Why a Rock Star’s Snoring Brings Joy

DEYVTHFARFI’m up early because I’ve been trying to start each day with meditation and some stretching before reaching for the phone or leaving the bedroom. This morning is different. Snoring is disrupting meditative concentration. It is very quiet as the neighborhood seems to be sleeping along with my room-mate.

This intermittent snoring is prompting me to wonder if I should be changing the air filter. It is easier to consider allergies as the reason for the snoring than reflect on the fact my dear friend is aging.

As I am writing this, I’m calculating our years together and recalling our first meeting. It has been 11 years since I saw an adorable three-year-old with a long shag cut an observer compared to the ‘Rod Stewart’ look. He is a rock star no matter his hair cut.

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A rock star’s adoption photo at the APA Adoption Center

I’m finding joy today in snoring because of his magic. Turning routine errands into adventures and introducing me to new people are effortless for him. He elicits waves from strangers and requests for selfie photos from a ‘rescue’ who rescues me from loneliness.

He is sleeping more. Maybe it is because of the medication for arthritis pain. I’ve read many aging rock stars need medication to keep touring and performing for their audiences. My Rod Stewart needs his rest to be at his best for his public.

We will head out for coffee soon and sit outside even though it is lightly raining. He won’t disappoint his public. It is part of his magic to radiate joy on the darkest days and transform ordinary tasks into extraordinary fun.

I’m grateful for all the animal rescue agencies and groups like the APA Adoption Center where I met this rock star. Rock On!

 

 

Bee a Nature Hero: 3 Easy Ways to Help Pollinators + Free Online Garden Resources

Bees and other pollinators are in trouble. Join the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge

Have you spotted many butterflies this year? What about bees? Unfortunately, these pollinators are in trouble. Pollinators move from plant to plant while searching for protein-rich pollen or high-energy nectar to eat. As they go, they are dusted by pollen and move it to the next flower, fertilizing the plant and allowing it to reproduce and form seeds, berries, fruits and other plant foods that form the foundation of the food chain. Pollination is vital to the air we breathe, the food we eat, the water we drink.Bees  are on the decline

Bees are the most obvious and recognized pollinators in nature. It came as a surprise to me that over 100,000 invertebrates also pollinate. These include butterflies, moths, wasps, beetles and even flies! Hummingbirds are among a thousand birds, mammals and reptiles also helping pollinate.

Vital pollinators on the decline

You can be a pollinator hero in many ways. Here are three easy ways to start.

  1. First, and perhaps the most obvious is through plants. Whether you’re a gardening novice with a small balcony or gardening veteran with a few acres; you may be able to help wildlife in your area. It is easy to plant varieties that will attract pollinators. For example, start with native plants. Native plants form the foundation of habitat for pollinators by providing them with pollen and nectar for food, cover from the elements and predators, and places where their young can grow. The best way to attract beautiful butterflies, busy bees, speedy hummingbirds and other pollinators is to fill your yard with native plants. There are some free resources to help at the end of this post.DB85E1D0CC
  2. Avoiding pesticides is not only good for your family and pets, it is the second great way to help pollinators.  Using insecticides will kill many pollinators. Herbicides will kill important native plants such as milkweed that pollinators rely upon as a food source and a place to raise young. Make the commitment to avoid using chemicals and to maintain your garden in a natural, organic way. The traditional suburban lawn, on average, has ten times more chemical pesticides per acre than farmland. By choosing native plants for your landscaping, you are creating a healthier place for your family and community.10494643_10207078779912157_3907921197852980798_n
  3. The third easy step is to help protect our grasslands to aid pollinators. America’s native grasslands are critically important for pollinators such as bees and monarch butterflies. Our grasslands are filled with native plants that offer nectar and pollen for bees, butterflies, hummingbirds and a wide variety of pollinators. They also provide milkweed, the only host plant for monarch caterpillars. Today, more than 90 percent of native grasslands have been converted to cropland and development. Grasslands are disappearing faster than any other ecosystem in North America, and that’s a big problem for pollinators. Planting milkweed to attract butterflies will give you enjoyment as you help pollinators.

Businesses and community groups can get involved in this effort to help pollinators. One non-profit in Saint Louis is working to provide a living landscape for birds and other wild animals. The Animal Protective Association of Missouri or APA Adoption Center is part of the growing trend to garden for wildlife in landscaping as a way to care for wildlife as well as the pets brought to the facility.

The Missouri Botanical Gardens offers many free resources online to help with native gardens. You can find them by clicking on A Guide to Native Landscaping in Missouri 11078212_10204083286547347_1748544961633585133_n
A national native online plant guide can be accessed by clicking on American Beauty Native Plants. 

The National Federation for Wildlife or NWF offers many free resources for gardening to benefit pollinators and wildlife. The NWF is joining with dozens of conservation and gardening organizations as well as seed groups to form the National Pollinator Garden Network. Spreading the word through social media and helping educate others is a great way to be a pollinator hero too.

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There is Help Dealing with the Loss of a Pet

236506 I can find little good to say about losing a pet. Our pets bestow unconditional love, companionship and purpose in our lives. Even our best friends and family sometimes fail to understand the emotional pain and void the loss of a pet can leave.

For me, poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning said it best, “His ears were often the first thing to catch my tears.”

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So what do you do when those ears and your beloved friend is gone? The Animal Protective Association of Missouri or APA is offering a pet loss support group to help. The new pet loss support initiative allows participants to share feelings in a compassionate environment.


“Understanding how we grieve and exploring ways to cope with loss can bring you closer to the day when memories of your pet prompt smiles instead of tears,” explains APA Humane Educator Jennifer Blome.

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Jennifer Blome has a Master’s Degree in Social Work from Washington University. She joins three volunteer facilitators trained in counseling and grief therapy in leading the sessions.

Each APA Pet Loss Support Group session will last 75 minutes and take place in a private meeting room at the adoption center. You can find more information on the free sessions and many other community programs at the APA: http://www.apamo.org.

Not in the Saint Louis area? Check local adoption facilities and mental health centers in your area for similar pet loss groups.

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Owning a Pet Can Deliver Big Health Benefits and Much More!

We all know pets can be fun, but they can also have physical and mental health benefits. There are some surprising health benefits for pet owners. If you are not able to own a pet, volunteering or simply visiting a local animal shelter can give you a boost.

In this video report, Jim Morelli looks at the impressive medical evidence that owning a pet can deliver big health benefits. This includes babies who may receive extra protection against allergies from having a pet around.

There are many opportunities to get involved in pet therapy. For example, The Animal Protective Association of Missouri or APA offers an active PetReach Program. Since 1983, PetReach has sent APA staff, volunteers and their pets into senior care facilities, psychiatric units, convalescent centers and children’s hospitals. PetReach was the first no-fee, pet-assisted activity program in the St. Louis area. You can get more information about volunteering at the APA website.

Both of my health and mood boosting pals, a pair of Maltese, were adopted from the APA. Many shelters have purebred dogs and wonderful mixes from good homes who are looking for a second chance.

Both of these adorable pups with Santa came from the Animal Protective Association of Missouri. Many shelters have purebred dogs.

Both of these adorable pups with Santa came from the Animal Protective Association of Missouri. Many shelters have purebred dogs.

 

Pets are a Powerful Prescription for Healthier, Happier Lives: Starting with Health Benefits for Babies!

I saw a bumper sticker in the shape of a dog’s head that read: “Wag more –Bark less.” Great advice but it seems man’s best friend has a lot of lessons to teach us which can make us healthier and happier. In one of the hottest videos online, canine crawling coach, Buddy, helps his family’s baby learn how to get moving. Mom and Buddy’s owner, Valerie Stevens-Scott posted the video on YouTube with the caption: “Bear Bear hasn’t gotten the hang of crawling, so Buddy decided to show her how it’s done.”

This little baby girl just hasn’t figured out how to crawl on her own, so her loyal terrier pal, Buddy, decides to give baby Allie multiple demonstrations and a helping paw. As you can see in the video, Buddy is a good teacher and Allie soon is crawling.

Crawling help and companionship are not the only benefit dogs may offer to babies. Youngsters with pets may have added protection against allergies. Researchers found children under the age of 1 who had two or more dogs or cats as family pets saw a reduction in allergy development by the time they were 6 or 7. Additional medical research produced similar results, finding children with early cat exposure showed reduced the development of allergies later in life.

Pet ownership continues to provide health benefits as children move from toddling to adulthood. Youngsters and adults taking their dog out for a walk get more than heart smart exercise. Researchers and smart parents believe it may benefit social skills in an era of text messages and online chats. New research indicates walking with a dog leads to more conversations with neighbors, other dog owners, and helps people of all ages stay socially connected.

A 2014 study in the Journal Applied Developmental Science found that young adults with a strong attachment to cats and dogs also reported feeling more connected to their relationships and communities. And studies have shown those that have a pet live more fulfilled and busy social life live longer, happier lives.

The medical community believes companion animals are a good prescription in many cases. Pets are being used to help our nation’s war veterans heal from post-traumatic stress disorder. Our pets innately know when we need them most, which gives us a feeling of belonging and a self-esteem boost. Researchers in a study published in the American Journal of Cardiology found that pet owners had hearts that adapted better to stressful situations than non-pet owners. The American Heart Association cites a number of studies that found pet ownership may help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Some data even indicates that pets help lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and that owners with heart issues are more likely to survive heart attacks.

541030_10200807370730847_356137719_nI believe my two Maltese dogs, adopted from the Animal Protective Association of Missouri, are powerful and playful prescriptions against loneliness. The APA is a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing people and pets together, advancing humane education and creating programs beneficial to the human-animal bond. They offer many services and programs for all ages. In fact, kids of all ages and community groups can take a guided tour of the APA and get a health boost by petting some of the awesome animals available for adoption. Check them out at http://www.apamo.org

How do you think your pets help you? I would like to know, please leave a comment with stories about your furry friends.
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Is Your Pet a Pollen Magnet? Tips for Dog Lovers with Allergies

My dogs are normally white, but after a spring romp they often have a yellow tint due to pollen clinging to their long fur. The pollen prompts sneezes from both pups and me.

Saint Louis can be a tough place to live with allergies. A former number one worst allergy city, Saint Louis is now ranked as the nation’s twentieth most challenging city for those who suffer with allergies.

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Pollen sensitivities do not have to keep pets and the people who love them inside. There are a few strategies to use to enjoy the great outdoors with your furry friend and avoid pollen.

• Consider giving dogs with long coats a haircut as weather begins to warm. This will be more comfortable and pick up less pollen and other debris outside.

• Wipe pet down with animal wet wipes after every visit outside. Wipe from head to tail because pollen can stick to faces, fur, tails and paws!

• If there is a lot of pollen on your pet, a rinse in the shower may help. Use less pet shampoo or none at all, if you need to do this a lot.

• Consider treating pets to more frequent brushes to get any pollen out of their fur if there is someone available not sensitive to pollen to lend a hand.

• Following pollen forecasts can help you choose the best route to walk your dog to reduce exposure. If the pollen count is particularly high, consider postponing your walk or playing with your dog inside instead. In general, all types of plants favor warm, sunny days for releasing pollen, and they tend not to do it during rainy weather. Rain also washes residual pollen out of the air.

• Allergic reactions in dogs and cats can cause minor sniffling and sneezing as well as life-threatening anaphylactic shock. If you suspect your pet has a springtime allergy, visit your veterinarian as soon as possible.