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Paws & Claws

Raising backyard chickens

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If you’re thinking about raising chickens in your backyard, you’re not alone — according to National Public Radio, backyard poultry has only grown in popularity since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, when homebound families brought home chickens to supply meat and eggs, keep kids busy and bring a little happy noise into their backyards.

Before you bring any chickens home, check local ordinances and neighborhood rules to make sure that you’re allowed to have chickens on your property. They may be prohibited entirely, or you may be limited in the number you can have or the type of coop you can build.

Once you know for sure that chickens are allowed, it’s time to do a little homework. Take a class, read a book, or find an online course. Chickens aren’t difficult to keep, but you should take the time to learn about daily care, health issues, behavior, and safety. During your research, you may realize that chickens aren’t for you after all.

Next, figure out where you’re going to keep them. Chicks usually require a heat lamp and a smaller enclosure, so identify a place where they can safely stay until they’re big enough to go outside.

Once outside, chickens require shelter and protection from predators, including family pets. You can purchase or download plans to build a coop yourself, or purchase kits or already-built coops from farm supply stores, hatcheries, and other vendors.

Before you pick out what kinds of chickens you want to bring home, think about your intended use for the birds. Some chickens are prolific egg-layers, while others offer plentiful and tasty meat.
Some birds can be used for both eggs and meat, while others, such as tiny bantam chickens, are mostly just fun to watch. Contact your local hatchery or farm supply store to find out when different breeds will be available, so you can place an order.

Lastly, as the Centers for Disease Control has repeatedly admonished Americans, under no circumstances should you hug or kiss your chickens. Chickens are notorious salmonella carriers, so keep your lips away from your birds, and if you must touch them, wash thoroughly with soap and water after.

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Paws & Claws

9 fun facts about pets

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Domesticated animals are more interesting than you might realize. Whether you have a dog, cat, hamster, reptile, or rabbit, these nine fun facts about pets are sure to surprise and delight you.

1. Hamsters are most active at night. While you’re asleep, they can run more than five miles on their rodent wheel.

2. Most cats don’t have eyelashes, but they do have an extra eyelid that lubricates and protects their eyes.

3. Geckos don’t have eyelids. Instead, they have a transparent membrane that covers and protects their eyeballs.

4. Rabbits can see behind their head. The lateral placement of their eyes gives them a nearly 360-degree field of vision.

5. Chameleons’ tongues are nearly twice as long as their bodies. That’s why they’re so good at catching their prey.

6. Greyhounds are the fastest breed of dog. They can reach speeds of up to 18 miles per hour.

7. Horses can drink an average of eight gallons of water per day. This amount increases with activity.

8. Rats laugh when tickled. However, the frequency of their laughter is too low (50 kHz) to be heard by the human ear.

9. Like a snowflake or fingerprint, no two dog noses are the same. They all have unique patterns and creases.

Now, go give your pet a treat or snuggle to reward them for being so interesting.

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Why do cats like high places?

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Is your cat constantly trying to climb your furniture? If so, this behavior isn’t surprising. After all, felines like to perch in high places. Here are some things to know about your cat’s fondness for heights.

Reasons cats like heights
Animals need to adapt to their surroundings to survive in the wild. They develop instincts to help keep them safe. These instincts persist even when they’re domesticated. Seeking high places is part of a cat’s natural behavior. Being up high gives your pet a good vantage point to observe what’s going on around them, target their prey and spot any potential danger. This makes them feel safe and secure. It also gives them a place to retreat when they don’t want to be part of the action below.

Creating vertical spaces
Providing cat-friendly vertical areas will help keep your feline friend off your furniture. Here are some simple and affordable ways to create vertical space for your cat:

• Purchase or build a cat tree or climbing post.

• Mount shelves for your cat to climb.

• Add a window perch to your cat’s favorite window.

To help keep your cat safe at all times, make sure that any perches you build or buy are secured and mounted with the necessary anchors.

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5 ways to prevent Fido from being dognapped

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The demand for dogs increased during the pandemic. As a result, dog abductions are also on the rise. Consequently, it’s a good idea to help keep your pet safe by taking the following precautions.

1. Keep them on a leash
Don’t let your dog freely wander in public. Use a strong leash or double tether so your pup can’t break loose and run away.

2. Don’t leave them unattended
Never leave your dog alone in a car or tied up outside a shop. This provides the perfect opportunity for thieves.

3. Lock your gate
If you must leave your dog in your yard unattended, make sure that your yard is fenced and your gate is locked.

4. Spay or neuter them
Some thieves will steal dogs in order to breed them. If your pet is spayed or neutered, it can help deter potential abductors.

5. Beware of strangers
Be suspicious of anyone who’s asking a lot of questions about your dog. Be evasive and never brag about your pet’s breed. It’s also a good idea to avoid posting too much information about your dog on social media.

Unfortunately, even with these measures, your pooch could still get dognapped. Microchips, however, can help reunite lost or stolen pets with their owners. Consider talking to your veterinarian about having your dog microchipped.

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How to effectively discipline your dog

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Is your dog behaving badly? While it can be tempting to scream, yell and get angry, these methods of punishment are ineffective and can be detrimental to your dog’s well-being. Instead, try using these techniques.

Reward good behavior
Positive reinforcement works better than traditional punishments. Condition your dog to behave appropriately by giving them treats and belly rubs when they do the right thing. Dogs like to please their owners, and they’ll work hard to keep you happy.

Punish bad behavior immediately
To be effective, punishments should be doled out directly following the undesirable behavior. If you weren’t there to witness the misdemeanor, don’t try to punish your dog after the fact. They won’t understand why they’re being disciplined, and doing so may create fear and anxiety that could lead to aggression.

Employ the power of redirection
The best way to discipline your dog is to correct their behavior. For example, if you catch your dog chewing on your shoe, say “No” and remove it from their mouth. Present them with one of their toys and praise them when they begin chewing on it instead.

In addition, it’s useful to understand that pets often act out when they’re bored. Keeping your dog active will often help get rid of pent-up energy and prevent bad behavior.

Lastly, you should never hurt, shake or intimidate your dog. If you feel like your pup is out of control, consult a professional dog behaviorist for help.

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Dogs can suffer in scorching heat

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Dogs need walks every day, but be sure to protect them so they don’t get overheated or burned.

1. Look for shady and grassy routes. – You and your dog will both enjoy sunny days, especially if you make sure not to walk the dog on blistering hot sidewalks. If blacktop and concrete are hot enough to burn your feet, it burns just as hot on your dog’s unprotected pads. A walk shouldn’t be torture.

2. Bring water. – You and your dog need to stay hydrated. For long walks, collapsible dog water bowls are lightweight and the perfect way to give your dog a drink during the outing. If you can’t bring water along, be sure to immediately offer water after a walk.

3. Flat-faced breeds overheat easily. – According to BeChewy, French bulldogs, boxers, and pugs need extra care because their short snouts make panting less effective, thus overheating the dog. Senior dogs also need water and a cool place to rest and walk.

4. White dogs need sunscreen. – Dogs with short, white fur can get sunburned, and it hurts just as much as your sunburn. Apply sunscreen to their backs. Dog-friendly sunscreen is available.

5. Never leave a dog or any animal outside with no water. – When dogs drink, they lift water into their mouths with their tongue. A little saliva stays in the water bowl. So the bowl can appear somewhat full, but it isn’t fresh. Make sure dogs have fresh water at all times. No dog should be tied outside during the hottest days of summer.

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4 tips for letting small pets free roam

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If you have a small pet such as a rabbit, hamster, or guinea pig, you might be wondering how to let it safely wander around outside its cage. Here are some key tips to follow.

1. Potty-train your pet
There’s less risk of damage to your home if your pet knows to only do its business in designated spots. If you have a ferret, for example, you should place several litter boxes throughout its roaming area to accommodate its small bladder.

2. Create a safe space
Make sure all electrical wires are out of reach in rooms where your pet will roam, and keep plants, medications, and food out of reach. It’s also best to remove decorative pieces that can get damaged such as carpets and curtains. Remember to give the whole area a final sweep for hazards before you let your pet wander.

3. Supervise your pet
Always keep an eye on your pet when it’s outside its cage. Small animals, especially mice and rats, like to squeeze into tight spaces. By remaining vigilant, you can quickly spot any safety risks you forgot to consider. You’ll also get a better idea of what your pet likes and how you can improve its space.

4. Provide lots of activities
Help your pet make the most of its free time by offering plenty of stimulation in the form of toys, tunnels, and climbing towers. If you have a rabbit or ferret, you can even use a leash to walk your pet outside.

For more advice about how to allow your furry friend to spend time outside its cage, speak with your veterinarian or visit a local pet store.

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Upcoming Events

Dec
2
Thu
5:30 pm Cookies with Santa @ Strokes of Creativity
Cookies with Santa @ Strokes of Creativity
Dec 2 @ 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm
Cookies with Santa @ Strokes of Creativity
Santa is coming to Strokes of Creativity. Bring your kiddos by and visit with Santa this Thursday evening, December 2nd. We will have a cookies to decorate with icing and sprinkles (while supplies last). Make[...]
Dec
4
Sat
10:00 am Senior Painting Class with Dottie @ Strokes of Creativity
Senior Painting Class with Dottie @ Strokes of Creativity
Dec 4 @ 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
Senior Painting Class with Dottie @ Strokes of Creativity
Senior Painting Class with Dottie at Strokes of Creativity. Tickets: CLICK HERE Cost: $80 for 6 weeks Dates: Thursdays – Oct 21, Oct 28, Nov 4, Nov 11, Nov 18, Dec 4 Time: 10 am[...]
1:00 pm The Nutcracker 2021 @ Skyline High School
The Nutcracker 2021 @ Skyline High School
Dec 4 @ 1:00 pm – 7:00 pm
The Nutcracker 2021 @ Skyline High School
Italia Performing Arts is pleased to announce its own student production of the seasonal ballet The Nutcracker, to be presented in Front Royal, VA, on Saturday, December 4th, 2021. 1:00 and 5:00 pm Tickets: $35[...]
4:30 pm Astronomy for Everyone @ Sky Meadows State Park
Astronomy for Everyone @ Sky Meadows State Park
Dec 4 @ 4:30 pm – 7:30 pm
Astronomy for Everyone @ Sky Meadows State Park
Meets in the Historic Area behind Mount Bleak. Discover our International Dark Sky Park! Our evenings begin with a half-hour children’s “Junior Astronomer” program, followed by a discussion about the importance of dark skies and[...]
Dec
5
Sun
4:00 pm Sweeter, Still… Holiday Concert @ First Baptist Church of Winchester
Sweeter, Still… Holiday Concert @ First Baptist Church of Winchester
Dec 5 @ 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm
Sweeter, Still… Holiday Concert @ First Baptist Church of Winchester
Sunday, December 5, 2021 4:00pm First Baptist Church of Winchester 205 West Piccadilly St. | Winchester, VA 22601 COVID-19 Guidelines: Masks are required for attendees Friday, December 10, 2021 7:30pm Front Royal United Methodist Church[...]
Dec
8
Wed
6:30 pm Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Dec 8 @ 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Bingo to support the American Cancer Society mission, organized by Relay For Life of Front Royal. Every Wednesday evening Early Bird Bingo at 6:30 p.m. Regular Bingo from 7-9:30 p.m. Food and refreshments available More[...]
Dec
10
Fri
7:30 pm Sweeter, Still… Holiday Concert @ Front Royal United Methodist Church
Sweeter, Still… Holiday Concert @ Front Royal United Methodist Church
Dec 10 @ 7:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Sweeter, Still… Holiday Concert @ Front Royal United Methodist Church
Friday, December 10, 2021 7:30pm Front Royal United Methodist Church 1 West Main Street | Front Royal, VA 22630 COVID-19 Guidelines: Masks are required for attendees Sunday, December 12, 2021 4:00pm Trinity Episcopal Church 9108[...]
Dec
12
Sun
3:00 pm Valley Chorale’s Christmas Concert @ Calvary Episcopal Church
Valley Chorale’s Christmas Concert @ Calvary Episcopal Church
Dec 12 @ 3:00 pm – 4:30 pm
Valley Chorale's Christmas Concert @ Calvary Episcopal Church
This year’s yuletide concert is titled THIS SHINING NIGHT.  Join us for a selection of seasonal songs — ranging in style from classical to spirituals to pop — sure to brighten your holiday and lift[...]
4:00 pm Sweeter, Still… Holiday Concert @ Trinity Episcopal Church
Sweeter, Still… Holiday Concert @ Trinity Episcopal Church
Dec 12 @ 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm
Sweeter, Still… Holiday Concert @ Trinity Episcopal Church
Sunday, December 12, 2021 4:00pm Trinity Episcopal Church 9108 John Mosby Hwy. | Upperville, VA 20184 COVID-19 Guidelines: Masks are required for attendees
Dec
15
Wed
6:30 pm Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Dec 15 @ 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Front Royal Wednesday Night Bingo @ Front Royal Volunteer Fire Deptartment
Bingo to support the American Cancer Society mission, organized by Relay For Life of Front Royal. Every Wednesday evening Early Bird Bingo at 6:30 p.m. Regular Bingo from 7-9:30 p.m. Food and refreshments available More[...]