Category Archives: feature

Jan is Adopt a Bird Month

lullaby419In 2002, the ASPCA declared January Adopt a Rescued Bird Month. Your local animal shelter probably offers pet birds for adoption whenever they are available.

Occasionally, a stray chicken – yep, chicken – is picked up by the dedicated officers who respond to calls for animals in trouble. Once transported to the shelter, all birds get equal rights. They can be held for a few business days to give their rightful owner a chance to claim them and explain why they… (wait for it…) crossed the road.
More commonly, pet birds are relinquished to shelters and private rescue groups when their keepers no longer wish to care for them. Why would someone give up his feathery little friend? Best to know all the possible reasons before diving in; many birds live 60 years or more.




Yelling, swearing, screeching,
smoke alarm, car alarm, repetition.
Sleeping, watching TV, entertaining.




Floor of the cage.
Floor around the cage.
Big cage where furniture might go.

Oh, and they can bite your finger off. And make sure you can find a bird vet before you need one.

Birds are beautiful, intelligent creatures who just need companionship…..constant entertainment, constant environmental control, constantly provided variety of foods and special lighting. Just ask my parrot. She’ll tell you in plain English that she needs crackers and showers and to get out!! If that doesn’t work, she’ll call the dogs and yell at them.  It’s pretty hard to ignore…as are the soggy broccoli blooms on the heated floor.

If you’re already bird-savvy you can ask to be placed on the waiting list at your shelter or a reputable bird rescue (visit in person!!) Local shelters frequently receive parakeets and doves. It’s not unheard of for shelters to place Macaws (huge!!), Amazons (loud!!) African Grays (some birds will be returned to their keepers due to unique vocabularies like phone numbers and addresses), several types of Conures (big bird in a tiny body), cockatoos (anyone for a permanent 2 year old?) and of course the occasional pond inhabitant (duck, duck, goose). Call your local shelter to ask about their waiting list.

Presents all around…

isaacplay0901x200Dog Toys

Isaac only needs a couple minutes to destroy most anything, if he’s so moved. That carcass next to him in this photo had been a football just moments before. So when we find something he can’t flatten immediately, you’ll be sure to hear about it.

bigtugThis season we’re really excited about Kati’s Bumpers’ Big Tug because it’s made of fire hose… Guess what turns out to be actually close to indestructible? We’ll have video up soon but shopping time is now, so click the picture to order. (If you’re around Frederick, MD, you can get these toys at Central Dawgma on East Patrick).

OrbeeTuffBallWe’re also diggin this ball, the Orbee Tuff Cosmos we got from Planet Dog. Made of recycled rubber. This one has a hole you can plug treats into so your dog can do something on his own for awhile. It’s big enough to keep him safe and make him work. He doesn’t seem to want to chew it because its rubbery texture offers no enticing resistance. It’s got great bounce and flies if you throw or kick it. Oh, and Planet Dog is cool, if you haven’t been there before.

thebrick200But if your dogs really need to be kept busy (Aussie, anyone?) you’ll need to go to Amazon to find Nina Ottosson’s “The Brick” and other great puzzle toys.

Cat Toys

catnipcafelogoThese are times when it makes sense to bring back skills, and teach kids (and ourselves) that we can make the things we need. You could make a holiday project out of a DIY cat tree. The links on the right will connect you with some designs, instructions and ideas.

If your cat is more couch warmer than tree climber, consider fresh catnip toys.

Gifts for Birds and Small Animals

lullaby2200It’s not a good idea to shortchange the bird at gift time, especially if it’s a talker. Still, introduce new toys into the cage slowly. Place them near or on the cage for awhile, if it’s practical; this will help keep the fluttering and squawking to a minimum later. But don’t spend money on bird toys, unless you truly don’t know what else to do with it. Fill a cardboard tube from a paper towel roll with something the bird finds delicious; just plug up the ends with newspaper.

Birds should eat pelleted food and fresh vegetables but some birds can be difficult to convince. And truly fresh bird seed can be hard to come by. Try sprouting the seeds you usually buy in water. If they are too old to grow, it’s time to check your local farm supply or pet boutique for fresher seed.

Rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters and gerbils also appreciate a treat filled cardboard tube. Completely edible toys are ideal for animals who will be playing unsupervised.

People Toys

cdcover207Our favorite people toy this year is so awesome it is our only People Toy recommendation for 2009. You know how novelty records usually aren’t very good? How songs about dogs that your children will also like are usually stupid? There is this one exception: Dog Tracks: Songs by Dogs. There’s a variety of artists and styles, and it’s all well done. The funny songs are actually funny.

As if that weren’t enough, $1 goes to shelters and rescues every time a CD is sold.