “free to a good home” because they didn’t want to profit from a “sale” of their pet, but ultimately only wanted to find a loving home for the pets they cared for. All 3 respondents above claimed to have contacted shelters and/or rescue groups before using Craigslist but were denied any help due to overcrowding and felt they had no other options.

All 3 pulled or modified their ads when we explained what really happens to “free to a good home” pets.

So, what really happens to “free to a good home” dogs?

- Last year, Jeffrey Nally Jr. was charged with 29 counts of animal cruelty because of the massive number of dead animal found on his West Virginia property. Nally had obtained at least 29 animals through “free to a good home” Craigslist ads, just like the ones we responded to.

- Patricia Hervey of Texas, is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of animals at her Bexar County home. Hervey prowled Craigslist for “free” animals, claimed to run an animal shelter near San Antonio, took money from dog owners to use to re-home them, then shot and killed them, dumping their bodies in a lake behind her home.

- Dogfighting circles use free Craigslist dogs as “bait dogs” for training their own dogs to fight without risking injury, or they take in free dogs and train those to be fighters as well.

- Other groups, called “Bunchers” scour classifieds for free dogs, then sell them to laboratories for animal research and experimentation.

- And, sometimes, a free ad for re-homing a purebred, unaltered dog will result in the former family dog being picked up by a puppy mill breeder to spend the rest of her life as a caged, malnourished, unloved breeding machine.

The people looking specifically for “free to a good home” dogs will go to great lengths to appear legitimately interested in providing a perfect, loving home for the dog. They present themselves as well-to-do, responsible dog lovers. They often bring children along to meet the dog and owner to avoid suspicion. They will make up elaborate stories about previous pets, a perfect home and yard, and promise to provide a loving forever home to the helpless animal.
If, for some reason (and it better be a good one), you must re-home your pet, there are some steps you can take to ensure he goes to a good home. Pet-Abuse.com offers up some wonderful tips for pet owners facing this challenging dilemma.

Don’t advertise “Free pet”
Spay/neuter the animal to avoid attracting backyard breeders or puppy mill operators
Charge at least $25 to discourage resale of pets to labs and others
Ask each prospective owner for his/her veterinarian’s name as a reference and check it.
Ask for identification in the form of a photo I.D. Write down the information, or scan/photocopy it if possible
Ask for a phone number and explain that you’d like to check on how the animal’s doing. An honest person will gladly share the information with you.
Have the person sign an “adoption” contract concerning your pet stating that they will not go to research. Having this in writing gives you legal recourse.
Ask to visit the place where your pet will live before your release the pet to the new owner.
If a dog owner truly cares about the life and well-being of the dog being re-homed, taking the steps above to ensure he goes to a good home are worth the time and effort.

What should you do if you find a “free to a good home” dog classified ad?

Whenever possible, contact the dog’s owner and warn them of the dangers of giving away their dog for free. As we discovered, not everyone will listen. So, if the ad is on the internet, contact the site owner to request that they disallow the posting of ads for free animals on their site.

Bookmark this page and send the link to anyone trying to give away a free dog.

These dogs are depending on us.

 

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Recipe For Diabetic Dog Treats

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Original recipe makes 2 pounds
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2 eggs
1 1/2 pounds beef liver, cut into pieces

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line a 10×15 inch jellyroll pan with parchment paper.
Place the liver into a food processor. Pulse until finely chopped. If you have room, add the flour and eggs, and process until smooth. Otherwise, transfer to a bowl, and stir in the flour and eggs using a wooden spoon. Spread evenly in the prepared pan.
Bake for 15 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the center is firm. Cool, and cut into squares using a pizza cutter. The treats will have a consistency similar to a sponge. Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator.

The Dirty Dozen: 12 Pet Treats to Avoid

By: Brandy Arnold of The Dogington Post

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If you were making your own dog treats, using the freshest and most wholesome, healthy ingredients, would you ever consider dumping sugar into the mix?

Of course not. So why, then, do a number of the most popular dog treats on the market contain high amounts of sugar? Because dogs love it.

According to a press release from Dr. Ernie Ward, founder of the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) and author of “Chow Hounds: Why Our Dogs Are Getting Fatter – A Vet’s Plan to Save Their Lives” (2010 HCI),

…the problem is linked to money – lots of it. With US pet treat sales estimated to be nearly $2 billion in 2010, the treat bowl has turned golden. “Sugar is incredibly attractive to dogs. If a dog gobbles a treat quickly, an owner is more likely to give another – and another. This adds up to more sales – and profits. In the race for pet treat profits, our pets’ health is being bankrupted.”

With 45% of American dogs and 58% of cats considered overweight, an estimated 89 million pets are at high risk for developing conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, high blood pressure and more.

In addition to obesity, sugary treats lead to behavioral problems as well.

“Numerous studies in rats demonstrate that overfeeding sugar can create symptoms similar to drug addiction. A dog’s daily sweet treat may be contributing to overeating and other undesirable behaviors. This is why I call today’s high-sugar treats ‘kibble crack.’”

Still, pet treat manufacturers blame pet owners. They are, after all, the ones that purchase and feed the sugary treats.

So, Dr. Ward listed what he calls “The Dirty Dozen,” the 12 most popular sugary dog treats that should be avoided. Pet parents should be aware of what they’re feeding their pets, understand ingredient labels, and to avoid treats that masquerade as healthy and nutritious while silently contributing to the obesity epidemic.

His goal is to help pet parents to be more aware of what they’re feeding their pets. “Pet owners definitely have a feeding disorder when it comes to their pets. Ultimately it’s up to each owner to control how much they feed their pets. What I want to bring attention to is what ingredients are in pet treats – and why. Pet owners must begin to question why there is sugar in a treat that claims to help teeth,” he said.

Dr. Ward’s Dirty Dozen – Popular Sugary Pet Treats

Pet Treat Added Sugar
Canine CarryOuts Chew-lotta Dextrose first ingredient
Snausages SnawSomes! Beef and Chicken Flavor Sugars 3 of first 4 ingredients
Pedigree Jumbone Mini Snack Food for Small Dogs Sugars 2 of 3 first ingredient
Petrodex Dental Treats for Cats Dextrose second ingredient
Pedigree Jumbone Sugar third ingredient
Milk Bone Essentials Plus Oral Care Sugar third ingredient
Pup-Peroni Lean Beef Recipe Sugar third ingredient
Science Diet Simple Essentials Treats Training Adult Treats with Real Beef Sugar third ingredient
Cesar Softies Dog Treats Sugar third ingredient
Milk-Bone Chewy Chicken Drumsticks Sugar third ingredient
Meow Mix Moist Cat Treats Corn syrup fourth ingredient
Pedigree Marrobone Sugar third ingredient
Other common sugar-containing treats according to Dr. Ernie Ward:

Pedigree Jumbone – Sugar third ingredient
Beneful Snackin’ Slices – Sugar fourth ingredient
Pit’r Pat Fresh Breath Mint Flavored Cat Treats – Maltodextrin first ingredient
Three Dog Bakery Lick ‘n Crunch – Dextrose third ingredient
Beneful Snackin Slices – Sugar fourth ingredient
Busy Chewnola – Maltodextrin second ingredient
Exclusively Dog Vanilla Flavor Sandwich Creme Dog Cookies – Sugars first two ingredients
Canine Carryouts Dog Treats – Corn syrup second ingredient
For more information, visit http://www.PetObesityPrevention.com or http://www.DrErnieWard.com .

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Every Other Day Cat- Sits Are NOT An Option When Hiring Professional Pet Sitting Services.

Originally posted on Scoop The Poop!:

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Pepper Grayson

This is Pepper Grayson, my gray tabby. As independent as Peppie is, I would never leave him alone for more than a day. I know others may say they would but let’s address some of those consequences.

One of the best things about being a professional pet sitter is the connection many of us share. Not only are we able to celebrate each other’s successes but we are able to share the lessons learned from the failures as well. Just this past week , one of my fellow professional pet sitters fosters cats along with her pets. After coming home late from pet sitting other’s pets , she noticed the foster cat was acting unusual and ill. It turned out the cat was extremely ill, he had an obstructed bowel. The cat is still in the hospital today. Some may say how often does that happen. More…

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5 Poisonous Plants That Can Ruin Your Dog’s Holiday Season

By Liz Acosta – Dogster

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Holiday plants can bring festive color to your home … and they can bring sickness to your dog. Check out our infographic and make sure to spread the word.

Some of the plants we bring into our homes for the holidays can be deadly if consumed. And we know you’re not planning on eating them, but you can’t really tell your dog friend, “Hey, dog friend, don’t eat that poinsettia unless you want to be really sick,” because we still haven’t figured out how to communicate directly with our canine companions. (Bummer, I know.)

We’ve put together a handy infographic of plants to avoid and listed why they’re potentially deadly.

  1. Poinsettia: This red-leafed plant doesn’t actually live up to all the hype — it’s actually only mildly toxic. However, even mild toxicity can be fatal when combined with other conditions. Better safe than sorry.
  2. Mistletoe: While the mistletoe may be a symbol of merry-making, it’s toxic if swallowed — but not as toxic as once believed. Again — better safe than sorry!
  3. Holly: Holly berries may be the most attractive to dogs, but the leaves, bark, and seeds are just as poisonous. The effect of holly on dogs is similar to that of caffeine and chocolate.
  4. Amaryllis: Less common than the other plants on this list, amaryllis causes abdominal pain and convulsions, so keep an eye out for it!
  5. Pine needles: Probably the least of your concerns here, pine needles may cause harm if swallowed, puncturing intestines or stomach lining. The tree oils might irritate mucous membranes, but just keeping your tree area tidy should prevent any problems.

Signs of poisoning may be:

If you suspect your dog may have been poisoned, please seek immediate medical attention.

Happiest holidays! Here’s wishing you and your loved ones a bright and warm celebration!

Scientists Sign Declaration That Animals Have Conscious Awareness Just Like Humans

An international group of prominent scientists has signed The Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness in which they are proclaiming their support for the idea that animals are conscious and aware to the degree that humans are — a list of animals that includes all mammals, birds, and even the octopus. But will this make us stop treating these animals in totally inhumane ways?

While it might not sound like much for scientists to declare that many nonhuman animals possess conscious states, it’s the open acknowledgement that’s the big news here. The body of scientific evidence is increasingly showing that most animals are conscious in the same way that we are, and it’s no longer something we can ignore.

What’s also very interesting about the declaration is the group’s acknowledgement that consciousness can emerge in those animals that are very much unlike humans, including those that evolved along different evolutionary tracks, namely birds and some cephalopods.

“The absence of a neocortex does not appear to preclude an organism from experiencing affective states,” they write, “Convergent evidence indicates that non-human animals have the neuroanatomical, neurochemical, and neurophysiological substrates of conscious states along with the capacity to exhibit intentional behaviors.”

Consequently, say the signatories, the scientific evidence is increasingly indicating that humans are not unique in possessing the neurological substrates that generate consciousness.

The group consists of cognitive scientists, neuropharmacologists, neurophysiologists, neuroanatomists, and computational neuroscientists — all of whom were attending the Francis Crick Memorial Conference on Consciousness in Human and Non-Human Animals. The declaration was signed in the presence ofStephen Hawking, and included such signatories as Christof Koch, David Edelman, Edward Boyden, Philip Low, Irene Pepperberg, and many more.

The declaration made the following observations:

  • The field of Consciousness research is rapidly evolving. Abundant new techniques and strategies for human and non-human animal research have been developed. Consequently, more data is becoming readily available, and this calls for a periodic reevaluation of previously held preconceptions in this field. Studies of non-human animals have shown that homologous brain circuits correlated with conscious experience and perception can be selectively facilitated and disrupted to assess whether they are in fact necessary for those experiences. Moreover, in humans, new non-invasive techniques are readily available to survey the correlates of consciousness.
  • The neural substrates of emotions do not appear to be confined to cortical structures. In fact, subcortical neural networks aroused during affective states in humans are also critically important for generating emotional behaviors in animals. Artificial arousal of the same brain regions generates corresponding behavior and feeling states in both humans and non-human animals. Wherever in the brain one evokes instinctual emotional behaviors in non-human animals, many of the ensuing behaviors are consistent with experienced feeling states, including those internal states that are rewarding and punishing. Deep brain stimulation of these systems in humans can also generate similar affective states. Systems associated with affect are concentrated in subcortical regions where neural homologies abound. Young human and nonhuman animals without neocortices retain these brain-mind functions. Furthermore, neural circuits supporting behavioral/electrophysiological states of attentiveness, sleep and decision making appear to have arisen in evolution as early as the invertebrate radiation, being evident in insects and cephalopod mollusks (e.g., octopus).
  • Birds appear to offer, in their behavior, neurophysiology, and neuroanatomy a striking case of parallel evolution of consciousness. Evidence of near human-like levels of consciousness has been most dramatically observed in African grey parrots. Mammalian and avian emotional networks and cognitive microcircuitries appear to be far more homologous than previously thought. Moreover, certain species of birds have been found to exhibit neural sleep patterns similar to those of mammals, including REM sleep and, as was demonstrated in zebra finches, neurophysiological patterns, previously thought to require a mammalian neocortex. Magpies in articular have been shown to exhibit striking similarities to humans, great apes, dolphins, and elephants in studies of mirror self-recognition.
  • In humans, the effect of certain hallucinogens appears to be associated with a disruption in cortical feedforward and feedback processing. Pharmacological interventions in non-human animals with compounds known to affect conscious behavior in humans can lead to similar perturbations in behavior in non-human animals. In humans, there is evidence to suggest that awareness is correlated with cortical activity, which does not exclude possible contributions by subcortical or early cortical processing, as in visual awareness. Evidence that human and nonhuman animal emotional feelings arise from homologous subcortical brain networks provide compelling evidence for evolutionarily shared primal affective qualia.

Read more about this here and here.

Feline Behavior: Why Do Cats Headbutt Their Owners?

The Following Blog is from a website called And My Cat . It’s a website for cat lovers.

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Ever wondered why kitty randomly headbutts your leg? Or arm? Or head? The funny action actually has a name – “bunting” – and there’s a reason behind the curious behavior!

It’s not headbutting in the human sense, because the motivation for kitty is rubbing on you and leaving his or her scent glands there. You can take it as a compliment, because your cat’s intentions are purely friendly – bunting is actually something cats generally only do with other animals and humans they’re familiar with.

So… what exactly is a cat trying to say with each and every head bump? Read below to find out all about this scent communication.

“Pet me, please!”

”Cats are pretty smart, as you probably already know – so if you’ve taken the headbutt as a sign that kitty wants to be petted, then your feline probably quickly associated bunting with getting lots of TLC. On the other hand, your cat’s intentions might’ve been for scratches behind the ears all along.

“Feed me, please!”

This one is purely anecdotal, as one of our cats endlessly headbutts once dinnertime rolls around. You can tell he’s hungry as he struts along the top of the couch – making sure to rub your head and shoulders until it’s finally time for food. Perhaps kitty sees getting fed as a sign of affection, and is encouraging some TLC??

“I love you!”

As mentioned before, bunting – a form of “allorubbing” – isn’t something cats do with strangers. Generally, it’s reserved for other critters – like cats and humans – that the felines find important and want to put their scent on. If kitty greets you with a headbutt, take it as a sign that he or she feels safe and secure with you around – quite the compliment!
Traditionally, it’s thought that cats rub on things to mark them as their own – a matter of being territorial. But researchers now think that rubbing can also be a sign of respect, affection, or simply something that soothes them.

Next time kitty strolls over and rubs (or maybe smashes) his or her face onto yours, you can feel confident that your cat thinks you’re the best!

Fear Issues In Dogs

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There have been a lot of questions lately addressed to me about fear issues in pets. So I want to address the issue about fear/aggression issues in this blog. I am a member of the Pet Professional Guild and one of the issues we talk about are fear issues with animals. Here is a great write up by one of our members who is a professional dog trainer. Her name is Leah Roberts.

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Aggression always (or at least 99.9% of the time) is a fear issue. Just like when we feel threatened we have the choice between fight, flight, and freeze, so do dogs make a similar choice. They may hide behind something and shake, lunge and attack, or just freeze on the spot. In all cases, you want to address the underlying fear, not the behavior. Once you have healed the fear, the behavior will change on its own.

There are two methods of dealing with fear that work beautifully. Both are ways of associating good things with the trigger (object of fear) and replacing that with the perception that the trigger is threatening.

Open Bar/Closed Bar: As long as the trigger is in sight, chicken (or a very special yummy treat) is being shoveled into the dog’s mouth. I also like to “cheerlead” – praise in a happy tone of voice. When the trigger moves out of sight, the chicken and cheering stop.

Click the Trigger: Watch the dog’s eyes. As soon as the dog looks at the trigger, click (or use a verbal marker) and immediately hold the chicken to the side of the dog’s nose, so that his eye contact is immediately broken to take the treat. Repeat. Repeat.

In both cases, it is ultimately important to start at a distance/level of intensity where your dog notices the trigger, but is not bothered by it. If he’s already reacting, you are too close. In both cases, you are working toward getting a “yay, there’s the trigger” reaction. Not just tolerance, but happy excitement. Once you get that, you move a teensy bit closer and start again.

If even once during the therapy your dog is placed “over threshold” – where he feels threatened – you have lost your progress. So you may have to change your routine. If you normally walk your dog where there are other dogs who appear too close for comfort, walk elsewhere for a while until your dog is fine with that level of intensity. If you have your dog out in the house when visitors come and he’s upset, put him away before you have visitors in until he is happy to see them.

Best case scenario, locate a force-free trainer who uses these scientific principles of counter-conditioning. Never “correct” a reaction, because you will associate “bad things happen when that trigger is around” and lose your progress. Note that if you get a reaction, YOU made the mistake, not the dog. You’re too close.

First place to look for a force-free trainer: http://petprofessionalguild.com/

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