Friday, April 24, 2009
See you there!!
Many people today believe in the importance of spaying and neutering their animals. If you are one of the responsible, I thank you. There are, however, a number of people who believe that it isn't necessary, why bother? Excuses range from "can't afford it" to "one litter won't hurt", "my animal never comes into contact with other animals" and beyond.
Aside from the fact that the animal shelters are overflowing with pets needing good homes and that hundreds of animals are destroyed everyday due to overcrowding in those shelters, there is another factor to consider.
Indiscriminate breeding can also introduce a plethora of health problems into the animal community. Animals who are dumped off at shelters or the vets office are always checked out and given shots, but a lot of times, there are underlying conditions that may arise months later. I have been the lucky recipient of two such animals. Here are their stories:
Stuart the cat was dumped off in a box with his mother and sister at a local vets office. The technician at the office knew I was looking for another kitty so she gave me a call. I fell in love with the little guy and named him Stuart (after Stuart Little). He came home and after a couple of rough adjustment days, seemed like a perfectly normal and healthy little kitten.
About two weeks later he began regurgitating his food. We thought at first he had ingested some grass. It kept up. We changed his food. No good. We eliminated canned food from his diet. Nothing worked. We took him to the vet. After a very brief examination and xray they determined he had an extremely rare heart condition called mega esophagus. In essence, blood vessels from his heart had grown around his esophagus and were squeezing it shut, cutting off his food. The little guy was starving to death. The only option (other than euthanasia) was surgery at UC Davis. My husband and I discussed it and decided to give the little guy a chance. $3,000 later, Stuart is a healthy, happy little cat.
Next came Bella, the lab. Bella came to us from a friend who "accidentally" bred her registered white lab with an unregistered black lab. Early on, they were concerned that she might be blind in her right eye. I knew that if we didn't take her they would probably end up putting her down. We took her to a dog opthamologist, who confirmed that she was blind and that it was a congenital condition passed on to her from one of her parents. He strongly discouraged us from breeding her because she could pass the condition on to her puppies. (We had already decided to have her fixed.)
Things seemed fine, other than she was blind in the one eye, until two months later. We awoke at 3am to her moaning and whining under the bed. Her right eye was glassy and milky. We stayed up with her that night and made arrangements to take her to the specialist (in Stockton this time) the next afternoon. He examined her and diagnosed her with glaucoma. There was nothing to do but remove the bad eye. $1200 later, Bella is a one-eyed white lab in love with life.
I notified my friend of the situation via email and voicemail and begged her not to let her dog breed again. She never responded.
Seven new puppies were born on Easter Sunday. I can only hope that all of them will be lucky and not have the same condition that Bella inherited.
I admit that these two animals are probably extreme examples of what can happen. But let's think about what would have happened to them if the people who adopted them could not afford the unexpected vet bills? Stuart and Bella are wonderful, loving pets and I am glad that my husband and I made the decisions that we did, but not all animals will be so lucky.
Please, please, please do not let your animals breed indiscriminately.
All proceeds from the auction benefit the Oakhurst Community Park.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
If you have water restrictions in your area or town, find out just water they cover. If not too severe, they may just cover lawn sprinklers and not watering of gardens.
Water in the early morning, when there is less heat and wind, and so less water lost to evaporation. Timers on automatic watering systems make very early watering much easier.
Don’t use overhead sprinklers, which may lose over half the water on a hot day to evaporation. Instead use manual watering, soaker hoses or drip systems. Soaker hoses are merely permeable hoses, often of recycled materials, that allow water to soak through them slowly. Placed on beds near plants, they allow water to slowly soak into the root zone. Cover these with mulch, and they lose even less water to the air, and are invisible.
Water deeply and less often rather than for shorter periods more often. This allows water to penetrate deeper, and so encourages deeper roots which are more resistant to drought. Lawns and bedding plants should be watered to at least 6 inches deep. Perennials, shrubs and trees should be watered to at least 12 inches deep. Check your sprinkler or rainfall with a rain gauge, available from garden and hardware stores. One inch of water will wet a sandy soil to a depth of about 12 inches.
Water established plants only if "really" needed and once they begin to wilt. Many perennials and woody plants may wilt, and not perform best if dry, but will survive. This is especially true if they were healthy and well-watered prior to drought conditions. Only a few perennials such as false spirea (Astilbe) have leaves that turn brown and don’t recover if dry, but have to generate new leaves.
Collecting, Saving Water
Repair leaks in hoses and fittings. This may be as simple as replacing the washers in hose fittings. A slow leak of one drip per second can lose 9 gallons of water a day, 260 gallons a month. A faster leak, filling an 8 ounce cup in 8 seconds, wastes 675 gallons a day, or 20,000 gallons a month!
Collect wasted and "gray" water from the household. The latter is rinse water from washers, and from washing dishes. When adjusting the hot and cold in baths and showers, collect in a bucket the water that would normally go down the drain before the temperature is adjusted. Also collect and use water from dehumidifiers or window air conditioners.
Collect water from downspouts of gutters, or divert these into flower beds.
For flowers and vegetables, use wider spacing to reduce competition for soil moisture, mulching in between plants.
Use 3 to 4 inches (after settling) of organic mulch (pine bark, straw or similar) to prevent soil from drying and losing moisture to the air. Keep such mulch away from trunks, and off the top of desirable perennials. Plastic mulches in vegetable and annual flower gardens in which plants are spaced regularly, or around shrubs, can help as well. Or use thick layers of newspapers in rows, covered lightly with mulch.
Incorporate organic matter into the soil, which will aid in water retention. Compost also adds nutrients, but breaks down faster than peat moss—another common amendment. Peat moss lasts longer in the soil, at least a year or more, but adds few nutrients and acidifies the soil. Water absorbent materials (hydrogels) can help dry sandy soils.
Fertilize less, both less in amount and less often, and avoid too much high nitrogen fertilizer. Too much nitrogen results in excessive growth, and need for water by plants. Organic fertilizers provide less, and over a longer period usually, and they help soil humus which helps hold water.
Choose and place plants properly. Don’t choose plants that prefer moist, and place them in a dry area. And choose plants more resistant to drought. As mentioned at the beginning, there are many other plants other than cacti and succulents such as those with deep tap roots (baptisia or false lupine), thick storage roots (daylilies), or those with waxy coated leaves (sedum). Perennial flowers need water when newly planted, but once established require much less water than annual flowers. Native plants may be a good choice as well. See OH Leaflet 73 on drought resistant plants.
Don’t apply pesticides that might cause injury to stressed plants, or in heat, or that need to be watered in.
Avoid pruning when plants are stressed and not growing, and so unable to heal wounds quickly. Pruning also may stimulate side shoots and more growth, and so more need for water.
For evergreens, use antitranspirant sprays on leaves that help prevent water loss. Or erect windbreaks around such plants, if they’re small or new, and a windy area. Burlap strung between posts is effective. For routinely windy sites, consider planting a more permanent windbreak of spruces, firs or other evergreens to screen other plantings.
Use hoeing and soil cultivation of weeds sparingly. Continually disturbing the soil surface will result in it drying out much faster. You may have to merely cut weeds off at the soil surface, or use contact or systemic herbicides, and save the cultivation until drought conditions ease. At least the bright side is that under drought, weeds wont grow as fast either! But keep weeds down, as they compete with more desirable plants for water.
Move container plants to more shaded areas.
Use pottery containers that are glazed on the outside, which prevents much water loss. Or use plastic containers, or set plastic containers if unattractive into more attractive outer pottery ones.
Don’t crowd too many plants into containers, or use large containers for large plants. This will help keep them from drying out so often, and requiring watering daily or more often.
Leave grass clippings to act as mulch and recycle nutrients and some moisture.
If seeding lawn areas, or repairing areas, use drought resistant grass types such as fine fescues.
If water is not available, allow grass to go dormant. Unless extreme conditions for a long period, it will usually begin growing again once conditions improve.
Don’t mow grass when it is dormant and not growing. Even when growing, set the mower height at 2 to 3 inches high. High mown grass develops deeper root systems that are better able to withstand drought.
If water is restricted or in short supply, give highest priority to the following:
Newly planted trees, shrubs and perennials
Newly seeded lawns or repaired lawn areas
Plants on sandy soils or windy and exposed sites
Vegetables when flowering
Please, please, please....do not leave pets or children unattended in your car while you "run in to the store real quick". Even on a 70 degree day temperatures inside a parked car can skyrocket in a short period of time.
Keep an eye out for these symptoms of heat exhaustion: Nausea, vomiting, dizziness, fatigue, weakness, muscle cramps and headache.
If you or your loved ones experience any of these symptoms get into the shade immediately, apply cool compresses to forehead and neck, use ice packs under arm pits and on the groin area, fan with clothing and rehydrate with plenty of fluids.
Here are the symptoms of heat stroke: high body temperature, the absence of sweating, with hot red or flushed dry skin, rapid pulse, difficulty breathing, strange behavior, hallucinations,
confusion, agitation, disorientation, seizure, coma
Follow the steps above for heat exhaustion and call 911 immediately. Heat stroke can cause irreversible damage to vital organs.
Monday, April 20, 2009
The interview will be aired:
Sunday, Apil 26th, 7am
KALZ 96.7, KBOS B95, KHGE Big Country 102.7, KCBL/KEZL Fox Sports Radio, KRZR Wild Hare 103.7
Suday April 16th, 11pm
KSOF Soft Rock 98.9 and KRDU Christian Talk Radio AM1130