Archive for March, 2011

What do hairballs, heartworm disease and microchips all have in common?

March 31, 2011 Leave a comment


April is honored to, Charlie the Cat

  • National Heartworm Disease Awareness Month
  • Prevention of Animal Cruelty Month
  • National Pet First Aid Awareness Month
  • National Pet ID week, 17-23rd
  • National Hairball Awareness Day, 29th

There seems to be a day, a week, a month for everything.  I’m guilty of it myself as I work on the Animal Hospice Awareness Day the first Saturday of every November.  Besides being interesting trivia on our calendars, what are we supposed to do with this information?  Use it for what it is.  A fun way to share ideas around certain aspects of life, or in our case life with furry family.

The motivations behind establishing these celebrations varies from raising awareness around a specific cause to driving sales and influencing spending or votes.  I’m not concerned about the who and why of the various celebrations we’re just going to use them to help us discuss various aspects of living with dogs and cats.  As we go thru the month we’ll touch on each of these pet celebrations and have some fun with them.

In the meantime, what’s the craziest “day” you’ve heard of?  Add them to the comment section for all to enjoy.

Happy Earth Day 2011! (4/22/11)

Photography courtesy of Robyn Kessler (


I planned for terrible; it gets worse. Estate planning for pets gone wrong.

March 24, 2011 Leave a comment

You’ve seen the last post. You’ve been moved to action and created a well thought out plan for your pets.  Then you hear a story like this…

Taken from a story shared by Alexandra:

Back in 2008 a friend of mine, “Ann” heard through one of her friends, “John” about a woman, “Frieda” who was dying of cancer in Oakland. This woman was well-off; she owned a house in Oakland and some land in Bolinas. She had two 10 year old cats, one of whom had just had to have an eye removed due to malignant melanoma. While she herself was dying, she paid thousands of dollars for her cat’s surgery.

In her will, written in 2003, she left her cats to a close friend of many decades, and said that if that friend was not able to take them, she left them to yet another friend. She also left a bequest of $1,000 to whoever took the cats. She had discussed this with both friends before naming them in her will.

When Frieda died, John became her executor. He contacted both friends named in the will and even though they had promised Frieda to take the cats, they refused with some lame-ass excuses that basically boiled down to, they didn’t feel like it. He mentioned this to my friend Ann who agreed to foster the cats (she lives in San Francisco).

Frieda’s son “Evan” also lived in Oakland and went over to feed the cats for about a week but got impatient because he wanted to sell his mother’s house. So, 10 days after his mother died, he took her 10 year old one-eyed cat and his sister to the Oakland pound – a kill shelter – surrendered them, and called Ann from the parking lot to say if she wanted to foster them, she could come and get them. Which would be about a 40 mile drive round trip for her. His reason? It was his day off and so it was convenient for him to get rid of them that day.

Ann told him in no uncertain terms to go back in and get the cats and bring them to her. Which, thankfully, he did. To this day, they live with Ann. Who didn’t even know Frieda! She has spent thousands on their medical care and has not received even the $1,000 bequest that Frieda left in her will.

The son, Evan sounds horrible from reading this.  How could he be so selfish after all the effort his mother had put towards caring for her cats?  He is self-employed in a business that is all about caring and nurturing. To visit his mother’s memorial blog or his own business’s web site, you would never know that he was capable of such callous treatment of his mother’s beloved pets.

I only post this story to say, no matter how much of a safety net you think you given your animals who survive you – good luck with that. But having said that, it is really important to plan ahead, even if you are young and expect to outlive your animals, because any one of us could get hit by a truck tomorrow. And, make a backup for your backup!!!


Here are some links to some great programs that can assure the safety of your pets with organizations that aren’t going anywhere and won’t say “no” when the time comes:

Always do your own research and due diligence before signing any contracts or gifting any money to an organization.  If searching for more information, consider the term “perpetual care”

What if you are killed in a horrible car accident today? Who’s going to feed the dog?

March 21, 2011 1 comment

Find some wood, knock on it and know that I mean you no ill will.  It’s a horrible thought, but one that should be considered thoroughly and seriously.

dog bowl

On a casual day many years ago, I received the heartbreaking call that my father had passed away.  It was not expected.  Dad had two cats, an older Maine Coon and a younger, black, short haired cat.  Everyone loved the Maine Coon, he was mysterious, elusive, beautiful and he and my dad had a special bond.  The sad black cat on the other hand was “just a cat.”  He didn’t really have a relationship with my dad and he was very plain.

Maine Coon Black cat

I began handling my father’s affairs, that included finding loving homes for the cats.  People were fighting over the Maine Coon; no one wanted the poor younger boy.

I had moved into a rental a few days before my father’s passing, I immediately went to my new land lady with eager anticipation to bring the black kitty into my new home.  She denied me.  She flat out denied me and threatened me if she found the cat on her property…

Now what?  What would I do with this little cat?  He was young, healthy, no one wanted him and I couldn’t keep him.  After begging and pleading with friends and family, I took that cat to the Humane Society in my area.  I am still traumatized by having to sign the release form that allows them to euthanize the animal if they can’t find it a home.  They could not guarantee me he would get adopted.  They would not keep me informed as to his fate.  To leave him there was one of the most traumatic things I have ever done in my life.  I felt like my Dad was disappointed in me.  I felt like a horrible abuser to this poor cat who deserved so much better than a lottery’s chance at life.

Lesson learned.  Cats and dogs may not seem to have the same burden on an estate as a child.  I propose that they do.

If you have a will or a trust, did your attorney ask about children and perhaps offer advise on what role your children will play regarding your estate?  Did they then ask about your pets?


I remember the first few times I asked pet sitting clients, “What happens to your pets if you never come home?”  At first it was awkward for me.  Then it was awkward for them.  Now it’s one of my favorite questions to ask.  By having the conversation, we can at least create a loose plan for our pets.

One woman told me very quickly that her brother would be in charge of her pets if she passed away.  Only 5 minutes earlier, she was going over her dogs quirks and habits and explained to me that her dogs despised her brother and he despised them equally.  Does that sound like a great fit for those dogs?

Another woman immediately named her niece as the best caretaker of her diabetic cat if she were to pass.  Followed by the information that the niece had many cats and her cat couldn’t live in a multi-cat household.

The take away? Will you spend just a couple minutes thinking of who will care for your pets when you cannot?  There is a fantastic resource that asks great questions to get you thinking about what your pets true needs are and helps to get that information to the people that may need it one day:

It’s just a conversation, a few minutes of thought.  Aren’t your pets worth it?

Next post- what happens if your plan fails and how you can avoid issues.

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