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 This Week From The Redbarn Studios

Animal Radio for December 4, 2021  

Christopher Gutierrez

Chris Gutierrez and Shelly Caset at CascadeChristopher Gutierrez decided to create a cat café in Chicago. Not just any regular cat cafe though. He filled it with video and arcade games. He said the niche is working. His mission is to rescue cats from life-threatening situations and find quality homes through his adoption program.

Christopher Gutierrez is the co-founder of Catcade; along with Shelly Casey; of Chicago's first ever cat cafe. Catcade is a video game themed cat cafe and rescue lounge. They combine the elements of having a cat adoption center a cafe and a lounge. They are themselves a nonprofit cat rescue.

Christopher and Shelly decided to start Catcade together after traveling the world and going to several different cat cafes and rescues on five different continents over the course of years. They were frustrated that Chicago didn't have one. So they decided to start their own. Through the grace and generosity of many donors, they were able to open their doors. To this date, they have saved many animals.

Christopher explains that there's a lot of things that have themes these days and they wanted to set themselves apart, which is what they do just as people in general anyway. Shelly and Christopher both were kind of the oddballs and the weirdos and were never chosen first for the kickball team in school. They wanted to do something that was a little bit different and appeal to a different demographic. So they came up with the idea of making their cat cafe an arcade-game theme. Christopher even turned some of the arcade games into cat beds. They know their cafe is a shtick, but the more bodies that come through the door the more animals they can save.

If you're going out with four friends one night, says Christopher, and three of them want to go to the cat cafe and one doesn't, well guess what, there's something for that person who doesn't want to be there to do. They can play Ms. Pac-Man, they can play Galaga and they can play Asteroids all at no charge. Catcade also shows movies. Basically they're set up in a way for it to feel like you're hanging out in someone's living room.

CascadeWhere do the cats come from? Catcade gets them from all over the place and they don't discriminate from wherever they need help. They pull cats everywhere from Chicago all the way down to Texas. They've also taken in cats from Southern Indiana, Hazard County in Kentucky and Northern Alabama. So they have cats from all over the United States.

It's awesome to see a guy that likes cats, but what Christopher didn't realize is when he got involved in the rescue community is how few guys there are involved in this. Catcade has partnered with another shelter, who are basically their mentors called Felines and Canines. This organization is doing amazing work, especially with FIV cats, but they basically said Christopher was going to stick out like a sore thumb. He didn't understand why, but they said it was because he was a guy and a guy covered in tattoos. Of course this leads everyone to mentioning Jackson Galaxy, who is a cat expert covered in tattoos, who just loves his cats!

Catcade's initial startup was done by crowdfunding. They understood that the location was going to be everything, as they needed both foot traffic and visibility. They ended up finding an amazing space after six months of looking every single day. It's in the heart of Chicago in the Lakeview neighborhood, right on the main strip. It's a great wonderful location for them. They charge $15 an hour per person to hang out in their lounge. That dollar amount tends to be high for some places, but tends to be low compared to other places. But basically that is the lowest amount that they've realized that they can charge in order to keep their doors open, continue to saving animals and maybe buying a pizza for one of them every now and then. It's a labor of love and they don't get huge donations like other shelters. They survive on $15 increments.

The lounge where the cats live is about 600 square feet. Catcade becomes the home for these cats, where they will live on the premises 24/7 forever or until they are adopted.

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Massaging Your Pets
Tracy Vroom, Craniosacral Therapist

Tracy Vroom with HorseCraniosacral Therapist Tracy Vroom works hard to help animals feel better through massage. As an instructor at the Rocky Mountain School of Animal Acupressure and Massage, she's sharing what she knows about her healing touch. She'll get us started with massage techniques for our pets.

So what is a craniosacral therapist? Tracy explains it's a type of bodywork and energy work that is applied to the animals she works with. She works with them to work with the nervous system and find patterns in the body that are limiting their health or causing challenges with their health. It's a very light palpation, but it's a beautiful gentle technique. And the animals seem to just love it.

Tracy uses this technique on dogs and cats, horses, just about everybody. However, keep in mind that with any technique you could potentially do harm. But when she's teaching students, she talks a lot about being mindful. The first thing you want to do when massaging an animal is to make sure the cat or the dog whatever animal you're working with is interested. They're interested in a massage; they're saying yes that's great. It's like asking permission. Tracy starts out by doing a couple test massages with her flat hand. She starts at the head and runs her hand down the back of the animal. If the animal says yes, this seems interesting; then she can start to go into deeper longer massage. But if they say no and they walk away, then we let it go. The first step is just engaging the animal and making sure they're interested.

Dog MassageThere are certain areas of an animal's body that you should stay away from. Tracy tries not to use a lot of pressure on the legs or the areas or the muzzle where you're over their teeth. Basically stay away from any sensitive area where it's close to the bones or close to the surface of the spine. She doesn't massage the spine area. She massages the big muscles on the legs, the neck and even the top of the head. These are all fine, but she says to avoid the areas where it would feel too poky or uncomfortable.

You should also be cautious when massaging an older animal. At the Rocky Mountain School of Animal Acupressure and Massage, they have a class geared general massage. They also have classes on working with athlete. So an athletic massage would be very different than a senior massage. They also have classes for working with seniors. They are really cautious if a senior animal has any joint or hip pain, that they are really gentle over the joints. This can be hugely beneficial for animals with degenerative joint disease, like arthritis, to keep that joint a little suppler. So if you can go over those areas where they kind of say "ouch," you'll know because you'll see them kind of hold their breath or their eyes will get a little hard, or they'll close their eyes even, to say, "Ah, I don't know about that, just do it softer in those areas.

Dr. Debbie tells us that she tries to do a monthly massage on her own dogs. She finds this very intriguing, but thinks it's just not really well recognized and studied as potentially an alternative therapy that can be brought into veterinary care. She likes using this type of therapy along with other traditional scientific approaches to chronic disease and illness.

Petrel Massage ToolsTherapy has been used in humans for a very long time and there are many studies out there about the compression that happens in the skull. There is a space between the plates of the bones of the skull and when those are not moving freely, there are emotional issues and physical issues. There's a science behind it. It restricts their spinal fluid from feeding the nervous system. So there is a true science behind the work. However, Tracy feels that a lot of people are put when the word "energy" comes in and all of a sudden they're not interested.

Dr. Debbie explains that cats are little stress monsters sometimes. They can have chronic bladder problems and people may mistakenly treat them for bladder infections, when they actually have excessive stress in their life. She feels that addressing this component can be really life changing for a lot of paths if they can get that care that they need.

If you don't have a lot of time, just think about it in terms of taking five to ten minutes to do a little a little massage.

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Get Your Pet To the Vet Safely with No Escapees - Dr. Debbie

Dr. Debbie WhiteA frightening situation occurred the other day at my veterinary hospital. Working inside my office, I could hear a woman's shrieks coming from the parking lot. I ran outside to find a woman with one dog on a leash, and the other dog skittering about the parking lot - the result of a slipped collar. The owner would approach the panicked dog and he'd retreat, darting under nearby cars. Those familiar with our hospital location understand its proximity to a busy intersection. Should the dog run in the wrong direction, he'd meet up with 45 mph traffic.

My staff was outside in moments to assist the owner in retrieving her dog and safely escorted everyone into the building. Thankfully my client's few minutes of terror ended uneventfully. But that's not always the case. I've seen dogs run straight into the road, cat's leap from a family member's arms, and owners dive into oncoming traffic trying to catch an escaping pet.

The lesson is simple. Don't underestimate your pets' fears. Fear of car travel, new places or the veterinary office can cause a pet to behave in unpredictable ways. If you know your pet to be nervous with new people or new situations, be especially vigilant when transporting your pet in a vehicle.

Identify Your Pet
Use two methods of identification for best insurance your pet is returned to you if lost. Permanent identification with a microchip is a must and should be complimented with a collar and ID tags.

Restrain Pet in Vehicle
Keep your pet secure during travel and when the car door opens by using a doggie seatbelt. Small dogs and cats should be housed in a pet carrier which is secured with seatbelt to avoid undue carrier movement during travel. Do not allow cats and small pets to roam freely in the car. Cats have been known to take cover under car seats which may require sedation or seat removal to extract kitty from her hiding place.

Check for Proper Fit
Improper fitting harnessImproper fitting collarProper fitting collarA proper fitting collar allows 2 finger widths between the collar and pet's neck. Allow more than, and should your pet put on the brakes, he'll easily slip out of the collar. Poor fitting harnesses are just as dangerous and allow gap room which allows a back-peddling pet to wiggle out. Not sure if the collar is too loose? Snug the collar up one fitting in anticipation of your trip to the vet.

Try Other Collar Styles
Even if you don't normally use a choker or pinch collar, consider using one when going to the vet's office. For thick necked dogs with smaller head size, try the Martingale collar, a fabric and metal combo collar that snugs down should your dog try to back out. Boisterous dogs that jump and leap when on leash may benefit wearing a head collar that fits over the muzzle. Ensure your collar choice is properly fitted, since any of these styles can fail if improperly fitted or used incorrectly.

Call Ahead
If you anticipate difficulties getting your pet to the vet's office, call ahead. Veterinary staff members are on the ready to help ensure your pet's visit is a safe one.

So, take a few minutes to consider your pet's travel safety before heading out on that next car trip, whether it is to the park, groomer or veterinary office. Your four legged friend will thank you, but may pout on the way there.

Featured veterinarian known as "Dr. Debbie" on national pet radio program, Animal Radio. Ebook author of "Yorkshire Terriers: How to Be Your Dog's Best Friend"; "Pugs: How to Be Your Dog's Best Friend"; "Mini Schnauzers: How to Be Your Dog's Best Friend"; and "Shih Tzu: How to Be Your Dog's Best Friend." Dr. Debbie's books.

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5 Must Give, Low Cost, Gifts For Your Pets
Robert Semrow, Listomania

Robert Semrow, Sugar and ZoeyThe holidays are here and you are scrambling to find the perfect gift for everyone on your list. Even Santa is feeling the pressure to deliver. Since you don't have the luxury of elves, I thought I would help my Animal Radio friends out with some advice that I learned over the years from my friends at the North Pole. There is nothing more expensive and treasured more than time. So know that these are must give gifts that will have a big payoff with your pets.

Let's begin with socks. Socks are not just for feet they are also for making play toys for dogs and cats who can be entertained and energized just by playing with a sock. We all have a missing match for a sock, or twelve, as we know the sock goblins always seem to grab one or two when we do laundry. Or maybe it's our beloved pets saying that they would like a new sock toy created with care and love by someone they love. So, a DIY sock toy for your pet should be on your list this year.

Next, a homemade treat baked made by you is a great way to treat your pet this year. I'm putting this in the no cost category, because it's very likely that you have the ingredients in your kitchen to make a simple, but enjoyable treat for your cat or dog. It doesn't take a lot of ingredients, time or money to create a treat that will warm your heart and fill their belly. Remember, there are a lot of easy recipes on YouTube that you can get inspired by. I even have YouTube channel with many recipes for homemade pet treats.

Dog Playing with SockSurprisingly, cardboard boxes are more than something to put your gifts in. In fact, cats, birds, dogs and more often find a box very entertaining. Want to add a little excitement for them, add a treat or twenty inside and you will see a motivated pet go to work with joy and excitement over this simple and easy to make gift. This is the definition of the simple things are sometimes the best.

Okay, this next one is one that always get's an awe moment from those who hear the story and an all right from those receiving the gift. It's the t-shirt pillow/bed/window rest. It's as simple as it sounds. You are going to take a few of your older, ready to be retired t-shirts and stuff them in to an older pillow case or even one of the other t-shirts. Seal the ends with a little bit of sewing or tie them off if you can't sew. Your pets will love this because it is a part of you that they are getting, literally. These retired shirts have memories and smells that are uniquely yours and your pet will cherish it.

Cat Hiding in BoxFinally, the number one no-cost gift that you can, should and must give your pet is time with you. Your pet needs this and so do you. You are a family and at this time of year, family is what matters most. Play a game of hide and seek, fetch or even just snuggle up and watch your favorite holiday special with them on your lap or in your arms.

The holidays are meant for creating memories that last even especially with your pets

Share your low cost, must give pet gift suggestions on our Animal Radio Facebook Page.

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Animal Radio News - Lori Brooks

Lori and Flo BearDo Dogs Go To Heaven?
Yes, all dogs go to heaven. But what you do with their earthly bodies is up to you and you have many options. There is cremation, burial at a pet cemetery and even taxidermy. You can also turn their ashes into synthetic diamonds, which is pretty expensive and starts at about $2,500 for the smallest size diamond. However, there is another option and gardeners and environmentalists will love this. You can have your pet composted by a company called Rooted Pet in Washington State. They allow the pet to decompose in a mixture of organic matter, which uses less energy than firing up a cremation oven and requires less land than a graveyard. It's kind of like a dust-to-dust returning to the earth truly! However, it's not a new idea. It is the same method many farms use to dispose of dead livestock and it's how some states now deal with road kill. Here's how Rooted Pet does it, and believe it or not, the process is done indoors. First, a carcass is placed in a boxlike "pod" containing wood chips and other organic matter. Then, just 6 to 8 weeks later it has turned into rich compost, which they say looks and smells like any compost you would use in a garden. Once your pet becomes compost, you don't have to take the compost. The company will use it on its farm or on a tree-planting project. They can even send you a houseplant growing in your pet's compost.

BrutusEmotional Support Squirrel Faces Eviction
A man in Florida faced eviction from his condo because he refused to part with his ESA, or emotional support animal, which in this case was a squirrel. The man says he rescued the female squirrel, now named Brutus, shortly after Hurricane Matthew. He says she's just like a cat who hides nuts (pecans and hazelnuts are her favorites). He even had the required doctor's note saying he suffered from anxiety related to a car accident more than ten years ago. Nevertheless, the condo association gave him one month to find a new home for Brutus.

Dog Owners Are Healthier
There are literally thousands of studies saying pets are good for your health but one study that was 12 years in the making, which studied 3.4 million people, found that adult dog owners are less likely to die than their non-dog owning peers. (Such long lasting research into so many people is very hard to come by.) Researchers started following the 3.4 million people many years ago and selected a group where no participants had pre-existing heart conditions. After 12 years, they found that people with dogs had a 23-percent reduced risk of death from cardiac diseases like heart failure, stroke or heart attack than their dog-less peers. Dog owners were also 20-percent less likely to die. If you're a single dog-owner, the news is even better: The study found that people who live on their own with a dog had a 33-percent reduced risk of death compared to their non-dog-owning single counterparts. Why? Single dog-owners were shown to walk their dog more often than individuals in multiple-person households, where that dog-walking chore is usually spread among multiple people. But not all dog breeds "protected" their owners equally, according to the study. Owners of hunting-breed dogs had some of the lowest risk of developing cardiovascular diseases and death. People with pointer dogs, for example, were 40-percent less likely to die, and people with retrievers were 26-percent less likely. Overall, the study in Sweden backed up a similar finding that the American Heart Association reported in 2013. The AHA said dog owners get more exercise, have better blood pressure and cholesterol levels and even have "diminished sympathetic responses" to stress.

Chi ChiCertified Therapy Dog Had Four Prosthetic Legs
Chi Chi, a golden retriever who lived in Arizona, became a certified therapy dog. However, Chi Chi was an extraordinary dog who survived the South Korean meat industry. Chi Chi was saved and flown to Los Angeles where all four of her legs had to be amputated after she was found in a garbage can, inside a trash bag. Chi Chi spent her time visiting a veteran's center, an assisted-living facility and special-needs students at an elementary school. While Chi Chi is no longer with us, she had an incredible story that you can view on both Facebook and Instagram.

EarListen to the entire Podcast of this show (#1148)

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