Archive for January, 2010

The Storm and the Hummingbird

Posted on January 22, 2010. Filed under: 1. Daily Life | Tags: , , , , , |

I knew our week of San Diego storms brought plenty to worry about, from flooding to power outages and mud slides, but I have to admit, what I found myself the most worried about was the mama Hummingbird furiously hanging on to her little nest. Not much bigger then a thimble and stuck to the branch of a fairly flimsy palm tree, she did not waiver. The little bird can’t weigh more than a few ounces, but she did not fly away, she did not blow away, she did not abandon the nest and the tiny eggs inside. She rode out the back to back storms without budging once, not even while being pelted by marble sized hail. She was truly an amazing sight.

Now, this mama Hummingbird is no dummy, she knew exactly where she was building that nest two weeks ago. The small palm tree is tucked just under our front porch. Still, those 30, 40, 50 mile hour winds found their way to my door just the same. At one point during the peak of the storm, I grew so worried I even went out and held on to the branch to try and help keep her steady as the wind whipped over us and stray branches pounded over the nest. She held on. If that instinct to protect her unborn isn’t a testament to motherhood, I don’t know what is. The Hummingbird also reminded me about something else, storms in life will come and go, but we have to hold on and stay strong. Just about everyone I know is going through challenges, and everyone I don’t know too, like the people of Haiti.

Late last night, the intense lighting and wind started up again. I thought for sure that was it, and the nest and mama Hummingbird would be gone this morning, but no, there she was, as calm as could be, relieved as anyone the storm had passed.

-Nina Jimenez

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Storms can be so scary

Posted on January 19, 2010. Filed under: 3. Trainer On Call | Tags: , |

I thought this week it would be a great idea to address some noise phobias in pets (particularly dogs).  With the week of storms approaching, many people may find themselves with a pet that is quite distraught.  Here is some information about Noise Phobias.

Storms with thunder and lightning can be scary for pets.  No one really know why a certain pet has a noise phobia.  It could be any number of things.  Maybe they had a bad experience with loud noises, or certain breeds tend to be more prone to the phobia.  Or your pet could have developed it because you yourself are scared of storms and loud noises, or maybe that is just the way they are.

If your pet has a noise phobia, here are some tips you can try to help your pet.

1.)  Create a place in the house where they feel safe, this may be a crate or a room where the noise may be muffled.

2.) Don’t react to the pet.  If you praise them and keep telling them it’s OK, you could be reinforcing the anxious behavior.  Don’t yell at them to calm down either, or you could be creating more anxiety in the situation.  The more they hear the noises with no reaction from you, the more they could become desensitized to it.

3.)  Wear your pet out if you know a storm is coming.  Give them lots of exercise in a scenario they enjoy, the beach or the parks.  If they are tired, hopefully they will be less likely to react to the storm.

4.)  Keep a level head and try not to react  to the noise.

5.)  If your pet has a favorite activity or toy, give it to them only when there times the phobia may arise.  After time, they may associate the noise with something they really enjoy.

If you have a pet with noise phobias and have more questions, e-mail me at

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Messy 3am Wake Up Call – Pets Like Kids?

Posted on January 11, 2010. Filed under: 1. Daily Life | Tags: , , , , |

I don’t have human children yet, just my dog and cat. I’ve heard you should get a plant, a pet and then have a baby. I’ve often thought that furry kids have similarities to human kids – although I obviously  know the difference! The other night I was sleeping sound in dream land when I woke up to the awful sound of my cat dry heaving right next to me in bed. I know this sound well by now and brace myself for the mess that follows. Cat owners, you know what I mean! In my half awake state of mind, I looked around for something to put under Cody’s mouth. I was panicking – wasn’t there a magazine, paper towel, dirty sock anything laying around? Of course not! So, my attempt failed, and Cody barfed all over our bed. It was fur and grass that lead to this smelly mess that I now had to clean up at 3 am. Part of me was so annoyed because the last thing I wanted to do at this hour was clean up cat vomit, but when I looked at his little face, I just couldn’t help but pet him, tell him it was going to be OK and forget about the fact that I was annoyed. The next 30 min. were spent cleaning up the comforter, sheet, pillow case and mattress. By this time Cody was sitting in our windowsill enjoying life and not having a care in the world that I was cleaning up after him. The things we do for our pets make me think that maybe this is nature’s way of preparing me for life as a parent of a human baby. For those of you with pets or both pets and kids, does this sound familiar? What funny stories like this would you like to share?

Michelle Brubaker

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Recovering from a Kitty Crack Addiction

Posted on January 7, 2010. Filed under: 1. Daily Life | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

If you haven’t already, please watch my Kitty Crack story, which essentially has become part one of this blog entry. Although my efforts in weaning Cody off of his kibble fix and starting to feed him foods like tuna, chicken, turkey and salmon were a step in the right direction, I wasn’t hitting the target. After watching the segment I produced, pet expert Tracie Hotchner e-mailed to let me know she was proud of my furry recovering addict, but I was missing a few steps. Oops – tuna is a big NO NO for cats. Just like humans, you run the risk of too much mercury and other dangerous metals. Since I don’t want my cat to grow two heads, I immediately stopped feeding him his fishy treat. Turkey and chicken alone won’t give cats the balanced diet they need for a healthy, long life.  I needed to feed Cody canned, wet food. Now, I have tried giving Cody canned food in the past, and he basically lifted up his nose and refused to eat it, so I thought it was a lost cause, but I was on a mission and had to remember who was the boss! I looked up recommended canned cat food on Tracie’s Cat Chat Approved List and found several options. I bought different flavors of the canned food brand Wellness home for Cody. I sprinkled just a little bit of kibble on top to get him started. He sniffed it and looked at me like, “What the hell is this?” I walked away and waited to see what he would do. At first, he took each piece of kibble out of his bowl and ate it. Then, he started licking the wet food, and before I knew it, he was chowing down! This morning I sprinkled less kibble on top, and he ate his whole serving of wet food. I’m shocked and happy to know I now have the tools and knowledge to feed my cat a healthy diet that he actually likes! It is more expensive and time consuming, but keeping my cat healthy is priceless. Now I can say I’ve hit the bullseye!

Michelle Brubaker

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Why do dogs dig?

Posted on January 6, 2010. Filed under: 3. Trainer On Call | Tags: |

I saw the most amazing thing this weekend.  My dog Faith, who is not a digger at all, trying to bury a bone we gave her.  There were so many strange things about this whole event.  1.)  Faith always eats treats we give her right away.  2.) She hasn’t dug since she was a puppy only a couple months old.  She is 10 now, going on 11.  When she dug as a puppy, it was never to bury anything, just playing in the dirt.  So I thought about a question, why do dogs dig? Besides the obvious reason, to bury something, is there a reason a digging response would be triggered?

I found this on the site Pet Library:

“Digging is also a dog’s way of relieving stress and “letting it all out” so to speak. If a puppy is experiencing anxiety levels due to a new baby in the house, a recent move, strange people, or lack of attention, then he is going to dig in order to help himself feel better.”

I tried to apply this to Faith, not much has changed in her environment, definitely not babies, or recent move.  The best I could come up with was the lack of attention in this scenario.  With the upcoming wedding, and Moose’s recent knee surgery, Faith has unfortunately been a little left out.  We have been busy running here and there for wedding plans, and Moose gets physical therapy walks.  Faith often gets left behind on those.  Mostly because of convenience.  Luckily, we have begun to take Faith on a few more walks now that Moose is a little sturdier on his knee.

From Dogs Only, I found some of the reasoning to be, to keep cool, to escape (especially if in heat or trying to find a dog in heat).  These didn’t apply to her situation.  I also saw that sometimes they will dig just to save them for a “rainy day.”  This I knew, but it seems like too easy of an explanation.  Especially since she has never done it before.  Also according to the site, dogs will dig if you use a fertilizer with bone or blood meal in it.  They then can’t resist the smell and will dig to try to find the hidden “nonexistent” bone.

I did one more final search on Pet Place and found something I didn’t think of.  Dogs still have natural instincts.  Even though they are domesticated, they still have these natural instincts they follow.  Often times when dogs were wild, they would kill a prey that was larger than they could eat at once.  They then had to save the nutrient rich bones with marrow for later eating.  They would carry them back to their dens.  This all does make sense in Faith’s case.  We gave her the bone in the morning because we were working on our bathroom remodel.  She never gets treats that early in the AM, let alone a big bone.  She must have been following her instincts and been saving it for later.  She wasn’t ready for another big meal.  We gave it to her only a short time after she had eaten her breakfast.

She was following her instincts.

Watch Faith’s Video!

Any questions, contact me at

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