The image is a familiar one. An adorable puppy or kitten sitting under the Christmas tree with a big red bow around it’s neck, just waiting for the kids to come down and find them. Most players of Orbis games are animal lovers and may have had similar wishes. Some may still have this image, or may even be planning on surprising a family member or friend with a kitten or puppy this year. The truth of the matter is, though, that animals, particularly young ones, do not make good holiday gifts.

       The decision to add a pet to any household is a big one, and should not be made lightly. Many times, these pets are bought impulsively from a pet store by a shopper who just couldn’t resist the cute face in the window. Ignoring the very true fact that most pet store animals are supplied by puppy or kitten mills, who care very little for the health and well-being not only of their breeding stock but of the puppies and kittens they sell to pet stores, there are other reasons to walk right past that cute face. Very little thought is given to the animal’s personality or long term needs. A well-intended shopper, for example, sees an adorable Jack Russell Terrier puppy sitting in the pet store window. With that adorable face and small size, it would be the perfect companion for Grandma, wouldn’t it? Only if Grandma has tons of energy and no resident cats. Compatibility between the family and the new pet is extremely important, and mismatched personalities often lead to the new addition finding itself at the local animal shelter.
       While few people consider personality when buying ‘gift pets’, even fewer consider the effects of the holiday season on these animals. In most households, the time between Thanksgiving and New Year is full of activity. Families can be gone for long periods of time visiting relatives, or are perhaps hosting friends and relatives themselves. Neither situation is particularly beneficial to a new puppy or kitten, or even an adult animal. New additions to the household are already overwhelmed, finding themselves in a new environment with new people and new rules to follow. It is important that new pets learn the rules of the home from day one, and with so much extra activity around the house, the family is often too busy to give their full attention to things like training and housebreaking.

       The decision on what type of pet, or even whether the family is ready to add a pet to the home, is a decision that requires careful consideration and must be made BEFORE the pet is added to the household. The sad truth is that while the image is cute at first, it rarely lasts. The lucky pets find new homes once they have been surrendered to a shelter. The unlucky ones find themselves out on the streets when they stop being cute or were simply too much responsibility to begin with. Instead, consider alternatives. Create a gift basket with pet items like a collar and leash, or purchase a gift certificate to your local shelter. The final decision on which particular pet to adopt should be made by the whole family when and only when appropriate time and attention can be dedicated to helping the new addition settle in. A careful decision will lead to a long and enjoyable time with a new family member.

Alabama - Editor in Chief
Alias  - Editor/Writer
Bara - Jack of all trades


The Stablehand

       Local Events ... PAGE 1
       A Brief Owner’s Guide to Humans ... PAGE 1
       The Furry Kind pf Present ... PAGE 1
       Halloween Quiz Winners ... PAGE 2
       Creative Creations ... PAGE 2
       Spot the Difference ... PAGE 2
       White Turf ... PAGE 2
       Ornament Mice ... PAGE 2
       Block Party Events ... PAGE 2
       Homemade Doggy Treats ... PAGE 2
       A Long Road ... PAGE 3
       Good Day Tater ... PAGE 3
       The Arabian ... PAGE 3


       This is Molly.
       She is a grey speckled pony who was helplessly abandoned when hurricane Katrina hit Southern Louisiana. She spent weeks alone without food or water, until a kind hearted family took her to an animal rescue where all the abandoned animals were being sent. While there she was attacked by a pit bull terrier and almost died.
       Her right front leg had been gnawed and chewed up terribly and soon became infected. Her vet went to LSU for help but they were overwhelmed with animals as it was and this pony was a welfare case. But, when surgeon Rustin Moore met Molly, he changed his mind. He saw how the pony was careful to lie down on different sides so that she did not get sores, and how she let people handle her. She protected her injured leg and constantly shifted weight so that she did not overload her injured limb. She was smart with a serious instinct for survival.
       Moore agreed to amputate her leg below the knee and an artificial limb was built. The minute Molly walked out of the clinic with her artificial leg, her real story started. Moore insisted that, “This was the right horse and the right owner.” Molly was a one in a million patient. She is tough as nails but sweet, smart and able to cope with pain. She understood she was in trouble and committed to her doctors. Molly’s story is now a parable for life. The little pony has gained weight and her mane and body finally felt the teeth of a brush once again. A human prosthesis built her wonderfully designed leg. Her new leg has changed her life. Allison Barca DVM, Molly’s vet says while laughing, “She asks for it. She will put her little limb out, and come to you and let you know that she wants
you to put it on. Sometimes, she wants you to take it off too. And sometimes, Molly gets away from Barca. It can be pretty bad when you can't catch a three-legged horse,” she finishes.
       Molly now has a job. Kay, her owner who runs a rescue center has started taking Molly to nursing homes, rehab centers and hospitals to give the people hope. Wherever Molly goes she shows hope and inspires people.
       “It's obvious to me that Molly had a bigger role to play in life,” Moore said, “She survived the hurricane, she survived a horrible injury, and now she is giving hope to others.” Barca concluded, “She's not back to normal, but she's going to be better. To me, she could be a symbol for New Orleans itself.”
       This is Molly's most recent prosthesis. On the bottom of the surface that she stands on, there is a smiley face embossed in it. Wherever Molly goes, she leaves a smiley hoof print behind. Molly is an encouragement and hope to people of all ages and sizes, and she continues to bless each person that crosses her path.


      I have decided that, with the help of my human to transcribe this for me, I will give the other human owners of the world a simple guide to caring for their humans. I have never seen nor heard of one being available to us before now and feel this will help others to understand the more common but strange behaviors of their humans.
       I share ownership of three humans, a female, her mate and their female offspring. There are seven dogs and a cat in residence here. I and three of the other dogs (Bambi, Ewok, Buddy and Krypto as we are called by our humans) plus the cat (Khary, whom I tolerate. But sharing humans with her is a trial to say the least) share these three humans. The elder female that also lives here is owned by the other three dogs (Amber, Gizmo and Tito). The seventh dog (Pippy) is only staying here long enough to find a suitable human to own. We often discuss our humans and their behavior, amusing, endearing and confusing.
       In my time as a human owner I have discovered that their peculiar habits, while sometimes uncomprehensible to us, apparently are vital to their happiness and well being. I have found with patience and observation that some of these behaviors do make an odd sort of sense. Some are done purely for their enjoyment others are attempts to appease their masters. Allow me to explain.
       One of the most disturbing behaviors I have noticed in humans is the desire to stand under running water or immerse themselves in it at least once a day, where they proceed to apply strong smelling, foaming liquid to their bodies only to wash it off and cover their natural scent. Worse yet they feel the need to occasionally submit you to the same treatment! Being a good natured owner I put up with it for their sake, but some of the others aren’t so tolerant. Ewok tries to simply get away, knowing that repeated demands to stop do no good. Khary spends the episode, clutching at the faucet, calling for one of us to save her. None of us ever do. She’s a cat and we derive some amount of perverse pleasure in seeing a cat drenched to the skin and completely indignant.
       It took me years to understand but I now know why humans subject themselves to the horrid treatment. They seem to enjoy it and perhaps in their case rightly so. Humans cannot wash them selves with their tongue like the cat, and they cannot roll to rid them selves of parasites. At least not effectively! The poor things must wear false fur type materials simply to protect their skin, being mostly hairless. This is the only way for them to clean themselves! However they are misguided in assuming since they cannot, neither can we. So they treat us as they treat themselves trying to appease us and keep us from harm, bless their confused little hearts. Some go so far as to put their false fur on us, in a ludicrous attempt to protect us as they protect themselves. I have found however that being short haired these materials are useful. They provide extra warmth for my daily outings during the colder months.
       Another mystifying behavior humans have is the need to cook their food. While it is tasty one has to wonder why they don’t choose to eat it as nature intended. Raw and fresh. I have concluded that for some reason nature has cruelly robbed them of the ability to enjoy food in its natural state and so they must prepare it this way simply to survive. They are however superb hunters. My humans tend to go off as a group about twice a month. When they return they always have so much food they have to make several trips to get it all inside the house! Their hunting prowess is to be admired and valued. It is beyond heavenly to own humans for this trait alone. One never has to look for food. Humans in their desire to please us provide more than enough to make any owner happy. It is also pitifully easy to get food from them, even while they consume their own meals. Simply sit down, look at them longingly and they will give you part of their meal on most occasions. There are however some foods I can never convince my humans to give me. Chocolate, raisins, and onion among them. I still do not understand why, perhaps they covet these particular food stuffs for themselves.
       Some games humans enjoy playing with their owners are truly tedious. One can attempt to train them repeatedly but they never seem to get the point. Fetch is a good example. Why they throw the object and then ask us to get it for them is beyond me. If they wanted the object why did they throw it away to begin with? Can’t they fetch it themselves? I’ve decided, it must be because they have become so dependant on us to guide
 their lives they feel they can’t even fetch their own object they have foolishly thrown away.
       Another good example on their total dependance on their owners is exhibited anytime an owner takes their human for a walk. They are so afraid of losing contact with us and becoming lost they feel they must attach ropes of their false fur to rings of the stuff around our necks, or bodies, so they are always attached to us. Perhaps we have made our humans too dependant on us for survival.
       Humans can be frail and their senses are not as strong as ours. It is therefore our responsibility as owners to protect them. However they do not always understand that we are protecting them, or that what we are doing is in their best interest. This lack of understanding is sometimes so profound they actually seem to become angry or distressed! If this becomes the case for your human it may be best to do protective activities without your human’s knowledge so as not to upset them unnecessarily.
       Some of the protections I or the other owners provide for our humans that seem to upset them are barking, marking, growling and nipping at or attacking a possible danger. The only one we have stopped altogether after discovering how badly it upset our humans is marking in the house. Marking outside doesn’t upset them, in fact it seems to please them. It is a wonder why it should upset them that we mark objects in the house. While marking outside is useful and proclaims it as our territory, some intruders do not take the hint, and should they venture into the house they would not know that it is ours and possibly attempt to claim it for their own! Humans do not understand this apparently. They are not as far reaching in intelligence as we are and so it confuses them.

       Barking seems to bother them, but not to the extent as marking. Some barking is welcome as an alarm for other humans approaching the house, but however it is not appreciated when we use it to warn them of the approach of a strange dog or cat. Or even a bird we don’t want on our land. Humans again do not understand that these intruders may try to take our territory from us and are only wary of their own kind. This is part of why protection is a vital part of human ownership. They also do not understand the concept of biting intruders to warn them off permanently, before things can escalate and do not encourage it unless they or us are actually attacked. Even then they will intervene immediately in an attempt to protect their owners. Humans are very loyal, a bit slow, but loyal.
       Growling is tolerated better than biting but it still upsets them. Should you growl at a fellow owner during a meal because they have decided to try and snatch a tasty morsel of yours, humans will promptly separate you. This is actually endearing, they feel the need to ensure we receive all of our meal and apparently think they are better equipt to ensure this than we are.
       These are but a few of the perplexing behaviors of humans explained as I have come to understand them. There are innumerable others, and they would take volume upon volume to explain. My human has indicated that it's meal time, and a warm bowl of freshly prepared food awaits me. Never one to make my humans wait to serve me, I shall bring this to an end. I hope this has helped you to understand your human a little better. The key to human ownership is time, and patience. Learn from them, be patient, while they are misguided they are unendingly loyal and a pleasure to own.