A Dog’s-Eye-View of Popular Dog Parks in Houston

A Dog’s-Eye-View of Popular Dog Parks in Houston
by Carolynn Waites
Mar 22, 2014

One Local Dog’s Opinion of the Best Parks to Go Off-Leash

My name is Rocky and as a dog living in the Houston area, I enjoy a new outdoor adventure every now and then. My mom and dad like to take me to different dog parks around the city. New places offer so many smells to discover. These dog parks are popular with our owners and us doggies. They are easy to get to, have ample parking, and have plenty of amenities for both canine and human. I may not always feel like playing with the other dogs, but I can easily spend all day sniffing every shrub and tree at these parks.

Danny Jackson Family Dog Park is a popular dog park located within the heart of Houston. It is located off Westpark Drive just inside Loop 610. The park is 2.76 acres and features ponds, water fountains, benches, dog wash areas, and walking trails. The park splits into a small dog park and a large dog park. Even though I have the heart and soul of a big dog, at 12 pounds I am usually in the small dog park. Park hours are 7:00am to 10:00pm. The park address is 4828 1/2 Loop Central Drive, Houston, TX 77081.

Millie Bush Dog Park┬áis located inside George Bush Park in west Houston. It is named after George and Barbara Bush’s dog Millie. The park is 8.68 acres and features water fountains, double-gated fencing, benches, walking trails, ponds, and dog showers. There is a separate small dog park fenced within the large dog park. I do not like getting wet, but I know many of my furry friends love splashing around and swimming in the ponds. Hours for the dog park are 7:00am to dusk. The address of the park is 16756 Westheimer Parkway, Houston, TX 77082.

Congressman Bill Archer Park includes one of the largest dog parks in the area. That means I have plenty of land to run free off the leash. The 17-acre dog park includes a separate dog park for small dogs as well as the large dog park. Both dog parks feature a double-gated fence, large swimming ponds, agility courses, dog showers, benches, water fountains and walking trails. Park hours are 7:00am to dusk. The park address is 3201 State Highway 6 North, Houston, TX 77084.

Rocky is a 12-pound chi-weenie dog that lives with his human mom and dad and two annoying cats that he likes to escape. One of his favorite pastimes is going for a car ride. It is even better when a dog park is the destination for that car ride. Rocky has been to dog parks all over the United States, but he calls Houston home and likes to check out the local doggie hangouts whenever he can get a ride in the car to visit them. He asked his mom to help him with this article about his favorite dog parks in Houston. Please remember to follow all the dog park rules and be a good canine citizen.

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Fostering a Rescue Animal Helps Save Lives

Fostering a Rescue Animal Helps Save Lives
by Carolynn Waites
Jun 10, 2014

Support Your Local Animal Shelter by Fostering a Dog or Cat

Fostering a rescue animal is a great way to support a shelter or rescue group. When you foster a cat or dog, you are saving two lives: the life of the animal you are fostering and the life of the animal that can take its place in the shelter. It takes some research and preparation before you begin, but fostering can be a rewarding experience.

Why Should I Foster?
Some rescue groups do not have a physical shelter and they rely on volunteers to foster animals that are up for adoption. Shelters use fosters to free up space in the shelter for additional animals. Some reasons that an animal may be in need of a foster home:

  • The animal needs a safe place to recover from surgery, illness, or injury.
  • The puppy or kitten is too young to for adoption and needs a place to stay until it is older.
  • A dog that has not had much contact with people and needs socialization with other pets and people.
  • Shelter life is stressful. Sometimes just getting the animal out of the shelter can help it become more personable and adoptable.
  • A dog that has some behavior issues that needs additional support and training.

How Do I Not Fall in Love?
This may be the hardest part of becoming a foster parent to a rescue animal. You have to go into this with the right mindset. Know that this is not your pet. It belongs to another person who you have not met yet. You are taking care of their pet until they are ready to take it home. It is hard when it is time to say goodbye, but you know it is going to a good home that has been evaluated by the shelter. You have given that animal a second chance. Know that you are making room for another foster that needs your help.

What Should I Expect?
Fostering a rescue animal is fulfilling, but it can be challenging. If you are fostering a dog from a shelter, be prepared to treat that dog like a puppy. Dogs may not be housetrained or they may have other behavioral issues because they have never lived in a house. Often basic housetraining is all the dog needs to correct issues. Training in other friendly behaviors such as walking well on a leash and coming when called will help the dog become more adoptable. You will be responsible for feeding your foster animal and making sure it remains healthy. Most shelters will reimburse you for medical expenses as long as you take the dog or cat to their approved veterinarian. Make sure you ask about this when you inquire about fostering. Most importantly, give your foster pet lots of love and attention. They need to be able to settle into the household. This is important in helping find them a new loving home.

How Do I Get Started?
Contact your local animal shelter or rescue organization. They will provide the guidance that you need to begin fostering. There may be a training class and home visit. Make sure you have all the pet supplies you need before bringing home the foster animal. When you do bring home your foster animal, introduce it to your other family members and pets one at a time, slowly and under supervision. It may take a little while, but your foster animal will find his or her place in the household. Opening your heart and your home to a foster animal that needs some extra attention can be the ultimate way to support homeless animals.

Resources:
Foster Dogs: Foster Care For Dogs
Why Foster a Dog and What Does it Entail?
Thinking About Fostering an Adoptable Dog or Cat?

Five Things to Consider Before Buying Your First Horse

Five Things to Consider Before Buying Your First Horse
by Carolynn Waites
Apr 27, 2014

Owning a Horse is Rewarding, but Make Sure You Are Ready Before You Buy

Lessons
The first thing you should do before deciding to buy a horse is to take regular riding lessons with a reputable riding instructor. Your riding instructor will not only teach you the skills involved in riding horses, but he or she can serve as your horse expert during the buying process. You should continue taking lessons after purchasing the horse for a while until you get comfortable in the saddle.

Boarding
Where will your horse live and how much are you willing to pay for it? The least expensive option is pasture boarding. The horse lives outside and eats grass from the pasture. Full board costs more, but the horse is kept inside, is fed hay and grain, and the stall is cleaned. If you are going to keep the horse on your own property, then you must invest in safe fencing. Other considerations are shelter, the cost of hay and grain, and pasture management.

Care
You have your initial expenses of the purchase price, buying the horse trailer, tack and gear, and paying for a pre-purchase vet exam. Other regular expenses include veterinary and farrier care. Horses feet are always growing and a farrier will need to trim or shoe their feet every six to eight weeks. Horses require vaccinations twice a year and their teeth need to be filed at least once a year. Bedding, supplements, and grooming supplies are necessary. There is also the time commitment of regularly exercising your horse.

Purchase
When you are ready to see a horse that you are interested in purchasing, bring a horse expert along. Ideally, this could be your riding instructor, but it can also be another experienced horse owner. Request that the horse not be saddled up before you arrive. You want to see how the horse behaves while being led around, groomed, and tacked up.

Ask the seller of the horse to ride the horse first. Watch how the horse moves and behaves. If the seller does not look comfortable riding the horse, chances are that is not the horse for you to purchase. Next, ask your horse expert to ride the horse. If this goes well, then it is time for you to experience riding the horse yourself.

Health
When you do find a horse that is a good match for you, always get a pre-purchase vet exam from a veterinarian of your choosing. It is recommended that you have the vet draw blood at the time of the exam. It is possible that the seller has medicated the horse to mask lameness or enhance performance. Having the blood work in storage, the vet can test it if the horse’s behavior changes after you purchase it. Ask the seller about the history of the horse. Ask if there are registration papers on the horse. Find out any previous owners, if possible. Always ask the seller for their regular farrier and vet’s contact information. Call them, explain who you are, and find out about any health issues for that horse.

Once everything falls into place, you will become a first-time horse owner. Congratulations to you and good luck!

Resources:
Buying Your First Horse: A Guide to Avoiding Misery and Financial Ruin
10 Tips for First-Time Horse Owners
A Primer for the First Time Horse Owner: What to Expect

No-Kill Animal Shelters in Houston

No-Kill Animal Shelters in Houston
by Carolynn Waites
Mar 15, 2014

Shelter and Rescue Groups That Do Not Euthanize Animals Need Support

There are a number of animal shelters in the Houston area. There are rescue organizations for every type of breed, groups covering different areas of town, and local city and county shelters. No-kill shelters need support from the community to be successful.

Not All Shelters are No-Kill
The shelter names that you are most likely familiar with in the Houston area are large shelters that are popular places for animal adoptions. These shelters do good work and deserve support, but they are not no-kill shelters. According to No Kill Houston, there are five kill shelters in Houston that are killing approximately 80,000 cats and dogs a year.

About No-Kill Shelters
No-kill shelters work to educate the public about spaying and neutering their pets and adopting homeless animals. They do not get the publicity that the larger shelters receive, and they are usually much more reliant on donations from the public and volunteers. They rarely have the resources to seek out financial grants or large-size donations. They have higher veterinary bills, because they will save animals that can be saved and not euthanize every sick animal that comes in their door.

Community Support
Many no-kill shelters and rescue groups do not have a building that you can visit to see their animals. They rely on fosters, people who temporarily keep the animals in their homes until the animal is adopted. The shelters help with the costs of food and veterinary care for these foster pets, and the animals get used to being around humans and other animals. You can see the animals they have up for adoption by checking their websites or visiting local pet stores or veterinary clinics on the weekends. PetSmart and Petco support local homeless pets by providing space to rescue organizations for adoption events on the weekends.

Support Local No-Kill Shelters
Next time you are looking to support a shelter or rescue organization, consider supporting one of the many no-kill shelters in the Houston area. Here are four no-kill rescue groups that are recommended:
Homeless and Orphaned Pets Endeavor (HOPE)
Buster’s Friends
Homeless Pet Placement League
Friends For Life