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A Farewell Send-off Wrapped in Gratitude

cat hugging himself

 

As I write this post, my cat Bruiser sits under a book-lined side table, lazily giving himself a bath. My other cat Monty is enjoying a nap in his favorite spot, my bed pillow. These cats are not my pets, they are part of my family and workday, everyday. They amuse and frustrate me as much as they endear me – much like family members do.

My life as a writer over the last eight years has always included Monty in the background while I worked from my home office. Before that, I spent my free time when I wasn’t writing helping care for wild animals and other people’s pets as a pet sitter. I’m truly an animal person at heart, and it wasn’t until I moved to Colorado that I realized how much.

Through my work on Tails I’ve been able to connect with more of “my kind” – the people who are passionate about animals and can’t imagine a world without them. I’m so grateful for those connections and continuing to grow them even though I’ve made the tough decision to complete my role as a writer on Tails.

There are many reasons I could name, but the truth is that while I love animals and writing, this blog is a labor of love. When life calls you in other directions you need to listen and see where it takes you next, pulling with you the experience, relationships and knowledge you’ve learned along the way.

While I know this blog is a resource and place for animal lovers to connect over their shared interests, that doesn’t have to stop because the blog is ending. My hope is that the people, organizations and ideas I’ve shared through Tails have inspired people in some small way, helped a non-profit organization bring awareness to an important topic, or taught a reader something they could add to their pet care routine.

I’m so immensely grateful for the people who read, commented and grew along with me, sharing their personal animal stories and experiences. I appreciate the support and inspiration you offered every step of the way.

I want to thank Kristin and The Scoop Blog Network for welcoming me into their network and providing an opportunity for me to write about a topic I love. I also want to send out a special thanks to Sue Carroll of Bones Du Jour who is one of my biggest supporters and a wonderful community resource on the pulse of relevant animals topics important to pet owners.

My best to you and your pets. See you around Fort Collins!

Sincerely, Katrina

Fort Collins Critter Events for May 16th – May 23rd

JackRussel

This week is another busy one, filled with adoption events and fun things to do with the family. There are also a few fundraisers for some of your favorite local animal non-profits and more. Curious about this cutie? This adorable little lady Pixi is a 3-year old Jack Russel Terrier mix and she is ready for a forever home. Is it yours? You can meet her at the Larimer Humane Society.

Saturday, May 17th

Fort Collins Cat Rescue and Spay/Neuter Clinic Surgery Saturday

When: 7 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Where: 2321 E. Mulberry Ste. #9, Fort Collins, CO

Spay/neuter surgeries open to the public. Call for an appointment.

Paws on the Promendade 

When: 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Where: Promenade Shops at Centerra in Loveland on Sky Pond Drive

Cost: Free

The event includes dog-related vendors including animal rescues and shelters, animal hospitals, veterinarian offices, pet food and supply stores. Dogs are welcome!

Stop by to see live demonstrations, grab some goody bags, adopt a dog or join in the dog costume contest  dog costume contest (which starts at 11 a.m. Other events include free face painting from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., an agility demo at 10 a.m., a fire arson dog demo at noon, a dog trick contest at 1 p.m. and Yappy hour at 2 p.m.

All Aboard Animal Rescue Adoption Event

When: 9 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Where: Pet Club at 2226 Harmony Road

Come by and check out the animals available for adoption or talk with an adoption counselor. Adoption applications are available online.

Hot Rods and Hawgs with Rocky Mountain Raptor Program 

When: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Where: Thunder Mountain Harley Davidson, 4250 Byrd Drive, Loveland, CO

Rocky Mountain Raptor Program teams up with Thunder Mountain Harley Davidson.  We will be providing education about some of the great raptors seen while riding the roads.  Live birds will be on display as well as raptor wear on sale.

Sunday, May 18th

Animal House Rescue & Grooming Run Fur Run 5K 

The Run Fur Fun is geared for the whole family, even your dogs! Participants will be able to run with their dog and there will be a kid’s race! Proceeds go towards Animal House Rescue & Grooming.

When: Kid’s race starts at 8:30am., 5K starts at 9 a.m.

Where: Spring Canyon Park, 2626 West Horsetooth Road, Fort Collins, CO

Course: The race will be on a paved trail that circles around the park. Course is a mix of flat and small inclines.

Fort Collins Cat Rescue and Spay/Neuter Clinic hosting a Mobile Vaccine Clinic in Loveland 

When: 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Where: K9 Wisdom Training in Loveland, 405 8th St. SE

This event is sponsored by Hank’s Pet Food Market, and they will donate a vaccine to an at risk dog or cat for every vaccine purchased. They will also be offering our low-income programs (Kibble & PAL+) to pet owners, so drop by to learn more!

Wednesday, May 21st

Volunteer Orientation for the Fort Collins Cat Rescue Spay/Neuter Clinic 

When: 6:30 – 7:30 p.m.

Where: 2321 Mulberry St. Ste. #1 Fort Collins, Co

Thursday, May 22nd

Foster Training at the Fort Collins Cat Rescue Spay/Neuter Clinic at the Loveland Location 

When: 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Where: Loveland Cat Adoption Rescue Center, 621 E. Eisenhower Blvd.

Upcoming Races 

Saturday, May 31st - 24th Annual Fire Hydrant 5 5K Walk/Run & Pet Expo Presented by the Larimer Humane Society

Where: Edora Park, Fort Collins

Cost: $30

The event begins with a family-and dog-friendly 5K walk/run through Edora Park and its surrounding neighborhood, followed by the pet expo featuring over 60 booth venders catering to pet lovers, athletes, families, and more.

The Pet Expo will also host the 5K top finisher and top team awards as well as the popular pet contest showcase. Bark your calendars and join us for this exciting annual event to benefit homeless animals! For more information email the development team or call (970) 530-2945. To register: http://www.larimerhumane.org/events/fire-hydrant

Horses in Old Town: Carriage Rides, Family Fun and a Piece of Local Culture


horse in a harness

Taking care of pets is one level of pet ownership. Taking care of animals that are part of your family, livelihood and local culture takes things to a whole new level – especially when your pets touch so many lives in Fort Collins.

That’s why I was excited to talk with Jim Rice, owner of Colorado Carriage and Wagon. I’d always wondered about the carriage horses in town; How are they trained to be cool-headed around traffic? How do people decide the carriage routes to follow in town? How does this whole “being in the public eye” thing work for the horse?

Well, I learned all that and more when I talked with Rice, hooves down. For 14 years his family-owned and operated business has managed carriage rides in Fort Collins, as well as Southern Wyoming, Estes Park and Eastern Nebraska. The horses in his care are comfortable working a range of events, including weddings, parties, haunted tours, hayrack rides, sleigh rides, mini trips around Old Town and other special occasions.

Rice is also the fourth generation of his family to be born here in Fort Collins (his son makes the 5th) and his great uncle, Art Collamer, was the stagecoach driver from Walden to Fort Collins. So, you can safely say this horse trainer was born into his life’s work!

Looking back on the insights from our chat, I felt it was best to share the details interview style, sprinkling his insights and warm persona throughout. Here goes!

How many horses do you have working as part of Colorado Carriage and Wagon right now?

We have 18 working horses for event appearances, and lots of folks who help make sure the horses are well-taken care of while they work. We also have barns in Bellevue and Estes Park to make sure they are well fed, rested and healthy in an area close to where the horses are working for the day. Each horse is considered a member of our family and their care is top priority.

Approximately how many events do you manage a year?

I would say Colorado Carriage and Wagon does at least 300 weddings a year, plus birthday parties, special events, tours, carriage rides and birthday parties. Overall, close to 30,000 commitments per year.

weddingcarriageandhorse

How are the horses trained to manage the diverse type of work they do?

Each horse goes through a desensitization process that’s rolled out in stages. They need to be tested around noise, debris, wind and weather, and people as well as roadside factors including railroad tracks and trains, bridges, horns, cans etc. We are first and foremost focused on safety for the horse and people, so we want to make sure a horse is used to a variety of scenarios.

As you move through the testing process you also get a sense of what a horse is suited for, just like with people. Some horses are a better fit at resorts while others are great for downtown. We also make sure that no horse under the age of 8 is ever in downtown. All our working horses are between 8 and 16 years old to make sure they are settled, well-trained and used to being around people.

horsesinthebarn

How long is a horse’s workday and what does it involve?

Each day is different for the horse depending on the events booked. A typical work day runs between 2 and 3 hours total. A horse can do up to four weddings in a day, or a mix of scheduled events based on their aptitude.

How do you make sure your horses get the best care while “on the job”?

Every single horse always has water available. They can rinse out their mouth, drink, whatever they need during an event. While at home they free-fed and eat as much hay as they want. We also take excellent care of their hooves and don’t overwork them.

In the summer during the peak heat we have big buckets with wet sponges and wipe them down to reduce and/or eliminate sweating. Overall, we do our best to keep them out of high daytime heat, and schedule events for 6:30 or later in the evening when the sun starts to go down.

Most importantly, we have small teams that go out with each horse. This makes sure the animal is safe and handled well, and allows each person to focus on specific tasks while out for an event.

How do you manage allergies for some of your clients?

Every horse gets a bath after an event, no matter what, to clean off pollen, dust or oils in the skin. On our hay rides we also use straw instead of hay.

Are people allowed to pet the horses?

Anyone can pet the horses, but we don’t allow people to feed the horses. That would just lead to bad training – they would expect a treat every time they went into Old Town!

Where do the horses for Colorado Carriage and Wagon come from?

We get some horses from dude ranches, some from Amish country and others from Canada.

Where does the main route in Old Town start? Do you account for construction?

We pick people up at the northeast corner of mountain, then go by the Avery house, Otterbox, the Lincoln Center and take Magnolia to College. If there is a bit of construction, we take an alternate route to make things easier.

 

pettingzoo

Do you offer anything else besides carriage rides?

Sure do! Colorado Carriage and Wagon has a petting zoo that includes baby chicks, bunny rabbits, miniature donkeys and horses, baby calves, goats, sheep and ducks. You can have the animals for a special event, birthday party or as part of an educational opportunity for a daycares or school.

Spending time with the animals helps kids learn about how to care for them, including brushing, feeding and cleaning and it’s so much fun for them. It’s actually a great party idea for all ages – we just had a woman book us for a 90th birthday party. We also offer general horseback riding services.

What’s your favorite part of what you do?

I’m the most fortunate person in the world. People are smiling when they are coming and when they are going. I also get to work with my family all day, both the people and the horses.

I also really like collaborating with businesses in town to create packages that offer carriage rides as part of a deal or special event. It’s fun and it keeps us connected to the local community.

Have you ever taken a ride on a carriage around Old Town? How about for a special event? I would love to hear your experience – I have yet to try a carriage ride! Now I just need to decide if my next party is going to have a petting zoo…

 

Fort Collins Critter Events May 9th – May 16th

blacktoppedchickadee

In celebration of International Migratory Bird Day tomorrow, I’ve included a picture of my favorite bird of all time, the Black-capped Chicadee. I fell in love with this adorable, sweet, chubby bird when I took care of some baby ones while working at the Larimer Humane Society in WildKind, and I’ve loved them ever since. According to All About Birds, Black-capped Chicadees are almost universally considered “cute”. I completely agree!

This weekend is full of fun events around Fort Collins, not to mention a TON of animal adoption events. Who knows, your newest family member could come home with you this weekend!

Well, onto planning your busy weekend…

May is national Pet Month!

Time to celebrate all the benefits that pets bring our lives and all the ways they complete our family.

Saturday, May 10th

 International Migratory Bird Day 

Started by the Environment for the Americas, International Migratory Bird Day celebrates awareness of the huge movement of bird migration this time of year and to bring attention to what needs to be done to protect their habitat. The day serves as a call to action to conserve birds and their habitats throughout the Western Hemisphere. It started in 1993 and is now hosted at more than 600 sites from Canada to Argentina. In fact, it will be celebrated at Poudre River Fest this weekend!

Poudre RiverFest! 

When: 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.

Where: Legacy & Lee Martinez Parks in Fort Collins, CO

This family-focused event is a blend of environmental restoration mixed with wildlife viewing, followed up by a celebration by the Poudre River in the afternoon with live music, educational activities, booths, a beer garden and food.

You can experience scientific research at a bird banding station run by Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory on the West side of the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery, and go on bird walks with biologists from Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory, starting at 7am.

Animal House Rescue & Grooming Adoption Event 

When: 11 – 2 p.m.

Where: Poudre Pet & Feed Supply West location, Taft and Drake

Visit with adoptable dogs and volunteers to see if you are a family match!

All Aboard Animal Rescue and Shelter Adoption Event

When: 9 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Where: Pet Club at 2226 Harmony Road

Stop by to see if any of the animals are a fit for your family. Please review the adoption application online prior to a visit.

Larimer Humane Society Spring into Adoption Event 

When: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Where: 6317 Kyle Avenue, Fort Collins, CO

Stop by for freebies and discounts with EVERY adoption!

Fort Collins Cat Rescue & Spay/Neuter Clinic (2 events) 

Low-Cost Vaccination Clinic 

When: 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Where: 2321 East Mulberry St. Unit 9

No appointment needed. All dogs must be a on a leash. Note: There is a second low cost clinic on Friday, May 16th from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Foster Training 

When: 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Where: 2321 E Mulberry Ste. #1

Here’s an opportunity to learn what’s involved with helping foster abandoned cats and kittens in need. There are more specific details available here.

Sunday, May 11th Happy Mother’s Day! 

Rocky Mountain Raptor Program Annual Open House 

When: 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Where:  720 E. Vine Drive, Fort Collins CO

Animal Afternoon at the Library 

When: 3 – 4 p.m.

Where: Council Tree Library, 2733 Council Tree Avenue, Fort Collins, CO

Hosted by Larimer Animal People Partnership who share time with their pets volunteers so kiddos can read to friendly animals.

Upcoming Races 

Sunday, May 18th – Run Fur Run 5K 

The Run Fur Fun is geared for the whole family, even your dogs! Participants will be able to run with their dog and there will be a kid’s race! Proceeds go towards Animal House Rescue & Grooming.

When: Kid’s race starts at 8:30am., 5K starts at 9 a.m.

Where: Spring Canyon Park, 2626 West Horsetooth Road, Fort Collins, CO

Course: The race will be on a paved trail that circles around the park. Course is a mix of flat and small inclines.

Saturday, May 31st - 24th Annual Fire Hydrant 5 5K Walk/Run & Pet Expo Presented by the Larimer Humane Society

Where: Edora Park, Fort Collins

Cost: $30

The event begins with a family-and dog-friendly 5K walk/run through Edora Park and its surrounding neighborhood, followed by the pet expo featuring over 60 booth venders catering to pet lovers, athletes, families, and more.

The Pet Expo will also host the 5K top finisher and top team awards as well as the popular pet contest showcase. Bark your calendars and join us for this exciting annual event to benefit homeless animals! For more information email the development team or call (970) 530-2945. To register: http://www.larimerhumane.org/events/fire-hydrant

Photo: Eugene Beckes

Canine Massage: A Healthy Secret Weapon for Dogs

dog head resting on a human lap

 

When you spend quality time with dogs you get to know how they like to be touched. Some prefer scratches over pets, others like long strokes better than pats. These are the little details I asked pet owners during client interviews as a pet sitter, collecting intel to help pets feel at ease. Little did I know I was learning some of the basics for canine massage.

Canine massage is more than a modality for ill or arthritic dogs that are struggling – it’s a hands-on wellness tool that provides a variety of physical and mental health benefits for dogs of all ages, including:

  • Relaxation
  • Increased oxygenation
  • Pain relief
  • Improved joint flexibility and reduced stiffness
  • Healthy immune system
  • Increased circulation
  • Endorphin release
  • Increased toxin excretion
  • Injury recovery
  • Increased range of motion and enhanced muscle tone
  • Improved athletic performance and endurance
  • Posture maintenance and balance
  • Improved mental focus and attitude
  • Healthy skin and coat by distributing natural oils

Hmm, sounds pretty similar to humans, right? Well, except for the shiny healthy coat part – unless you are a particularly hairy person. But I digress…

A Little History Truthbomb on Canine Massage

Canine massage actually dates back to the early periods of dog domestication. According to Wikipedia:

“The first known documentation of massage was in 2700 BC in China. In fact, animal bodies were charted in India during the development of varmalogy, resulting in what we refer to as trigger points. Massage techniques continued to develop throughout history and are mentioned in the early writings of the Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, Turks, Persians, and Japanese. Early Egyptian hieroglyphics even depicted ‘animal healers’ using massage techniques.” 

My thought is that people noticed massaged worked for them, so why not try it on animals too?

Jill massaging some malamutes

Jill Reynolds, owner of Canine Massage of the Rockies working on her Alaskan Malamute clients.

 

The Massage Technique Must Match the Animal

While canine massage is a totally different animal (pun intended), the most important skill for any canine massage therapist is to be good at reading the signs a dog gives about how they like to be touched. To learn more about canine massage as a practice, I caught up with Jill Reynolds, owner of Canine Massage of the Rockies. She’s been working professionally with dogs for over 10 years and trained at the Boulder College of Massage Therapy, which offers a certification in canine massage.

“People doing canine massage need to be trained specifically in the physiology of dogs. It’s very important for any pet owner to check certifications and ensure their massage therapist has graduated from a school that has been approved by the Colorado Veterinary Board, unless they are under the direct supervision of a vet,” says Reynolds.

Signs your Dog Might Need a Massage Sooner Rather Than Later

Canine massage is fine for puppies as well as senior dogs. Here are a few indicators that a massage may be a good first step:

  • The dog is more tired than normal, seems sore or is favoring a leg
  • A pet is recovering from an injury, strain or sprain or torn ligament
  • A dog has hit senior status: big dogs older than 8, small dogs older than 12

senior dog blonde retriever

Working with a Canine Massage Therapist to Maximize your Pet’s Health

Before she starts working with a pet client, Reynolds always gets in touch with their vet. This way she can ask very specific questions about the dog’s health that a client may overlook, or learn a bit more about the dog’s big picture health history.

“I want to talk with the vet to find out if there’s a history of cancer, circulation issues, movement challenges, etc. for a pet. When you can collaborate with the vet and other health professionals like acupuncturists, you are making sure the dog gets the best care, and may even be able to reduce their required medications,” says Reynolds.

“When I get started with clients I always do a gait analysis. I have the owner trot the dog in circles, then in reverse and in a few other directions to reveal any restrictions in their gait. I look to see if they have problems flexing a muscle or leg. Even more important, I want to see if there is a problem where the pain is, or if it’s a referred pain and the animal is compensating.”

dog walking himself on a leash

Reynolds works with clients in their home to reduce the stress on the animal, especially if they are older or injured. “I try to work with dogs in their favorite spot in the home, like where they hang out and watch television with you. It’s also great to have a pet buddy sit by them while I work if that’s something the dog prefers,” adds Reynolds. If other pets are a distraction they must be removed, and that includes owners as well. Too much fidgeting and noise isn’t helpful for the dog.”

Reynolds also pointed out that while a canine massage therapist gets to know your dog well, they are not certified to talk with you about specific types of medical treatment. “They can encourage general healthy lifestyle things like creating a walking plan, overall diet suggestions or wellness plan for your particular pet, but no specific medical advice,” says Reynolds. “Massage should never be a substitute for veterinary care.”

two dogs asleep cheek to cheek

Things to Keep in Mind for your Dog After the Massage

  • More water
  • Get in a gentle walk
  • Make sure they get lots of rest
  • Do any massage homework the therapist suggests away from meal time
  • Implement any adaptations to make the home more accessible for your pet – carpet runners, a harnesses for help with the stairs, putting a bowl up higher

“I always give clients homework. It’s not just to improve the dog’s physical wellness, but to help create a stronger connection between the pet and owner. I find out how the dog likes to be touched, including the type of touch, length, speed and pressure, then teach the client how to do work on their pet. Animals have preferences just like people, and I can help with that guidance.”

Photo credit for dogs cheek to cheek: thedogssoup.io, Dog walking himself: Blake Facey, For old blonde retriever Chris Williamson