We spoke to author Arden Moore, who teams up with her shelter alum pets, Casey the cat and Kona the dog.
What does it mean when my dog barks or whines? Should I get a kitten or a cat? What makes my dog or cat happy? We all have questions like this about our pets – kids most of all. They go all in when it comes to finding out what makes dogs and cats tick.
A generation or three ago, when many of us were growing up, we loved our dogs and cats, but in some ways the relationship has changed. It’s more dynamic, more interactive, more public now. Kids these days really love their animals, and they want to know as much as they can about caring for, playing with and teaching them.
A pair of books, “A Kid’s Guide To Cats” and “A Kid’s Guide To Dogs” (Storey Publishing), provide them with answers to questions such as “Why do cats pant?” and “How many treats are too many for my dog?” as well as explain pet behavior and body language; offer tips on training, grooming, feeding and poop scooping; and suggest fun DIY projects for making pet toys, beds, treats and more.
We spoke to author Arden Moore, who teams up with her shelter alum pets, Casey the cat and Kona the dog, to teach pet first-aid and behavior classes around the country. She says the kids she meets are on the ball about their pets.
“They ask intelligent questions, they know things and they really want to know what they can do to make a difference individually,” Moore said. “A lot of them want to know what they can do to help a dog or cat they just adopted have a better life, what they can do in their school, so I’m digging the kids of this generation.”
Moore’s background as a pet first-aid instructor and her Fear Free training come to the forefront. In the pages, kids learn how to perform a weekly wellness check (ticks like to hide between toes), what to include in a pet first-aid kit, and how to recognize when pets are feeling fearful, anxious or stressed.
Photos and illustrations demonstrate pet body language and how to greet animals and teach tricks, identify various breeds, avoid trouble – like an overturned trash can – and play games. Lists and charts help readers determine their pet’s age in human years, set up a pet chore chart and know what “people foods” are OK to give and which are harmful. Heck, plenty of adults could benefit from these books.
Throughout, Kona and Casey offer tips and advice from their pet perspective, explaining why dogs feel good about chewing up our stuff (and how to prevent it) or why cats might seem to be finicky. From the human side, Moore gets answers from veterinarians on the real questions kids ask: “How does a dog still walk if he only has three legs?” “Why are dogs so playful?” (answered by our own Dr. Marty Becker) and “How can cats jump so high when they’re so small?”
No kid is ever going to enjoy scooping poop out of the yard or a litter box, but Moore uses her platform to explain why that’s important for a pet’s health and happiness. Parents may want to take a cue from her and make their kids “poopologists,” the family’s experts on pet pee, poop and vomit, responsible for reporting changes that might indicate problems.
Kids are the pet owners of the future, and Moore thinks they’re going to make the planet better for dogs, cats and other animals. “When I ask kids questions about the human-animal bond, they shout back things like, ‘They make me feel better,’ ‘They pick me up when I have a bad day’ or ‘My dog or cat does goofy things and I just laugh.’ They know the importance of all the good qualities that dogs and cats give to us to make us better people.”
Pet Connection is produced by a team of pet-care experts headed by veterinarian Marty Becker and journalist Kim Campbell Thornton of Vetstreet.com. Joining them is dog trainer and behavior consultant Mikkel Becker.