March 20th is the first official day of spring. Winter in East Tennessee is a stunning sight and a magical time. However, there is nothing better than warm weather, blooming flowers, and being able to take our fur babies outside to play. As a pet parent, it’s pure bliss to watch them frolic after months indoors. What better way to celebrate and remember their happiness than reaching out to a local pet artist to capture the moment?
Knoxville is teeming with talented artist who are passionate about pets. In the nooks and crannies of our beautiful city are unique individuals each bringing their own special flair to their craft. Whether you are looking for a photographer, painter, or a sketch artist, the artists of Knoxville have you covered. We’ve put together a brief list to help get you started in your search.
Looking for something a little different? Boxie Pets isn’t your typical flat painting. Artist Rachel Travis offers paintings with dimensions similar to that of a shadow-box. Perfect for crafty types, these paintings are wonderful for those that love texture and depth in their personal space.
Another local artist who offers a personal touch is Kelly of Faces Gone Wild. Kelly can be found all around town bringing joy to people by offering her face painting services, but she also creates lovely, realistic drawings of pets.
If you are looking for a photographer who has an uncanny ability to capture the essence of their subject, look no further than Lev Gross-Comstock of lgcphoto.com. This accomplished photographer is a treasure in our own backyard and his ability to capture the soul of the animals that he photographs is truly awe-inspiring.
Wade Tipton of Gallery Portraits is another local gem. His portraits are elegant and lend ambience to any space with their astonishing simplicity. Similarly, Regann Hunt-Royster of Art Elegance offers timeless, unique pieces. Her Acrylics epitomize refined taste.
Several of our local artists are experts at capturing the personalities of our pets. Two examples are Mike of Doodlewags and Jennie Huettel of Mountain Mutt Media. Mike specializes in light-hearted paintings of pets. Similar to Caricatures, his portraits allow pets the chance do things they might only fantasize about like munching on people food, napping on mounds of dog biscuits, or going on a bike ride. Jennie is a talented photographer who is able to bring the personalities of the pets that she photographs to the forefront whether it be while they play fetch or sit before her camera, staring curiously.
A few other wonderful choices are Noelle Bell Photography, Brassfield Creatives, and Cindy Day Illustrations and Watercolor. Each of these creative individuals will no doubt delight and please you with their dedication and high caliber of work.
Many of the artists featured in this post are philanthropists, animal activists, and widely recognized artists. So weather you simply want to celebrate spring, are looking for a Mother’s Day gift, or are searching for that perfect present for an upcoming birthday, be sure to support them!
According to the ASPCA, millions of animals call a shelter their home. Additionally, millions more rely on foster parents, rescue organizations, and animal sanctuaries to provide them with the love and care that every animal deserves.
Without the assistance of volunteers, caring for the many animals in need would be impossible. In fact, some of these establishments rely entirely on the kindness of those in the community to keep them running.However, volunteering with animals can mean so much more than just touching the heart of an animal, it can also mean impacting the human population of a community as well.
Often times when we think of volunteering with an animal, we picture helping to bathe or walk an adorable puppy at our local animal shelter. While this is one way of lending our love, there are a myriad of other options that are as diverse as the animals in our community that are in need. Some of these opportunities include:
Smoky Mountain Service Dogs: The work of this organization touches the lives of not just the animals, but the Veterans with disabilities that these special dogs will one day devote themselves to. Providing our service men and women with fully trained assistance animals is a big job and that is where volunteers come in. Ways that volunteers can help are by working as a Puppy Raiser, Socializer, or a Respite Provider.
Puppy Raisers work with puppies for a six to nine month period. During this time, they work closely with trainers to housebreak, crate train, and teach the puppy good manners and basic obedience skills.
For those who like to get out and about, that is where a Socializer comes in. Socializers introduce the animals to the public and different environments. They form a strong bond with the animal and are instrumental in working with the dogs beyond the puppy stage to teach them the basic skills that every service animal needs.
Respite Providers are those with huge hearts coupled with the ability to provide homes for service animals in cases of emergency, vacations for Puppy Raisers and Socializers, or while an animal is awaiting adoption.
H.A.B.I.T.: This acronym stands for Human-Animal Bond in Tennessee. The group is comprised of representatives from the University Of Tennessee College Of Veterinary Medicine, volunteers from the community, and private veterinary practitioners with the goal of exploring and promoting the human-animal bond.
The special thing about H.A.B.I.T. is that the volunteer position is available for pets too! Human and animal volunteers visit the elderly, special needs children, hospitals, and mental health centers. To work in this program is to provide those in need with companionship as well as to give the animals the opportunity to do what they do best, be social!
Feral Feline Friends: For those who feel comfortable working with and providing care to those animals who do not have a home, this is the perfect opportunity. Volunteers feed, water, and provide medical care for homeless cats in East Tennessee.
The Elephant Sanctuary: Elephants are majestic animals and the opportunity to work for their benefit is indeed a rare treat. Tennessee has the privilege of being the home of our nation’s largest natural-habitat refugee built specifically for endangered elephants. Many of the animals that come to this sanctuary have inspirational stories of survival and perseverance, and as the goal of the sanctuary is to give them a place to roam free and feel safe, volunteers do not work directly with the animals. To give time to this cause is truly a selfless act that includes helping the staff with the numerous tasks necessary to give these gentle giants a home.
The Knoxville Zoo: If going to the zoo is exciting, imagine working with the animals and trainers! Adults and youth can volunteer with this opportunity doing such varying tasks as assisting staff with educational programs and interpretation services, general upkeep of the zoo, and fundraising.
STAR: The Shangri-La Therapeutic Academy of Riding is unique in that it allows Special Needs individuals the opportunity to work directly with horses which provides long-lasting, well-documented therapeutic benefits. For Special Needs individuals, this therapy is invaluable to quality of life and the need for volunteers to work with this organization cannot be overstated.
Youth as well as adults are welcome at STAR and ways that they contribute are by helping directly with the animals, facilities tasks, and working with those receiving therapy during lessons.
Happy Paws Kitten Rescue: Happy Paws is a wonderful opportunity for those who have room in their homes and in their schedules to foster a kitten. The organization supports those who are able to foster by providing funding for all medical expenses and only asks that foster parents provide other basics for the foster animals such as food and litter.
Small Breed Rescue of East Tennessee: This volunteer opportunity focuses on fostering small breed dogs.
AARF (All About Rescue and Fixin’ Inc.): Multiple opportunities available including fostering a pet. This group does not euthanize or put time frames on when an animal in their care must be adopted out.
Horse Haven of Tennessee: Nonprofit rescue operation for abused and neglected equine. Opportunities include the ability to directly provide support to rescued horses through various tasks at the facility.
SPCA of Tennessee: Dedicated to rescuing, providing care to, and finding of homes for all breeds of dogs. Volunteer opportunities vary.
Adopt A Golden: Specifically for Golden Retrievers with fostering as a primary opportunity.
Humane Society Of The Tennessee Valley: This organization works to end homelessness in the dog and cat population of our community and volunteer opportunities vary.
Young-Williams Animal Center: Instrumental in providing a myriad of public services including public education, outreach, and other services that benefit animals and humans alike. Young-Williams offers a wide spectrum of volunteer opportunities.
Taking care of our oral health is such a normal part of our everyday routine that it can be easy to forget that our pets rely on us to help them with their oral care.
We all know the drill. Flossing and brushing happen in the wee hours of the morning before our coffee or after a long day at work and it may not even cross our minds to check the mouths of our pets. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, over fifty percent of our pets will suffer from some type of oral health issue with their risk increasing as they age. Estimates show that the cost to fix these issues is over three times the cost of prevention. For most pet owners, the idea that their four legged buddies might suffer pain is all they need to know to act.
So what are some practical things that we can do that will fit into our daily routines to help ensure the oral health of our pets?
- Learn what is normal and what is not normal inside your pet’s mouth
If you haven’t done so already, speak with your vet about what your pet’s mouth and teeth should look like. Then, after you know what to look for, incorporate inspections into your pet care routine. During these inspections, be sure to smell your pet’s breath as changes in this area may aid in the identification of oral hygiene issues or possible illness. This can be done once a week or you can chose to make it a regular part of your day. Generally, with time and a soothing touch, a pet will acclimate to this process and be a willing participant in this new routine.
- Learn how to properly brush your pet’s teeth
There are many options, but none are as good as brushing your pet’s teeth. Idealistically, this would be done daily just as with our own teeth. There are some wonderful video tutorials for both dogs and cats online that are only a few minutes long. It’s important to brush with pet approved toothpaste. Don’t have time to run to the store? No problem. There are multiple choices online. You can have a kit delivered right to your door that contains a toothbrush designed for your pet as well as toothpaste in delicious flavors including beef, poultry, and mint. Now we all know that life happens, there won’t always be time to brush. Don’t worry, there are many things that can be done to supplement a tooth brushing routine.
- Supplement with other options
Professional cleanings: pets should have at least one professional cleaning a year. This is usually done by your vet under general anesthesia, but for those animals who cannot be anesthetized, there are other options which your vet can discuss with you.
Plaque remover water additives: while this may sound a bit alarming, many pet owners successfully use water additives to help with pet oral care (these usually have the added benefit of helping with bad breath). These water additives cost mere pocket change per dosage and are well worth the benefits. Simply add the recommended amount to fresh water daily and you and your pet are all set.
Plague removing foams and gels: These foams and gels are also easy to administer to your pet. Some people use them instead of pet toothpaste as they find that their animals think they are getting a treat. Many choose to use a “finger brush” instead of a toothbrush or if you simply don’t have time, you can squeeze a bit onto your finger and let your pet lick it off.
Oral care dental wipes: wipes epitomize convenience. These can be stowed in a suitcase for a weekend trip, used to get those hard to reach spots in a pet’s mouth, or used for an older dog or cat who may need a gentle touch.
Oral hygiene rinse: for those pet owners who are confident enough, this product is an amazing option for supplementation with brushing. We all know the many health benefits of rinsing after brushing so it isn’t hard to understand why this same practice is beneficial for our pets.
As you can see, there are many options when it comes to making sure that our furry family members enjoy the comfort and happiness that comes with a healthy mouth. Always remember to speak to your vet about your pet’s individual needs before implementing a new care routine. However, once you have the green light, you and your family will be feeling good about your decision to have this additional way of showing your pets how much you care.
In October you mostly likely realized it was Breast Cancer Awareness Month, an annual campaign to raise awareness of this disease. In addition to raising awareness, it was also a reminder to be vigilant in self checking for any signs irregularities. You saw pink on football players, celebrities, media personalities, and your friends and neighbors as a great reminder that early detection is key.
Breast Cancer Awareness also includes our beloved dogs. While we do not refer to it as “Breast” cancer as they do not have breasts, it is called Mammary Cancer and it is very real. Cancer is the number one killer of dogs. It is estimated that 50% of dogs over the age of ten will experience some type of cancer. As with humans early detection is the key!
-Mammary gland tumors are greatly increased when your dog is not spayed. Ensure that when you get your pup you have her spayed ASAP.
-Look for lumps and bumps under or on the skin. Simply rub your hands over your dog while petting them, keeping an eye out for anything out of the ordinary.
-Stick with good quality dog food and exercise. This will help the chances of your dog steering clear of tumors, as well as fatty deposits, which are quite often confused for tumors by concerned pet owners.
-Ensure you’re taking your dog in for regular checkups. Go no less then once or twice a year dependent upon your dogs situation. If you spot anything unusual, you should get in to see the vet immediately.
-Should a tumor be detected, work closely with your vet on options and treatments. Treatment options will rely heavily upon your dog’s age, current health and living situation. Most tumors can be treated by surgical removal.
So don’t let the awareness raised in October fall on deaf ears! Early detection is key for humans and dogs alike when it comes to preventing cancer!
When the word Feral is used to describe a cat, what does this mean?
We hear the term thrown often but many people don’t know what it really means. Basically, it is when a cat is untamed, wild, and free, unlike our domesticated cats kept as pets.
How does a cat become feral?
There are a number of ways in which a cat, domesticated or not, can become a feral animal. They could have been dumped by their owners in which case they are left to fend for themselves. They could have been born into the feral world by a parent who had been living on the streets. They could have escaped from their home and become lost. There are a large amount of cats that are living on the street. Sometimes called Alley Cats, they are wild and untamed, as they need to be in order to live on the streets and survive. Their natural born instincts set in and they become undomesticated, wild. This is via no fault of their own.
How is awareness being raised?
Last month, National Feral Cat Awareness Day happened on October 16th. The goal of this day is to raise awareness, enlist support, and lift up the numbers in the volunteer role. Feral cats need our help and there are a variety of ways in which you can support this cause.
Many rescue groups favor the TNR program when it comes to helping reduce the population of feral cats. TNR stands for Trap, Neuter & Release. This method is touted as being a fantastic way, in which we can not only show kindness and help the feral population, but actually make a dent in the population numbers. When the cats are neutered this cuts down drastically with the reproduction of litters and additional cats being born into the feral role.
Knoxville Support for Feral Cats
Locally, the Feral Feline Friends of East Tennessee, is a local organization dedicated to the care of feral cats. According to Feral Feline Friends, members of their group work on a volunteer basis to feed, water, and provide medical care for hundreds of feral cats in Knoxville and surrounding areas. So far this year, they have trapped, neutered, and released over 1200 cats and kittens in the area! They meet the 2nd Tuesday of every month at Mr.Gatti’s Pizza, 6909 Kingston Pike at 7pm, and any one is welcome to join to find out more. They need fosters and volunteers! More information can be found on their website.