A new addition, 10 safety tips for pet owners

Happy Holidays Sonoma! I took the plunge ladies and gents and finally adopted a dog. Or should I say, a dog adopted me.

I had been fostering Doc, one of the two black labs that I’ve spoken of before.

It started with him spending the days in my office, then I took him to Thanksgiving dinner, then an overnight at the house and the rest is history. He just decided I was going to be his human. He brings so much joy to my life and I just know he’ll keep me young.

We walk every morning and take hikes on the weekends. I love cats and have had dogs in my life but have not experienced in a long time the unconditional love of a dog.

He has truly opened my heart. I can’t say my cats have totally warmed up to him yet, but they have come out of hiding and can actually be in the same room with him now.

His mother, Bessie, is still here for any lab lovers out there. She is a beautiful girl and desperately needs a home. She does have some issues and does not do well with other dogs or cats. She is in a very specific training program with our volunteer canine angels who are working with her on this behavior. If you are a lover of Labrador retrievers and have no other animals in your home, please come down and meet Bessie. She is a wonderful, loving dog who adores people and deserves a home of her own.

Here are the top 10 safety tips for keeping you and your pets healthy and happy during the holidays:

• Secure your Christmas tree, either with a heavy stand or by attaching it to the ceiling, so it cannot be tipped or knocked over.

• If you have a live tree, make sure the standing water in the base can neither spill nor be drunk by a thirsty pet. There could be fertilizers or other chemicals in the water and/or bacteria, all of which could make your dog or cat sick.

• Especially if you have a cat, resist the urge to hang tinsel. Kitties love the stuff, and it can cause serious gastrointestinal problems if ingested. • Avoid tree ornaments that shatter easily and secure cords and wires out of reach of your pets.

• Holiday gatherings mean food, food and more food. Cooking, baking, gift baskets, party treats – many contain chocolate and other people foods that are unfortunately toxic when consumed by dogs and cats.

• Choose pet presents carefully. It may be tempting while you’re out holiday shopping to buy something for your pet you normally wouldn’t. Unfortunately, many pet toys are easily torn apart by a playful or determined animal, Buy safe toys instead, like a laser pointer for kitty to get her physically active, or the Clever K-9 for the doggy love of your life.

• Don’t deck the halls with live toxic plants like holly, mistletoe, poinsettias, or lilies.

• If you like to decorate with candles, use safe candle holders and put candles well out of the reach of your pet.

• Make sure your little furry friend has a place of her own she can escape to. Your dog should have a crate in a quiet corner of the house, with a soft surface inside for napping, a few toys, and a water bowl nearby. Kitty should have her own out-of-the-way spot as well. Many cats feel more secure when they’re hidden.

• Keep your pet safe through New Year’s celebrations as well. Confetti and streamers can pose a problem if ingested.

May the new year bring peace to us all. Until then, please remember to be kind to all critters.