How to plan a road trip with your pet

One of last week’s most disturbing headlines was that of a young dog that died in the overhead compartment of a United Airlines plane. I cannot imagine what the flight attendant could have been thinking, or if in fact, the airline had instructed and endorsed such a policy. I can certainly understand that the airlines are struggling to keep up with the ever-increasing demands of customers wanting to fly with their pets, but putting a living creature in a closed compartment is beyond comprehension. I’m afraid that had I been in the shoes of the dog’s owner, I would have been dragged off the plane and arrested before it took off, or at least have made a scene worthy of an internet sensation.

I am a very big advocate of traveling with dogs, and it is getting easier as it becomes more acceptable. But whether you’re flying or driving, it does require some planning and preparation. First and foremost of concerns is the safety of your pet and that of people or other animals with whom he may come in contact. That includes, of course, how he is being transported. I have never flown any of my pets, but personally, I would not transport my animals in any way that involved them being out of my immediate control. Unless your pet fits in a proper carrier that is stowed under the seat in front of you, I would have serious reservations about flying them on commercial airlines. There are small companies that specialize in transporting animals by air, which is probably a safer bet if the necessity arises. 


Here are a few things to keep in mind if you’re planning a trip with your pups:

  • There are many hotel chains that now allow pets, but most are limited to one pet and/or have weight limits. If you’re stuck, Motel 6, although not fancy by any stretch, is generally welcoming to you and your pets of all sizes.
  • It also helps to plan your route around at least one good exercise stop. The rest areas on the interstates, like 95, are generally small and crowded. It’s also a good idea to leash your pets before you open your car doors when you’re in situations like that; an escapee at a highway rest stop is very dangerous.
  • Generally there are state and community parks readily accessible if you take the time to look them up; remember those things called maps? You know, you get them from places like AAA; we used to use them before navigation systems and Siri guided us to our destinations.
  • Aside from safety, make sure you have your pet’s vaccine records and a “go bag: with food, water and medications readily available.
  • Beyond that, you simply have to give a little more thought to what your activities are going to be and how having the dog with you will affect them. If the weather is good, as soon as you get out of New Jersey there are many restaurants that allow dogs in outdoor dining areas. You may need to make some kennel arrangements if you have any special non-pet-friendly events planned, but even Disney makes that available now.

It’s been a long winter but it’s time to start breaking out of that cabin fever. Don’t use the dog as an excuse to stay in that rut – pack your bags and take him with you!

Source: How to plan a road trip with your pet

The most important step in finding a lost pet

The South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter’s adoption fees for all animals include microchips.

This weekend, my foster cat escaped – her first attempt at door darting. She leaped into the front yard and froze. We looked at each other and I prayed that she wouldn’t make a run for it as I leaped toward her. Fortunately, she seemed sufficiently overwhelmed by the great outdoors and allowed me to grab her and haul her back inside. As she ran back upstairs, I flopped down and thought about what could have happened. A great chase – but if a cat doesn’t want to be caught, it’s not going to be. Then posters, phone calls, humane traps, panic and fear …

The most proactive thing any family can do is to microchip their pet. I read several articles about cats and dogs being reunited with their families after being lost for years, and the common denominator in each story was that the pet was microchipped. A microchip is permanent proof that your pet belongs to you. All incoming animals at the South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter are required to be scanned for a microchip. If a pet is chipped, we immediately contact the company, which provides us with the family’s information that was registered to the chip. This is why it is so important to make sure you fill out, send in and update the paperwork that goes along with your pet’s chip. We have had way too many microchipped animals unable to be reunited with their families because phone numbers changed or the chip was never registered.

When pets get lost, there are many things a family can do to increase their chances of finding them and bringing them home. Some family members should resume searching for the pet, while another quickly contacts your local police department, animal control officer, local animal shelters and veterinarians. If your pet is chipped, the chip company will help you with this when you report them lost. There is a form that can be filled out on our website at any time for lost or found pets. Go to and select “services” and the “lost or found.” This form goes to our front office, who enter it into our shelter management computer program. Our new software automatically scans incoming pets with lost reports, comparing ZIP codes, animal description and dates.


Social media offers new ways to look for and find your lost pet. The South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter has a volunteer-run page called “Stray and Lost Pets at SJRAS/CCSPCA.” We do not guarantee that we can post all animals that arrive at the shelter as strays, but we do our best. Photos, identification numbers, locations and dates of stray animals are posted at least weekly. The page is a helping hand for lost pet owners. If you see a pet that could be your own, you must immediately contact the shelter by calling 856-691-1500. We guarantee that strays are held for the state’s required seven-day stray hold, but after that time is up they can be immediately transferred, adopted or (if there are behavioral or medical concerns we cannot address in the shelter) euthanized.

There also are several location-specific lost and found pages in our area. These pages are a great way to get the word out about a lost pet and to find people to help you. Many of the people who run these pages have lots of experience with finding and reuniting lost pets with their owners and can be a wealth of information. However, if you have questions about the legality of a situation (especially what to do with a pet you found), you should contact your local animal control officer or the shelter. There are many laws that govern lost and found pets, and you don’t want your good deed to wind up getting you on the wrong side of the law.

You can also decrease the chance of losing a pet by making sure fences are properly secured, using tie-outs, and (like I learned) being aware of pets by the door and opening and closing doors quickly. Teach children about the importance of closing gates and doors, and make sure your pet is always on a leash when not in a securely fenced yard. While seeing the reunion between a lost pet and an owner is a heartwarming part of shelter work, we would prefer for lost pets to stay home where they belong.

Source: The most important step in finding a lost pet

Along came a spider, and an important lesson

Last week we found a spider in my daughter’s room. She was picking out a book to read for her bedtime story, and there it was – a medium-sized, dark black spider, creepily illuminated by her glowing nightlight. She screamed and ran to me: “Mommy, that spider is scary! Can we please kill it?”

Now, in my house, the only victims of death threats and murder are flies and mosquitoes (because disease). Everything else, spiders included, get a free pass. They are typically left to their spin their webs, crawl on the floor or accomplish whatever it is that bugs need to accomplish, which almost never bothers us. If they are just too freaky in appearance or become a bother, they are carefully removed and placed outside.

I’m not sure why, but I can’t bear to kill or cause suffering to another being for no reason. Sure, this causes some inconvenience … instead of washing an intimidating spider down the drain, after discovering him crawling on my shower curtain, uncomfortably close while I’m in a vulnerable state – I have a conversation with him about respecting personal space. Also difficult is walking anywhere after rain … can’t move 10 feet without having to complete 10 worm rescues. People watching must think I’m nuts, but I would rather be this way than not.

Back to the storytime spider. I immediately see this as a teachable moment. “You think you are scared of the spider? Look how little he is, and look how big you are!” She thinks about this. Then I pull out one of my favorite books from my own childhood, “Sophie’s Masterpiece” by Eileen Spinelli. This beautifully illustrated story tells the story of an arachnid named Sophie who, despite creating beautiful works of webs, was kicked out of home after home by humans who are scared of her, only to find herself sharing an apartment with a tolerant young woman as her life nears its end. Sophie’s final work of art is a beautiful blanket for a newly arrived baby, in which she weaves snowflakes, wisps of lullabies and finally her own heart.

After reading the story, my daughter reconsidered her death sentence. I could see that she was able to look at this creature in a different way and consider not just how does this make ME feel, but how do I make this other living being feel? That’s a powerful way to think. Imagine if all children learned to think about how their actions affected not just themselves, not just other people – but all living things?

At a time when anger and violence seem to be escalating, it is especially important that we teach empathy to our youth. It is so very important to teach children how to care for each other, and what better way than to start with the creatures who share our world? And when that empathy is absent, we need to be concerned.

A University of Washington study by Eric Madfis and Arnold Arluke revealed that 43% of school shooters had reports of animal cruelty in their histories. And specifically, types of cruelty that require hands-on violence and prolonged suffering – acts that turn my stomach to even consider. Animal cruelty should never be brushed aside or considered “normal.” It is important to report and to address not only because animals do not deserve to be hurt and need justice when they are, but also because if someone is willing to hurt an animal, how far are they from being willing to hurt a person?

Schools and shelters are doing their best to provide humane education and develop curriculum that incorporates social skills. But as parents and neighbors and citizens, we lead the way by modeling empathy regularly and confidently. And while today the recipient of my daughter’s empathy is a spider who now has a permanent home by the nightlight, she is acquiring the tools needed to allow her to make a real difference – for the better – in the life of a lonely or suffering or scared animal or person. Every small act of kindness has the potential to make a world of change.


If you are looking for a place to start, consider a book. These are just a sampling of the many works of literature that can help teach important life lessons:

  • “Not a Used Dog, At All” by Carol Erickson
  • “A Boy and a Jaguar” by Alan Rabinowitz
  • “The Story of Ferdinand” by Munro Leaf
  • “Hey, Little Ant” by Phillip and Hannah Hoose
  • “One Duck” by Hazel Hutchins
  • “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstien
  • “Because of Winn-Dixie” by Kate KiCamillo
  • “Black Beauty” by Anna Sewell

Source: Along came a spider, and an important lesson

South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter: A deaf puppy’s inspiring story

Harry Potter, now Cole (center), sits for a photo with Santain 2017 with his canine siblings.

There are all sorts of challenges that shelter animals face when they are vying for the attention of potential adopters. They can’t all be cute puppies or kittens. They may not be wiggly and happy because of the anxiety of being kenneled or caged. They may be diamonds in the rough who need some time to gain some weight or get their fur to shine. Many things can stand in their way.

Such was the case for a gangly American Bulldog pup who was brought into the South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter as a stray back in March of 2017. He was only 4 or 5 months old, which was a huge advantage, but he was deaf and had not been trained in any way. These are HUGE red flags for adopters, making his future very uncertain. Even at his age, rescues for deaf dogs are very difficult to get into because of volume and the time needed to train these special-needs dogs.

For this particular puppy though, his handicap is what attracted the man who would turn his world around. Chris Hannah, a music teacher from Mennies Elementary School in Vineland, would just be starting his search for a new companion to bring a little joy into his life when, at the same time, “Harry Potter” found himself in the clutches of an animal control officer and wound up at the shelter. Chris pulled up our website, clicked on the adoptable dogs section and found the perfect match on his very first search! It so happens that Chris is very involved in the life of his nephew (the two-legged kind), who also is deaf, and knew the minute he saw the puppy online that fate was calling.

Fast forward one year, the renamed “Cole” has become a mascot of sorts, attending many school events and now becoming involved in the Read Across America program at Mennies. The kids in second through fifth grades have come up with their own story, “Captain Cochlear & Maestro Mutt,” about Chris’s nephew and this very lucky dog. It’s a big week as the pup is also taking his Canine Good Citizen test, which is the first step in his quest to become a therapy dog for deaf and hearing-impaired children.

When training Cole, Chris wanted to use American Sign Language so that users of ASL would be able interact with the dog. Some slight alterations were made to make the signals easily readable for the dog. A trainer helped Chris with a remote collar that is used to get Cole to focus on his hands. Apparently Cole is a quick and eager learner, something I’m sure Chris wishes from all his students.


This story is a great reminder that all things are possible. Although we viewed Cole’s deafness as a detriment to finding a home, it turned out to be his lucky charm

On top of all his accomplishments, we have just learned that Cole will be a contestant in our 10th annual Dog Of The Year contest, which kicks off in April. Over the past nine years, this contest has raised more than $130,000 for our shelter animals. It’s a great way for our former shelter dogs and their adopters to support the homeless pets who are in the shelter waiting to find their special person or family.

Source: South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter: A deaf puppy’s inspiring story

Raising a pet: Frustration, joy and sadness


The little “Valentines Litter” has left and my house and now it seems way too quiet. I have an extra half-hour in the morning and at bedtime; no more cleaning up puppy pads, mopping floors, feeding eight excited little mouths, or any of the other responsibilities that come with raising puppies. When you’re a foster parent, letting go can be tough. But when you see the joy of the families who are bringing home their new little bundles of fur, it makes it all worthwhile.

The timing of hosting this litter at my house was perfect, because in the midst of all the hubbub of raising them, we had to let go of one our own. For those of you who read this column regularly, I’m sure I don’t have tell you how traumatic it can be to lose a pet. It was devastating, and quite frankly I was thankful to have the joy and distraction of those beautiful puppies to help ease the pain.

Late on Christmas Eve, we returned home from a family gathering and our 170-pound, 10-year -old Leonberger, in his excitement to greet us, slipped and fell on the tile. Leonbergers are a giant breed of dog with a typical life span of about 8 years. King was well past his prime and had been struggling with a weak back end for a couple of years. When he slipped and went down, his back legs splayed out at an unnatural angle and we knew right away that he was in trouble. A midnight drive to an emergency veterinary hospital in Delaware ended in our worst fears; he had nerve damage to his back left leg, and recovery for a dog his size and age was pretty much impossible. The vet recommended euthanasia, and at 3 a.m. on Christmas Day we had to put down our big guy.

After the pups left and the full brunt of the loss of King was settling in, I was asked if I had the choice to have my animals live for 30 years rather than their normal lifespan, would I choose that?

Would you? Would you prefer to have just one or two pets in the course of your life and perhaps avoid the pain of losing them every 10 or 12 or 14 years? I found that question virtually impossible to answer. As a true animal lover, I have had many wonderful pets in my life. Thinking back about them, it occurred to me that if cats and dogs lived viable lives of 30 years, I would have only experienced maybe two or three of my previous pets. I feel like I have had special relationships with all my pets. They all had different personalities, they all had special meaning in the different phases of my life, and I have learned many different things from experiencing the unique joys and challenges that each one gave me. So which ones would I have given up if I could only have had a few?
This is the first time I’ve really been able to talk about losing King. Weeks after his loss, I still find that I brace myself for the gargantuan and enthusiastic greeting that he gave me whenever I came home. Would I have passed up the chance to love and be loved by this big guy rather than still have a dog that I had gotten when I was in my 20s?
I don’t know the answer to this question and I’m glad I don’t have to make a choice. I share this with you mainly to give you pause should you ever you find yourself hesitating to get another pet after the loss of one that you’ve dearly loved. Don’t deprive yourself of finding a new four-legged companion who will typically bring you a little frustration in the beginning, a whole lot of joy for many years in between and, yes, ultimately sadness in the end. That’s life; share it with a shelter animal – that’s a life well lived.

Source: Raising a pet: Frustration, joy and sadness

It’s time to get your dog and cat licenses

We’re all business this week because I need to remind you that it’s time to get or renew your pet’s licenses. Check with the dog registrar’s office at your municipal building for the cutoff date; some municipalities require that you register by March 1 and others by April 1. Some towns require both cats and dogs to be registered. Fees for licenses vary from town to town and are higher for unaltered pets. You should be able to find all the information on your municipal website.

Late fees also vary from as little as $3 to as much as $50, so make sure you are familiar with your city or township regulations. You can receive a summons for an unlicensed pet and the fines start at $100, so best to keep things up-to-date.

There are a couple of things to keep in mind that will help streamline things when you go to register. Most, if not all, townships do not take cash, so you will need a check or money order to pay. Also, your pet’s rabies vaccine cannot expire before Nov. 1 of 2018, or you will not be permitted to get the license without updating the vaccine.

 On a good note, there are free rabies clinics available throughout Cumberland County. There’s one in Vineland this coming Saturday, Feb. 17, and then again on March 17. The last clinic of the season is March 24 in Hopewell Township. You can go to the website for the Cumberland County Health Department for other clinics around the county.

If you are planning on taking advantage of the free clinics, make sure you take precautionary steps to keep you, your pet, the people and animals around you, safe. Pets at events like these are anxious and may exhibit aggressive or unusual behaviors while waiting in line. Dogs should be on a short leash at all times – and by short, I mean within 2 feet of you. If you have a small dog, you may want to keep him in your arms or in a carrier. Cats should ALWAYS be in a carrier – absolutely no exceptions! Too many times I have seen cats escape from the arms of their owners because they are panicked by the presence of all the other animals and people in line at the clinics. Be alert at all times. If at all possible, leave the kids at home; if they must accompany you, never allow your child to handle your dog’s leash.

So, that business over with, let me remind you that Valentine’s Day is Wednesday and we have lots of sweethearts here at the South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter that are waiting to show you some love! We have kittens, which we don’t normally have this time of year, along with some great adult cats who would be great to snuggle up with on these cold, damp February days. The dog kennels are full – again, a little unusual for this time of year – of love bugs who really need to get out of those kennels and into a nice, cozy living room. Even if you can’t adopt right now, come in and visit our “Kissing Booth” for some special smooches from our pooches!

Source: It’s time to get your dog and cat licenses

You’ll fall in love with the ‘Valentine litter’

The “kids” are growing up! In a little more than two weeks, our Valentine litter of eight beautiful pups will be ready to start their new lives. The thought of sending them out into the world is bittersweet; I’m happy to have them go to homes where they can be the center of attention, but a little sad to let them go. It’s been quite a while since I’ve fostered an entire litter from birth, and I got exceptionally lucky with this crew – they have been a real joy!

Initially, I was concerned about Molly (the mother) delivering because she’s such a small dog and her belly was so HUGE! I felt sure that she either had pups that would be too large for her to deliver naturally, or that she had too many in there and they might not all survive. She is also very young; this is undoubtedly her first litter, which might have made it very difficult for her to handle a large litter or, heaven forbid, if she were to need a C-section.

In two short weeks, they should be ready to be spayed and neutered, which, barring any hitches, would be done on Valentine’s Day. I’ll then bring them home for a couple of days to recover, and they’ll be ready to go to their homes that weekend. It’s time to start taking applications for them, so it’s time to tell you more about them on an individual level.

You can see from their pictures that they have different coats, and their fur may change as they mature. Even at this tender age, their personalities are starting to develop. This is what they’re telling about themselves so far:

  • Casanova: He’s laid-back kind of guy. He’s very sweet, usually has the tip of his tongue hanging out, and likes chewing on his brothers’ legs and ears. His coat is on the longer side, possibly getting a little wiry as he matures. He’s not as demanding as some of his siblings, and should do well in any home.
  • Cupid: When they passed out the good looks, he was first in line. His coat is gorgeous – long, wavy and shiny black with some brown and a little white mixed in. He’s on the ornery side, having some of the terrier attitude that makes him confident and interested in everything around him.
  • Eros: He’s the brains of the family. He wants to be with his people and he finds ways to get to them, even when he’s contained in his pen. If he can’t find a way to sneak out, he hangs his head and little front feet over the barrier and works you over with his pitiful look until you give in and pick him up.
  • Juliet: She is petite, lovely and full of herself. She’s sporting a medium-length fur coat of lustrous black with white accents. She’s confident and likes being part of things, so she’d fit right in with an active family or someone who wants a dog to do things with.
  • Romeo: He’s the biggest guy but he’s a quiet, mushy and loves to snuggle. His coat is long, wavy and mostly tan with black tips – a real looker! He seeks attention and likes to play. He’ll be a great companion to whoever is lucky enough to have him.
  • Ruby: She does not miss a trick! She’s ready to get out and about and be a part of the real world. As you can see from her picture, she’s super cute and very hard to resist. Her fur, although longer now, looks like it may end up like her mama’s – medium length and a little wiry. She is a doll and will have you wrapped around her little paw in a heartbeat.
  • Scarlett: She is a real character! She’s a little bigger than Juliet but has the same self-assured personality and look. She looks you directly in the eye and is always looking for a little fun. She would make a great family dog.
  • Valentino: This little runt boy reminds me of Eeyore with his big, brown, pitiful eyes. He’s half the size of his brothers, but doesn’t let that hold him back. He is the only one with a short coat, which accents the little wiry tufts on his snout. He’s quiet and loving, which would make him perfect for a more mature home.

We are accepting applications both online or at the shelter. Check out our “Puppy Bowl” video at or for a close-up look at the Valentine crew getting fired up for the Super Bowl. You also can check out our “Underdogs”: a few of our special pets who have “wonder dog” potential but have been overlooked by potential adopters. In celebration of Super Bowl LII, a select group of pets are available for a reduced adoption fee of $52.

Source: You’ll fall in love with the ‘Valentine litter’

New NJ animal cruelty law is game-changer

After several months of frustration and anticipation, we are very pleased that our former governor signed into law a bill that moves the enforcement of animal cruelty laws away from the New Jersey SPCA and into the county prosecutor’s offices. This is a much-needed advancement in the protection of domestic animals that, quite frankly, was decades overdue.

Our society in Cumberland County received its charter as a county branch of the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in 1915. Perhaps, more than 100 years ago, the system of having a charitable organization of volunteers was adequate to respond to reports of animal cruelty and neglect – but certainly not in today’s world.

The new law requires the county prosecutor to establish “within the office of the prosecutor, a county prosecutor animal cruelty task force which would be responsible for animal welfare within the jurisdiction of the county, and enforce and abide by the animal cruelty laws of the state.” It also requires all municipalities to have a humane law enforcement officer properly commissioned to enforce the cruelty laws.

The transition of enforcement powers from the SPCAs to the prosecutors must be achieved within the next six months, but it will certainly take much longer to educate the new enforcers and to establish an effective and committed task force. We hope to work with our own county prosecutor’s office to make the transition as smooth as possible.

As far as the big picture for our organization is concerned, the only major difference is that we will not be responding to reports of cruelty once the transition has been made. We will, however, continue to act as advocates for the pets in our community as well as for our residents that need help with animal-related issues. Our shelter and clinic services will continue without interruption.

2017 was a very difficult and trying year for us, both as the South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter and as the Cumberland County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. And 2018 promises to be challenging as well. But with the changes in law enforcement and new contracts being negotiated with the municipalities whose stray animals we house, we are hopeful that it will be a year of growth and progress. Through all of the trials and tribulations of the past year, your voice has been invaluable in helping us secure our future. We want to thank all of you who have supported us by communicating with our local and state government officials on our behalf.

Source: New NJ animal cruelty law is game-changer

Special help available for senior dogs, owners

The South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter in Vineland is proud to have been selected as a Grey Muzzle Organization grant recipient this year.

The Grey Muzzle Organization is a wonderful organization that funds programs run by shelters and rescues that benefit senior dogs. We have had this honor in the past, and our Grey Muzzle grants have helped to form and sustain our shelter’s Senior Society. This year’s grant is extra special because it allows us to expand our Senior Society to include community outreach and owner surrender prevention.

In addition to providing medical care for senior dogs who have been released to the shelter, were found as strays or are cruelty cases, we are now also able to offer assistance to members of our community who own senior dogs they want to keep but just need some help to be able to do so. We recognize that the best place for senior dogs is with the family who loves them, and now we have the ability to provide assistance to some families to keep them there!

We also have had situations where it’s not possible to support the dog staying home. We always strive to respect owners and their particular situation. The welfare of the animal is most important, but as a community-based program, working with and respecting owners is a part of our program as well. When these situations arise, we try to determine if it’s in the dog’s best welfare to be immediately brought to the shelter for care or if we have time to try to find a home or rescue for the dog so he can skip the often stressful shelter stay.

We are currently working with both situations:

  • Scooter’s family reached out for help and he was released to the shelter this weekend because he had developed a medical condition that needed medical care. He’s now receiving medication and soon will be looking for a new home.
  • We are also helping Mikey, a 15-year-old Corgi mix whose family is unable to care for him. They are keeping him at home until we find a family that can better meet his needs.

We also provide hospice care for senior dogs who have medical conditions that we cannot fix. We can give them lots of love and comfort and dignity as they finish out their time with us. We are currently providing a beautiful Labrador named Buddy with hospice care; he’s very loved in a foster home and receiving medication and special food to keep him feeling his best. We are seeking sponsors for Buddy’s prescription food, as we hope to be able to need it for months to come! This is a wonderful way to help us help our seniors.

And, of course, we continue to provide care for the many senior dogs that arrive as strays. We try to get our seniors into foster homes, where they are more comfortable. That’s the case with Amigo, who has been waiting for over 100 days to find a home! He’s a staff and volunteer favorite, and awesome just pours out of him like rays of sunshine! He’s perfect with other dogs and cats, and housebroken. He’s an outdoor enthusiast – loving trees and water and leaves and sunshine and dirt. If you need a devoted companion in your life, he’s the perfect AMIGO for you.

We also are caring for Jack, another favorite of staff and volunteers, who hasn’t found a forever or a foster home yet. Jack is a boxer/bulldog mix who is 8 years old and just about as lovely as they come.  He’s very well-trained, housebroken, neutered and just waiting to offer you his big paw as a sign of goodwill. He loves when volunteers snuggle in his kennel with him. He’s been a bit stiff, living in a kennel during the winter, but fortunately our Grey Muzzle Organization grant has allowed us to keep him comfortable with medication. Jack is a big boy; the only thing bigger than his paws are his heart. Jack would love to find a warm home to curl up in sooner rather than later. Come visit him at the shelter.

For more information about adoptable Senior Society dogs, sponsorship opportunities, fostering or hospice opportunities, or to seek help with a senior dog, please contact me at

Source: Special help available for senior dogs, owners

Big moment arrives: 8 puppies before dawn

Holy moly! If you read the column last week, you know that I was pacing the floors waiting for my foster dog to deliver her pups. It turned out to be a VERY LONG wait. Throughout the day she was restless, up and down, in and out of the closet that she chose for her “birthing suite.” We knew by 6:30 in the morning that she was ready and we were vigilant all day, but by 11 o’clock that night, I was exhausted and nothing was happening.I finally decided to try to get some rest. She had other ideas.At midnight, I heard a decisive yelp from the closet and, sure enough, the first pup was working his way out. I had never heard a mother dog cry out during delivery, but I have read that they experience contractions much like human mothers and therefore must have similar pain. She cried out two more times with the second and third pups, but after that she seemed to settle in and take the deliveries with stride. I think she is a first (and last!) time mother, so her agitation and lack of experience probably added to her discomfort.

A little after 3 a.m., she finally delivered the last of her eight – yes, EIGHT – puppies. That’s a very large litter for such a little dog. As I stated last week, I was sure that she was either carrying a few big pups or a lot of little ones, but I didn’t expect EIGHT! Typically, small dogs have small litters; five would be considered large for them. The last puppy took the longest between births, and by that time she seemed to be exhausted and lay down, almost nodding off, until a few seconds before the last little girl popped out.After she had finished removing the sack from the pup and getting her settled, I wanted to get mama cleaned up and get her outside. I felt terrible, because it was the night that it snowed and I hated like heck having to send her out in it, even for a minute, with what she had been through. I needn’t have worried. After letting her out, I peeked through the window to make sure she was getting off the deck and doing her business. Imagine my surprise when I spotted her doing the “snow plow,” running her chin and belly through the new snow and rolling in it excitedly on her back. She came back in and was zipping around, acting crazy, like dogs do when they have just had a bath. She drank some water, ate a huge predawn breakfast and finally retired with her new babies for a few hours.In spite of her being new to motherhood, she has been fantastic with the puppies. She probably will weigh in at 13 or 14 pounds after her milk is dried up, but right now she’s eating more in the course of a day than my 85-pound sheep dog does. She gets a cup of kibble and a half-cup of canned food three times a day, snacks on dry food in between, and gets a handful of treats at bedtime. Eating for nine is obviously a big job!

The puppies will be ready for adoption around Valentine’s Day, and I will keep you updated on their progress as they mature. Right now, they look like little bubble-headed mice, with eyes not yet open and just able to slither around a little on their bellies. Check out for a video! Those of us at the South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter hope that you are enjoying your family and friends over this holiday season and please keep in mind that we have many pets here that are waiting still for a safe, warm and loving home like yours.

Source: Big moment arrives: 8 puppies before dawn