Articles written by Laura Atwood


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  • A bird for winter: Snowy owls

    Laura Atwood, For Senior Voice|Dec 1, 2023

    Bird Treatment and Learning Center (Bird TLC) has ten Ambassador Birds in our education program. We could not release these birds back to the wild due to the severity of their injuries or because they are habituated to or imprinted on humans. Two of these birds are snowy owls, an iconic bird of the far North. Many of us don't have the opportunity to see these owls because they are found primarily on the Arctic tundra. Our Ambassador snowy owl, Annik, whose name means "blizzard" in Iñupiaq,...

  • Helping your shelter means more than just walking dogs

    Laura Atwood, For Senior Voice|Mar 1, 2021

    When people think of volunteering at their local animal shelter, their first thought is usually to volunteer as a dog walker. But what if walking big, exuberant dogs doesn't appeal to you or doesn't sound safe to you? The good news is that there are plenty of other ways to help the shelter and their animals. Cats and small animals need volunteers too. Volunteers can spend time petting and brushing cats or letting them play and explore in an exercise room. Rabbits also appreciate time out of...

  • Even Alaskan dogs must dress for the weather

    Laura Atwood, For Senior Voice|Dec 1, 2020

    We're Alaskans. Cold and snow doesn't keep us, or our canine companions, inside. As you're donning your coat, mittens, hat and warm boots, have you ever wondered if you should be dressing your dog for the weather too? In some cases, that answer may just be "yes." Here's some general tips on which dogs could benefit from an extra layer of warmth on chilly winter walks: 1. Small breed dogs tend to get cold quickly because they can't generate and retain enough body heat to stay warm. They may even...

  • Staying home doesn't have to be boring – for you or your cat

    Laura Atwood, For Senior Voice|Sep 1, 2020

    Although staying inside may be new, and a bit challenging, to us, it isn't new for our house cats. They know that inside your home is the safest place to be. While finding ways to keep yourself amused at home, how about finding new ways to keep your cat entertained too? Cat trees. An oldie but a goodie, cat trees give cats options and they love options, especially when it comes to feeling safe. A cat tree allows cats to get away from dogs or over-anxious grandkids. Plus, cats like to sit up...

  • Have a pet care plan in place in case of COVID-19

    Laura Atwood, For Senior Voice|May 1, 2020

    In our last article, we talked about having an emergency plan for your pets in case of natural disasters. The current COVID-19 public health crisis is a reminder that we need pet care plans not just for disasters but in case we become ill and are unable to care for our pets ourselves or need to be hospitalized. Anchorage Animal Care & Control (AACC) had a dog brought to the shelter when both his parents were hospitalized due to COVID-19. Their daughter later stated that her parents delayed...

  • Emergencies happen. Are your pets prepared?

    Laura Atwood, For Senior Voice|Mar 1, 2020

    Wildfire. Earthquake. Winter storm. Windstorm. Any of these events can, and have, happened in Alaska. And any of them can result in you and your pet having to either shelter-in-place or evacuate. Are you and your pet prepared for either of these scenarios? Being prepared starts with thinking ahead: Ask neighbors to help with your animals if you're away from home and can't get back to your pets. Assign one person in the family who is responsible for making sure your pets are evacuated with you....

  • Older adopted cat a perfect match

    Laura Atwood, For Senior Voice|Nov 1, 2019

    Imagine being older and losing the only home you’ve ever known. Everything that was familiar to you is suddenly gone. That’s what happened to Qin Qin (pronounced Chin Chin), a 12-year old cat who had lived with the same people, in the same home, all her life. Due to an illness in her family, she found herself at Anchorage Animal Care and Control (AACC), with only her cat tree to remind her of what her life used to be. And now, imagine, as an elderly woman having to move from your home into your child’s home. You are welcome there so you are g...

  • Social hour a pleasure for both kittens and admirers

    Laura Atwood, For Senior Voice|Jul 1, 2019

    What happens when you mix kittens and the residents of Providence Alaska's assisted living facility, Horizon House? You get the Kitten Social Hour! Kitten Social Hour had a humble beginning. An Anchorage Animal Care and Control (AACC) kitten foster mom, who also provides hospice care primarily to our homeless community was caring for a woman who often mentioned how much she missed her cat. Debbie asked AACC staff if she could bring one of her foster kittens to visit her client and we agreed it...

  • How to behave around dogs to avoid bites

    Laura Atwood, For Senior Voice|Apr 1, 2019

    As adults we tend to think only kids need to know how to behave around dogs. But actually we all need to know how to be safe around dogs. Anchorage Animal Care and Control teaches kindergarten through sixth grade students how to behave around dogs to prevent dog bites. But adults often need the same lesson. April 7-13 is Dog Bite Prevention Week, so here are some tips and illustrations from our school presentation for everyone in the family: When a dog is happy and feels secure, their face...

  • Liven up those winter dog days

    Laura Atwood, For Senior Voice|Dec 1, 2018

    Winter dog walks-on the right day they can be enjoyable excursions with snow gently falling and a low winter sun in the sky, but on other days they can be downright treacherous with icy sidewalks and no light to help you see the ice before you feel your feet slip out from under you. Sometimes the safest decision is to ignore that pleading look in your dog's eyes and stay inside. But that doesn't mean your dog has to be bored and restless. There are ways to keep her entertained inside that are...

  • Cautionary tales, and how to avoid dog-related injuries

    Laura Atwood, For Senior Voice|Sep 1, 2018

    True story: My husband and I are walking our two dogs on leash. Another couple is walking towards us with an unleashed dog. We step off the trail, heading slightly uphill. I place my dog in a sit and have treats to keep her occupied as the loose dog walks by. I turn to my husband to see if he has treats too and at that moment the loose dog runs toward us. I don't see it because I have taken my eyes off my dog so I also don't see her sudden movement forward which pulls me downhill and I fall....

  • Treat your housecat to the outdoors

    Laura Atwood, For Senior Voice|Jun 1, 2018

    "Honey, did you walk the cat?" What? Walk the cat? Yes, you heard that right. Cats have spent too much time lying around inside, bored and under-stimulated while dogs are treated to walks, play dates and time in the yard. But wait...is it safe to let your cat outside? And what about birds and other wildlife they may kill? There are many safe ways to get your cat outside while also keeping birds and wildlife safe from them (remember, cats are small but fierce predators). Let's start with catios....

  • Giving a pet for Christmas – magical or a mistake?

    Laura Atwood, For Senior Voice|Dec 1, 2017

    The holiday season is upon us and that means people are searching for the perfect gift for friends and family. From socks to wine and pajamas to animals, people will receive both wanted and unwanted gifts. What about you? Have you heard murmurs from the kids that you could use a cat to keep you company? Are you thinking your grandchildren really need a dog in their lives? Let's look at the good and bad of giving and receiving pets as gifts. Research from the ASPCA (American Society for the...

  • The loss of a pet is always felt deeply

    Laura Atwood, For Senior Voice|Sep 1, 2017

    Our lives with our animal companions are defined by rituals. Here are a few that have taken place in our home: Monkey barks every morning as soon as we wake up and continues until breakfast; Blue begins silently commanding us to bed at 9 p.m. every night – staring at us as he moves toward the bedroom; Elsie meows for the bathroom faucet to be turned on so she can sip water from the running stream. Some of these rituals still happen, others ended years ago with the passing of that animal, and o...

  • How about a long-eared companion?

    Laura Atwood, For Senior Voice|Jun 1, 2017

    Typically, when people think of animal companions they think of dogs and cats. But not everyone wants to, or can, walk a dog or has a secure enclosure for a dog to spend time outside. And some folks are allergic to cats. So we have another suggestion for you: rabbits. Yes, rabbits. Rabbits don't enjoy the popularity of dogs and cats. In fact, according to the House Rabbit Society there are only an estimated 3 to 7 million pet rabbits. That's a small number compared to the estimated 78 million...

  • A small breed dog may be the partner for you

    Laura Atwood, For Senior Voice|Mar 1, 2017

    Sweaters, strollers, pet pouches - the accoutrements of the small dog may make us giggle but they serve a valuable purpose for the less-than-20 pound citizens of the canine world. Small dogs are popular companions for people living in smaller homes or apartments. It's important to select the right dog for you and know how to provide for their special needs. Depending on their breed (or predominant mix of breeds) the exercise requirements of small dogs can vary greatly. A 15-pound West Highland T...

  • Tips for pet safety during the holidays

    Laura Atwood, For Senior Voice|Dec 1, 2016

    It's the holiday season and that means visitors, decorations and lots of food. All of which is fun for humans but might be stressful or even dangerous to your pets. Here are some tips to make this a safe and fun holiday for your four-legged family members. Food, the center of all holiday gatherings Many human foods can cause intestinal distress or may even be poisonous to our animal friends. This list includes: • chocolate – remember that dark chocolate is more dangerous than milk chocolate. • a...

  • Dogs sniff out fun in nose work classes

    Laura Atwood, For Senior Voice|Sep 1, 2016

    If you let it, your dog's nose can lead you to the fun and rewarding dog sport of canine nose work. Yes, it's called a sport but it doesn't require the rapid-fire pace of flyball or agility, just you following silently behind your dog as your dog's nose and brain work together to solve the question "where is that smell coming from?" And all that's required from your dog is her nose and eagerness to find the source of that smell. K9 Nose Work was developed by Ron Gaunt, Amy Herot and Jill Marie...

  • Being the best companion for your cat

    Laura Atwood, For Senior Voice|Jun 1, 2016

    Cats and people have been companions for nearly12,000 years. And no wonder – cats not only enchant us with their beauty, they also entertain us with their playful antics and graceful movements and bring smiles to our faces when they sit in our laps, purring with contentment. Cats are often considered easier companions than dogs because they don't need daily exercise or regular potty breaks outside. However, they have a few basic needs that if met will make them much happier in your home. What c...

  • Indoor fun with your canine companion

    Laura Atwood, For Senior Voice|Mar 1, 2016

    Living in Alaska can present many challenges to getting outside safely with our canine companions: winter darkness, icy sidewalks, chilling rain, and pesky moose. But as a loving dog owner, you know that your dog needs physical and mental exercise, so what are your options? Indoor training, games and puzzle toys are your answer. New tricks Training your dog doesn't have to end with the basics of sit, stay, down, and come when called. You and your friend can have fun with reward-based trick...

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