Pets

Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month

April is Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month, a campaign started by the ASPCA in 2006 to celebrate protecting our animals from harm. 

During this month we need to learn how we as human beings can prevent cruelty and take action against it. Sometimes the laws are unclear and different between counties and cities, but there are Arkansas laws that encompass the entire state. You must learn your local and state laws regarding domestic animals and livestock so that you can know the steps to take to stop the abuse.

In Arkansas the following laws apply statewide:

(1) Cruelty to animals ARK. CODE ANN. § 5-62-103 

(2) Aggravated cruelty to dogs, cats, horses ARK. CODE. ANN. § 5-62-104

Aggravated cruelty is the physical abuse or overworking of an animal – a malicious act that causes harm or unnecessary suffering. However, what is the definition of “cruelty” when it comes to the law? These are the following categories of cruelty to animals.

– Neglect – not providing proper food, water, or shelter. 

– Abandonment – such as dumping of animals or leaving them behind after moving.

– Leaving Pets in Hot or Cold Cars

– Dogfighting

– Animal Hoarding (certain cities have pet limits in place to prevent this)

There are also city-specific laws, for example, the City of Little Rock prohibits keeping your dog chained for extended periods.

So, what do you need to do if you witness animal cruelty? 

If you see a dog locked in a hot car or witness a person inflicting pain on an animal, you should call 9-1-1 so they can advise you, but other situations are less clear-cut. 

  1. Assess the situation and try to gather evidence such as photographs and videos. DON’T trespass or try to take animals from the property as this is illegal and could land you in trouble, but the evidence is crucial to investigations.
  2. Contact your local animal control. If you’re unable to find information for your area, contact the police. They will be able to direct you to who you need to contact. Local rescues may also be able to help by providing info and resources. 
  3. Help investigators, but don’t interfere. Though you can report cruelty anonymously, being willing to give testimony can help a cruelty case exponentially. 

If you witness cruelty report it and follow up if you don’t see results. Research your local laws and stand up for the creatures that don’t have voices.

Here are some resources to research your local laws:

Animal Law Resource Center

Animal Legal and Historical Center

Arkansas State Animal Control Association

Municode, Pulaski Co.

City of Little Rock Animal Services

If you are unsuccessful with your local organizations below are links you can also use to report animal cruelty and find more info about the steps you can take to stop it:

HSUS – Report Animal Cruelty

Animal Humane Society – Report Animal Cruelty

Please share any info you feel will help people learn their local laws. Do your city laws differ from others? The more we learn, the more we can do.

Home and Cooking

Pizza Stones for Home Baking

Is there anything more delicious than fresh out of the oven pizzas? Sure there are tons of pizza shops out there to choose from, but there is nothing quite like the taste of homemade pizzas. The reason we often choose restaurants over home baking is because it’s hard to replicate the crisp crust in your oven at home. That’s where pizza stones come in! Using pizza stones allows you to get the crunchy exterior crust, with the soft bready center that usually can’t be achieved with homemade pizzas.

There are actually several kinds of pizza stones available for purchase. It’s important to consider the types of pizzas you’d like to make, this will help you decide which pizza stones are right for you.

Ceramic Pizza Stones

Ceramic is a great beginner’s pizza stone. They’re easy to care for and only require simple cleaning methods to maintain them. They’re usually pretty affordable as well and readily available at most department stores. These stones are also lightweight. The downside to ceramic is it does crack easily.

Cordierite Pizza Stones

These types of pizza stones are often used because they distribute heat evenly lessening the likelihood your pizzas will burn. Though these pizza stones fall under the ceramic category they’re more durable. Its ability to handle extreme temperatures means it’s less likely to break. Cordierite is also lead-free and non-absorbent. 

Clay Pizza Stones

If you want a crispy texture you really can’t beat a classic clay pizza stone. This type of stone gives you the same quality crust as a brick over pizza. Because of this it’s the most popular type of pizza stone out there. A con to a clay stone is that it takes a long time to preheat and is difficult to clean. Because clay can be brittle it has to be treated gently or it could break. 

Cast Iron Pizza Stones

Cast iron is often a staple in the kitchen, but how does it do as a pizza stone? Its ability to heat quickly and its flexibility as a griddle or grill make cast iron pizza stone very popular. What’s more you won’t have to worry about cracking or breaking a cast iron stone! The downside is that cast iron doesn’t heat as high as clay or ceramic, which can affect the crispness of your pizzas. 

Steel Pizza Stones

Finally we have steel pizza stones. A fairly new addition to the pizza stone family, steel has a bad reputation for burning. This is because it heats so quickly you actually don’t have to cook your pizza at the higher temperatures required with other stones. Steel is also durable like cast iron – though it does tend to be heavier and more expensive.

Before Buying Your Pizza Stone Consider This

  • Your Oven Size

Pizza stones come in a variety of sizes, 14-16 inches being the largest. Make sure you

pick a stone that fits your oven. 

  • Electric Or Gas Oven?

You may need more space in a gas oven to make air circulation easier.

  • How Do Your Dough Cooked?

A thicker stone is going to absorb more heat and more moisture. Thinner stones are better if you don’t want the crust as crispy, but they also tend to break more easily. It’ll benefit you to learn why a thick pizza stone makes a better pizza.

To learn about more types of pizza stones take a look here: 15 Best Pizza Stones of 2020

Education and Skills

Continuing Education Units (CEUs), Enjoy Free Online Courses at CALS

There is nothing quite like a library. When you walk through the door you’re greeted by the smell of books and people writing or studying in the quiet. On the shelves sits a plethora of knowledge and stories, all free for you to peruse and borrow. But did you know that books aren’t the only source of knowledge at your local library? Often libraries offer free online courses. The Central Arkansas Library System (CALS) is no different and offers a varied online curriculum courtesy of Universal Class. Many of the classes offer opportunities to earn certificates and Continuing Education Units (CEUs). Whether you’re just looking to expand your mind or working towards giving your resume a boost, CALS offers a variety of classes. There truly is something for everyone on Universal Class. 

The Online Curriculum

  • Writing Courses

Are you looking to improve your writing skills? Universal Class offers courses in basic writing structures and over 55 different CEUs courses. Whether you’re looking to write effective emails at work or that novel you’ve planned for years, you can find classes suited for you in the Universal Class online curriculum. These courses help your resume stand out, especially since resume writing is one of the online courses you’ll find on the site as well. 

  • Business and Entrepreneurship

Some of the most beneficial CEUs in Universal Class’s online curriculum are those pertaining to business practices. With over 100 classes, you can learn about common business practices as well as proper social interactions amongst coworkers and employees. If you’re looking to start your own business there are many classes focused on becoming a successful entrepreneur as well. These classes can help you create structure in your new business. 

  • Computer Training and Web Development

Every job description changes with new advancements in today’s technology. Keeping up with those changes will give you an edge in a competitive job market. With over 80 classes at your disposal, you can gain new skills and expand your knowledge base. Skills utilizing computer programs for web development and social media are in high demand in this day and age. Staying on the cutting edge and keeping up with technology trends can give you a leg up during your job search.

Universal Class provides so many online courses it’s difficult to list them all in one article! You truly can find almost anything, even classes about caring for your pet! It is a wonderful service that allows people from all walks of life access to formal education for free. All you have to do is get a library card! To do that just visit the Central Arkansas Library System’s website by clicking here

Seasonal

Tree Trimming in Style

Christmas has a ton of traditions, more so than most other holidays. These traditions grow and change, but ultimately remain rooted in popular practices. Ornaments, presents, stockings, and family gathering together are just some of those traditions that people hold dear. Of all these practices, tree trimming is one of the most iconic. However, many are moving away from the classic style of round red ornaments. From country chic trees trimmed in burlap to pink trees with flamingo ornaments, people are putting their stamp on their trees. 

Red and green are the traditional colors of Christmas, but many have decided to step away from this tree trimming style. Red looks lovely on a fresh evergreen tree (or a plastic one, no judgment), and those shiny round red ornaments stand out against the branches. That is because red and green are complementary colors. This means they’re situated opposite on the color wheel. When complementary colors are mixed they make our eyes dance. They dazzle us with their stark contrast. But what are some of the other Christmas colors? What are some historical traditions people can look to for inspiration? How can we combine them to make our holidays even brighter?

Tree Trimming, Forest Style

Christmas trees have been around long before Christianity put its stamp on any of our holidays (look at Easter’s history, you’ll be shocked). Evergreens were special to people because they were a sign of health and vitality during the difficult months of winter. Boughs of fir, spruce, and pine were hung around doorways to ward off illness and evil spirits. It’s only natural then that a lot of people are opting to go more natural. Pine cones, wood garlands, and ornaments made of real wood are increasingly popular. Many are forgoing ornaments altogether to enjoy the natural beauty of a bare tree. 

Tree Trimming with Icy Blue

Winter is cold, at least for most of us (looking at you Hawaii). It makes us think of ice and snow. Building snowmen and cuddling by the fire. Many are taking inspiration from this season and bringing the chill indoors – in a good way! Blue looks stunning on a tree of any color and conjures feelings of winter’s chilly winds that perhaps the promise of a white Christmas and holidays spent playing in the snow. 

Tree Trimming the White Tree

Speaking of a white Christmas, it doesn’t get much whiter than a white tree! White is a canvas. It allows any colored decoration to stand out. This means you can have a different color theme every year and know it’ll look beautiful for the holidays. 

A Themed Tree Trimming

We have many holidays besides Christmas and for many a decorating aficionado, taking down their beautiful tree is a drag. So why not make a tree for every holiday? Or even to showcase your love for cats, or gardening, or anything. Giving your tree a new look when the mood strikes give you an excuse to never stop the tree trimming tradition! 

Can’t do a tree because of cats? Find out some cat safe tree ideas here.

Fitness

Hot Yoga to Increase Fitness

For years Yoga has been a popular form of exercise around the world. In fact, most people don’t realize yoga has existed for 5000 years. The renowned Yogic scriptures are the Bhagavad-Gîtâ, composed around 500 B.C.E (Burgin). So what is yoga? It’s a series of flows, which help to build strength and promote fitness. Yoga is loved by its community because it can be gentle or more challenging, allowing for anyone of any shape or size to build strength and flexibility. It is a great way to increase calorie burn, and build strength at your own pace.

But what is “Hot Yoga”? It’s just standard yoga, with the heat turned up. But why is that beneficial? Well, working at a heightened temperature can encourage more calorie burn than the typical practice. That is not the only benefit, however. There are many science-backed reasons to try hot yoga.

The Benefits of Hot Yoga

Calorie Burn

As mentioned above, hot yoga can help you burn more calories. Simply put, your body has to work harder in the heat! This means you can do less strenuous flows, but burn as many calories as more difficult ones done in a cooler environment. 

Flexibility

Anyone who’s had to partake in Physical Education in High School knows it is important to warm up your muscles before starting exercise. The same is true with Yoga. Hot Yoga makes stretching safer because it keeps your muscles warm, allowing for deeper stretches and more ease in assuming the poses. 

Builds Bone Density 

Especially important for women who more commonly suffer from osteoporosis. Hot yoga can help those over 50s maintain their bone density and stay healthier longer. It is a great preventative measure.

Boosts Cardiovascular Health

Hot yoga leads to more calorie burn, which is due in part to the work out it gives your heart and lungs, so it’s only natural that it’s a great form of cardio. It can also improve your respiration and metabolism as well. 

Improves Skin

Sweating. It’s gross, but natural and it helps bring nutrient-rich blood to your skin cells. If there is one truth about Hot Yoga, you’re going to sweat – a LOT. The more you sweat, the more circulation happens in your largest organ – your skin.

Reduces Stress and Eases Depression

Hot Yoga isn’t just wonderful for your physical well-being, it can improve your mental well-being as well. Fitness routines of any kind can help you feel more in control of your life. They can also help you feel better about yourself. When your body feels good, you feel good. 

A Final Thought on Safety

As with any exercise the most important thing is not to push your body beyond your limits. It’s important to ask your doctor about taking part in hot yoga if you are experiencing any of the below:

  • Pre-existing medical conditions
  • Pregnancy
  • If you have low blood pressure or low blood sugar. 
  • If you’ve had heat intolerance issues

Remember to always stay hydrated and wear light breathable clothing. Most of all, have fun!

Burgin – History of Yoga

Pets

Cat Scratch Fever

Like a lot of cat owners my furniture aesthetic ranges from moderately maimed to utter annihilation. There is just something about a couch that gets a cat’s claws itching for destruction.

Here are some methods I’ve used in my attempts to keep the demolition at bay.

Step 1

The first step is to trim your cat’s nails. It’s not a fun task, but dull claws mean less damage to your home.

Step 2

The most important step in correcting this behavior it providing scratching surfaces for your cat. This allows them to scratch that natural itch to use their claws.  

So how do you get them to use a scratching post?

Cricket found the cat nip enticing – Teighlor C.

Place the scratching post in a prominent location. Though tempting to put the post where we like it best, cats use scent and scratch marks to communicate and they like their messages to be loud and proud.

Use catnip to lure your kitty over to where you’d like them to scratch. When your cat uses the surface reward them with play and treats!

That all being said my six cats have two scratching posts and a $200 cat tree and still attack my couch at every opportunity. So how do you deter them from your furniture and carpet while you train them to use a scratching post? Here are some methods I’ve tried with mixed success.

Deterrent Sprays

Not to be confused with squirting a cat with water, which doesn’t do anything but make your cat upset and your furniture wet. Deterrent Sprays come in many shapes and forms, from using scents cats find unpleasant to sprays specifically designed to train your cat. While having to reapply daily is a downside and the odors can be quite strong, sprays are affordable and can be found at most pet supply stores. (I can try to get an image of the spray mist, but worried about showing labels). 

Feliway or other Synthetic Cat Hormones

As a standalone Feliway is not a solution, but I included this one in the list because it has been successful in helping with various behavioral problems amongst my six. Synthetic hormones help to promote a calm environment making anxious cats feel more secure, which leads to less territorial marking in general.

Tape

A lot of professional behaviorists recommend this method and there are two kinds of tape suggested. Double-sided tape, which creates an unpleasant sticky surface that cats hate, and a thick tape like SmartyKat Scratch Not Tape. The problem with double-sided tape is that it’s unpleasantly sticky for everyone, not just the cats, and getting your arm hair or clothing caught in it is not pleasant – trust me. It’s also easy for cats to find cracks in your defenses and before you know you’ve covered your couch in so much tape it looks like it has a plastic slipcover from the 1950s. However, it was the most successful method for me. The one-sided tape only needs to be replaced every few months and the cats left the couch alone where it was taped.

Check out the links below for more information to help curb the clawing habit: 

https://www.catster.com/lifestyle/cat-health-grooming-care-trimming-nails-claws-ask-a-vet

https://www.drsfostersmith.com/pic/article.cfm?articleid=666

https://www.purrfectpost.com/train-your-cat-to-stop-scratching-your-couch-in-7-days-or-less/

https://www.purrfectpost.com/how-to-train-your-cat-or-kitten-to-use-a-scratching-post/

Pets

Urine Trouble Kitty

Many people will agree that there is nothing harder than getting the smell of cat urine out of carpet and furniture! Even a normally fastidious feline can suddenly start peeing outside of the box, or spraying the walls. Urine marking is one of the top reasons cats are abandoned and surrendered to shelters. People don’t understand the root cause and give up on the problem before ever attempting to resolve it. Remember it is always important to check with your vet when unusual behavior pops up. There are many reasons why your cat could be suddenly urine marking.  

AGE

When a kitty becomes a senior they can suffer from arthritis pain. This pain can discourage the use of litter boxes. You should consult your vet to check your cat to see if pain management is an option. Purchasing a low-sided pan with no cover can also be helpful as it is easier to access.

PAIN

As with aging joints, other pain can cause the kitty to associate using the litter tray with discomfort. This can range from urinary tract infections to impacted bowels. Each can be life-threatening for a cat! It’s important to have your vet check them for a UTI infection and alert them if your cat strains during a bowel movement or if there is blood in their stool.

TERRITORIAL MARKING

If you have multiple cats inside your household or stray cats that roam around outside it can make your kitty feel insecure in his or her environment. This is also one of the more difficult behaviors to correct in felines. For this, there are multiple solutions depending on the situation.

  • Spay and neuter as early as possible. This goes especially for males as once a tom begins to spray this behavior can remain even after the procedure.
  • Drive off strays or feed them further from your home. Another option is to have them fixed as well. This will also help with cat overpopulation so you’ll be doing a good deed. For information on how to get started with Trap, Neuter, and Release (TNR) for feral cats please contact Ally Cat Allies
  • Finally, remember the golden rule: one litter box for each cat in your home plus one extra. Territorial cats can resource guard and having less to fight over can make them happier in their environment.

CHANGES TO THE ENVIRONMENT

One common cause of sudden urine marking is a change in the cat’s normal routine. This can be anything from a new baby in the home to a new litter in the box. Cats can be very sensitive to these changes and many will react by – you guessed it – pee around the house. If you’ve tried changing the litter, go back to the old kind and slowly transition to the new by mixing. If you’ve got a new addition to the home remember this is a huge change for your cat and can cause a great deal of stress. Before the baby, put up the new nursery furniture as soon as possible. Play sounds of babies crying. The cat will need time to adjust. When the baby is home, introduce the two slowly in a quiet environment with lots of treats. Products like Feliway can help ease them into this transition. 

Never thrust sudden changes on a cat and expect them to adjust immediately. If you do then you’re failing your feline when you blame them for their stress reaction.

If all else fails, seeking a cat behaviorist can help give you further insight into causes and solutions for your cat’s naughty habits!

Pets

Backpacking With Goats, Milk on the Go!

Goats have risen to popularity over the last few years. Their mischievous antics and acrobatic feats have won them a place in the hearts of people around the world. They come in all shapes and sizes, which has allowed those without land for a full-scale farm to own these playful creatures.

Wethers (castrated males) are the typical pick for backpacking when it comes to goats, as they’re usually more even-tempered and hygienic than bucks, but don’t discount does! Even a milking doe can become accustomed to a backpack and can provide fresh milk during your adventures, which can be especially good for cooking at your campsite.

Goats typically can carry 25% of their body weight, so even breeds such as the Dwarf Nigerian; can be a helpful companion on your long walks. Just remember to keep health and conditioning in mind as goats unused to carrying packs or those that are overweight, may not be able to handle the exertion.

First and foremost remember that every piece of land belongs to someone. Make sure to check in with each owner, campsite, and State or National Park to make sure pack animals are allowed on the trails. Don’t assume that just because dogs are allowed, goats are too.

Precautions and Tips For the Trail

  • Dogs and wildlife can be the biggest threat to your goats, be prepared to fend them off and avoid areas where dogs are frequently off-leash.  
  • Always have a leash handy, and your goat trained to accept it. You never know when you may need it.  
  • Bells around the neck will help you keep up with your goats, and may also keep predators at bay.  
  • Bring plenty of water for you and your animals, along with a container for drinking (can be used for milking as well). 

Always remember safety first. Bring along supplies such as first aid kits for your goats and yourself. Should the worse happen, have a plan for emergencies. Most of all have fun. When humans and animals work together, it is an unforgettable experience.

https://www.backcountry.com/explore/backpacking-the-goatworthy-way

https://willowwittranch.com/farm-goods/packgoats

http://workinggoats.com/?id=218

http://www.highuintapackgoats.com/faqs.htm

Pets

Chips, Heroic Dog of WWII

Chips was a mutt, part German Shepherd, part Collie, part Husky. He was donated to the war effort as many family dogs were during WWII and ended up becoming, “one of the most heroic dogs to serve with the U.S. Army” according to PDSA director general Jan McLoughlin.

He was trained as a sentry dog, and served in North Africa, Italy, France, Germany and Sicily. In addition to patrol duty with the infantry, he was posted to sentry duty in Casablanca during the January 1943 Roosevelt-Churchill Conference. Through eight campaigns across Europe, Chips was a POW guard and tank guard dog.

During the invasion of Sicily, Chips and his handler Pvt. John P. Rowell became trapped by an Italian machine gun team. Chips broke free of his handler diving past gunfire into the barricade. The men were forced out and surrendered to the US. Scraped and burned but otherwise unharmed day Chips helped take 10 Italian prisoners that day.

Chips was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star and Purple Heart medals, but they were revoked due to an Army policy in 1943 that prevented awarding official commendations to animals.

However, in 2018 (need to check this date) Military working dog Ayron was awarded the Dickin Medal on Chips’ behalf keeping Chips’ legacy alive in America’s history.

Pets

Quick Tips for Going Green with your Pet

Going green is the new big thing. It helps the planet, and it can help you save money too. Let’s be real, we all know that means more money to spend on your pets in the long run, but it can also mean happier and healthier pets in the future.

Check out these tips for keeping the earth fit.

  1. Recycle pet food cans and plastic containers, such as those used for cat litter.  
  2. Speaking of litter, use the environmentally friendly kind. Clay litter is bad news because the dust irritates their respiratory system.  
  3. Since we’re talking about bathroom habits, remember to scoop your dog’s poop as it can pollute surface and groundwater.  
  4. If you’re picking up poo for your Cockapoo, remember plastic fills landfills; so biodegradable bags are the way to go.  
  5. Bags too close and personal for you? Buy reusable products such a metal poop scoops and washable puppy pads.