8237962877?profile=RESIZE_710xDeb Barnes, who owns eight cats, says they ‘give my life a sense of purpose and responsibility.’ She plans to give them more time in her enclosed backyard this month. Photo provided

 

By Arden Moore

Know who deserves to top our holiday gift list this year? Our pets.

As cases of COVID-19 escalate and many of us shelter in place at home, our pets have been saving our tails — emotionally, physically and mentally.

With big family gatherings for the holidays getting canceled or switched to virtual get-togethers, we can count on our dogs, cats and other pets to make us feel like rock stars, to make us laugh and to cuddle without complaint as we binge-watch Netflix.

“Touching an animal releases oxytocin in those of us who love animals,” says Lisa Radosta, referring to what is sometimes called the love hormone.

Returning home from long hours at her Florida Veterinary Behavior Service clinic in West Palm Beach, Radosta feels immediate bliss thanks to her always goofy Maverick, a 9-year-old Labrador retriever, and her cuddly-on-my-terms Chewie, a 4-year-old cat

“Every day to Maverick is like the Groundhog Day movie, except instead of dreading the day, he assumes that the day will go really well and who can resist that?” says Radosta, DVM, DACVB, a board-certified veterinary behaviorist. “Chewie has lots of opinions; however, when he is cuddly, he is hard to resist. When you are feeling overwhelmed, he bunts you, then again, then again, then again, you cannot resist his affection.”

One of my longtime friends, Susan Baker, who lives in Atlantis, is totally grateful to her miniature poodles, Cubby and Lido. She has been working from home due to the coronavirus.

“My boys are rescues who are now 12 and they have helped keep me sane and on my toes,” says Baker. “We walk a lot. Lido snoozes on my lap while I work from home and both of them try to get their noses in when I do downward during my yoga workouts.”

Baker hopes to continue some holiday traditions this year with Cubby and Lido. Both have once again posed for her annual Christmas card. Both will receive doggy ornaments to adorn the tree at their groomer’s salon, Paws in Paradise in Lake Worth Beach, and both will send a treat to their “cousin” Thor — a foxhound in Virginia who lives with Baker’s brother. Locally, all three will watch the annual Christmas golf cart parade in Atlantis.

Deb Barnes, immediate past president of the Cat Writers Association who writes the popular blog Zee & Zoey’s Cat Chronicles, is grateful for her cool cats. They answer to the names of Zee, Zoey, Mia, Peanut, Rolz, Kizmet, Jazmine and Shadow — and, yes, that’s eight fine felines.

“No doubt life has been challenging, sometimes making it difficult to even want to get out of bed, but my cats give my life a sense of purpose and responsibility,” says Barnes, who lives in Coral Springs. “Nothing lightens up a business meeting on Zoom than an unexpected cat tail making an appearance across the computer screen. I can’t imagine better company than my gang to help me find the joy during this difficult year.”

She plans to give them a holiday gift not available in stores — more supervised time in her enclosed backyard.

“They love to sniff the air, explore the land, chase the bugs and lizards, and roll on the warm pavement surrounding the deck,” she says. “It’s truly the greatest gift I could give them, as they treasure this outdoor time almost more than they do yummy treats.”

 

Looking for ways to show gratitude to your pet during this holiday season? Consider these ideas:

• Take your road-trip-loving dogs to Lights 4 Hope and Holiday Fantasy of Lights, drive-through events whose proceeds benefit children in need.
Lights 4 Hope offers a 1.5-mile course at Okeeheelee Park, 7715 Forest Hill Blvd. in West Palm Beach on these dates: Dec. 4-6, Dec. 11-13, Dec. 18-20 and Dec. 25-27. Tickets cost $12 to $30. Learn more at https://lights4hope.org.
The Holiday Fantasy of Lights offers 3.5 miles of animated displays nightly through Jan. 2 at Tradewinds Park, 3600 W. Sample Road, Coconut Creek. Cost is $20 per car. Learn more at https://holidaylightsdrivethru.com.

• Take your dog to sniff out the new Lake Woof Park located at John Prince Park in Lake Worth Beach. The four-acre park is totally fenced in with separate play areas for small, medium and large dogs. The park features five covered gazebos and dog wash stations.

• Bring your well-mannered leash dog to check out the holiday decorations lighting up downtown Delray Beach. They include pineapple displays on light poles on Pineapple Grove Way and garland-wrapped light poles with beachy décor on Atlantic Avenue.

• Stay in and cuddle with your cats as you watch the movie all for and all about cats. With COVID-19 preventing the Amazing Acro-Cats from performing on stage, renowned animal trainer Samantha Martin just released this circus cat act as a 100-minute movie you can watch at home.

Catch these former shelter cats and strays jumping through hoops, rolling on balls and even “performing” on drums, guitars and more as the Rock Cats. Prices range from $15 to $40 with all money benefiting Rock Cats Rescue, a nonprofit. Download at https://rockcatsrescue.org/live-and-in-purrson.

• Put on an apron and become a pet chef. Terrific Tuna Patties is a favorite treat I make for my furry Brady Bunch. Here are the steps:

1. In medium-sized bowl, whisk 2 eggs.
2. Add one 61/2-ounce can of water-packed tuna, drained and flaked, plus 1 cup of breadcrumbs. Mix thoroughly.
3. Form six patties from this mix.
4. In a large skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of margarine over medium heat.
5. Place the patties into the skillet and cook each side for 3 to 5 minutes, or until golden brown.
6. Allow the patties to cool and then crumble them into small pieces to give to your pets.
7. Store extra patties in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

However you celebrate with your pets, remember, every day we spend with them brings out the best in us. Happy holidays!

 

Arden Moore, founder of fourleggedlife.com, is an animal behavior expert and host of the Oh Behave! show on petliferadio.com. Learn more at www.ardenmoore.com.

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