Ultimate Pet Guide


Here in the Sacramento region, we love our cats and dogs&emdash;not to mention our goldfish, bunnies, hamsters, iguanas, turtles, birds and other companion animals. What can we say? We’re pet people! In

Sacramento magazine’s ultimate pet guide, you’ll find almost everything you need to know to take care of your pet, from the moment you bring your new little acquaintance home until the day you have to say goodbye to your most trusted friend.


Options Abound

Today’s pet owners have an array of choices when it comes to veterinary care&emdash;everything from traditional veterinary and specialty medicine to alternative and complementary therapies including acupuncture, herbs, massage and chiropractic care. And where they can obtain these services also is expansive: high-tech hospitals and ERs, mobile vet services and species-specific vets in addition to traditional veterinary clinics.

Traditional veterinarians offer checkups, X-rays, blood tests, spaying and neutering procedures, and vaccinations. Most also offer dental care and treatment for major illnesses, such as cancer.

When Becky Farina’s 14-year-old Dalmatian, Blossom, suffered two bouts of skin cancer, her veterinarian, Heidi Booth, D.V.M., anesthetized the dog and removed the lesions.

Farina takes all three of her dogs to Country Oaks Veterinary Hospital in Galt, where Booth works. My vet gets down at the dogs’ level, says the Galt resident. She greets them, pets them, just like she’s one of their buddies. She starts the exam on the floor and plays with them, which is totally cool. Farina says her dogs have no problem going to the vet. They just go prancing on in there: ‘Hey, we are going to see our buddy.’

While most people take their pets to traditional vets, a growing number are turning to veterinarians who use nontraditional therapies such as acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine and therapeutic massage to supplement their pet’s health care. Some local vets employ both traditional and nontraditional medicine, taking a holistic approach to caring for their patients.

I really do think they both bring something to the table, says Kris Dailey, D.V.M., whose uses traditional and nontraditional approaches at her Davis-based practice, Animal Wellness Center. They aren’t mutually exclusive. The nice thing about the integrative [approach] is that you have more weapons in your arsenal. So whatever tool fits the job, you can use it.

Lisa Chapman-Sorci’s cat, Harry, was having difficulty walking when she brought him to Dailey for acupuncture and chiropractic adjustments. Months later, Harry was back to normal. Now he goes up and down the stairs at work, says Chapman-Sorci, who lives in Fair Oaks. 

If you have a pet that doesn’t travel well, mobile vets such as Jyl Rubin, D.V.M., can come to you. Mobile vets are particularly good for animals that wig out at the vet clinic (or in the car on the way to the clinic). It really does make a difference with some of these animals, says Rubin, owner of Dr. Jyl’s Mobile Vet Connection in Sacramento. They’re in their home environment, so they are not scared. Mobile services also are good for large animals that are hard to transport and for households with multiple pets.

The rising popularity of exotics as companion animals finds more and more veterinarians treating rabbits, hamsters, birds, iguanas and snakes. Carmichael residents Maria and Dustin Robinson take their 3-year-old rabbit, Bradley, to VCA Sacramento Animal Medical Group, which also treats their two dogs: Cooper, a 4-year-old golden retriever, and Eddy, a 3-year-old beagle. While the dogs have been seen for everything from bee stings to broken noses, Bradley’s care has been routine. He goes once a year for a checkup, and if he gets sick, I guess he’ll go more, says Maria, who feels her rabbit is in good hands. They are really good with [the dogs], so I would expect the same with the rabbit. 

Bradley the rabbit may not mind going to mixed-pet vet, but some finicky felines may beg to differ. For this reason, cat-only vets are popping up. From what my clients tell me, the stress on the cat is much less than going to a place that has both cats and dogs, says Kari Mundschenk, D.V.M., co-owner of Just for Cats Veterinary Hospital in Elk Grove. Hopefully, when you go to a cat-only hospital, you have staff who understand the nature of the cat and how they are going to react.


When There’s Big Trouble

While veterinarians are equipped to treat a host of maladies, they’ll often refer difficult or complex cases to specialists who can handle things such as kidney dialysis, organ transplants, hip replacements and cataract surgeries.

When Ilene Henely’s poodle/Pomeranian mix, Chelsea, started experiencing bladder problems, her regular vet sent her to the William R. Pritchard Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital at UC Davis. It turned out Chelsea had an enlarged kidney and a small liver. The staff at VMTH decided against surgery, fearing complications. Instead, they prescribed medication and put Chelsea on a special homemade diet. While she’s still being treated for the condition, there is an upside: She loves the food I make for her, says Henely, a resident of El Dorado Hills. 

Sometimes, pets eat something they’re not supposed to: poison, chocolate, a pair of underwear. Georganna Sedlar’s American bulldog, Sadie, ended up with a perforated intestine and a nasty infection after chowing down on a pair of running undies Sedlar had left in her gym bag. Treated at VCA Sacramento Veterinary Referral Center, she’s now good as new. That medical emergency cost the Sacramento resident more than $7,000 but doing nothing was never an option. I couldn’t imagine saying, ‘Oh, no, let her go,’ says Sedlar. And while she can laugh, somewhat, about the incident now, the ordeal was heart-wrenching. It was truly one of the most stressful times of my life, Sedlar says.


Fish Facts

Yes, your fish need to see a vet, too. We spoke with Bronwyn Szignarowitz, D.V.M., who specializes in fish medicine and surgery, about caring for your pet fish.

What do you do for fish?
Pretty much anything. It’s very similar to what you do for a dog or a cat or mammals. They get tumors, they get viral disease. They get bacterial infections.

When should people bring their fish to you? The more savvy clients do a yearly checkup. . . . It’s a routine physical and overall look at their pond or aquarium. I check head, eyes, everything. I remove a lot of tumors on the outside. Sometimes we’ll have to spay a goldfish or spay koi carp because they get impacted with eggs and aren’t able to expel the eggs. The diagnostics we’re able to perform are the same as for mammals: X-rays, ultrasounds, CT scans, MRIs.

Any misconceptions about fish? That you buy a fish and you are done. People don’t assume they need [the fish’s] environment to be clean and they need to test the water and keep on top of their water chemistry. If they were to keep on top of their water chemistry and quarantine their fish, they would eliminate 80 percent of their problems.


Raising a Well-Mannered Pet

This past December, when Natomas resident Carol Harrison adopted a young terrier mix named Bayley from the city animal shelter, he was destructive and poorly behaved. Before handing the dog over to her, shelter officials made Harrison promise to take him to obedience class.

So she enrolled Bayley in a 16-week program at 4Paws University, which offers dog-training classes in East Sacramento’s McKinley Park.

Harrison is determined to turn Bayley into a well-behaved dog. I want to take him to play in the park, she says. He has to be trained to be off-leash.

So far, Harrison is doing everything right, according to the experts. She spends at least 15 minutes a day working with Bayley. She’s firm, consistent and kind. She rewards Bayley with a treat when he follows her rules. Her hard work is paying off. Bayley sits, lies down and stands on command. In other areas, there’s still room for improvement. Stay and wait aren’t in his vocabulary, says Harrison.
Pets can add greatly to their owners’ lives. But a poorly behaved dog or cat can make an owner’s life miserable. Luckily, dogs and cats can be trained to be well-mannered members of the family.

Training a pet is like parenting, says Kelly Ryan, a dog trainer and co-owner of 4Paws University. It’s important to have rules, be consistent and reward good behavior, she explains. The result? A pet that everyone can enjoy.

Behavior modification is the key. In other words, replace bad behaviors with good ones. For dogs, Ryan advocates positive reinforcement&emdash;rewards&emdash;rather than forceful or compulsive training methods such as choke, prong or shock collars and alpha rolls, in which the trainer flips the misbehaving animal onto its back to show the trainer is in charge.

You also can modify a cat’s behavior. If your sharp-clawed kitty’s favorite pastime is shredding your sofa, get it a scratching post. Val Masters, a behavior specialist with Sacramento SPCA, advises placing the post close to the furniture you don’t want it to scratch, then gradually moving it farther away. Other ways to discourage scratching include applying double-sided sticky tape to furniture or spraying it with a taste deterrent product such as Grannick’s Bitter Apple.

If your pet is acting up, experts advise getting to the root of the bad behavior. Natalie Paulsen and her fiance, Bob Daly, were being driven to distraction by their cat, Miss Red Pants, who meowed constantly and fought with the couple’s other cat, The Fridge. She was such a nightmare, says Paulsen, who lives in Land Park. Paulsen took her to the vet, who suggested maybe the cat was hungry. The vet opened a can of food. Problem solved. It turned out she was starving, says Paulsen, who hadn’t noticed that Miss Red Pants wasn’t eating her dry food. She was a much nicer cat after that.

Back to Bayley. After two group sessions, the trainer announces that Bayley has  graduated and can move up to the next level. Harrison shouts Yay! and jumps up and down in delight. You’ve done your homework, the trainer tells her. 

When Good Pets Go Bad

Amy and Steve Greer had a big problem. Harley, their 4-year-old shepherd cross, wasn’t getting along with Abby, their 10-year-old Shar-Pei/pit bull mix. Mild skirmishes escalated. After one scrap, Abby needed stitches. One day, Harley snapped her jaws onto Abby’s head and wouldn’t let go.

The Orangevale couple made an appointment with Melissa Bain, D.V.M., a board-certified veterinary behaviorist.

Veterinary behaviorists are the shock troops of the pet world&emdash;the ones you call in when you have a major behavior issue. They are akin to psychiatrists: Medically trained, they can diagnose physical problems and prescribe medication (such as anti-anxiety drugs) in addition to dealing with behavior issues.

Bain works for UC Davis’ Companion Animal Behavior Service, which treats problems such as aggression, separation anxiety, house soiling and urine marking, and fears and phobias. We see the tougher cases, says Bain.

The Greers’ experience was typical. First, they filled out a detailed questionnaire. Next, Bain came to their home to interview the couple and observe the animals. Then she came up with a diagnosis. It turned out we were doing everything wrong, says Amy.

After the recent death of the couple’s oldest dog, Harley had been trying to step into the role of alpha dog. But the Greers scolded her for being rude and disrespectful to Abby, the older dog. Harley responded with aggression toward Abby.

Bain gave them a four-page treatment plan. Essentially, they had to build Harley up as the alpha dog. Feed her first. Give her the best of everything. And if Harley made a mistake, both dogs had to be punished. Within two weeks, peace had been restored.

The cost? Typically, it’s $370 for a work-up, which includes a physical exam, two two-hour sessions at UC Davis, a written treatment plan and follow-up by phone or e-mail. It was well worth it, says Greer.

Seeking out Bain, she says, saved our dog’s life.

Training Your Dog

Kelly Ryan of 4Paws University offers these tips:
* Start early. Begin training as soon as you bring a dog into your home.
* Be consistent. Have rules and expectations&emdash;and follow through on them every time.
* Use positive reinforcement. It’s true: You catch more flies with honey than vinegar. Offer a reward, such as a doggie treat, when your dog does what you ask it to do.
* Take a class. There are plenty of training classes in the Sacramento region. Check out the Sacramento SPCA (sspca.org), PetSmart (petsmart.com) and 4Paws University (4pawsu.com).

Training Your Cat

Some recommendations from Val Masters, a behavior specialist with the Sacramento SPCA:
* Exercise your cat. A tired cat is a happy, well-behaved cat. Let your cat explore the outdoors&emdash;just be sure it’s a safe, supervised place, like a fenced-in yard. Or consider putting your cat in a harness and taking it for a walk on a leash. Invest in a cat tower so your cat can climb, and buy toys that encourage chasing.  
* Give your cat something to scratch. Scratching is a natural instinct. If you indulge that instinct with scratching pads and posts, your cat shouldn’t destroy your sofa.
* Figure out the cause of your cat’s behavior. If your kitty is waking you up at 2 a.m., maybe it’s hungry or insufficiently tired. Try feeding or exercising it right before bedtime. If your cat is spraying inside the house, find out why. Generally, something is stressing your animal. Perhaps it sees cats outside the window, prompting it to spray. Consider blocking the view. Or maybe it’s fighting with other cats in the household. If so, separate them and the spraying should stop.

UC Davis’ Companion Animal Behavior Service treats cats, dogs and birds with major behavior issues, such as aggression in dogs, urine marking in cats and feather picking in birds. For an appointment, call (530) 752-1393.


When Mama’s (Or Daddy’s) Away . . .

Many people don’t like to leave their companion animals at home alone while they’re at work or out of town. Luckily, a growing number of services&emdash;from drop-off day care to in-home sitters&emdash;can take care of their pets’ needs and their own anxieties about being away.

But how do you find the best person to care for your animal?

Landon Tymochko, co-owner of Camp Bow Wow in Elk Grove, advises quizzing potential day-care providers or sitters to see how much they know about animal behavior and handling pet emergencies. A lot of the normal questions you’d ask about a child’s day care, you want to ask about dog day care, he says.

Desalene Jones, owner of Cha Cha’s Doggie Daycare in East Sacramento, recommends finding out how accessible the provider is. Is there a webcam at the facility? Can you call any time? You have to have accessibility at all times, within reason, she says.

While some pet owners opt for day-care facilities, others prefer the pet care services come to them. Many pet sitters say meeting face to face is important; some even require it. I like to go to [a potential client’s] home and introduce myself to them and them to me, says Chris Peterson, owner of Chris’ In-Home Pet Services in Sacramento. Animals respond well to me. That gives the family comfort.

Both day-care providers and in-home sitters feed and put out fresh water for their charges, administer medicine when required and provide attention, including walks and playtime. Many sitters will double as taxi drivers and pooper-scoopers. I see myself in a supportive role, says Janet Smith, owner of Go Fetch Pet Sitting in Sacramento. Whatever service they need for their pet, I just try to make those accommodations. Animals brought in for boarding at day-care facilities have the added benefit of constant companionship. They have fun, Jones says. They get to have their little friends, play, slobber on each other, jump in the pool.

Gene Nelson has been utilizing Peterson’s pet-sitting services for his cat, Samantha, for five months. Peterson originally came on board to help Nelson administer antibiotics to Samantha, a gray tabby who was dealing with an upper respiratory infection and needed twice-daily injections. Now, Peterson comes once a day to refill food, change water and clean the litter box&emdash;tasks that Nelson, who turns 87 in August, finds difficult to do. I can almost cry thinking about the things that she does, says Nelson of Peterson. I don’t know what an old man like me would do without someone like her.

You’ll pay $15 to $22 per visit for a pet sitter who comes to your home, $15 to $50 a day for drop-off day care. (Overnight boarding ranges from $15 to $80.)

For pet owners like Nelson, finding proper care is serious business. A lot of people will laugh when they ask what we do for a living, but people don’t realize what a need there is, says Amy Shafer, co-owner of About a Dog in Sacramento. It’s a need that people aren’t willing to give up because their pets are such an important part of their family.

For a list of pet sitters in the Sacramento region, go to Pet Sitters International’s website, petsit.com, and click on locate a pet sitter.

What’s Next? Brazilian Bikini Waxes? 

From do-it-yourself dog wash facilities to pet stores that provide grooming services, it isn’t hard to find a place to give Fido a bath in this town. But how about a little TLC? These days, more and more people are springing for spa services for their furry friends. Places such as Wag Hotels in West Sacramento and Animal Den Pet Resort & Spa in Sacramento offer a menu of treatments including facials, massages, after-bath cologne sprays, even nail polishing.

Sacramento resident Charity Kocher brings her 7-year-old border collie, Clarabelle, to Animal Den every four to six weeks for the spa package, which includes scented shampoo, conditioner and cologne spray (Clarabelle takes vanilla, thank you), teeth brushing, nail clipping and massage. A fashionable bandana tied around her neck and a spritz of breath freshener, and Clarabelle is ready for her close-up. She’s just fluffy and beautiful, smells great and is just clean as a whistle, says Kocher. Clarabelle seems to enjoy it, too. She comes out of there happier than when she went in, says Kocher.

Massage? Scented shampoo? Does a dog really benefit from this stuff?

Christina Adams, a certified dog and cat masseuse who works at Animal Den, thinks so. She says massage improves an animal’s circulation, relieves tension and soothes sore spots.

Animal Den owner Lisa Chafee-Tobin touts the benefits of specialized shampoos. It definitely does something to their skin because we use oatmeal-based shampoos, she says. It can add a lot of luster to their coats.

One thing’s clear: A freshly pampered Clarabelle gets a lot of attention.

People just come up and give her a big hug, says Kocher. The kids go, ‘She smells like a sugar cookie.’

Room Service, Please

Want to baby your baby while you’re away? Wag Hotels, a West Sacramento pet hotel and day-care provider, may be just the ticket. Cats stay in two-story condos equipped with private bathrooms and views of a ginormous fish tank. Dogs participate in playgroups and listen to classical music; luxury dog suites feature webcams and flat-panel TVs. With options for swim time, individual playtime and spa services, you might want to forgo your planned vacation and stay there yourself. Overnight accommodations start at $38 for dogs, $25 for cats.

1759 Enterprise Blvd., West Sacramento; (888) 924-5463; waghotels.com

Did You Know . . . ? There’s a local Yellow Pages devoted entirely to pets. Look for the 2008–2009 edition of the Pet Yellow Pages this fall. For more information, including where to pick up a free copy, log on to petyellowpages.info or call (916) 455-4744. 

The Scoop on Poop&emdash;Love the dog, can’t stand the duty? Hire a professional pooper-scooper. Janie Foydl, owner of Doodie Duty in Sacramento, comes to your home and removes your dog’s doo-doo. The cost: $50 a month for weekly service, $10 for each additional dog. For more information, call (916) 525-7667 or go to doodieduty.com.       


Off-Leash and Loving It

Apollo is a strapping young Siberian husky with piercing pale-blue eyes and a ton of energy. Several times a week, Pete and Peggy Andrews of Carmichael take Apollo to a local off-leash dog park to let him romp with other dogs.

It gives him a chance to run and play, says Pete. And it tires him out.

The Sacramento region is home to a host of off-leash dog parks where people can exercise their pooches&emdash;and socialize with each other.

It’s the canine equivalent of taking your toddler to the playground.

My dogs love it, says Fair Oaks resident Diane Barbieri, who brings her two dogs&emdash;Daphne, a wirehaired dachshund, and Oscar, a Shih Tzu&emdash;to her area’s Phoenix Dog Park several times a week. Oscar lolls on the grass and watches as an energetic Jack Russell terrier arrives with a soccer ball, looking for fun. Daphne barks excitedly every time a newcomer arrives. She’s the greeter, says Barbieri.

Phoenix is considered one of the best such parks in the region, with three enclosures that separate dogs by size. It provides balls for play, water to drink, baby pools to cool off in and a wash-off pad where owners can hose their pets down before heading home.

The Fair Oaks park also has a double entry: a fenced-in enclosure that allows owners to take their dogs off leash before entering the park. It’s a safety measure, designed to make sure the animal is comfortable and ready.

Safety, not surprisingly, is a big issue at off-leash dog parks. Dogfights are rare, but they do occur, according to local pet columnist Gina Spadafori.

Not all dogs belong in dog parks, Spadafori says. A dog should be at least 6 months old, fully vaccinated and well-socialized. Aggressive animals are not welcome.

Spadafori owns four dogs. One is too shy, another too old for the dog park. But she often takes her 3-year-old golden retrievers to Partner Park Dog Park in South Land Park. They’re very sociable and active, she says.

Most dog parks rely on peer-group policing: If you or your dog misbehaves, other dog owners will let you know. Don’t pick up your dog’s poop and people will get on your case, says Spadafori, co-author of The Ultimate Dog Lover (Health Communications Inc.), to be published this fall.

But Pete Andrews says the vast majority of dog park users are responsible people who are just trying to give their pets a fun, safe workout. Self-policing works well, he notes.

For a list of off-leash dog parks in the Sacramento region, go to sacdog.org and click on run free.

Dog Park Do’s and Don’ts

*Don’t bring a dog younger than 6 months, or a very old, sick or shy dog.
*Don’t leave your dog unattended.
*Don’t bring food or your dog’s favorite toy: Either can trigger a fight.
*Don’t let your dog bully or be bullied.
*Do choose a park with rules and a users group that enforces them.
*Do make sure your dog is friendly and well-socialized.
*Do pay attention to your dog. Leave if it acts aggressively.
*Do pick up your dog’s poop.


The Final Goodbye

Losing a pet is one of life’s most distressing experiences.

Laurette Timms of Natomas can attest to that. Late last year, her 19-year-old cat, Tasha, was diagnosed with an aggressive form of tongue cancer. Despite treatment, Tasha deteriorated and eventually stopped eating. On New Year’s Eve, Tasha collapsed. Timms knew it was time to let her go. She held her beloved cat in her arms while the vet administered the euthanasia drug and cried inconsolably when Tasha took her last breath. It was the worst thing in my life, she says. I’ve lost both my parents&emdash;this was worse.

It’s a sad but inescapable fact of life: Most pets live vastly shorter lives than their human companions. If you have a pet, inevitably the day will come when you have to say goodbye.

End-of-life issues for pets are very similar to those for humans, according to Niels Pedersen, D.V.M., director of the Center for Companion Animal Health at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.

For instance, 70 percent of a pet’s lifetime medical expenses are incurred in the last three years of life&emdash;the same as for human beings. That means you can expect to rack up large vet bills toward the end of your pet’s life as you deal with diseases such as cancer, diabetes or kidney failure. It’s not unheard of, says Pedersen, to spend as much as $15,000 on a terminally ill animal.

Elderly animals also suffer from many of the same problems that afflict the human elderly: arthritis, vision and hearing problems, even dementia.

But there’s one major difference: euthanasia. As most pet owners know (even if they don’t want to think about it), it’s common practice to end an animal’s suffering by putting it to sleep. And the person who most loves the animal is the one who must decide to end its life.

It’s very emotional, says Pedersen. People have great difficulty making that decision. And there’s a lot of guilt.

A terminal diagnosis doesn’t have to mean immediate death. Pedersen recommends euthanasia when an animal no longer enjoys the little things that once made it happy: eating its favorite foods, fetching a ball, playing with a toy.

In the meantime, vets can work with clients to make an animal’s last days, weeks or months more comfortable. There’s even a growing animal hospice movement based on human hospice models. Its goal: to enable pet owners to care for a dying pet at home, using palliative care to make the pet comfortable and pain-free.

It’s so cool, isn’t it? says Cheryl Scott, D.V.M., a hospice veterinarian who works at UC Davis. According to Scott, more and more people are seeking hospice services for their pets. They want the same care for their animal companions as for their human companions, she says.

A hospice vet may prescribe medications to keep the pet pain-free and can recommend ways&emdash;a soft diet, a comfortable bed, a heating pad&emdash;to make it more comfortable. Such treatment can prolong the animal’s life and improve its quality. I treated a dog with lung cancer that lived for three years after we started hospice, she says.

She finds her hospice work tremendously satisfying. It sounds depressing, but it’s so heartwarming, Scott says. I’m giving them quality time at the end.

Grieving Your Pet&emdash;And Moving On

When her much-loved cat died, Laurette Timms and her husband, Rick, wrapped Tasha’s body in towels, placed her in an ice chest and drove to Bubbling Well Pet Memorial Park in Napa. There, they tenderly placed her in a freshly dug grave and said their goodbyes.

It’s beautiful there, says Timms, a Natomas resident who researched burial alternatives during her cat’s illness this past year. Before she died, we went to see it and picked out a plot on a hill. We thought it would be a nice resting place.

Today’s pet owners don’t feel shy about mourning and memorializing their deceased animal companions. At Sacramento Pet Cemetery & Crematory in South Sacramento, you can lay your pet to rest with all the bells and whistles of a human funeral: a fancy casket with mattress and satin pillow, a private viewing room, a graveside burial service. We make it nice and pretty for them, says Tammy Leung, a part owner of the pet cemetery. If you choose cremation, you can get the ashes in a photo urn adorned with a picture of your pet. You can even watch the cremation itself. (Some people, concerned about getting their own pet’s ashes and not someone else’s, choose this option.)

Ritualizing a pet’s death may help with the grieving process.

The grief you feel for a pet can be as intense as the grief you feel for a child, says Niels Pedersen, D.V.M., who runs UC Davis’ Center for Companion Animal Health. Pet owners go through the same five stages of grief identified by death and dying expert Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, M.D.: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

Luckily, says Pedersen, people generally bounce back from the loss of a pet. If you lose a child, the grief never goes away, he notes. With pets, we seem to be able to come out at the other end. Ultimately, the vast majority of people let go and are able to look back at the pet with fondness.

For those who don’t bounce back, UC Davis runs a pet loss support hotline, staffed by veterinary students trained by a professional grief counselor. We’ve had people who were suicidal, says Pedersen. Most of the time, they just want to talk about their pet. And they want to be reassured that they’re not unusual for feeling this way.

The worst thing you can do for someone grieving a pet, says Pedersen, is to show up with a new puppy or kitten before the person has come to terms with the loss. They have to go through the grieving, he says. They’ll get a puppy when they’re ready.

River Park resident Terry Goodell was ready after a double dose of grief this past spring. Her 14-year-old dog, Mandy, a border collie/lab mix, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. When Mandy became too weak and pain-ridden to leave the house, Goodell made the tough decision to have her euthanized. The next day, her 16-year-old cat, Big Kitty, had a stroke and also had to be put down.

Goodell was so distraught at the thought of returning to an empty house that she spent the next week at a friend’s. Then one day, driving down Auburn Boulevard, she passed a pet store. Impulsively, she made a U-turn, pulled into the parking lot and went inside. There, she spotted two puppies, a Scottish terrier and a cairn terrier, and decided to take them home.

She named them Nigel and Otis. The boys, as she calls them, have helped mend her broken heart. I love them, she says. It’s nice to come home. It’s filled with joy and noise again.

Grieving a Loss? Go to the Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement’s website, aplb.org, for information on local support groups and counselors, chat rooms, events and more. Or call UC Davis’ pet loss support hotline, staffed Monday–Friday 6:30–9:30 p.m., at (800) 565-1526.

The following websites offer an abundance of information for pet owners:
*acr.saccounty.net (County of Sacramento Animal Care and Regulation)
*cityofsacramento.org/generalservices/animal_pages (City of Sacramento Animal Care Services)
*placerspca.org (Placer Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals)
*sspca.org (Sacramento Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals)