Oct 30 2009

Are You Ready to Adopt a Dog?



Before you make this life changing commitment, there are some things you should consider.

  • You CAN teach an old dog new tricks.  Many people are drawn to the roly poly puppies overlooking amazing adult dogs because they believe they need to “raise a puppy” to fully bond.  After having worked with thousands of adult dogs and the people who have adopted them, I know without a doubt that some of the best matches happen with adult dogs because we know who they are.  Puppies can be a grab bag of emotions and personality.  According to Cary Crawford, a Wayside Waifs Adoption Counselor who adopted an adult Jack Russell, “Pickle is the most loving, well rounded, grateful dog we’ve ever adopted and he actually came from a puppy mill situation.  It is as if Pickle has been with us his entire life.”
  • Do your research.  There are several good breed books and websites to help you make some decisions about the type of breeds that would fit in the best with your family.  I recommend:
    Paws to Consider- Choosing the Right Dog For You and Your Family, by Brian Kilcommons and Sarah Wilson
    Mutts: America’s Dogs The Right Dog For You, by Brian Kilcommons and Sarah Wilson
  • Consider your lifestyle and be realistic.  If you are gone all day at work and have after work commitments, a dog would not be a good addition to your family.  Dogs and puppies deserve and require time with you relaxing, exercising on leash, playing off leash in the back yard and working on basic training.
  • Commit to training and training classes.  You may have trained your last dog and had a successful relationship but let me suggest that that was an exception, rather that the rule.  Shelters across the country are full of juvenile dogs confirming this.  You and your dog will have a much better chance of success if you start with the expectation that you will absolutely go to training together- no matter the age of your new family member.  Wayside Waifs also recommends choosing a trainer who uses positive reinforcement techniques.  Look for trainers who are accredited with a CPDT (Certificate Counsel for Professional Dog Trainers). Wayside Waifs offers these training classes on site, see our website for the available classes. 

    Adoption is a profound, life-long commitment to a being who relies on you completely and a little forethought can go a long way toward making this a successful union.  Most shelters, including Wayside Waifs, offer services to support you and your new family member after the adoption is completed.  These services include: phone access to knowledgeable shelter staff and trainers, training classes, and a web library full of helpful training tips and behavior advice.  As with most relationships, we get out of them what we put in.  There may be challenges to overcome but with patience, perseverance and help from the experts you will have a love that will last a lifetime.

    Written by Barbara Poe
    Adoptions Program Manager

Oct 28 2009

Difficult Times for Small Dogs in the Shelter



Most of my life, I have been a big dog person.  I never understood the fascination with small dogs and I swore I would never adopt one.  I thought they were annoying, yappy and precocious beasts who were un-trainable and obnoxious.  That was before I met Ginsberg, my 14 year old Pekingese mix, who I transferred from KCMO animal control, fell in love with and adopted.

Because of Ginsberg, I have started to pay a lot more attention to the small dogs who come to Wayside Waifs.  We see dogs from a variety of backgrounds.  Our small dogs come in as transfers, strays and owner surrenders.  We do our best to help find these guys and gals new homes, but there are some who have a really hard time adjusting to life in shelter.  This occurs with big dogs, too, but I feel this happens with a larger percentage of small dogs.

Fear turns to fear aggression in some small dogs.  We see a lot more of this than I would like.  A small dog is scared when he comes in and is placed in an upper-quad (a kennel that is about face height for most people).  When we try to get the dog out again and he is terrified.  He growls, he snaps, and he bites at the leash.  For some staff and volunteers they decide this dog is aggressive and start to favor others. 

Getting a terrified small dog out of the kennel is usually the hardest part, but it can make a world of difference.  Sometimes, you will just need to lasso them to get them out.  Once out, they need someplace to relax and let some fear go.  Recently, we worked with a Toy Fox Terrier named Benito who tried to bite anyone who came near him.  Getting him out of his kennel was next to impossible. 

Once we got him out, we started working with him and letting him see that people here were not going to hurt him.  We started to work on building trust.  We would put him in play groups with other small dogs.  Small dog play groups really help scared dogs as they can witness other small dogs interacting with each other and with people.  We have found that this can help the small dogs more than anything else in the shelter.  They get to learn from their own.

Benito was moved to more secluded section of the shelter and was given more attention.  As he became more and more friendly, he was walked by more and more people.  He started to become one of the dogs we would always use in playgroups to help the other scared dogs.  Last week, Benito found the perfect home.  We let his adopters know about all of his history and since they had lived with numerous terriers in the past, they were more than happy to continue his work.

Not all small dogs have a hard time adjusting to shelter life, but some do.  As we continue to learn and understand more about small dogs, we will be able to help them more quickly and hopefully find ways to stop this from happening at all.  If you are looking to add a small dog to your life, please check out your local shelter.  There may just be a lot of dogs like Benito looking for someone to give them a loving home, a little help and a chance at a new life.  The love and joy they return to you will be immense.

Written by Joe Hinkle
Manager of Behavior & Admissions at Wayside Waifs

Oct 26 2009

From the Vegan Kitchen: Summer Squash Pasta

I have always loved to cook.  Since I decided to eschew all animal products six years ago, I have really enjoyed learning to cook tasty vegan food.  My work and my eating choices both stem from my love of animals and I want to share some of my favorite recipes with you.  I know winter is on its way, but summer squash is one of my favorite ingredients and the star of this recipe:

Summer Squash Pasta


2 zucchini, sliced
2 yellow squash, sliced
1 large onion
2 cans diced tomatoes
1/4 cup Nutritional Yeast
4 cloves garlic, diced
1 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 T Balsamic Vinegar
Fresh Basil, finely chopped
Fresh Italian Parsley, finely chopped
Salt to taste
Black pepper to taste
Italian seasoning to taste
1 lb Pasta ( I prefer Fafalle, Fusille, or Rotini)


Cook pasta according to package directions and set aside
Add Olive oil to large skillet over medium heat.  Once hot, add garlic and onion.  Cover and cook until soft (5 minutes).
Add zucchini, yellow squash, salt, pepper, Italian seasoning and basil.  Mix well and cover.  Cook for 5 minutes.
Add Balsamic vinegar and mix well.
Cover and cook 5 minutes.
Add tomatoes.  Mix well and add nutritional yeast.  Mix thoroughly and bring to a light simmer.  Cook until sauce thickens and squash is tender.
Add pasta and heat through.
Add parsley and mix well.

This dish goes really well with a mixed green salad and garlic bread.

Written by Joe Hinke
Manager Behavior & Admissions at Wayside Waifs

Oct 21 2009

Pet Tips for the Purr-fect Howl-o-ween!

                                                   Happy Howl-o-ween!
Halloween is fun for the kiddos but can be dangerous for our furry friends.  While some things may seem like common sense, others are things we might not even think about! 

Here are some tips to keeping your furry family members safe!

1.  No treats!  Chocolate in all forms can be very dangerous to dogs and cats.  Symptoms of ingesting significant amounts of chocolate may include: vomiting, hyperactivity, drinking excessive amounts of water, increased or frequent urination, and heart rate.  Your pet may also have seizures. 

Candies that contain the artificial sweetener Xylitol can also be poisonous to dogs.  This sweetener can cause a sudden drop in blood sugar, which leads to depression, lack of coordination and seizures.  Significant low blood sugar can also cause liver failure.

Watch those wrappers!  Ingesting the foil or cellophane wrappers can be a choking hazard or intestinal blockage.

2. Pumpkins and decorative corn can cause gastrointestinal upset and can even cause intestinal blockage.  Also watch carved pumpkins with lit candles inside!  Pets can easily knock over pumpkins and cause a fire.  Curious cats are especially at risk or getting burned by lit candles. 

3.  Keep all wires and cords from electric lights and other decorations out of reach from your pets.  If your pet chews the cords, they could have damage in the mouth or electrical shock.

4. Everyone loves to dress up for Halloween and it can be fun to get your pet a costume too.  Please don’t put your pet in a costume unless you know he or she loves it.  My poodle loves to wear clothes, but some pets find it extremely stressful.  Be mindful of how your pet is feeling.

If you do dress your pet in a costume, make sure it isn’t constricting their movements, hearing or ability to breathe, bark or meow.  I would also recommend trying on costumes prior to the big night, that way if  your pet is stressed, uncomfortable or allergic you know before the big night. 

Also check the costume for buttons, dangling accessories/accents or pieces that could be chewed off easily.  These all pose not only choking hazards but could also cause intestinal blockages. 

5. Not all dogs and cats are social and excessive knocks on the door, or doorbell can be stressful.  It is recommended that you put your pet in another room, away from trick or treating during peak hours.  Last year, we let our toy poodle run around the house and every time she heard the doorbell she went into a barking/attack mode.  To this day every time she hears a doorbell, even if it’s on the television, she goes berserk!  It was a big mistake to let her be around this commotion before she was ready.

Also be careful of opening the door- this is a prime opportunity for your pet to dart off or scare small children who are unaware you have a pet. 

6.  As always, make sure your pet has identification and is micro-chipped.  If your pet should escape or become lost this will increase the chances that you will be able to find them.

Halloween can be a fun time for the entire family, just be extra mindful of your furry family members and what tricks or treats they are enjoying!

Written by Trish Stinger
Web Marketing Manager at Wayside Waifs

Oct 16 2009

KC Dog Runners

It’s 8:30 Saturday morning, do you know where your favorite shelter dog is?  If he’s really lucky, he may be running with the KC Dog Runners!  Once every couple of months, volunteers with the KC Dog Runners come to Wayside Waifs and run 6-8 dogs for 30-45 minutes.  It’s great for burning off extra energy of our shelter dogs but the more significant and less obvious benefit is the much needed confidence boost it can give shy shelter dogs.



The last time the KC Dog Runners were here they ran Montgomery, a 10 month old Golden Retriever mix who had been in the shelter for 11 days.  Monty was a really shy boy who didn’t walk well on a leash, but once he felt the joy of the run, he forgot all of his fears.  When he returned from his run he was very relaxed and was able to stay behind the Adoption Counter.  Little did we know his new dad was headed to Wayside looking for the perfect companion.

I’m convinced the KC Dog Runners helped facilitate this perfect match.  Monty may not have been able to share his amazing personality with his new family without the boost of confidence and sense of ease that one run provided.  While I know serious behavior problems need the expertise of a professional trainer, a good dog run was all Monty needed to cure what ailed him.  Adoption update: Monty and his new parent are “best buds”! 

The KC Dog Runners is KC metro’s first dog running company, started Fall 2008.  They are an amazing resource for busy families unable to provide an adequate amount of exercise to keep their dogs healthy and happy.  If you find yourself in this predicament, check out their website at www.kcdogrunners.com.  If you’re a runner and would like to join their team of volunteers working to give shelter dogs a chance to run, you’ll find more information on their website.

Written by Barbara Poe
Adoptions Program Manager at Wayside Waifs

Oct 14 2009

Food Aggression and Shelter Dogs

Wayside Waifs sees a lot of dogs come into the shelter and these dogs come from a variety of different backgrounds—transfers from other shelters, strays who were running the streets, strays who were abandoned by their human companions, owner surrenders who are well taken care of and puppy mill survivors.  When all of these dogs come in, we assess their behavior to make sure we don’t see any signs of aggression.  One type of aggression we see in some dogs, regardless of their background, is food aggression.

Some of these dogs have been running the streets and are obviously starving.  Some have been well fed their entire lives and look as if they haven’t missed a meal in years.  Some are dogs who are very full of themselves…some seem shy and reserved until you try to the take the bowl of food away from them.  This form of aggression can be seen in all ages, breeds, sizes and shapes of dogs.

Luckily, this form of aggression we have learned to work with, but adopters need to be aware that they will need to continue to work with the dog once they get him or her home.  There are a variety of ways we work with animals in the shelter:

  • Free feeding- giving a dog full access to food.  We will serve a normal amount of wet food mixed with dry kibble.  We refill their bowl throughout the day.  (Caution needs to be taken with this as some dogs would literally eat themselves to death if given the opportunity). 
  • Flooding- with this we give the dog a normal amount of food in multiple dishes.  Every dish will contain a small amount of their food.  I like to use 8-10 bowls.
  • Trading up-here we work with the dog during feeding times.  We give them a mixture of wet and dry food.  While they are eating, we offer a higher value treat and only give the treat to the dog once they are out of food dish.
  • Nothing in Life is Free -this is where we offer something to the dog, food or treats but they have to give us something in return…sit, down, stay etc.
  • Hand feeding- with this, we feed the dog by hand.  This is usually combined with Nothing in Life is Free as we will have the dog sit before giving food.  

There are all things you can do in your home, too.   At home, feeding time for me involves getting all of my dogs to sit and wait while I put there food down.  They continue to look at me with pleading eyes until I tell them to go ahead.  I do this, even though none of my dogs have shown food aggression.  It’s just another excuse to work with them on their behavior. 

As animal shelters continue to evolve, so will the things we are able to work with and help solve.  Our goal will always be to find loving, forever homes for as many animals as possible…some just take a little more effort.  For me, these are the ones that mean the most.  Please remember, any aggression in dogs can be scary and dangerous and it is always a good idea to consult a professional dog trainer to help solve these issues. 

Written by Joe Hinkle
Manager of Behavior & Admissions at Wayside Waifs

Oct 12 2009

Vaccinating Your Pet, Part 2

Last time we discussed types of vaccinations and when your puppy/kitten should receive them.  Today is the completion of “Vaccinating Your Pet” with information about how many vaccinations your little one needs and how often.

Everyone has the big question, “How many vaccinations does my puppy or kitten need?”  Many of us have the idea  in our heads that a puppy or kitten needs 3 shots, and they are protected. 

When the animal is born, they have antibodies from the mother circulating in their bloodstream, just like people.  These antibodies can be present for up to 4 months of age, but may disappear anytime between 8 weeks and 16 weeks of age.  If a vaccine is given when these antibodies are present, they interfere with the immune response to the vaccine-this means that if the antibodies from the mother disappear, the animal is not considered “protected” from the disease because the vaccine was not able to work properly. 

By repeating the vaccine during that 8-16 week period, one hopes to administer the vaccine at a time when the antibodies from the mother have disappeared so as to stimulate a protective immune response from the vaccine, but soon enough after the disappearance as to decrease the period during which the animal is susceptible to the disease.  This is because if the antibodies have disappeared and the vaccine has not been effective yet, they are not protected from the disease.

Again, the frequency of vaccination is determined by an animal’s individual situation-for example, in the shelter setting where puppies and kittens are more frequently exposed to disease than in a home setting, we repeat vaccinations every 2 weeks, starting at 6 weeks of age.  So, if we follow these rules and give a puppy or kitten 3 shots and stop there, it is still only going to be 10 weeks old and consequently still susceptible to disease.

For optimal protection from disease, these vaccinations need to be repeated until the animal is at least 16 weeks old, and depending on the initial age at vaccination and the frequency used, an animal may receive anywhere between 3 to 6 boosters for their vaccinations.  So, in the answer to the most common question, “My puppy has had 3 shots, can he still get parvo?”, the answer is “Yes, your puppy can have 3 shots and still get parvo.”

Vaccinations can be a tricky and confusing subject, but with proper communication with your veterinarians, it can be made simple and understandable. 

Written by Dr. Cynthia Moon
Wayside Waifs Veterinarian

Oct 9 2009

Vaccinating Your Pet, Part 1

Don't forget to vaccinate!

Don't forget to vaccinate!

Vaccinations for your pet..a tricky subject.  What to get, when to get them, how many to get?   And unfortunately every time you ask someone, you get a different answer.  I hope this information will provide some clarification on this issue, although it is by no means the definitive guide for your pet.  All animals have different needs and you should talk to your veterinarian for the best individual recommendation. 

First of all let’s cover what vaccines are considered “core vaccines” – i.e. those recommended for all pets.

  • Dogs: Core vaccinations for dogs consist of parvo virus, distemper virus (DPTV), adenovirus type 2 and rabies.  Other common but optional vaccines include parainfluenza, influenza, bordatella (also referred to as the kennel cough vaccine), Lyme disease, leptospirosis, and coronavirus.  These “optional” vaccinations are generally chosen based on whether or not the pet is at risk for exposure to these diseases.  Rabies is the only vaccine required by law.
  • Cats: Core vaccines for cats consist of panoleukopenia (also called “distemper”, not the same as canine distemper though), herpes virus (feline viral rhinotracheitis), calicivirus, and again rabies.  Optional vaccines for cats include feline leukemia, bordatella, and FIV.  Again, rabies is the only vaccine required by law.

Please note: there are many other vaccines available for a multitude of illnesses, but they are not always necessary or effective.  Some of them may even be harmful in the fact that it may give the owner a false sense of security.  If you have questions about a particular vaccine and whether or not your pet should receive it, please contact your veterinarian.

Now let’s talk a little bit about when it is appropriate to vaccinate:

Age of vaccination is the same for both puppies and kittens, but differ based on their environment and home situation.  Vaccinations can be given as early as 5-6 weeks old, but typically are given starting at 8 weeks old.  Vaccines are then repeated (or boostered) until the animal is at least 4 months old- frequency of boosters depends again on the animal’s individual situation, but varies from every 2 to every 4 weeks.  After these initial puppy or kitten series, the vaccines are generally boostered again after one year.  After that year, frequency can vary depending on individual situations and health.  These vaccines are generally repeated every 1-3 years (depending on the individual’s levels of exposure/risk and general health), although some studies have shown that these vaccines produce levels of antibodies that can last up to 7 years.  The exception is the intranasal bordetella vaccine, which should be given every 6 months.

Rabies is different in that an animal must be at least 3 months old to receive a rabies vaccine, and it is not boostered in this same manner – it is given one year from the initial vaccination date, and after that can be repeated every 1-3 years.  Rabies can be either a 1 year or 3 year vaccine, depending on local regulations and the product used (some areas do not recognize the 3 year, so even if a product licenesed for 3 years is used, it must be repeated yearly). 

Join us on Monday for Part 2 of Vaccinations which will discuss how many vaccines your pet needs.

Written by Dr. Cynthia Moon
Veterinarian at Wayside Waifs

Oct 7 2009

Kali’s Kitty Adoption Tips



HI!  I’m Kali, an eleven year old adopted kitty.  I was a proponent of adoptions long before my mom starting working at Wayside Waifs (the best place to adopt, in my opinion!).  My mom asked me to talk about some of the things you should think about before you adopt a kitty.

My first bit of advice is to consider your living arrangements.  Landlords usually require a pet deposit and they sometimes require your kitty to be declawed.  If you live with other people they should all meet the kitty you are planning on adopting.  It’s also a very good idea to find out if anyone is allergic to kitties before you bring one home!

Speaking of declawing…please consider all alternatives! This is a very painful procedure which can cause some serious behavior issues and it’s simply not necessary.  My parents trim my toenails every week and I have several scratching posts around the house.  Just for the fun of it, I got some purple soft claws, I loved them!  (Wayside sells them and can put them on your adopted kitty before  you take her home).

Another thing to think about before you adopt a kitty is your financial responsibility.  When you adopt from Wayside Waifs your kitty will be spayed or neutered and will have all age appropriate vaccinations.  But as a pet parent, you will be responsible for any future medical care, yearly vaccinations, food, litter and toys.

And while you’re thinking about your finances, I’d like to talk to you about adopting two cats or kittens, rather than one!  While it will increase your financial responsibility, most cats and kittens really like having a partner.  I love snuggling and playing with my parents but my best friend is Fiona, a beautiful black kitty with green eyes.  Wayside offers a discount when you adopt two at a time!

I’m so glad you are considering adopting .  There are hundreds of amazing cats and kittens at Wayside Waifs and at shelters across the country that need a loving caring home.  Adoption is a lifetime commitment with tremendous rewards.  Spend time talking with the staff and volunteers who work in the shelter, they know the cats and can help you find the right match for you and your family.

Written by Barbara Poe on Kali’s behalf
Adoptions Program Manager

Oct 5 2009

Shaving Isn’t Just for Dogs Anymore!

Shaving cats seems like a foreign idea to most, but in reality it is becoming more and more common.  Living with all the hair a cat can shed throughout his/her life can be a big turn off to many.  Seeing the cat hair roll across the floor like tumble weeds, the constant hacking up of fur balls, or the hair on your clothes can become a deal breaker.  Some people are allergic to cat hair.  To live peacefully with our feline friends, one option I can suggest is shaving.  For some breeds, this can even be a necessity.

Most cats do not like the loud noise caused by a shaver or the vibrating of it next to their skin.  Precautions must be taken so you and your cat don’t get hurt.  Cats have thinner skin than most dogs and are easily cut by blades.  In order to prevent a painful wound, the right blade and proper technique must be used.  Plus, if you accidentally cut a cat, chances are the cat will never want another blade on them in the future.  I suggest having a professional groomer show you how to properly groom a cat and have them groom your cat the first few times.  This will hopefully allow your cat to become comfortable with the grooming process. 

A groomer might use a cat muzzle, which may appear to be inhumane or mean, but cats respond heavily to the visual stimuli.  A cat muzzle can prevent them from seeing a shaver and reacting due to fear.  You also need to protect yourself from cat bites.  Cat’s teeth are extremely sharp and a cat bite can cause serious pain and a nasty infection.  If you are unsure how your cat will react to grooming, a cat muzzle is a must tool.

Some cat breeds must be groomed regularly.  Persians, Himalayans and other long haired breeds cannot fully take care of themselves by licking.  Some have softer, cotton-like coats, which are easily tangled.  Grooming is an easy remedy to these minor issues.  Plus, there are a variety of really cute cuts.  The most common is the lion trim.  It leaves the head, legs and tail long.  This is an adorable cut that leaves most people in awe.  Let’s not forget about the short haired cats.  It is acceptable to shave them and can make them more comfortable as well.  If you are thinking of adopting a cat but you do not want to deal with the hair, or if you already have a cat who is constantly shedding, consider shaving them.  Shaving isn’t just for dogs anymore!

Written by Kristin Sampson
Foster Care Coordinator at Wayside Waifs

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