Millennium Post

Hunting snakes

Hunting snakes
An animal welfare group has a snake catcher with them. He answers house calls and rescues snakes. But every now and then I see his picture in the paper showing him stretching the snake out for the cameras. Does this not hurt the snake?

A snake is extremely sensitive. It is not an elastic rope. The body has a spine and bones and other organs. When it is stretched then the vertebrae tend to break or come out of alignment and then the snake is as good as dead after a few weeks. Many snake catchers pose for the camera and they should be requested not to. After taking all the trouble of saving the snake, it is ridiculous to harm it later. The skin of snakes is also very sensitive – a fingernail can easily damage it – so holding and pulling it is not a good idea.

My cat often scratches me and runs away when I try to caress her on her stomach. Is this normal?
Most cats become agitated if petted on the tummy, and they may claw or bite. Save tummy rubs for your dog!

My dog takes off every time he gets a chance. When I finally catch him, I shake him by the collar and give him a whack and tell him what a bad dog he is. He knows he has done something wrong because he looks so guilty. But, things aren’t getting better. If anything, they’re getting worse. He’s always looking for a chance to take off. What can I do? I am afraid he’ll get hit by a car.

Reprimanding a dog for running from you is a sure way to make sure he’s even harder to catch the next time. Wouldn’t you keep running if you knew you’d get punished when caught? That “guilty” look he gets when you catch him is not remorse at all but anticipation of being punished. He doesn’t know why, though, because you haven’t taught him anything. 

If your dog takes off, kneel down and open your arms when calling to make yourself more inviting. If that doesn’t work, try to use a command he knows well, like “sit” instead of “come.” Many dogs know “sit” so well that they will and once they’re sitting, you might be able to walk up and take their collars. Another possibility is to catch your dog’s attention and run in the other direction, enticing his instinct to chase you.

When you have your dog safely back on leash, praise him and take time off to teach him this most important command with treats. Teach him to wait at the door. Put a leash on your dog with the door closed and ask him to sit. Practice this for a few days, until he sits quickly for his treat and praise. Then reward him for a longer sit, adding the word “wait” and a release word, such as “OK” or “Let’s go,” to let him know he can move from his seat. Finally, start with the door slightly open, gradually working toward the door opening and you walking through ahead of him before you release him. Be patient and praise him for waiting, instead of punishing for running ahead. 

If you find yourself getting frustrated, get a good trainer.

My cat roams outside. I am really scared because I have already lost two within weeks of each other and this one was hit by a car. I am moving house and I am going to make her an inside cat. In the past, I have half-heartedly tried to keep cats in, but gave up when their yowling to go out drove me crazy. Do you have any tips for me?

Moving is the best time to convert a free-roaming cat to an indoor one. Your cat is completely uprooted from her familiar territory. What she’s given in her new home is all she’ll come to know, and she’ll soon accept the new living space as her own. But you must keep her inside, with no exceptions. If you let her out, she’ll want out more – and maybe get lost looking for her old digs.
Converting your cat to an indoor pet is the best thing for her health and safety, but there’s more to it than just keeping the door closed. Make sure your cat has lots of things to keep her active and interested. Spend more time engaging her in interactive games . Make a cat tree – a tall one with cubby-holes for hiding and platforms for looking down on the world. In addition to the tree, offer other opportunities for approved scratching, which is natural, healthy behaviour for your cat. Turn her into a huntress. Use “food puzzles” to add a degree of difficulty to eating, and offer small portions of food in places that require effort to find. Provide outdoor space safely. 
If you can’t screen in a porch or balcony, provide a cat-sized perch near a screened window. Turn your house into a jungle gym for your cat so that she won’t miss the outdoors 
anymore. Also, have her spayed .

Can dogs recognize faces or do they simply go by smell ?
Dogs recognize people by facial features. A study published in the journal Animal Behavior showed that dogs recognize and pay attention to their owners’ faces. When the owners’ faces are covered, dogs have a difficult time recognising them.
I am interested in becoming a vet. Is there a future in it?

Provided you are a good one. Veterinarian ranks as one of the fastest-growing professions in the world. Fortune magazine projects 36 per cent growth in veterinary jobs by 2018.

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