Saving O Tannenbaum

By Stephanie Heim
Cats climb trees so it should come as no surprise when they want to climb the only tree that’s available this time of year. Unfortunately, this just happens to be your Christmas tree decorated from top to bottom with your grandmother’s priceless antique ornaments. Instead of fighting with Kitty this year, why not try anticipating trouble before it happens. Here are some tips to make sure that you, Kitty and your family heirlooms all remain safe.

 Claim the tree as your territory. No, this doesn’t mean chasing your cat through the house growling and hissing. Simply set up the tree and leave it undecorated for a few days. Most of the time, the cat will explore and then get bored and leave it alone. But take that time to let your cat know that the tree belongs to you. Whenever they approach it, use your handy-dandy water bottle and give Kitty a quick spritz. But note, an undecorated tree is key with the water bottle method, since you obviously don’t want to electrocute your cat.
  To help your cat develop an aversion to the tree, leave orange peels around the bottom. Cats don’t like the smell of citrus, which can be used to your advantage. If you get tired of having dried out orange peels lying around your tree, then pick up some Bitter Apple. It’s a repellent to pets so spray the whole tree with it while it’s still undecorated. Since the apple scent dissipates quickly, you can refresh every couple of days, as long as the lights are unplugged. Keep it safe, people.
  Maybe you want a more decorative option for keeping your cat away from those shiny baubles. So, pile pine cones under the tree, because cats absolutely hate walking on them (who knew?) Spray the pine cones with some citronella or bitter apple and the cats will stay away for good while still earning your house a spot in the Martha Stewart magazine.
  There’s always the chance that your cat has stopped climbing the tree but continues to sit underneath it to enjoy a nosh on the lower branches. I have a cat that doesn’t even care if it’s real or fake before he starts chewing. To avoid this behaviour, just put a small dab of Tabasco sauce on the lower branches. It’ll be a spicy surprise for your furry friend and chances are will keep them from coming back for seconds.
Other helpful ways to keep your tree from crashing down include use fishing wire to secure the tree to the wall. Hang the most expensive or nicest ornaments at the top where Kitty probably won’t be able to reach them. Try using plastic ornaments at the bottom, so if they do get knocked off there’s little chance of breakage. And most importantly, despite whatever urges you might have, don’t play with your cat while you’re decorating the tree. If you make it a game, then the tree will become their playground. And for the love of cats, avoid using tinsel. It’s bad for your cats to begin with if they ingest it, and it’s shiny sparkly constitution unavoidably attracts a cat’s curious nature. Besides, tinsel is just a hassle anyway, so do yourself a favour and leave it off this year.
In my own experience, cats tend to grow out of the tree climbing. They either lose the kitten spryness or their youthful curiosity. However, cats are also creatures of habit, so once in a tree chances are they may always try at least once every year to return to the bushy branches and hide away. Even though Kitty might look gosh darn cute while he’s in there, remember hanging out in a Christmas tree can be dangerous, so follow these tips and keep him purr-fectly safe!
By Allison Vorstenbosch


how to grieve your dog's deathLosing a beloved pet is one of the most heart-wrenching tragedies in this world, but as hard as it is there are many beautiful ways to obtain some closure for your heart-breaking loss. Of course, we don’t presume to know how to grieve your dog’s death — it is an impossible pain that we all tragically must endure in our lifetime. However, we hope that these six unique and beautiful memorial ideas might help to keep their memory alive. (more…)

Sing a Little Song for Me

By Stephanie Heim
How do we express our love for another? Flowers? Chocolates? An exotic trip complete with champagne? While all of these may be favourable options, one of the most powerful means of declaring one’s emotions is through the magic of music. This is why love songs are so important in modern culture and why having a song written for you is considered such a high honour. Believe it or not, music history is filled with love songs that were inspired by a doting pet and these tunes span decades, genres and artists.

Firstly (and perhaps most obviously) Cat Stevens’ first ever single, “I Love My Dog” was written for his…you guessed it…dog! This song is a very literal explanation of the many reasons why Stevens loved a little dachshund that he found tied to a post as a child and adopted when the pooch was not claimed. The fact that “all he asks of me is the food to give him strength” and “all he ever needs is love and that he knows he’ll get” are some of the qualities Stevens admired about the human-dog bond.
Another song that explores a human-animal friendship is “Ben.” Written in 1972 by Don Black and Walter Scharf for the movie Ben (sequel to Willard), this song celebrates a pinnacle part of the film – a young boy who befriends a rat. Although originally intended for Donny Osmond, this popular song was actually recorded by 14-year-old Michael Jackson and became his first #1 hit as a solo artist. While this song does not actually reference a real pet rat, the song has nevertheless stood the test of time and emerged as a melody that sings of lasting comradeship.
However, in Jimi Hendrix’s song, “Fire,” a dog is referenced within the lyrics because of a real life occurrence. The story goes like this. After a show in 1967, Jimi stayed at bassist, Noel Redding’s, mother’s house. It was a frightfully cold night and Jimi wanted to stand next to the fireplace in order to warm up. However, the Reddings’ massive Great Dane simply refused to budge, thus inspiring the line, “Aw move over, Rover…” in the later hit, “Fire.”
By Stephanie Heim
 The B52s were also partial to the pooch play list phenomenon, penning “Quiche Lorraine” in the late 1970s. Although there was never actually a poodle named Quiche as the song suggests, this song is about a poor mangy mutt who lives to have a good time in the rain and doesn’t let life get him down. The content resonated with the eccentric funkiness of the B52s sound and has become a loved classic by their fans.
Paul McCartney is yet another international artist who owes the success of at least one major song to a pet. The 1974 chart-topping hit, “Jet” is rumoured to be about McCartney’s spunky Labrador-Retriever of the same name, although in an interview the artist superstar reveals the original inspiration in fact came from a pony he owned as a small boy.

Sometimes, however, songs intended for pets are not written so joyfully, instead professing the pain of loss. For example, the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ song “Death of a Martian” is the story of the bass player’s dog, Flea, passing on while in the midst of recording the band’s insanely successful Stadium Arcadium album. The lyrics speak of the owner’s grief and reminiscing. Lead singer, Anthony Kiedis, often referred to the 200lb canine as the band’s “little spirit guide,” and grew even more attached to the song when his own dog, Buster, also passed a few weeks later. The band believes that both of these dogs helped them through some of their darkest times as a group.
There are also a number of songs that use real pets as a metaphor for other things or people. For instance, the Pink Floyd song “Lucifer Sam.” The meaning of this song is often debated, but a couple of things can be known for sure. One of these, is that Syd Barrett did in fact own a cat named Sam, which is why it is widely thought that this song is in fact about this feline. However, other theories state that ‘cat’ was used more as a slang term for a man, or that the song is about Barrett’s then girlfriend and the metaphor of his cat is used as a way to write about her without it sounding too obvious and insulting. In any case, Sam the cat did exist and Syd Barrett seemed to have utilized his existence artistically as a way to express a message.
Though these songs, and the countless others like them, seem to have very little in common on the surface, they are in fact following the same theme. Each one was written with a special pet in mind and each one has therefore immortalized these pets forever…whoever said only people could be muses?
By Meagan Curran 

Pet Cemetaries

By Shirley Bittner
The world of horror stories that we ritualistically endure so we can spend a sleepless night wondering why we put ourselves through such psychological torture has marked the words ‘pet cemetery’ with a dark and ominous feeling. However, far from being oppressive, pet cemeteries are serene and peaceful places where a pet owner can go to remember the life of a dear departed friend.

Pets are part of the family, and more and more people are turning to cemeteries or pet memorial gardens to help remember their pet once they have passed on. The difference between a cemetery and memorial garden is often one of name. However, more often than not, a memorial garden only offers markers that are flush to the ground where as a cemetery allows for fully upright markers. Pet cemeteries and memorial gardens come in a number of shapes and sizes. Talking to your vet or a quick Internet search can put you on the trail of a cemetery close to you.

It is important to make sure the cemetery or memorial garden is right for you and your pet. Visit the site and talk to the owners to get a full understanding of how the site is operated. Some sites are affiliated with regulatory bodies such as the International Association of Pet Cemeteries and Crematoriums (IAOPCC). Bodies such as these assure that their members are following a code of ethics and high industry standards. An affiliation with a regulatory body is not necessary for the good running of a pet cemetery, but may be an added assurance to help put your mind at ease.

If you are looking for perpetual care, it is important to make sure that maintenance fees (which should be paid up front) are put into a trust so that there are funds available for ground maintenance as a cemetery passes from one caretaker to another.

Pansy Pet Cemetery

This pet cemetery is located south of Steinbach, MB. They cater to animals of all sizes and will bury caskets or urns, but do not offer any cremation services on site. Each plot includes a head plate in the shape of a cloud, symbolizing a pet’s entrance into the afterlife. The maker is flush with the ground and has your pets’ name, their year of birth and year of death. Plates can have up to 13 characters for a personalized message. The cemetery offers a number of caskets and can pick up from a vet for an additional charge.

Sandy Ridge Pet Cemetery

Located near Eden, ON, this pet cemetery is open to budgies, horses and everything in between. They also offer burials for caskets or urns, but do not have cremation services on site. They offer a variety of caskets and upright granite makers. Open all year round, they offer to do pick ups as well, making this painful process as convenient as possible for owners.

Country Club Pet Resort Memorial Park

Located in Rocky View Alberta this park welcomes all animals into its grounds, from hamsters to horses. They offer a variety of ways to remember you pet. Burials and a number of other options for cremated remains are available such as columbarium, a country columbarium or a wishing well. Markers are flush with the ground, however a few upright makers are allowed along the edges of the park. Caskets, urns and markers are available and pick up from home or veterinarian’s office can be arranged. The memorial garden is a member of IAOPCC and part of the Country Club Pet Resort.


Nothing is more difficult than saying goodbye to your furry friend, but putting them to rest in a beautiful pet cemetery or memorial garden may be a great way to honour your pet’s memory forever.
By Kevin Mogk