- House Tips
Do you ever think about that final day with your beloved pet?
Nope, you don’t go there. You don’t even want to read about it. Just the idea of it hurts too much.
But what if thinking about that final day, actually planning for it, made it especially comforting for your dearly loved companion? Wouldn’t you want to do that as a final gesture of love?
Death is inevitable. Sometimes, having time to prepare for our pet’s final day really does make that time special. We get a chance to plan what would be most meaningful for our pet and ourselves.
“Most of us agonize about the decision to end the life of a debilitated pet or one whose pain can no longer be controlled. We have to try to remain focused on the fact that we are doing what’s best for our pet,” says Christina Lehner, DVM, owner of Creature Comfort Care, a mobile veterinary service based in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, that specializes in end of life care, hospice, euthanasia, and acupuncture.
“Our grieving starts before the actual dying. It begins once you know, once you hear the diagnosis, not just on the final day,” she says. “Not thinking about or planning that day does not eliminate the grief.”
So, what can you do to make that...
Camping with my husband and our dog is one of my very favorite things to do. Nothing recharges my batteries more than spending time in the great outdoors. Sometimes we pitch our tent next to a river or alpine lake, nestled in pine trees. Other times we camp in the desert of the Southwest, with red rocks as far as the eye can see. But all of the trips typically involve gorgeous scenery, fresh air, food cooked by a fire, conversation by starlight, and dog snuggles in the tent.
Rio, our Labrador retriever mix, seems to love camping as much as we do. He wags his tail as he trots up a hiking trail or as he bounds out of a lake after a refreshing swim. If we stay in an established campground, he greets other campers as we take a leashed walk to the bathroom—he’s always happy to meet new friends. There are tantalizing scents everywhere. It’s dog heaven.
Camping season is upon us, and June is National Camping Month. It’s a terrific time to try camping with your dog, or to resolve to do it more often. To make sure you and your dog have as much fun as you possibly can, it’s important to follow the Scout Motto: “Be prepared.”
Here are some suggestions to help create an outstanding...
How often do you consider that common household products could be potentially hazardous to your pet’s health? While it might not be something you think about on a regular basis, taking the time to familiarize yourself with the potential hazards in your home could mean the difference between life and death for your pet.
According to Pet Poison Helpline, the top 10 toxins for dogs include:
For cats, the list includes:
We recently spoke with AAHA’s incoming president and owner and medical director of Macungie Animal Hospital, Nancy Soares, VMD, about common household toxins and how to...
It’s been a year since Chicago got caught up in and defeated by the Canine Influenza Virus Apocalypse of 2015. While the collective veterinary world knocks on wood, we can say that there has not been the return we were dreading. However, we are not free from all concerns, so here is a flu review and information on current recommendations. Before last […]
The post Canine Influenza Virus Update appeared first on Medical District Veterinary Clinic at Illinois.
Veterinary professionals don’t need a study to tell them that pets are good for your health. But now, there is quantitative data to prove it.
On Dec. 14, the Human Animal Bond Research Initiative (HABRI) released a new economic study that quantifies the healthcare cost savings associated with pet ownership. The economic analysis, conducted by researchers at George Mason University, calculated an $11.7 billion savings in U.S. healthcare costs as a result of pet ownership.
“There was abundant research to show that pets have a positive effect on our health, but this is the first time that anyone has looked at the impact on the U.S. healthcare system,” said study co-author Terry L. Clower, PhD, Northern Virginia Chair and Professor of Public Policy at George Mason University’s School of Policy, Government, and International Affairs and Director of its Center on Regional Analysis. “Our analysis shows that pet ownership produces meaningful savings for total health care costs in the United States.”
The cost savings breakdown is in two areas:
Crowdfunding is the buzz word of 2016: Businesses, nonprofit organizations, and individuals are expected to raise nearly $35 billion through crowdfunding websites this year alone.
So, what exactly is crowdfunding? Crowdfunding is the process of gathering small financial contributions from a large number of people to support an idea or project initiated by an organization or individual.
This is not a new concept: According to the National Park Service, crowdfunding helped ensure the completion of the Statue of Liberty when funds ran out for the Statue’s pedestal in 1884. Joseph Pulitzer urged readers of his newspaper, New York World, to donate the funds used to build the base the Statue now sits upon.
Several crowdfunding platforms have taken this concept online, enabling hundreds of fundraising campaigns to run simultaneously. These campaigns can be rapidly disseminated across the globe, gaining momentum and funding as contributors share the campaign with their social networks at the click of a button.
Individuals are also increasingly turning to crowdfunding websites to raise money for things they cannot easily pay for—particularly unforeseen medical costs. This includes pet...
By threatening to hurt or kill the family pet, an abusive partner manipulates, intimidates, and terrorizes his or her victims.
Fearing for the safety of their pets—who are often one of the few sources of comfort and emotional support victims have left—but with nowhere to take them, many battered partners and children end up staying in abusive situations.
Fortunately, communities are becoming aware of this ugly reality and have begun creating safe havens for the pets of domestic violence victims. Help can be found through several groups and online directories.
Safe Havens Mapping Project
Created eight 8 years ago by the Animal Welfare Institute, the Safe Havens Mapping Project is a comprehensive list of sheltering services in the U.S. The directory, which can be searched by ZIP code, includes more than 1,400 refuges across all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
These places of safety may be foster homes or spaces provided by local animal shelters, veterinary hospitals, or refuges for dogs, cats, small animals, birds, and even horses and cows. Even better, there also are shelters where pets—typically dogs and cats—can stay with their humans.
“It’s a very slow change in the...
Warm days ahead? Cool! That’s the word on every pet lover’s mind, because keeping pets cool is not just kind, it’s crucial.
When the temperature rises, all pets are at risk for heat stroke whether they are left in a car, set in a cage in direct sunlight, or even wrapped in a towel for too long, a common method used to restrain birds.
Some pets are particularly susceptible. Members of brachycephalic breeds—those with a “pushed-in” appearance—are inefficient at panting. Brachycephalic breeds include Himalayan and Persian cats, Boston terriers, boxers, English bulldogs, Cavalier King Charles spaniels, Lhasa apsos, Pekingese, Chinese shar peis, and shih tzus.
Obese pets, too, are at risk, as are those dogs and cats with a thick hair coat. Those with underlying lung or heart disease also face increased danger.
The problem is that dogs, cats, rabbits, and birds don't sweat as we do. They get rid of excess heat by panting, and sweating through their feet.
What happens to them when they experience rising temperatures? Sandra Sawchuk, DVM, clinical instructor at the University of Wisconsin–Madison School of Veterinary Medicine, detailed the progression:
“A dog, cat, or other small...
The word "mange" doesn’t exactly conjure up soothing images of your beloved pup. Instead, when we think of mange, most of us think of sad-looking dogs with large patches of missing fur.
What is mange?
Mange is a condition caused by mites that invade the hair follicle. While some mites are harmless, others infest the pet and cause hair loss. Two types of mange typically affect dogs: sarcoptic and demodectic, which is the most common. Mange is extremely rare in cats.
There are three common types of demodectic mange:
Localized: Localized mange causes hair loss in a single area, such as the dog’s face. This results in bald patches that resemble polka dots. Localized mange is very common in puppies and many cases clear up on their own.
Generalized: Generalized mange is more severe and can affect a much larger portion of the dog’s body. In addition to hair loss, secondary infections can cause the skin to become quite itchy and develop a bad odor.
Pododermatitis: Pododermatitis refers to mite infestation of the feet. This type of mange, which is often accompanied by bacterial infection, is the most resistant to treatment.
“Make sure your veterinarian investigates any hair loss,” says...
The decision to adopt a paraplegic pet—or any animal with special needs—is a highly personal choice, but one that is growing in popularity with pet owners. It isn’t unusual to read a news story about a sweet dog in a wheelchair who was adopted by a new family, and if you’re an animal lover, those stories may have left you wondering what life would be like with a paralyzed pet.
It might surprise you to learn the majority of pet owners who adopt a disabled dog or cat didn’t set out with that intent. Most set out to adopt a young, healthy pet, but somewhere along the journey, they saw the precious little face of a dog or cat in a wheelchair and their hearts melted.
That was the case for Dar Freeman before she adopted her paraplegic dog, Megan.
“I found Megan on a rescue website where she was listed as urgently needing a home,” says Freeman. “The post said she had become paralyzed in her back end. Knowing nothing about paralyzed dogs, I contacted my vet to see what I'd be facing. She told me I needed to get her a cart and learn how to express her bladder. I drove from Chicago to Cleveland and brought that baby home.”
Megan has been part of Freeman’s family for more than a year...
When it comes to your pet, you would do anything to keep him safe, happy, and healthy. Working with an AAHA-accredited veterinarian can help you do just that. Preventive veterinary care will help to ensure that your pet is healthy, and can save you from the potential financial hardship that occurs when medical problems are not addressed with proper care.
In case of an emergency, it is important to seek veterinary help immediately—but there are steps you can take to ensure your pet’s comfort until you can get to the veterinary hospital. Always use caution, however. When pets are scared, in pain, or experiencing shock, it is not uncommon for them to bite even their owners.
Sarah Kubacki, a veterinary technician at Brekke Veterinary Clinic in Castle Rock, Colorado, provided the following tips for aiding your pet until you can get professional help.
Help! My pet is bleeding!
First, clean the wound with a mild antibacterial soap. Rinse with water and dry well.
Apply pressure directly to the bleeding site with a clean cloth or towel for a minimum of three minutes. This is important, as it takes time for the blood to clot. If you remove the cloth or towel too soon, you may remove the...
When you move to a new home, you are diligent about changing your address with the post office. But, are you also diligent about updating your pet’s microchip registration with your new address?
Microchipping your pet, along with a having a collar and a current nametag, could mean the difference between having him forever by your side or losing him forever. A microchip is a small computer chip that is injected under your pet’s skin, between the shoulder blades. Each microchip is associated with an identification number that is specific to your pet. The procedure for inserting the chip is quick and generally painless, and the microchip should never wear out or lose the registered information.
But just as important as having your pet microchipped is keeping the microchip registration information up to date. After the chip is inserted, it is the pet owner’s responsibility to register the chip online with contact information, including current address, phone number, and email address.
Losing a pet can be incredibly stressful. If he’s microchipped, some of that worry can be eased. If your pet is found and brought to a veterinary practice, animal control facility, or local shelter,...
One of the most surprising things about working from home has been the number of dogs who drop by—without their owners.
I’ll be typing away at my computer when my Lab mix, Rio, will start frantically barking and squealing with delight. Sure enough, a dog will be outside the gate, hoping to play. Sometimes it’s a dog we’ve never met; other times, it’s a repeat offender. Occasionally, we’ll even wind up hosting several dogs from different homes on the same day.
Luckily, the canine escape artists usually have ID tags on their collars so I can call their families. The owners are typically grateful to know their dog is safe and come get them, apologizing with, “My son must have left the door open,” or “Ugh, I guess Jake is digging under the fence again.”
What makes dogs roam, and is there anything owners can do to prevent it? I love meeting new dogs, but clearly the safest place for them is at home instead of wandering nearby (or far away) streets and properties, where they might be hit by a car, chase after a frightened child, or simply become lost.
Ellen Lindell, VMD, DACVB, and owner of Veterinary Behavior Consultations in Bethel, Connecticut, says while no dog obeys 100 percent...
Learning your dog has cancer is a frightening experience, but according to the National Canine Cancer Foundation (NCCF), it is a diagnosis one out of every three dogs will receive during their lifetime. The good news is, about half of all canine cancers are treatable if they are caught early and several promising research studies are currently being conducted to help find a cure.
Cancer comes in many forms, including carcinoma, sarcoma, melanoma, lymphoma, and leukemia, and can occur at any age in both mixed breeds and purebreds. Listed below are the most common types of cancer affecting dogs and the signs to look for at home.
Lymphoma: Lymphoma occurs in cells in the lymph nodes or bone marrow and is most commonly diagnosed in dogs between the ages of 6 and 9 years old. Lymphoma affects the dog’s immune system and can spread rapidly if left untreated. It is classified in five progressive stages and treatment options vary depending on the stage. The first sign of lymphoma is typically a painless, swollen lymph node in the neck or behind the knees.
Hemangiosarcoma: Hemangiosarcoma is a malignant cancer of the blood vessels. It is more common in dogs than any other species....
If your cat is urinating or defecating anywhere other than his litter box, you probably find yourself at your wits’ end. Though house soiling can seem like a deal breaker, it doesn’t have to be. There are ways to remedy the situation so the cat can stay and the behavior goes.
Save your cat
According to the National Council on Pet Population, 72 percent of cats surrendered to animal shelters in the U.S. are euthanized, and research journals in the fields of animal behavior and companionship cite house soiling as the primary reason they are relinquished in the first place.
“One factor that may be underlying this is that 66 percent of owners think that cats act out of spite,” says Ilona Rodan, DVM, DABVP (F), medical director and founder of AAHA-accredited Cat Care Clinic in Madison, Wisconsin. “Nothing could be further from the truth.”
Instead, she says, it’s because the cat’s physical, social, or medical needs are not being met.
See your veterinarian
The first step in resolving a house soiling problem is to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian as soon as you notice a problem.
Rodan, who primarily evaluates cats for behavioral issues, says she often diagnoses medical...
Are you still clinging to the idea of it being late summer or early fall? Are you still wearing shorts outside because it’s sunny, though it’s 51 degrees, the leaves are falling down from the color-shifting trees while the kids have gone back to school, and the Bears are still trying to score any points? Well, […]
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If you’re reading this, chances are, you love your pets—and you know that panicked feeling when you think something might be wrong. Why is he whining? Why is she limping? Is he in pain? Is this something serious? What should I do?
We all want answers fast, so it’s tempting to look for clues online. In fact, AAHA receives many, many private messages through Facebook (and sometimes in the comments section of PetsMatter articles) requesting medical advice for a pet. But the response is always: “Ask your veterinarian.” Why?
It isn’t a cop out. Seeing your veterinarian about an issue your pet is having is the best way to care for your dog or cat, says Heather Loenser, DVM, AAHA’s Veterinary Advisor for Professional and Public Affairs. Loenser practices in several specialty, emergency, and general practices in the New York metro area, and lives with a number of rescued dogs, cats, turtles and five pampered hens (Peep Peep, Frofro, Cookie, Arabelle, and Golden, who were named by a 4-year-old girl).
“Without examining a pet and carefully questioning an owner, the advice given over the Internet could be inaccurate and potentially life threatening,” Loenser said. “Although many pet...
Is your pet dressing up for Halloween? We’d love to see! Come to our clinic on Saturday, Oct. 31, 10 a.m.-1 p.m., to get a complimentary photo taken and pick up a treat.
The post Save the Date: Fall Frolic on Halloween appeared first on Medical District Veterinary Clinic at Illinois.
I can always find my beloved pets in my heart, but having their cremains on a shelf in the living room makes me feel like they are still here with me.
The boxes and urns have become the physical presence of the companions I loved and lost. Stopping to look at each one may make the tears fall, but it more often stirs good memories.
The first pet I had cremated was my wonderful Booker, a German shepherd I adopted as a puppy from a shelter. When he was about 10 years old, he was diagnosed with cancer and stopped eating. I agonized about the euthanasia process, but it ended up going calmly and quickly.
Then I was asked what I planned to do with his body. I hadn’t even thought about that.
I learned that I could take his body home to bury in my yard since I lived in a rural area, but if I had lived in a municipality, I’d have to check local codes. I also could have him cremated. The choices were a private cremation, in which he alone would be cremated and his cremains returned to me; individual cremation, in which several pets are cremated together, but kept separate in the chamber, and his cremains returned to me; or group cremation, in which he would be cremated with other pets and...
It’s fall in Chicago, and the evening cicada blare slowly becomes quiet, the sweaters and hoodies come out for evening dog walks, and our collective thoughts turn to football, hockey, and basketball (and a once-a-millennium Cubs playoff run). As the annual and collective city preparations for the upcoming Midwestern freeze begins, it’s easy to start […]
The post The Bugs Don’t Know It’s Time to Stop Being Bugs appeared first on Medical District Veterinary Clinic at Illinois.
“Never say never” is the expression. However, in this instance, I will say it: I would never take my pets to a nonaccredited veterinary practice.
I’ve been around the veterinary industry for over 20 years, writing and broadcasting about companion animals. I’ve presented at all the major U.S. veterinary conferences on numerous occasions, and have spoken at veterinary conferences and shelter events around the world. I’m also a certified animal behavior consultant. Still, I’m not a veterinarian. At the end of the day, I am just another pet owner, albeit an educated one.
The truth is, not all veterinary practices are equal. If you want the very best for your pet, there’s truly only one way to know your veterinary hospital is a cut above the rest: AAHA accreditation.
Even the savviest pet owners can’t possibly know which anesthetic cocktail is being delivered or the type of continuing education the credentialed veterinary technicians at a particular practice receive, how efficiently vaccines are being stored or whether appropriate pain management based on AAHA’s guidelines is offered behind the scenes.
AAHA accreditation—a designation earned by only 15 percent of veterinary...
Summer in Chicago brings us outdoor festivals, barbeques in the backyard, crowded bike and jogging paths, lake picnics, movies in the park, beer gardens, and sidewalk restaurant eating. And what better way to accessorize our fun outdoor activities than to take along our beloved canine friends. In theory, bringing our dogs with us is a […]
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It seems like my dog Rio’s tail is always wagging—he’s a goofy Labrador retriever mix who sometimes even wags in his sleep. So one day when he was a few years old, I was shocked to discover his tail hanging limp like a wet noodle. He wouldn’t even wag for a treat.
Panicked, my husband and I rushed Rio to his veterinarian, who asked if we’d noticed him injure his tail. We hadn’t. We’d been camping all weekend by a lake, where Rio spent a lot of time swimming. Then we took a long hike and he wagged his tail the entire time, sometimes so enthusiastically that I started taking video because it was so charming.
Our veterinarian’s diagnosis: limber tail syndrome. Basically, Rio’s tail-wagging muscles were overworked and had become very painful. However, we were relieved to learn limber tail isn’t a permanent condition. With rest and anti-inflammatory medication, Rio was back to his happy, wagging self in a couple of days.
Joe Spoo, DVM, DACVSMR, co-owner of AAHA-accredited Best Care Pet Hospital in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and author of the GunDogDoc blog, said he tends to see an influx of patients with limber tail at the start of hunting season, when the weather starts to warm up...
The temperature is slowly creeping up to Chicago springtime levels, though all Midwesterners knew to brace for that inevitable April snowstorm. Regardless of your gritty Chicago expectations, we hope you are starting or continuing all your flea and tick medications as well as your heartworm control. You can reference the previous post about this, but […]
The post Your Pet’s Diet appeared first on Medical District Veterinary Clinic at Illinois.
The Fourth of July is such a special holiday in America. It’s a time to gather with friends and family to celebrate our country’s independence with festive backyard barbecues, parades and, of course, fireworks.
But did you know that July 5 is the busiest day of the year for animal shelters? Fireworks and loud noises often frighten pets so much they flee their homes in terror. In fact, animal control officers across the country report a 30 percent increase in lost pets each year between July 4 and July 6—and only 14 percent of those pets are reunited with their families.
This Independence Day, be sure to help keep your furry family members safe at home where they belong by taking a few simple precautions:
Spring is weeks away, and the schizophrenic Chicago weather is starting to settle on the easy months of warmth and sunshine, with occasional rainstorms thrown in for good measure. With the winter relief, though, comes additional burdens on pet owners in the form of allergies. Often pet owners settle for what they view as unavoidable allergic reactions in […]
The post Spring Forward appeared first on Medical District Veterinary Clinic at Illinois.
Veterinarians sometimes prescribe over-the-counter (OTC) human medications for dogs and cats, like antihistamines for allergies or H2 blockers for an upset stomach. Other OTC human medications, such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, should always be avoided.
Because animals metabolize medications differently than we do, it is very important to ask a veterinarian before ever giving a pet an OTC or prescription medication intended for humans.
Medical marijuana (also called medical cannabis) is now legal for humans in 23 states and Washington, D.C., with legislation pending in several others. Due to this shift, veterinarians are increasingly being asked, “Is it safe to give my pet medical marijuana?”
The answer is no. It is illegal for veterinarians to prescribe cannabis for pets, and it’s also not advisable. While some hemp-based products for pets are available without a prescription, it is important to note that the level of THC (the chemical component that gives marijuana users their high) in these products is below the legal limit.
Veterinarians and marijuana advocates alike urge all members of a household to understand the health risks of...
February is quite a month for potential celebration. Even if you limit yourself to going all out only for all those obligatory National Dog Training Month and National Spay/Neuter Awareness Month parties, then you will probably end up stretching yourself thin for the Barley Month, National Pancake Week, National Pizza Day, and Texas Cowboy Poetry Week hoopla. It […]
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Dog park season is here and your pup’s tail is likely wagging with anticipation. As your canine’s keeper, it’s up to you to understand the codes of conduct so your dog can run, sniff, bark, play, and socialize safely.
First things first: Read the written rules—and obey them. Once you have the basic manners down, the following dog park dos and don’ts will help ensure your visit is fun and conflict-free.
Scoping out red flags
Professional dog trainer, Michelle Yue, CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA, suggests checking out the mix of dogs at the park before entering. Trust your instincts and don’t go in if you see anything that makes you feel uncomfortable.
Yue suggests choosing a dog park with separate areas for small and large dogs, and avoiding peak times—usually between 5–7 p.m.—as this is when parks are busiest and run the highest potential for altercations.
“Even if your little dog is good with big dogs, some big dogs have too much prey drive to be safe playmates,” she says.
She also recommends looking for signs that your dog is uncomfortable—and leaving if you see any. These signs may include a tucked tail, raised hackles, bared teeth, growling, hiding, cowering, or avoiding other...
You probably either know (or are sick of hearing) why you should have your pets spayed and neutered. February is Medical District Veterinary Clinic’s annual Spay and Neuter Month (as well as Dental Month) with significant discounts offered next month to make this process easier for you. Despite that amazingly enthralling introduction, I think it’s time you hear […]
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Many decades ago, veterinarians didn’t really know the significance of heartworm disease in cats, but it turns out, cats are about as likely to be affected by the disease as dogs—the host the parasite is meant for.
Here’s where it gets a tad tricky: In cats, heartworm is a different disease than it is in dogs. But according to Stephen Jones, DVM, president of the American Heartworm Society and practicing veterinarian at Lakeside Animal Hospital in Moncks Corner, South Carolina, “different doesn’t mean less significant.”
Just as with dogs, heartworms wind up infecting a cat as the result of a mosquito bite. When an infected mosquito bites a cat, it deposits heartworm larvae into the body. The larvae then migrate into the cat’s heart or pulmonary arteries.
Once they mature, adult female heartworms produce tiny, immature worms called microfilaria that circulate in the bloodstream. This allows the cycle to repeat, as microfilaria are ingested by mosquitos who bite the infected animal and are then transmitted to other animals.
Cats are often end hosts, meaning they typically do not transmit the disease to others. However, this does not mean heartworm disease in cats is any less...
The holidays have creepily snuck up on us again. If you happen to be the type who keeps a gift journal and does all of your shopping in August so you never have to scramble, well then…congratulations. The majority of us, though, are googling “great gift ideas for 9-year-old step-nieces” late at night as we […]
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This summer, U.S. pet owners will celebrate Take Your Pet to Work Week, which wraps up with Take Your Dog to Work Day on June 24. This is a great opportunity for animal lovers to bring their dogs and cats to the office, and for employers to see the benefits of pets in the workplace—and in fact, those benefits are prompting a growing number of businesses to be pet-friendly all year long.
According to Chris Meiering, director of innovation at Zuke’s, a natural pet treat company located in Durango, Colorado, an average day at the office includes 25 staff members and 10 dogs, though sometimes there are more than 20 dogs on the company’s campus at one time.
“Having them by our side makes us happy, lowers our stress levels, and creates an environment that is comfortable, open, and flexible,” he said. “Some offices have water cooler conversations; we have dog playtime conversations. Their presence really builds camaraderie in the office.”
Meiering said the dogs also remind employees to take breaks throughout the day.
“They may need a walk, but really, we need one too! It’s not uncommon for a lunch at Zuke’s to include a romp alongside the stream or a hike through the mountains, and a...
Thanksgiving has descended upon a snowy winter Chicago Wonderland. As the festivities begin, and the pumpkin-spiced scent of pastries everywhere begins to overtake ours senses without mercy, it is hard to escape the natural need to look at our homes and our furry friends, and be thankful for their presence in our lives. Turn up the furnace, and let the pileup […]
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