It’s a Pet’s Life

Editorial StaffMarch 7, 2022
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Photo courtesy Adobe Stock Images
Photo courtesy Adobe Stock Images

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From must-do activities and pet photo perfecting to explaining quirky behavior, the Arizona Humane Society provides ways to connect with – and even save – our furry friends.

Become Your Pets (Zen) Master: How to Balance Your Pets Mind, Body & Soul 

Mik Moeller, AHS Animal Experience Liaison

It’s estimated that approximately 70% of households in the United States have at least one pet in their home. As loving family members, it is important to ensure that we are helping to balance their minds, bodies, and souls. And that’s where the Arizona Humane Society’s Animal Experience Team comes into play. AHS ensures that every human interaction for its pets results in an “Excellent Experience Every Time.” Here are some tips on how you can do the same for your pets: 

Enrich Their Scent-ses 

Allowing our pets to explore with their nose helps them tap into their natural instincts.

Pet-friendly Scents 

Spritzing their favorite item or travel carrier with lavender or pheromones creates a sense of calm and gives them something to explore.

Plant a Sensory Garden

AHS’ walking paths offer dog-friendly plants and scent markers, like lavender, rosemary, mint and barley grass, that can be an exciting addition to any backyard. Don’t forget the catnip for our feline friends!

Soul-cially Acceptable

Proper socialization is critical for pets to become well-adjusted. 

Playdates Aren’t Just for People 

Our four-legged friends love to romp around with their pals, so whether it is a walk with their friend from next door or pet-friendly happy hours, it’s important to give pets proper social time with their animal buddies. 

Binge-Watching is All the Rage 

While we’re quick to binge the latest series, don’t forget that our pets love to be couch potatoes, too. DOGTV and bird watching videos can provide our pets with relaxation and entertainment while you’re away.

Photo courtesy Arizona Humane Society
Photo courtesy Arizona Humane Society

Balancing Their Minds

Mental stimulation for our pets is just as critical as physical stimulation. These simple yet fun activities are perfect for when leaving home isn’t an option.

Who doesn’t love a snack? 

Consider playing hide and seek by scattering your pet’s food throughout the house or filling an ice cube tray of chicken broth. Both are great activities to help keep our pets’ minds entertained and their bellies full. Puzzle feeders are also a great addition to chow time as they slow our pets down while filling them up!

Paw-Eye Coordination 

A simple and fun way to help keep two-legged and four-legged family members entertained is a game of blowing bubbles or creating home-made “disco-balls” with old CDs and string. 

For more information and techniques to help keep your pets physically and mentally stimulated at home, visit azhumane.org/behavior.

Did You Know?
AHS’ Animal Experience team utilizes more than 50 non-repetitive sensory experiences for its pets.

Quirky Canines, Finicky Felines & Bunny Behaviors Explained

Have you ever wondered why our pets do what they do? The Arizona Humane Society’s Behavior Team answers the most commonly asked questions regarding our pet’s common quirks.

Quirky Canines
Why does my dog bury his bones?

Dogs evolved to conserve their resources. So, it’s a biological drive to hide food or toys for a more convenient time to enjoy them. 

Why does my dog kick the ground after doing her business?

Dogs have scent glands on their paw pads between their toes, and kicking dirt, grass, or rocks spreads their pheromones and is their own personal signature.

Why does my puppy chase her tail?

It’s similar to human babies discovering they have toes. While they usually outgrow it, if it continues, compulsively, consult your veterinarian.

Why does my dog roll in smelly things?

Behaviorists believe dogs do this as a way to carry information back to their humans, like a souvenir. A good way to prevent this is to train your dog through recall training or leave-it commands. 

Why does my dog get the “zoomies”?

The “zoomies” – fast running around – is caused by excitement. It can also be a way to let out excess energy after a day of confinement or boredom. 

Finicky Felines
Why does my cat make a chattering sound when bird watching?

Scientifically, experts are not sure; however, there are some theories that cats may be mimicking bird sounds to lure the birds to them or because they are out of reach. Since cats are natural-born hunters, their daily care should include playtime to simulate the prey sequence, which will prevent unwanted behaviors, like chasing your toes.

Why does my cat bring me dead animals? 

Cats are opportunistic hunters, meaning they do it for entertainment. Although, some behaviorists believe cats enjoy sharing their bounty with their family. 

Why does my cat knock things off tables?

Boredom. Honestly, it gets your attention, even if it’s negative. Some are playing when it happens, but to curb it, ensure your cat’s getting enough playtime.

Why does my cat knead with her paws?

“Making biscuits” is a behavior felines do as kittens when they’re nursing. It helps the mother with milk production, and cats continue this kneading motion after they’re weaned because they’re expressing contentment.

Bunny Behaviors
Why does my rabbit jump and twist in the air?

This jump and twist is called a “binky,” and rabbits do this when they are happy and relaxed.

Photos courtesy Arizona Humane Society
Photos courtesy Arizona Humane Society
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Must-Do Activities for Young Animal Lovers

(that don’t include adopting a pet, we promise!)

In honor of National Kids and Pets Day on April 26, we celebrate the special bond between children and pets. From camps to homeschool programs to kid-friendly events, Maricopa County offers a wide array of activities – virtual and in-person – for the younger pet lovers in our lives. 

Volunteering from Home

Valley animal shelters always need pet enrichment toys and supplies that kids can make at home and donate to shelter pets. From kitty cozies to homemade dog treats, many shelter websites have some great ideas on what will help their pets remain healthy and happy until they find their new home.

Birthday Parties/Virtual Birthday Shout-outs

Looking for a unique birthday idea? Families can host an unforgettable birthday party at the Arizona Humane Society’s Nina Mason Pulliam South Mountain Campus, where guests will experience visits from Animal Teachers, a guided tour of the shelter, and animal-themed crafts and activities. We can also bring the party to you! Social distancing? Virtual birthday shout-outs are also available.

Reading Fur Fun

Remember reading to your pets when you were young? Or was that just us? With AHS’ Reading Fur Fun program, children aged eight to 11 are paired with shelter pets so they can practice their reading skills while providing AHS’ pets with enrichment and socialization.

Photo courtesy Arizona Humane Society
Photo courtesy Arizona Humane Society

Youth Camps

Whether spring or summer break, the Valley offers a whole lineup of school break camps for those interested in learning more about animals and animal careers. This past summer, more than 400 animal lovers took part in AHS’ national award-winning summer camps, where they engaged in hands-on learning. Camps include Animal Ed-ventures, Junior EAMT™ Academy (animal rescuers!), Pet Vets/Advanced Vets, and Wild Wonders with our partners at Phoenix Herpetological Society.

Scout Programs

Have a special scout in your pack? Troops can volunteer with nonprofit organizations around the Valley. At AHS, they will gain hands-on animal experiences and learn how to improve the lives of pets in our community as they earn their badges.

Humane Teens

AHS’ Humane Teens program is a unique youth leadership program for teenagers between 14 and 17 years old interested in animal welfare. The program requires 24 hours of service within a school semester. Teens will receive animal handling and youth leadership training and assist in caring for exotic animals and pets while accruing volunteer service hours.

To learn more about how your kids can get involved, please visit azhumane.org/youth.

Perfecting Your Pet Paw-parazzi Photos

The Arizona Humane Society’s Photography Team gives tips on how to capture your pets in the best light.

When photographing your pet…
Be the dominant distraction 

Sometimes simply getting your pet’s attention is the real trick. Even if there are no obvious distractions, pets often find one. Usually, high-pitched squeaks or silly noises will do the job.  A fun and unique way to get a pet to focus on you is with a harmonica (whether you can play or not!). The secret to getting the most out of your toolbox of noises is to wait until the exact second you are ready to take the photo. Otherwise they can lose interest rather quickly.

Make eye contact

It’s no secret that eye contact can make for an engaging portrait of anyone, including your pet.  As you get your pet’s attention, make sure to capture the moment they look at the camera. AHS adopters often mention that their pet’s website photo, specifically the pet’s soulful eyes, is what drew them to adopt their new best friend!

Don’t give up too quickly

Be patient and always be ready for a sudden sneeze or yawn as the blooper reel is sometimes the best and makes for great social media content.

Get on their level

Crouching down to eye level with your pet can make for a more personable photo. At first, they may try to wiggle their way towards you for an impromptu snuggle sesh, but treats can often help hold their attention for those few extra seconds.

Give them what they want

For dogs who like water, try spraying them with a hose and watch them show their silly side. For cats, use feather wands or marbles to display their curiosity through natural instincts.

Photo courtesy Arizona Humane Society
Photo courtesy Arizona Humane Society

Be conscious of the background

A plain wall or grass can help make your pet stand out. Remove any distracting clutter from the background before you start snapping away.

Consider the lighting

Typically, indoor lighting is not the best for photographing a moving subject, so try using the light from a window or moving the photo shoot to the outdoors.

2022 Pet photo contest winners:

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Monte 

He’s the life of the party or the bus stop, his tail slaps, quickest one to hit the hay, and loves showers for the blow dry and treat afterwards. He’s Monte. 

submitted by Jessica Meadows

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Bugs

Our 8 year old tabby Bugs, is dreaming of Christmas.

submitted by Nate Hastings

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Ron Swimson

Ron is a long nose hawkfish. And although he’s not your typical cuddly fur friend, he’s always there to greet you with wagging fins. Ron enjoys perching on his favorite coral, creating Instagram videos, and snacking on whatever he can catch.

submitted by Megan Keithley

Did You Know?
AHS’ photo team photographs between 700 and 1,000 pets each month!

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