Eight Ways to Celebrate the Holidays with Your Pets

The holidays are a time to celebrate with family, including our four-legged children. Many of us include them in our holiday photos or get them gifts to open alongside the rest of the family. Whatever your traditions include, here are a few other ideas to consider to ensure your pets are part of the family celebration throughout the holidays.

8 Ways to Celebrate the Season of Giving with Our Pets

by Sloan McKinney

Our four-legged friends are just like family, and we treat them as such during the holidays. After all, we purchase them Dog Reindeergifts, include them in our photographs, and they’ve even become a part of a relatively new tradition known as ugly Christmas sweaters.

But apart from these traditional types of holiday celebrations, what are some other special ways we can celebrate the season with our pets? Honoring of the number of Santa’s reindeer, here are eight ways to celebrate the holidays with our pets in mind:

#1 – Take Them on a Snow Outing

Take your furry friend out for a romp in the snow. Most dogs, and even some cats, enjoy running and playing in the white, powdery stuff. Lightly pack snowballs and toss them to your dog to catch, or simply chase them around the yard. If you live in an area that doesn’t get snow on a regular basis, but there are mountains nearby, think of taking your animal up to see the snow. Enjoy a road trip for some refreshing playtime in the crisp air.

#2 – Have a Holiday Photo Contest

Whether you’re using the “ugly sweater” concept, going after the cuteness effect, or are including your animals within your holiday decor, consider having a photo contest with friends and family. Really open up your holiday pet platform on social media!

#3 – Royal Feast

Search the internet for “pet-friendly” recipes for a special, homemade treat for your four-legged best friend. Perhaps you’ll make your own holiday cookies from scratch for your dog or a catnip infused cake to give your favorite feline.

Christmas-cat 2_0#4 – Spa Day

Just like some of us give gift certificates for a day of beauty at a spa or health resort, considering giving your dog or cat the gift of a pet massage. Search for a provider in your area or look for some soothing animal massage techniques that you can learn yourself on the internet.

#5 – Make Their Bed Extra Cozy

Another relatively simple gift to give your dog or cat for the holidays is a nice, fluffy warm blanket for their bed, the couch, or other favorite hang-out spot. You can always buy them one at most pet and department stores, but you can also make one (without sewing a stitch) in an afternoon.

#6 – Their Own Decoration

Many people hang an individual Christmas stocking for their pet(s), but they can also have their very own special decoration for the tree. Whether it’s store-bought or homemade, give your pet a special spot on the tree for their own, unique ornament.

#7 – Extra Playtime

During the holiday rush, with all the hustle and bustle of planning, shopping and everything else the season entails, don’t overlook your animals. While you always remember when it’s time to feed them, give them some extra attention and playtime as well.

#8 – Give to Other Animals

It is the season of giving after all, and you can honor your pet by giving to other animals in need. On our homepage under the “Donate” tab, you’ll find many different ways you can help out other dogs and cats to ensure they’ll have a better holiday.

#9 – BONUS: From Rudolph

Here’s our ninth recommendation, directly from Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer – have a fun and safe holiday with your friends, family and especially your pets. Speaking of safety, check out this list of potential dangers for our dogs and cats during the holiday season courtesy of the ASPCA.

Have a safe, loving, giving holiday season and a joyous New Year!

Keep the Holidays Safe for Pets

While the sparkle and glitter of the holiday season can bring joy to many, the decorations we use to create our holiday
homes can be dangerous for pets. Ensure the holidays are happy for everyone. Keep these tips in mind to keep your holiday home safe for your furry friends.

Keeping Pets Safe as You Create Your Holiday Home39200-Silver-Christmas-Candles

The holidays are a time to decorate your home and create a festive environment. For families with pets, it’s important to keep the safety of your pets in mind while creating the perfect holiday atmosphere. Pets are curious in nature, and many holiday decorations are tempting to our furry friends. Unfortunately, they can also be harmful. Here are some things to consider that can help you keep the holiday season happy and safe for everyone.

Christmas trees are a staple in many holiday homes, but it is important to ensure your tree is secure and stable. Trees can topple over when curious cats try to climb them or your rambunctious pooch gets a little too close. Live trees can also be hazardous if your pets decide to chew on them. The fir tree oils can irritate the tissues in the mouth and ingested needles can puncture the intestines or bunch together causing an obstruction. Chemical preservatives sprayed onto live trees can also leach into the water dish, making the water poisonous to drink, which pets will do if the water is left uncovered.

Shiny tinsel is sometimes too irresistible to pets, but it can be extremely dangerous. If ingested, tinsel can create a linear foreign body, which can wrap around the base of the tongue or anchor in the stomach, making it unable to pass through. As the intestines contract, the linear foreign body can slowly saw through the tissue, resulting in risk of severe injury to, or rupture of their intestines.

Artificial snow, angel hair, and flocking can be toxic to pets if ingested in significant amounts. It is best to leave these off of your trees and other holiday decorations.

Pets often consider electrical cords to be great chew toys, but we all know that is not the case.Chewing on electrical cords can burn a pet’s mouth or result in electrical shock or death by electrocution. Use pet-proof extension cords, and spray cords with a deterrents such as bitter apple.

Ingested ribbons, yarn, and string can bunch in the intestines and cause blockages. These conditions require surgery and can be fatal. Keep these items out of reach of your pets.

Lit candles create that warm glow of the season, but lit candles can burn pets that get too close to them. A candle knocked over by a curious cat or a playful pup can cause a house fire with dire consequences. Never leave candles burning unsupervised and within reach of your pets.

Many people use potpourri to bring the smells of the season indoors. The oils used to create those smells can be toxic to pets when ingested. Don’t leave potpourri in a spot easily reached by your pets.

Keeping these tips in mind when decorating your home for the holidays can help you create a welcoming and safe ambiance that everyone can enjoy.

Help Us Shelter Feral Cats This Winter

Winter is approaching, and caretakers of feral cats are in desperate need of new houses to provide shelter and safety for the many colonies throughout the area. If you’d like to donate money or supplies or help us build new shelters, we’d welcome your support.

Feral Cat Shelter Project

DAWS will be working to build new outdoor cat shelters to support the many caretakers throughout the area who dedicate their time to caring for homeless and feral cats. We need money, supplies, and volunteers to help us build the shelters to keep these cats warm and safe this winter.

Supplies needed:

  • 18-20 gallon Rubbermaid-type storage bins with lids
  • Styrofoam (specific type needed – contact DAWS)
  • Straw

Donated supplies can be dropped off at the shelter prior to November 20th. If you’d like to donate money for this cause, please donate online or send a check made payable to DAWS to the shelter. Please indicate “Feral Cat Shelter Project” on your check or in the special instructions section on PayPal.

Anyone who wishes to help build these outdoor houses is welcome to join DAWS volunteers for a “build” event.

November 20, 2016

11 AM-2 PM

DAWS parking lot | 147 Grassy Plain St. | Bethel, CT

Please reach out to Karen Madsen with questions about the supplies needed or to indicate your attendance at the “build” event.

Personal Insights on Adopting a Senior Dog

Many people overlook senior pets when considering their adoption options. With so much unconditional love to give, theSr dog v2 rewards when adopting a senior pet can be endless. Check out these personal adoption insights from an animal lover who has adopted both puppies and senior dogs throughout the years.

Adopting a Senior Dog – Personal Insights

By Sloan McKinney

As a lifelong animal lover, I’ve had more than my fair share of pets, both cats and dogs, each with their own personality, unique characteristics and special place in my heart. After having a dog for nineteen years-that’s right 19 years-LBD (my little black dog) in many ways was like my own child.

I got her as a puppy, and the first few years of her life, she was extremely rambunctious. Since she was a rat terrier-mixed-breed-mutt, she went after everything that scurried, flew, smelled funny or looked at her sideways.

Another Chapter

Fast forward many years, after LBD had crossed the Rainbow Bridge, I was very hesitant to adopt another dog. After about a year had passed, the same person that found my LBD wandering the streets asked me to consider rescuing another, much older dog.

The thought of another little black dog was intriguing, but I needed to weigh the options of adopting one that was older, and this time a purebred Cairn Terrier (aka Toto from The Wizard of Oz). She was in a home with senior parents who could no longer care for her. Without help, she could end up in a shelter, where it is often hard for older pets to get adopted. There was something that just “clicked” about this whole experience. An animal was in need. Another little black dog, who was a bit overweight, and a purebred Cairn Terrier, like Toto from my favorite movie. I had to have her, and I didn’t care how old she was. Since I already had experience dealing with an aging dog, I knew that eight years is actually pretty young for a smaller dog. I knew that she had plenty of healthy years ahead of her, and I wanted to ensure she didn’t become another displaced dog. I said yes, and never looked back.

Similarities and Differences

When you’ve had puppies and senior dogs under your care, you quickly learn that there are similarities and differences to both. Understanding them makes it much easier to make the best decision about the type of dog you want to adopt. Here are a few things that I learned from my personal experience of having both younger and older dogs:

PUPPIES must be trained, get into a lot of mischief, chew things, have plenty of energy, and are prone to many “accidents” during their potty training days.

SENIORS almost always come with some basic training. They often have calmer demeanors requiring less energy from you. As they continue to age, they may or may not have “accidents.”

PUPPIES need more visits to a qualified veterinarian beyond once a year, since they need more vaccinations and need to be spayed or neutered. The doctor will also make sure they’re developing at their desired pace, much like a human child.

SENIORS also may or may not need to go more than once a year to get their annual check-up, as you vet needs to look out for signs of aging and the development of any conditions or diseases that often arise during elder years.

PUPPIESneed special toys, more attention, exercise, and need to be put on a schedule to ensure they’re exercised and fed regularly.

SENIORS still require exercise, attention, and proper nutrition, but often the exercise regime is less intense, and your pet may have less interest in extensive play as he ages.

As with any decision to bring a new pet into the family, you should educate yourself on what care the animal will need. My personal advice is to not be hesitant to adopt an older pet. They have much love to give and will surely appreciate the opportunity to live out their golden years with a family who will love and care for them until their days end. Honor National Adopt A Senior Pet Month, and please consider an older canine or feline in your choice.

Sloan McKinney is a friend of DAWS and an active contributor of content for our monthly newsletter.

November is All About Seniors!

Many older cats and dogs spend more time in shelters than others, simply because of their age. You can help make a difference in the life of an older pet. Learn more about why a senior pet may be the perfect match for you.

Please click here to read more about adopting an older pet!

senior trio

Pet Valu “Your Pet, Your Story” Facebook Contest

DAWS has been selected as an eligible organization for the Pet Valu “Your Pet, Your Story” Facebook contest. From now Posting Graphicuntil November 23rd, you can submit a story about your pet or DAWS on the Pet Valu Facebook page. For each story shared, DAWS will have one chance to win a Pet Valu gift card.

Pet Valu has selected DAWS as one of the eligible rescue organizations to participate in this month’s Facebook contest. The “Your Pet, Your Story” contest is running now through November 23rd on Pet Valu’s Facebook page,


All Facebook users are encouraged to share a story of why they are thankful for their pet or local rescue. On the entry page is a dropdown list where DAWS can be selected as a resuce organization to support. For each story shared where DAWS is selected, we will get an entry into a drawing at the end of the contest period. One entrant will be randomly selected from the stories submitted. That entrant will win a $250 Pet Valu gift card for themselves and a $500 Pet Valu gift card for the local rescue they selected with their submission.

Take advantage of this opportunity to share your personal story about what your pet and DAWS means to you. Your submission could help us win a valuable gift card that will help us buy needed supplies for the animals in our care.

Share your story today, then share this link with your friends and family.


DAWS Holiday Greeting Cards Are Back!

The holidays are right around the corner.  Get your holiday cards from DAWS, and spread some good cheer for the cause.

Holiday cards can be purchased at the shelter by contacting Lenore Maskara at lpjulia00@hotmail.com. Cards come in packages of 10. The supply is limited; don’t delay and miss this great opportunity to share warm, fuzzy holiday greetings!

Additionally, you can purchase your holiday cards here then pick them up at the shelter during open house hours:

Wednesday – Friday, 6:00 PM-8:00 PM
Saturday-Sunday, 2:00 PM-4:00 PM


Speak Out Against Breed-specific Legislation

Charity on back with toy

The city of Montreal recently passed breed-specific legislation (BSL) banning Pit Bulls and Pit Bull-type dogs. Many organizations agree that BSL is not based on science. Learn more about what these organizations have to say about BSL.

Protecting Pit Bulls: Speak Out Against Breed-specific Legislation

On October 3rd, Pit Bulls in the city of Montreal will be banned. The city recently passed breed-specific legislation (BSL) banning Pit Bulls and Pit Bull-type dogs. As of the end of this year, the legislation will make it illegal to own a pit bull-type dog, which includes American Staffordshire terriers, Staffordshire bull terriers and American pit bull terriers, or any mixed breed dogs with those breeds, or a dog with physical characteristics similar to the breeds listed banned. Current owners of these types of dogs may request to register their dogs under a special ownership permit and follow specific regulations in order to keep their dogs.

Legislation of this kind puts dogs and their owners at risk, and can mean that countless innocent animals in shelters or with owners who cannot afford to pay for the permit will be senselessly euthanized. Many organizations, including animal welfare, government, and health agencies agree that BSL is not based on science. Learn more about what these organizations have to say about BSL.

You can become a voice for change. Speak out against BSL and support the facts.  You can start today by signing the petition sponsored by change.org.

DAWS Gains Exposure Through Our Partners

Our partnership with Pets for Patriots has given us the chance to gain exposure to thousands of people beyond our reach.Brad-and-Dolly-on-porch_2 DAWS was featured on the Wet Nose Blog, reaching email subscribers of our Pets for Patriots partner.

DAWS Featured in Wet Nose Blog

Our partnership with Pets for Patriots  is helping to make a difference in the lives of animals and U.S. veterans. One of our wonderful adoption stories has been shared on the organization’s Wet Nose Blog, giving DAWS exposure to thousands of people beyond our reach. We are thrilled to partner with this great organization!

Read the story of how DAWS and Dolly made a difference in the life of Marine Corps veteran, Brad.

October is All about Dogs

Someone once said, “the world would be a nicer place if everyone had the ability to love as unconditionally as a dog.” WeOctober Newsletter Content_GAC1 believe that to be true. October is a month to honor the unconditional love that dogs give by celebrating both Adopt-a-Dog month and National Pit Bull Awareness month.

October is truly all about dogs!  Two great initiatives are featured in the month of October to help raise awareness about the plight of homeless dogs.

Adopt-a-Dog Month

In 1981 the American Humane Association established an annual event to encourage people to adopt a dog from a shelter or rescue organization.  Each year, millions of dogs end up homeless and waiting in shelters for a hero to come and rescue them.  For far, far too many of them, a hero never comes, and they are tragically euthanized.

Even if you are not able to adopt a dog, you still have a chance to be a hero for animals in need during Adopt-a-Dog month.  You can help celebrate in many ways:

Adopt from a shelter or rescue group

Open your heart to a new best friend from your local shelter!  There is no reason to buy a dog from a pet store when millions of adoptable dogs are waiting for forever homes in a shelter nearby.

Spay or neuter your dog

Altering your dog prevents the possibility of unexpected and unwanted puppies that contribute to the burden of animal overpopulation.  Spayed and neutered animals also may lead longer, healthier lives, with fewer of certain behavioral problems exhibited by animals who have not been spayed or neutered.

ID your pet

Only 15-20 percent of lost dogs that enter a shelter find their way home. Make sure your dog is one of the fortunate few by outfitting him with proper identification in the form of I.D. tags or a microchip.

Support your local shelter like DAWS

Donating time, money or supplies to your local shelter can demonstrate how much you care.   DAWS even gives you a chance to show your support by sponsoring a dog (or cat) to make your monetary donation even more personal.

October Newsletter Content_GAC2Pit Bull Awareness Month & National Pit Bull Awareness Day

In 2007, Jodi Preis of Bless the Bullys pit bull rescue and education group in Tennessee established National Pit Bull Awareness Day (NPBAD) to provide awareness and education aimed at changing the negative and inaccurate perceptions and stereotypes about pit bulls and their responsible owners.  NPBAD is dedicated to restoring the image of the American Pit Bull Terrier by helping to educate and foster positive communications and experiences in the communities where pit bulls and their owners live. The last Saturday of every October is designated as NPBAD.  This year, it will be celebrated on October 22nd.

In 2011, NPBAD was expanded to create National Pit Bull Awareness Month.  Extending the celebration to the entire month of October means there is a greater opportunity for shelters, breed clubs, and rescue organizations to spotlight the breed through a variety of means, including adoptions, educational programs, and responsible ownership events.  Learn more about this national campaign.

DAWS also tries to correct the misconceptions held by many about pit bulls.  You can read heartfelt stories of love from pit bull owners and find facts that refute some of the common myths about pit bulls on our website.