There is some sort of strange compulsion that comes over humans once the last frost has thawed and the sun comes out again. Just like clockwork, once the first tulip has bloomed there is a mad dash to throw open all the windows and begin the ritual. For many military families (and their furry friends) “spring” cleaning happens during PCS season. This occurred in our little German home last week. I was temporarily kicked outside for an afternoon while she did ‘Spring Cleaning’. She took out all the rugs and hung them on the fence and the vacuum ran all afternoon. By the time I finished my afternoon nap, the house was sparkling clean. Too clean if you ask me…those rugs were just starting to smell good. I don’t really care about the rest of the house, but there were a few things that Tia did just for me.
1. Toss. It’s time to empty out that kitchen drawer or pantry shelf where you keep all the dog medicines and treats. You know the place I mean…with a half-eaten bag of treats that your pet doesn’t like anymore and that toothpaste and finger brush you tried to use one time. Just dump it all on the table and grab the trash bin. Gather all the medicine in there because it’s time to sort through that pile and throw out the ones that are expired. This includes old dog treats that are past their prime (those chew sticks that fell out of the package months ago and are now the consistency of fossils).Trust me, we’re not going to eat them. Gross.
2. Organize. Every time we go to the vet or move it seems that the paperwork multiplies. There are so many things to keep track of! Tia keeps all my vet records and paperwork in an accordion file in the kitchen drawer with my medicine, food, and treats. That way it’s easy to find and all in one place. If you’ve ever done an OCONUS military move then you know why it’s important to have all those papers. Especially when there is an emergency, you can grab that folder and know that all the information you’ll need is in there such as shot records, lab results, and past treatment records. Just in case Dave is left to take care of me while Tia is on a trip or sick, she labels my daily medications with specific instructions and divides them into Ziploc bags to keep them separate and easy to reach.
3. Wash. I hate baths just as much as the next dog, but I know that I need them sometimes. After countless walks and rolling in various patches of grass, my body isn’t the only thing that is dirty. It’s time to fill up the sink with warm soapy water and give those collars and leashes a good scrubbing too. (You’ll probably gag when you see all the filthy water!) How about those towels and blankets you keep in the car for your pets? Yeah, I bet they smell pretty ripe by now too. Not that I mind, but you humans seem to think wet dog is not an alluring odor. If you have any winter coats or snow boots, they should be washed and dried before putting them away for the season. Tia also washes my bed by taking off the outer cover and following the directions on the tags. A fresh and fluffy bed is always nice to plop into after a long day of napping and bird chasing.
4. Check. After all the vet records have been organized you can tell now what shots your little furry friend is up to date on or needs to get. I know things get crazy in your human lives and sometimes remembering when our rabies shots are due just isn’t at the top of the list. If you’re not sure or don’t have the records, call your vet since they should have them on file in the computer. I can’t believe I’m advocating that you drag us furry friends to the vet, but once you see what shots your pet needs you should make that appointment and re-order my flea and heartworm medicine while you’re at it.
5. Double Check. I never turn down a good body rub so this one is easy, but very important. Preferably once a month, you should do a full body check of your fur baby. This means running your hands all over us and looking for abnormalities such as warts, bumps, sores or tender spots. Look inside our ears and mouth and check our paws and nails. This should also be done after any walks in areas you may encounter ticks. Finding and removing them early is the best way to keep your pet from contracting any illness from those nasty little blood suckers. If your pet is accommodating it’s also a good time to trim their nails. I am not so fond of this and Tia usually lets the groomer or vet do that job. If you find anything unusual, make a note of it and call your vet to have it checked up. If it is bleeding, swollen, oozing or showing signs of infection, call the vet immediately!
I’m actually really glad that Tia does this on a regular basis. I knew something was wrong but it was hard for me to tell what was going on. This month she found a small tumor in my…um…nether regions. She immediately took me to the vet and thankfully its nothing life threating. They are still running tests and by the time you read this I will already have had the offending lump removed.
Owning a pet is a huge responsibility but with it comes lots of love and joy. So while you’re dusting the cobwebs and putting away the winter coats, take a little extra time this spring or PCS season to get your pet’s things in order. It can save you headache later on this year and if you follow through and check your pet and their things often…Who knows? You just might save your pet’s life too.
Toby the Army Woof