All About Pets

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My Hermit Crabs – Shy Shelly — June 1, 2017

My Hermit Crabs – Shy Shelly

In March 2017 I purchased 3 hermit crabs from a local pet store. I also got a 5 gallon tank for their “crabitat.” Here is a picture of the hermit crabs when I got them home. I  named them (left to right) Hermie, Corrie, and Shelly. Shelly is also called “Shy Shelly” because she hides a lot inside her shell.

3 crabs Mar2017 - 5in

Shy Shelly

Soon after I got Shelly, she moved from her cramped not-so-pretty shell into a lovely green shell. I think that is because she knew she was molting soon and would need a bigger shell.

Here is Shelly in her old shell beside the green one that she moved into.

HC No3 032417-1

Here is a picture of her in her new shell. See how much more room she has?

Shy Shelly Grn Shell 033117

And here is Shelly walking around in her new shell.

Shelly 052217-1

Shelly did indeed molt but it was not until May 2017. She buried herself in the sand, where I left her alone for about a week. Then because I wanted to check that she was okay, I carefully uncovered her and found her tucked up inside her shell with her expended old exoskeleton beside her. I carefully recovered her to give her a chance for her new exoskeleton to harden.  She would eat some of her old exoskeleton for nutrients during this molting process. Here is a picture of her buried in the sand.

Shelly molted 051117

Now Shelly is good for a long while before she needs to look for a bigger shell. I do keep empty shells in the crab tank available for all the crabs to give them a choice when they want to look for a new home.

Here are the shells that I keep on hand for the different size hermit crabs. I pick out the ones that are a little bigger than the crabs to put in the tank. I keep them in a clear flower vase when I am not using them.

Here are a few of my favorite hermit crab pictures.

To read more about Hermie, Corrie, and Shelly, see the pet forum All Pets Big and Small at


My First Cat Show — March 8, 2017

My First Cat Show

Spotted cat-1

I have been to dog shows, but I had never been to a cat show before. So I was looking forward to the cat show that was sponsored by Illini Cat Club that was held in Urbana, IL on March 4th, 2017. I had a great time seeing all the different cats even though I could not identify all their breeds.

The cats are kept in their display cages from the mid morning to 4:00 PM in the afternoon, and in those cages are water, food, and a small litter tray. Some of the display cages were wire crates, but most had either a plastic or a mesh panel in front. It was easier to see the cats who were in wire cages than the cat displays that had a plastic or mesh front.

Here are some general pictures of the room where the cat show was held.

Here are some pictures of the cats waiting in cages to be judged.

Cat behind wire

In the above picture, the Persian cat is wearing a paper Elizabethan collar to keep her from messing up her recently groomed coat.

As I walked down the aisles of lovely cats, I asked a few people if I could take pictures of their cats, and they were good enough to comply. The following is of a bengal (left) and a Maine Coon (right).

There were 4 tables in one corner of the room where the cat judging took place. Around each judging table, there were wire crates with numbers on top of them arranged on three sides. The judge would call on a loud speaker when he was ready to judge a certain cat. The owner of the cat would bring her cat and place him in the assigned cage, where the cat would wait for the judge to take him out to place on his table.

Each table had a very tall scratching post with a spot light on the top. Each judge had a toy that he or she could use to lure the cat to stretch out onto the scratching post so that he could view the cat better. After the judge was finished, he replaced the cat in his cage and wrote down his verdict, placing award ribbons onto the front of the cage.

There were two rows of seats in front of each judging area, but people also stood behind the seats to view and take pictures. Here are some pictures of cats being judged.

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Helping Your Dog to Cross Over — February 21, 2017

Helping Your Dog to Cross Over

phx-2005-5On Wednesday, February 8, 2017, Phoenix, my 15-1/2 year old Portuguese Water Dog, passed with the help of my loving vet, who was so wonderful that she agreed to come to out to our home so that Phoenix could pass without any fear.

I will forever be grateful to my vet for helping Phoenix. As hard as it is for us who lose our dog, it is just as hard for the vet who has to perform that last service for our pet. We were both crying and blowing our noses during the procedure.

How do we know when it is time to say good-bye?

In some circumstances, it is an easy decision. The dog may pass in their sleep with no intervention required from us. With others, the dog might have a heart attack or a stroke that makes their life so precarious, it is easy to make the decision to help them cross.

With some of my dogs, this decision was not so obvious. It came down to the point where I could do nothing to improve their quality of life, that while their mind was still mostly intact, their body had failed so much that I could no longer take care of them. This is what happened to Phoenix. She could no longer stand up for me so that I could bathe her, and her capacity to walk outside to go potty was failing. She could not get up from the floor without help and most recently, she could not lay down without help. She did manage to walk mostly on her own.

For about a year and half before Phoenix’s passing, she started falling off the bed at night when we were sleeping. I knew then that she needed help to keep her safe. So we moved a twin bed set into the bedroom for her to have her own human bed right next to ours. I also built steps so that she could walk up onto the twin bed. I was amazed how well she adapted to this, and it brought me joy to see her laying on her bed that was cushioned with many pillows to keep her from knocking into the wall.


Phoenix managed quite well with this setup from the age of 14 to 15-1/2 years. Phoenix was a sweet, sweet dog who never complained and loved everyone she met. In her youth, she loved to swim, walk faster than I could, and roll on her back in the grass.

Rest in peace, Sweet Phoenix.
I will see you one day on the Other Side.


Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together …

Author unknown…     

Introduce Your Puppy to a Crate! — January 7, 2017

Introduce Your Puppy to a Crate!

Crating training is a good thing! A crate will help keep your puppy safe in many situations and is also a useful tool for adult dogs.

Types and Sizes of Crates

There are crates made with wire, crates made of plastic—usually referred to as airline crates, and crates made of fabric. There are even crates made of wood with solid surfaces on top so that they can be used as side tables in the living room.

I used to only have plastic airline crates, but I found that in the heat of the summer, these crates were too hot for my dogs. So I gave most of my plastic crates to the Humane Society and started buying wire crates which would fold up for storage later when I did not need them as much.

Fabric crates are good for when a dog is older and is not trying to chew everything in sight. They are also good for traveling with your pet since they are light weight.

When we brought home our dogs as puppies, we used a crate that fit in the back seat of our car. That way we could concentrate on driving and know that our puppy was safe while we traveled.

Dakota at 10 weeks on a 6-hour road trip from the breeders.

We used a crate for Dakota when I could not be in the room with him. We worked with him to get him used to the crate and soon he would walk into it by himself and lay down.

At night, we had a crate next to the bed so that Dakota could be near us. When he fussed, one of us would get up and take him outside to potty. Using a crate kept him safe, helped him become house trained, and gave us worry-free sleep so that when we got up during the night we would not step in something unexpected on the floor.

Here are some of the reasons that crate training your poodle is so important:

A crate …

  • Helps house train your puppy. You have to take your puppy outside every hour or two when they are very young, but if he does have an accident, it is easier to clean the crate than your carpet or floor.
  • Keeps your puppy safe when you cannot watch him. When I tried to confine my young puppies to a room, such as a kitchen or a sun room, they have chewed table and chair legs, the edge of my kitchen cabinet, and one dog even chewed a hole in the wall—several times! A crate was the only way to keep my household items—and my puppy—safe.
  • Can be used for travel, both in the car and at other locations. Your puppy or adult dog will be safer in the car if crated. Plus away from home, his “den” will give him comfort in a non-familiar location, and you will know when you cannot watch him, that he is not harming himself or anything in the room.
  • Helps when your dog’s activity must be restricted. If your dog is recovering from an injury or operation and his activity must be limited, getting him used to a crate will help him endure the added “bed rest.” Also, if you adult dog is sick during the night, you do not want him throwing up on your bed if he sleeps with you. Instead, you can crate him at night until he is better. This will work if your dog is used to being occasionally crated. If he is not used to being crated, then you will have a mess in your bed until he is well again.
  • Helps your dog when at the vet. If your dog must stay at the vet for treatment, he will not freak from being in a crate because he is used to it.
  • Helps your dog when being groomed. Poodles require grooming every 4-6 weeks. Most groomers will use a crate sometime during the grooming process to hold your dog temporarily. If your dog is used to a crate, this will not be traumatic.
  • Helps manage multiple dogs. I have 2 to 3 dogs at a time. There are times when I need to separate the dogs or just put one of them somewhere safe for a few minutes. Having a crate nearby for that use if very helpful. We have a crate in the entrance foyer that we use for that purpose. It gets used less as my dogs get older, but it was very helpful for quick “time-outs” when Dakota was young.
The crate we used in the car to bring home Dakota was the same one we used beside our bed at night.  We had a bigger crate in the front foyer for use during the day.

Be Careful to not Overdo Crate Use

Like everything in life, you can overdo something which is a good thing so that it becomes a bad thing.

A lot of people think it is cruel to crate their dog at all. They think of the many pictures where dogs are crated in small cages for hours on end. That is abuse! Anyone who crates their dogs all the time is abusing their dog. A puppy should not be crated for more than an hour or two. An older dog can be crated longer, but keep it as short as possible.

X-Pens are also Useful Tools


When Dakota came back from the vets after being neutered, he was wearing the “cone of shame” to make sure he did not bother his stitches. Having the cone on was very hard inside a crate at night, so I instead used a dog bed inside an x-pen. This worked out very well because I could still pet and comfort him and he could sleep comfortably wearing the cone of shame. He liked the x-pen so much, that I started using that instead of a crate at night. I use a tie on one corner to “close the door.” Dakota walked into the x-pen and put himself to bed often when I was busy around the house.

To Sum Up

I know that many, many people train their dogs without using crates. I know it can be done successfully. A lot of this depends on the temperament of the puppy and a lot on the owners. I just think that these people are making it harder on themselves and their dogs by not taking advantage of the “den-like” crates that can help keep their puppies safe when they cannot be watched. When crates are used properly for the shortest time necessary and the crates are sized well for the dog, I cannot think of a better, more humane tool in dog training.

Puppy vs. Adult Dog — December 21, 2016

Puppy vs. Adult Dog

Poodles, like most dogs, take about two years to mature.  When I brought home Dakota, my miniature poodle, in 2015, he became part of my pack of three dogs.  Dakota thought he was alpha dog even though he was smaller than the others.  He sometimes was too much for my gentle adult dogs and he bit them (as puppies are prone to do), and I had to keep him separated from the other two dogs when I was not present to supervise.

DAKOTA: Look here, I may be small but I’m the man!  You better be listening to me!

Raising a puppy is like raising a human toddler in that the puppy needs to be watched at all times, or he can get into trouble.  If left alone, he might chew your shoes, pee or poo on your floor, tear apart the toilet paper in your bathroom, leaving a trail of toilet paper going down the hall.  Your pet sitter may check in on your 7-month-old puppy and call you saying, “I’m sorry, but he ate the couch.” (This was probably a standard puppy, not a toy poodle.)

After Dakota was a year old, my life became more manageable.  All the dogs could relax together and I did not need to watch them as much, but Dakota still had more energy than the adults and they could not keep up with him.  Now at two years of age, Dakota is more settled, he listens to me better and is trained in basic commands, and there is now peace in the pack.

I am glad that I got Dakota as a puppy, but it took SO much energy and time to train him, I am wondering if next time I might consider an older poodle instead. Therefore, I have made a list of pros and cons about adopting an older dog.

Pros for Adopting an Older Dog

  •  An adult dog is usually housebroken and he is physically able to “hold it” during the night and when you are away from home.
  • The shelter or breeder will make sure the older dog is fully immunized.  No waiting period before taking a puppy to class or on a walk.
  • Puppy chewing and land shark phases are over.
  • Adult personality, general state of health, and activity level are more apparent.
  • Older dogs can still bond well with new owners.

Cons for Adopting an Older Dog

  • Older dogs may have developed some unwanted habits.  It might take some work to retrain them to be the dog that you want.
  • If the dog is a rescue, you may not have any medical history.
  • Some people believe that an adult dog will not bond to them, but those I have talked to who adopt older dogs say that this is just not true. But the fear of an adult dog not being able to bond to a new owner is an issue for some people.
  • If the poodle is a senior dog, there could be age-related medical problems that would cost money and it might take more time to care for them.  Some people feel taking care of a senior dog is rewarding; others might not want the extra cost and responsibility.
  • You might want a puppy because you want a particular size and color of poodle that is not available in the shelters or rescue organizations. So you put yourself on a litter waiting list for the particular color, size, and sex of poodle that you are looking for.
  • You might want a puppy because you have other pets at home who will be more accepting of a puppy rather than an adult dog. This happens when one or more of the current pets is fearful of adult dogs.

Why Older Dogs are Available for Adoption

There is a general misconception that all dogs end up in shelters because they are bad dogs that no one wants.  There are many reasons that dogs are in shelters and rescue organizations.  Here are a few:

  • Raising a puppy takes time and work. People may have gotten a puppy without realizing how much work is required to housetrain and teach them basic obedience. They try to make it work for a while, but this older puppy/young dog may end up in a shelter just because his owner either lacked the time or the willingness to train him properly.
  • Life circumstances may change. A family who wants their poodle may no longer be able to keep him.  Because of divorce, a job change, a new home that does not allow dogs, or a medical problem, people find they can no longer take care of their dog.
  • Cost of owning a poodle.  Some people do not consider costs other than the buying and feeding of their dog.  They do not consider that the cost of vet bills, food, toys, and grooming may be more than they can afford.
  • Behavioral issues. Some poodles might be more energetic than a family can handle. So the family will give up the dog because he is just not a good match for their family. There are also dogs with more serious behavioral problems, like biting, that would require a more experienced owner to handle their issues.
  • Lost dogs become strays. A poodle can be a very good dog and their family loves him very much, but if he gets out of the house or yard and is found, he will be turned in to a shelter. If his owner cannot be identified, then he will be available for adoption.

 Poodle Puppy vs. Older Poodle

So when you consider your next poodle, think about your life circumstances.  Do you have the time and energy and money to raise another puppy?  Is there a particular reason that you have to have a puppy?  If not, consider the older poodle who might be waiting for you to become his forever home.

 Related Link:

The following link describes the benefits to elderly people when they adopt a senior pet.
Seniors for Seniors