The Importance of Working Hard — And Playing Harder: A London Photo Essay

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It’s been almost four years since I officially started In Brief Legal Writing Services. And in all that time, I didn’t have any meaningful time off. Until last week. I went to London for a week, and I had a blast. Since you couldn’t come with me, I figured I’d share some of my favorite photos so you can live vicariously through me… You’re welcome!

View From The London Eye. Photo By Alexandra Bogdanovic
Peek-a-Boo View of the Thames. Photo By Alexandra Bogdanovic
Signs of the Times. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic
This is for the birds. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic
Big Ben. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic
Shoreditch Street Art. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic
As Seen on Brick Lane. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic

 

 

Who Needs A Therapist When You’ve Got A Pet?

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It must have been  a really slow news day.

Last Tuesday, USA Today reported that pets help combat loneliness and talking to them isn’t really crazy. In fact, the news outlet reported, it’s actually kind of good for you. Really? Really? Tell me something I didn’t already know.

As most of you know, I’ve had cats since I was 10. And I’ll always have one. It’s as simple as that.

Having said that, the one I’ve got now is pretty damn cool. Among other things, he’s a great listener. I kid you not. He’s bee known to curl up on my lap or by my feet and stay their quietly while I vented about work or cried about… work. He doesn’t judge. In fact, he doesn’t say a word.

Yes, he is my best friend. My confidant. My  official unofficial therapy cat. Or something like that. And he is so damned cute. The other day, I came in from cutting the grass only to find him waiting patiently for me at the top of the stairs. There he was, in full-on “breadbox” mode — with all four paws and his tail tucked in — looking at me as if to say: “Where have you been? I’ve been waiting for you.”

He’s super-smart. He comes when he’s called (most of the time). He sits when he’s told (most of the time). He lets us know when he wants to go out, when he wants to come in, when he’s hungry, when he needs a clean litter box and when he wants attention. Yes, he communicates all of these things — in no uncertain terms. But for the most part, he just listens. And that’s why I love him.

Oh, by the way. Since the USA Today article quotes an expert as saying that it’s also healthy to share photos of your pet, I’ll leave you with a few of my favorites. Enjoy!

Eli the cat.
In Brief Legal Writing Services mascot, Eli the cat.
Truth about cats.
Truth. As seen at the cat adoption tent. Puttin’ on the Dog festival, 2017. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic
In Brief Legal Writing Services Mascot, Eli.
Eli The Cat. Photo By Alexandra Bogdanovic

Alexandra Bogdanovic is a paralegal and the owner/founder of In Brief Legal Writing Services. She is also an award-winning author and journalist whose interests include animal welfare and animal law. All opinions expressed in this forum are her own. Any information pertaining to legal matters is intended solely for general audiences and should not be regarded as legal advice.

The Cost Of Responsible Pet Ownership

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Lots of people love animals. But sometimes love is not enough.

Sometimes, a long distance (or even international) move forces owners to rehome or surrender their pets to local shelters. Sometimes old age or catastrophic illness prevents an owner from continuing to care for their pet. Sometimes a pet is surrendered because of a shift in family dynamics (such as a birth). And sometimes, the owner realizes that they can simply no longer afford to provide for their pet.

dog parade, puttin on the dog, 2018
An Adopt-A-Dog volunteer with a dog available for adoption. Puttin’ On The Dog, 2018. Photo by A. Bogdanovic

In  fact, cost  reportedly ranks among the top five reasons for pet relinquishment. And frankly, that’s just not right.

Part of being a responsible pet owner — and I do stress responsible pet owner — is being fully informed before you buy or adopt a pet. That means you should know how much it will cost to buy or adopt and provide ongoing care for your pet before you get one. And you need to be honest with yourself about whether you can afford to have a pet before you get one.

That being stated, here is some general information about the costs associated with pet ownership.

  • Initial Cost: Adoption fees (which sometimes include the cost of spay/neuter procedures) will typically be approximately $100. If you are buying a pet from a pet shop or directly from a breeder, expect to pay several times that amount. Conservatively, plan on spending at least $400  to $500 for the acquisition of your pet.
  • Accessories: Brushes, food bowls, toys, litter boxes, leashes, collars, scratching posts… They’re all essential and costs can add up quickly. Budget at least $125 to $140 to cover these costs, depending on whether you get a dog or cat.
  • Preliminary vet check: Whether you adopt or buy your pet, one of the first things you should do is take your new pet to the vet for a thorough checkup. Some shelters or rescues will have arrangements with local veterinarians who will do these exams for a small fee. Plan on spending $50, for the exam and put an additional $200 or so aside for a spay/neuter if Fluffy or Fido hasn’t been “fixed.”
  • Ongoing expenses: Again, food, treats, and toys top the list of pet supplies that have to be replenished on a regular basis. Of course you should budget for these based on your pet’s unique needs. A general estimate is $150 to $200 or more per year for dogs, and $200 per year for cats.
  • Medical expenses: Let’s not sugar coat it. Veterinary care is expensive. Even “healthy” dogs and cats need routine shots and other preventive care. Budget at least $350 to $450 for annual check-ups and related matters, exclusive of emergency medical care.
  • Unexpected costs: Of course, there’s no way to budget for unanticipated events. But if you can, try to set some money aside for emergency veterinary care (for illness or injury). You should also consider health insurance for your pet, since even routine care (like teeth cleaning and lab work) tends to be expensive.
  • Additional considerations: Do you travel a lot? Even if you only leave home occasionally, you’ll need someone to look after your pet. In a perfect world, you’ll be able to count on a friend or family member. But if that’s not possible, you’ll have to get a professional pet sitter, or leave Fluffy or Fido at a kennel or cattery. In any case, it may be costly, so you should plan accordingly.

Speaking as a pet owner, I know exactly how expensive having a cat can be. I also know it’s worth it.


Alexandra Bogdanovic is a paralegal and the owner/founder of In Brief Legal Writing Services. She is also an award-winning author and journalist whose interests include animal welfare and animal law. All opinions expressed in this forum are her own. Any information pertaining to legal matters is intended solely for general audiences and should not be regarded as legal advice.

No horsing around: Well-Deserved Recognition For CT Rescue

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For this Connecticut rescue group, there’s no such thing as a big problem.

Since 2010, the Connecticut Draft Horse Rescue (CDHR) has been saving horses from certain death. Today, the East Hampton, Connecticut-based organization has dozens of volunteers. It also has a recent commendation from the Connecticut General Assembly for its past and ongoing work.

“We went from very humble roots to what we are today,” founder Stacey Golub told the media.

Eli, the In Brief Legal Writing Services mascot.
In Brief Legal Writing Services mascot Eli catching up on the latest news. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic

The effort began when Golub, a veterinarian, enlisted the help of some friends to save a Shire mare from a Pennsylvania auction and the slaughterhouse. Together, they scraped together enough money to transport, vet, and house her.

They also named her Cleo. And with their care, Cleo, who was initially in extremely rough shape, made an astounding recovery. Eventually, Cleo also got a new home.

And, as the Hartford Courant reports, the small, but dedicated group that saved her life “was hooked.” So in February of 2011, the CDHR officially became recognized nonprofit organization.

A place where size doesn’t matter

Although it is best known for rescuing big horses, CDHR doesn’t discriminate when it comes to helping animals in need. Since its inception, the group has also welcomed miniature horses along with goats and sheep.

Some of the animals have been neglected, and others are surrendered when their owners can no longer afford to provide suitable care. Then there are those that the group rescues from a weekly Pennsylvania auction where nearly half the horses on the block will likely end up at a slaughterhouse.

At CDHR, the first priority is the provision of healthcare, hoof care and training the horses need. Once those needs have been addressed, focus shifts to finding new homes for them.

“If we can’t do that, they stay here,” said Golub.

CDHR also encourages anyone who does adopt a horse to return it if they are unable to provide proper care for any reason, at any time.

An expensive endeavor

Even with as many as 12 volunteers per day helping to care for the horses at CDHR’s East Hampton property, costs add up quickly.

Golub estimates that the annual cost of hay alone easily tops $30,000. And then there are the expenses associated with veterinary care, special food, shoeing and related hoof care, and so on. On top of which, CDHR reportedly needs a new barn.

If you’ve got some spare change laying around and you want to contribute to a worthy cause, you  can help out by making a general donation to CDHR or a specific contribution for the barn project.

If you can’t make a donation at the moment, that’s fine, too. You can always volunteer, or even inquire about fostering or adopting a horse rescued by CDHR. You can learn more about these opportunities here.

Open house slated for May 19

If you live in the area, you can also learn about the wonderful work this group does at an open house scheduled for May 19. The event will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at CDHR’s East Hampton property, which is located at 113 Chestnut Hill Road. For more information, you can always call the group at  860-467-6587.


Alexandra Bogdanovic is a paralegal and the owner/founder of In Brief Legal Writing Services. She is also an award-winning author and journalist whose interests include animal welfare and animal law. All opinions expressed in this forum are her own. Any information pertaining to legal matters is intended solely for general audiences and should not be regarded as legal advice.

This Never Gets Old: Connecticut Company Provides Animal Therapy For Seniors

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To bring an animal into someone’s home and to see the smile on their face really does bring a joy to us. — Nick D’Aquila

As many of you know, I’m a big fan of starting the week on a positive note. So why not write a post about a Connecticut company that’s relaunching an animal therapy program for senior citizens? I mean, let’s be honest — it sure beats writing about politics. So here goes.

Introducing Marlow

According to published reports, a Meriden, Connecticut-based senior care company recently welcomed a new staff member. Her name is Marlow. She’s a blonde and she’s got a great smile. She’s also got floppy ears, a wet nose, four paws and a tail.

Eli the cat.
In Brief Legal Writing Services mascot, Eli the cat.

Yes, Marlow is a dog. To be accurate, she is a 10-month-old Golden Retriever. And she’s got a very important job to do.

“To bring an animal into someone’s home and to see the smile on their face really does bring a joy to us,” Nick D’Aquila, whose family owns and operates Assisted Living Services, told the media.

A big job for a little pup

Apparently, Marlow is following in some pretty big paw prints. D’Aquila’s mother Sharron, introduced the company’s first therapy dog, Sunny, to clients several years ago. And they loved her.

“She would do it free of charge and bring the dog there…and he would pretty much bring a smile to the client’s face,” said Nick D’Aquila. “Continuing my mother’s legacy in visiting clients as well as having her join is a great feeling.”

Sadly, lymphoma claimed Sunny’s life five years ago.

The good news is that Marlow is well on her way to bringing the same joy to people as her predecessor. She has already in training to become a Registered Pet Partners Therapy Animal and should soon be available to visit clients upon request.

The importance of pet therapy for an aging population

As reflected in U.S. Census Bureau data,  more than half a million people age 65 and older called Connecticut home in 2016 and accounted for approximately roughly 16 percent state’s population. That’s slightly more than reflected in the U.S. census data from 2000, when approximately 13 percent of Connecticut resident were in that age bracket.

As I recently blogged about, a senior citizen survey conducted by the University of Michigan revealed that owning a pet or interacting with an animal lessens stress, anxiety and feelings of loneliness. Among the 2,000 participants dogs were the most common pet.

Additional research has shown that just petting animals provided mental health benefits to seniors.

“It’s increasing interactions with the seniors and making them more sociable,” D’Aquila noted. “I think the interactions with the therapy dog brings out the inner emotions that people are holding inside that they don’t really know how to express.”

Personally, I know exactly what I’d say. Good dog, Marlow. Very good dog!


Alexandra Bogdanovic is a paralegal and the owner/founder of In Brief Legal Writing Services. She is also an award-winning author and journalist whose interests include animal welfare and animal law. All opinions expressed in this forum are her own. Any information pertaining to legal matters is intended solely for general audiences and should not be regarded as legal advice.

Along Came A Spider… And Caused A New York Car Crash

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Time for another confession. I hate spiders. Hate! With a capital “h.” I’m not necessarily afraid of them. I just don’t like them. I don’t care how big they are. I don’t care whether they’re venomous or not. I don’t care how beneficial they are to the environment. I’m just not a fan.

Apparently I’m not alone.

Bringing a whole new meaning to distracted driving

According to numerous news reports, a spider caused a recent car crash in Cairo, New York. Or, more accurately, the driver’s reaction to finding a spider in her car caused the crash.

Eli, the In Brief Legal Writing Services mascot.
In Brief Legal Writing Services mascot Eli catching up on the latest news. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic

The Town of Cairo Police Department detailed the April 10 incident on its Facebook page, saying:

“After investigating today’s crash on Silver Spur Road we feel it necessary to bring up a contributing factor that is not covered too often. It is believed that the operator of the vehicle noticed a SPIDER in the drivers area with her as she was driving. The operator panicked and crashed suffering a leg injury from the crash. We know that it is easier for some drivers than others but PLEASE, try to teach new drivers and yourselves to overcome the fear and pull over to a safe place. Lives depend on it.”

Police did not say whether the arachnid was injured in the crash, nor did they say whether  the New York state DMV has any plans to require “spider desensitization” for new drivers (sarcasm fully intended).

The fear is real…

Arachnophobia is generally defined as “an abnormal and persistent fear of spiders.” It affects approximately 30 percent of Americans and ranks third in terms of phobias affecting people around the world. Only the fear of death and the fear of public speaking are more common.

So why the universal fear and loathing? There are several theories. Some say it can be traced back to ancient times, when many civilizations viewed them as a source of water and food contamination. Others say it stems from the once widely held belief that spiders caused the deadly outbreak of bubonic plague in the 14th century. Another, more recent theory is that  it’s simply a matter of perception; people who suffer from arachnophobia are unable to accept that only a tiny percentage of the 63,000 known spider species pose a serious threat to people.

A (very) short list of harmful spiders found in the United States

When most Americans think about scary spiders, three come to mind. These are the black widow, the brown recluse and the hobo spider.

The black widow

In all, there are approximately 30 different types of black widow spider. Of these, three are commonly found in the United States. These are the Northern widow, the Southern widow and the Western widow. As you can tell by their names, these spiders are fairly widespread. It is also widely regarded as “one of the most dangerous spiders to humans,” and is known to be “the most venomous spider in North America.”

Fortunately, only a fully grown female’s venom packs enough of a punch to affect people. You can recognize (and  therefore avoid) a female black widow by her shiny black body and distinctive red markings resembling an hour-glass that are found on her belly.

With sufficient provocation, an adult female black widow can inflict a venomous bite that can cause the following symptoms in people:

  • chest pain
  • stomach pain
  • anxiety
  • painful, cramping muscles
  • numbness
  • nausea and vomiting
  • light sensitivity
  • headache
  • heavy sweating and salivating

However, severe reactions and fatalities are not as common as we may fear. As statistics provided by the National Poison Data Center indicate,  approximately 1,800 Americans were bitten by black widows in 2013. More than 1,000 of them did not seek medical treatment. Of the 800 who did,  there were only 14 “significant” cases, and there were no fatalities.

This is not to say you should ignore any symptoms you are experiencing if you have been or believe you have been bitten by a female black widow — or any other spider for that matter. It is always better to be safe than sorry.

The brown recluse

Talk about  a spider with a bad reputation. These arachnids, which are universally feared due to the potentially devastating effects of their venom, are most commonly found in Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri, Mississippi, Alabama and parts of Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa and Nebraska.

Although they do have distinctive markings that resemble violins, experts say the best way to identify a brown recluse is by its eyes. This is because the brown recluse has only six eyes, as opposed to eight. Although the shade of brown varies, these spiders have uniform coloration on their bellies. They are approximately  three-eighths of an inch long and about three-sixteenths of an inch wide (about 1 centimeter long and half a centimeter wide). Females tend to be larger, but males have longer legs.

Like most spiders, the brown recluse will only bite if it is accidentally disturbed or deliberately provoked. Because its venom can pack a wallop, the National Institutes of Health advise anyone who is bitten to seek medical treatment immediately.

Experts stress that symptoms of a brown recluse bite will vary based on the person’s sensitivity to venom and the amount of venom injected. In people with heightened sensitivity or in cases where a lot of venom is injected, a blister may form at the bite site. The blister may burst and become an ugly, open, gangrenous wound. Recovery from such a severe bite can take weeks, and sometimes months.

In less severe cases, symptoms may  include itching, chills, fever, nausea, sweating and generally feeling lousy.

The hobo spider

Although they have a fearsome appearance, these spiders may be less of a threat to people than once thought. Originally from Europe, they are now found in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States (Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Utah).

Hobo spiders have long legs, a brown body, and a grayish abdomen with yellowish markings. On average, they are  1/4 to 1/2 inch long with a leg span of approximately 1-2 inches. Even so, proper identification is tricky because they resemble so many other species found in the region.

Although they are sometimes called an “aggressive house spider,” hobo spiders don’t bite people unless they are actively hunting or deliberately or inadvertently “trapped” against someone’s skin.

Symptoms of a hobo spider bite include redness and pain at the bite site and involuntary muscle movement lasting for several hours. However, experts say there is no longer any reason to believe that hobo spider venom causes the same type of tissue damage as brown recluse venom.

I’m still not convinced…

That’s all well and good. But as far as I’m concerned, I’ll just keep my distance from anything that looks scary and has more than two eyes. And hopefully they’ll stay away from me.

Burial Or Cremation? Planning For A Pet’s Death

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Last week, I did a post about a woman who had a memorial service for her dog. The question I asked at the time — which none of you felt compelled to answer — is whether it is appropriate, or whether it is over the top?

Today I’m posing a different, but very difficult question. What have you done when a pet has died in the past, or what do you plan to do after the death of the dog or cat you now have? Will you bury him (or her) under a shade tree in the backyard? Will you have him (or her) laid to rest in a pet cemetery? Will you request his or her ashes and keep them in an urn?

Speaking from personal experience

As many of you know, I had two cats before I adopted Eli (or more accurately, he adopted me). Tiger was the first. She was a small American shorthair/Siamese mix (as far as anyone could tell). She came into my life by chance when I was 10 — and we were only supposed to keep her until she got rid of the mice in our house. She died peacefully in my lap 17 years later, at the ripe old age of 20 — give or take.

In Brief Legal Writing Services Mascot, Eli.
Eli The Cat. Photo By Alexandra Bogdanovic

We wrapped her in her favorite blanket and tucked her into a shoe box (yes, she really was that small when she passed) with some of her favorite toys. Then we dug a hole in her favorite spot in the backyard, and that’s where we laid her to rest in a quiet, but dignified manner.

That was more than 20 years ago. Today our old house and the backyard are gone — replaced by ugly, expensive townhouses that are way too big for the tiny little corner lot perched atop a hill. I hope Tiger’s ghost comes back to haunt anyone dumb enough to live there, but I guess only time will tell.

Anyhow, Heals — a big, fearless orange and white tabby with a penchant for finding trouble — came into my life several months after Tiger died. I hadn’t really been thinking about getting another cat at the time, but a friend found and couldn’t keep her. Thinking about her being sent to the local pound — and an unknown fate — broke my heart. So I agreed to take her.

Heals, named after my favorite NHL goalie, quickly became my best friend and constant companion through marriage, divorce, and multiple moves. In September 2007, approximately three months after she was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer, I took Heals to the vet and did the hardest, but best thing for her. Her suffering ended on a cold, steel table in a Virginia veterinarian’s office. She was approximately 14 years old, and I’d had for 11 years.

Today her ashes remain in a small but beautifully crafted wood box. I keep it on the bookshelves in my office, along with the copy of her paw print taken by the vet. I take comfort in knowing that — in a way she is still with me — and she is at peace.

A search for the perfect urn

Apparently I was lucky. Another woman, who detailed her experience after her dog’s death in a recent article was decidedly less satisfied with the plain, poorly crafted wooden urn that initially contained her dog’s remains.

“My dog was exquisite, a cantankerous bundle of love and light. She was not a default font. She also wasn’t a teardrop urn with paw prints running along the side. She wasn’t a box with a ceramic dog on top that looked nothing like her,” Jen A. Miller wrote on self.com. She wasn’t a cheap bracelet that held her ashes either. She was my dog, and she was dead. She deserved a better final resting place than that ugly box.”

Miller’s quest to find the perfect urn for her beloved pup finally ended when she found a couple that handcrafts wooden pet urns. The urns are sold on the online marketplace, etsy.com.

“When I opened the urn, it smelled like my grandfather’s woodshop. He loved Emily, who was a rambunctious terrier but would sit quietly and calmly on his lap when he asked during the last years of his life,” Miller wrote.

Pet cemeteries and other options…

In her article, Miller also delves into the inception and expansions of pet cemeteries in the United States. She also mentions taxidermy as another way to memorialize pets — although she doesn’t seem very fond of the idea. Truthfully, neither am I. In fact, I would never consider it.

Come to think of it, I would never consider tossing my dead pet in the dump, either. Or donating its body to science.

Frankly, both options make me cringe.

It’s Time To Start Thinking About Traveling With Your Pets This Summer

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As I write this, the view from my office is pretty depressing. It is a cold, damp, dreary spring day and the little taste of nice weather we got last week is nothing but a fading memory. But somewhere in the United States, the sun is shining and it is actually warm. And that can only mean one thing. Summer is almost here, and it is time to start thinking about traveling with your pet. So here are a few things to keep in mind.

Getting there

Flying in the lap of luxury

Not too long ago, I came across this really cool story about the new service for pets and their owners offered by the private jet charter company, VistaJet. It’s called VistaPet, and it sounds awesome — if you can afford it.

Because a lot of its members fly with their pets, the company says it created the program to facilitate the experience. Benefits include an inflight care package called a pochette. Basically this is a travel bag containing pet care items, such as bio-organic good, treats, toys, shampoos and wipes  for use during and after the flight.

On certain flights, pets can feast on gourmet meals featuring “prime cuts of fresh meat and fish.” For instance, the company says a “typical meal” could include  “an entrée of roast tenderloin, baked salmon or roast chicken served with steamed, roasted or raw vegetables and whole grain brown rice.”

The company also says its Cabin Hostesses will offer  “natural flower essences” that can be  mixed with your pet’s drinking water to help them relax during the flight.

But that’s not all. Through its partnership with The Dog House, VistaJet  also offers help for dogs that are afraid of flying. The month-long course, which is only available for pets belonging to members,  helps canine participants cope with common experiences while traveling such as the smell of jet fuel, the noise generated by jet engines, cabin air pressure and turbulence.

Speaking of turbulence, VistaJet cites regulations stipulating that pets — who can otherwise hangout on handmade “sleep mats” must be on their leashes or in carriers “during take-off, landing and any turbulence.” However, the rule does not apply to Guide Dogs.

If you recently hit a mega-lottery and you want to learn more about VistaJet and the VistaPet program, you can learn more here.  If you’re already a VistaJet member but you’ve never flown with your pet before, the company recommends calling customer service. Here’s the information you should have on hand:

  • Type of pet
  • Breed
  • Weight
  • Microchip info
  • (Your) passport details
  • Information about your pet’s most recent rabies vaccine
  • Information about your pet’s treatment (if any) for tapeworm and other parasites
  • Flight history

Pet friendly accommodations (for the rest of us)

VistaJet says it can also arrange pet-friendly accommodations and excursions. But even if — like me — you’re still in the, “I wish I could afford to charter a private jet” stage, you can still take your pet on vacation. All it takes is a little planning and a willingness to go someplace fairly close (so you don’t have to subject your pet to a cross-country drive or a near-death experience on a commercial flight). Amtrak train photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic

You can find plenty of information about pet-friendly hotels online. But here are a few things to keep in mind about this important aspect of your trip.

  1. Be sure to book a room on the first floor or near an exit if at all possible.
  2. Don’t leave your pet in the hotel room by itself unless absolutely necessary.
  3. If you do have to leave your pet in the room, take proper precautions
  4. If you are traveling with your dog, make sure it’s on a leash in common areas of the hotel
  5. Remember, courtesy goes a long way; make sure you cleanup any “accidents” in the room thoroughly and promptly.
  6. Be sure to take your pet to the vet and/or groomers before the trip to ensure they’re in good health and aren’t likely to shed all over the room.
  7. Follow applicable hotel rules about outdoor areas where your pets are allowed to relieve themselves.
  8. If you’re traveling with a cat, the bathroom (in your hotel room) is usually the best place to put the litter box.
  9. Don’t forget to let your pets get some exercise.
  10. Have fun!

And on that note, happy travels, everyone!

Is A Memorial Service For A Pet Appropriate?

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One of the biggest challenges when it comes to blogging three days per week is that there is a never-ending quest for interesting material. Fortunately I signed up for google alerts a long time, which makes things a little bit easier.

And thanks to google alerts, I recently came across a detailed article about a woman who arranged a full-blown memorial service — for her dog. Personally, I think it is completely over the top, if not a little bit crazy. But I will let you draw your own conclusions.

Rest in peace, Angus

As reported by the Associated Press, Suzanne Shaw organized the service for her rat terrier, Angus, when it became apparent that his time here was coming to an end. But it wasn’t easy. In fact, she couldn’t find a funeral home to accommodate her request until she contacted Michael Farrow at Mercadante Funeral Home & Chapel in Worcester, Massachusetts.

Eli, the In Brief Legal Writing Services mascot.
In Brief Legal Writing Services mascot Eli catching up on the latest news. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic

Farrow initially suggested an outdoor ceremony at a setting such as a park or Shaw’s backyard. But she made it clear that she had something else in mind — and Farrow decided to help.

“We talked and after a little while he started to work with me,” Shaw told the media.

In the end, Shaw, family, friends and even complete strangers honored Angus at a memorial service that included live bagpipe renditions of “Danny Boy,” and “Amazing Grace.” Rev. Bruce Plumley, who works at the funeral home, presided at the service.

“A pet is different for each and every one of us and holds a special place in our lives,” Plumley reportedly said during the service. “We often don’t realize until they are ill or gone just how much they had been loved and have given love to us. For many of us our pets are a treasure, and when we lose them, they have left a place that cannot be filled.”

Even so, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), says mourning the loss of the pet is a unique and personal experience that isn’t always understood.

“Some people still don’t understand how central animals can be in people’s lives, and a few may not get why you’re grieving over ‘just a pet,'” the HSUS says.

But Dr. Shaw (yes, she holds a Ph.D.) has a message for any “haters.”

“I didn’t have a Go Fund Me for this,” she told the media. “I’m paying for it and it’s what I want to do. They have their opinions, thank you, but they need to stay in their own lane. I do know that people might have a reaction to that but this is private … I’m burying my child, that’s what I’m doing.”

Tips for coping with the death of a pet

According to the HSUS, pet owners struggling to cope with the loss of a beloved companion animal may feel isolated and alone. However, the organization notes that there are “many forms of support.” These include counseling services, hotlines, local or online groups, books, videos, and magazine articles specifically devoted to helping people grieving the loss of a pet.

The HSUS also provides the following tips:

  • Acknowledge your grief and don’t be afraid to express it.
  • Don’t hesitate to reach out to others who can help.
  • Put your feelings in writing.
  • Ask your veterinarian or local humane society for information about local support groups or referrals to such groups.
  • Prepare a memorial for your pet.

You can learn more here.


Alexandra Bogdanovic is a paralegal and the owner/founder of In Brief Legal Writing Services. She is also an award-winning author and journalist whose interests include animal welfare and animal law. All opinions expressed in this forum are her own. Any information pertaining to legal matters is intended solely for general audiences and should not be regarded as legal advice.

Just In Time For National Pet Day: My Favorite Quotations About Animals

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In my line of work, it seems like I’m always scrambling to meet one deadline or another. And lately I’ve been so busy writing for everyone else that I’ve barely had time to write my own blog.  In fact, that’s why I’m not posting this article until now.

But as the saying goes — better late than never. Or… putting a positive spin on it, maybe I should say, the early bird gets the worm. After all, National Pet Day isn’t until Thursday (April 11). And in honor of that occasion, I’ve decided to follow PARADE magazine’s lead and share some of my favorite quotations about pets.

My top 10 favorite quotations about cats

  1. “Time spent with cats is never wasted.” — Sigmund Freud, Austrian Psychoanalyst
  2. “You cannot look at a sleeping cat and feel tense.” — Jane Pauley, American Journalist
  3. “I love cats because I enjoy my home; and little by little, they become its visible soul.” — Jean Cocteau, French Director

    Truth about cats.
    Truth. As seen at the cat adoption tent. Puttin’ on the Dog festival, 2017. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic
  4. “I believe cats to be spirits come to earth. A cat, I am sure, could walk on a cloud without coming through.” — Jules Verne, French Author
  5. “Indeed, there is nothing on this earth more peaceful than a sleeping, purring cat.” Jonathon Scott Payne, American Author
  6. “Recruit your pet as a study partner. Cats are usually more than happy to do this—in fact, you may have trouble keeping them off keyboards and books—and dogs will often serve as well. Few things are more relaxing than having a warm, furry creature next to you as you study.” — Stefanie Weisman, American Academic Expert and Author
  7. Dogs come when they’re called; cats take a message and get back to you later.” —Professor Mary Bly
  8. “Books. Cats. Life is Good.” — Writer and artist Edward Gorey
  9. A cat has absolute emotional honesty: human beings, for one reason or another, may hide their feelings, but a cat does not.” — Writer Ernest Hemingway
  10. “Authors like cats because they are such quiet, lovable, wise creatures, and cats like authors for the same reasons.” — Author Robertson Davies

My top 10 favorite quotations about dogs

  1. “There’s a saying. If you want someone to love you forever, buy a dog, feed it and keep it around.” — Dick Dale, American Musician
  2. “A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than you love yourself.” — Josh Billings, American Comedian
  3. “Dogs are our link to paradise. They don’t know evil or jealousy or discontent.” — Milan Kundera, Czech Writer
  4. “Dogs don’t make judgments about physical appearance or abilities, and they don’t care how big your house is or what you do for a living. They care about the quality of your character and your capacity to love.” — Elizabeth Eiler, Reiki Master and Author
  5. “Dogs are the most amazing creatures; they give unconditional love.” — Gilda Radner, American Actor/Comedian
  6. “The average dog is a nicer person than the average person.” — Andy Rooney, American Journalist
  7. “Dogs laugh, but they laugh with their tails.” — Max Eastman, American Author
  8. “You know, a dog can snap you out of any kind of bad mood that you’re in faster than you can think of.” Jill Abramson, American Newspaper Editor
  9. “If I could be half the person my dog is, I’d be twice the human I am.” — Charles Yu, Taiwanese-American Author
  10. “There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face.” — Ben Williams, American Jazz Musician

My top 10 favorite quotations about pets

  1. “Sometimes losing a pet is more painful than losing a human because in the case of the pet, you were not pretending to love it.” — Amy Sedaris, American Author
  2. “Pets reflect you like mirrors. When you are happy, you can see your dog smiling and when you are sad, your cat cries.” — Munia Khan, Bangladeshi Poet
  3. “Sometimes, your pet picks you.” — Julie Wenzel, American Author
  4. “Pets understand humans better than humans do.” Ruchi Prabhu, Indian Author
  5. “Over the years I’ve come to appreciate how animals enter our lives prepared to teach and far from being burdened by an inability to speak they have many different ways to communicate. It is up to us to listen more than hear, to look into more than past.” — Nick Trout, British-Born Veterinarian and Author

    A dog available for adoption at Adopt-a-Dog. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic
  6. “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” — Mahatma Gandhi, Indian Social Activist
  7. “Pets have more love and compassion in them than most humans.” — Robert Wagner, American Actor
  8. “You cannot share your life with a dog…or a cat, and not know perfectly well that animals have personalities and minds and feelings.” — Jane Goodall, British Anthropologist
  9. “Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” — Anatole France, French Poet
  10. “If having a soul means being able to feel love and loyalty and gratitude, then animals are better off than a lot of humans.”  — James Herriot, British Writer

What about you? Are there any quotations about dogs, cats, or any pets that you like? If so, feel free to share them in the comments below.