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Your cat has some surprising things to share.



“I’m not as independent as you think”

Even though we see each other every day, there are many things you may not know about me. For example, did you realize that I treat you the same way I’d treat any other cat? That’s right, when I sit next to you, lick you or rub up against your legs, know that I would do exactly the same thing if you were a small, domesticated feline like me.

In fact, I really like nice, warm humans. Some people think that cats are independent and would rather fly solo, but this simply isn’t true. We actually enjoy being around our humans more than playing with our toys, eating treats, and rolling around in catnip. If I feel like being left alone, I’ll let you know by growling, whipping my tail, or puffing out my fur. I’ll come around again when I’m in a better mood.

I also think it’s important for you to know that when I purr, it doesn’t necessarily mean I’m relaxed and happy. I sometimes purr to get your attention when I’m sick or hurt or to calm myself down in stressful situations.

Lastly, despite my best efforts, I hate sharing because it makes me feel anxious. So, if you adopt another cat, I probably won’t let it eat from my bowl or use my litter box. It’s best if you get us our own accessories.

Thank you for caring for and loving me,

XOXO Whiskers

means hello in my language.

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The Dark Side of Puppy Adoption: Why Steering Clear of Puppy Mills is Crucial



Putting Ethics Over Aesthetics: What Vets Want You to Know Before You Adopt a Puppy.

Everyone loves the idea of bringing home a cuddly, wriggly puppy. The prospect of little paws and wagging tails is undeniably enticing. However, where you get your new furry friend from can make a significant difference, not just in your life but in the welfare of animals. Veterinarians and animal welfare organizations strongly discourage adopting from puppy mills and for good reasons.

First things first, let’s define what a puppy mill is. Unlike responsible breeders who prioritize the health and well-being of their animals, puppy mills are breeding operations where profit eclipses all else, often at the expense of the animal’s health and safety. At the core of a puppy mill’s business model is mass production, leading to cutting corners in ways that are almost universally harmful to the animals.

Puppy mills are easily identifiable by a series of red flags:

  • Inadequate Conditions: Unclean cages, poor ventilation, and insufficient light are the norms.
  • Subpar Care: Food is often low-grade, and pups receive little to no playtime or socialization, affecting their mental well-being.
  • Falsified Credentials: It’s not uncommon for puppy mills to forge registration and pedigree certificates, misleading the adopter.
  • Poor Breeding Practices: With profit as the prime motive, there’s little concern for avoiding genetic defects or hereditary disorders.

Adopting a dog from a puppy mill doesn’t just impact you; it perpetuates a vicious cycle. By purchasing from them, you’re providing revenue that keeps these unethical businesses in operation. Furthermore, you run the risk of bringing home a pet with severe health issues or behavioral problems. Many such dogs end up being abandoned or surrendered to shelters, exacerbating the homeless pet crisis.

Thankfully, there are better avenues for adoption. Certified breeders who undergo regular inspections and adhere to humane practices are an option. However, adopting from an animal shelter or rescue organization is often the most ethical choice. Not only do you offer a home to an animal in need, but you also make room for another dog to be rescued.

Puppy mills sell through various channels, from online classifieds to flea markets and even some pet stores. A little due diligence can go a long way in ensuring you’re not supporting these unscrupulous operations.

As inviting as the idea of a new puppy is, it’s crucial to approach adoption responsibly. A pet isn’t just an accessory but a life that will be part of your family for years to come. By avoiding puppy mills, you’re not just saving one animal; you’re contributing to a movement that insists on humane treatment for all.

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Unveiling the Spiky Enigma: A Comprehensive Guide to Caring for Pet Hedgehogs



Beyond the Adorable Videos: What It Really Takes to Keep a Hedgehog Happy and Healthy.

So, you’ve seen those endearing videos of hedgehogs curling into cute little balls or running on wheels, and you’re seriously considering adopting one. While it’s easy to fall for their undeniable charm, caring for a hedgehog is not as straightforward as it may seem. These little creatures, native to parts of Europe, Asia, and Africa, require meticulous care. Before you embark on this prickly journey, here’s everything you need to know.

The saying “a hedgehog needs room to roam” couldn’t be truer. Unlike some small pets that are content in smaller enclosures, hedgehogs need ample space to move, run, climb, and dig. Experts recommend a living area of at least eight square feet. A small cage just won’t cut it; it’s crucial to provide them with a living environment that allows them to carry out their natural behaviors.

In addition to ample space, hedgehogs need toys and accessories for mental and physical stimulation. Think running wheels, small huts, climbing rocks, and an assortment of tubes and balls. These aren’t just cute add-ons; they’re necessities for your hedgehog’s well-being.

Hedgehogs are insectivores, but that doesn’t mean their diet should solely consist of insects. Many pet stores offer specialized feed formulated for insectivores. If you opt for a DIY approach, a balanced diet can include cat food mixed with fruits, vegetables, and insects like crickets and worms. However, portion control is vital. Hedgehogs have a propensity to gain weight, and obesity can prevent them from curling into a ball—a natural defense mechanism—which can endanger their health. If this happens, consult a veterinarian immediately.

Despite their wild origins, hedgehogs are relatively clean animals. They require occasional baths and nail trims. One crucial but often overlooked aspect is the cleanliness of their living environment. Dirty cages or running wheels can lead to soiled paws, increasing the risk of bacterial infections.

If you’re conscious about your energy bills, bear in mind that hedgehogs thrive in temperatures between 75 and 84°F. They react poorly to cold conditions. If maintaining this temperature range throughout the year is a concern, you might want to reconsider hedgehog adoption.

Pet hedgehogs are adorable, but they’re not the right fit for everyone. With specialized dietary needs, significant space requirements, and a need for warmer temperatures, they demand a dedicated owner. If you’re willing to put in the work, your prickly friend will offer a unique and rewarding companionship.

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The High Stakes of Pets and Pot: How to Safeguard Your Furry Friend from Cannabis Exposure



The Green Boom and Its Unintended Four-Legged Victims: What Pet Owners Need to Know.

As cannabis gains wider acceptance for medical and recreational use, it brings along new concerns—especially for pet owners. No matter how careful you are, the booming popularity of edibles and oils could spell danger for your furry friend. Here’s a guide on how to prevent cannabis poisoning in pets and what steps to take if exposure occurs.

In states where cannabis is legal, edibles have turned into a booming business. From brownies to jujubes, there’s an ever-expanding list of cannabis-infused treats. But what’s a sweet indulgence for humans can be a life-threatening hazard for dogs, who are naturally attracted to sugary foods. Not to mention, cannabis oils and capsules, though appearing innocuous, are just as harmful. Storing these items securely out of your pet’s reach is your first line of defense.

Beyond edibles, even the act of smoking cannabis can pose a threat. Though the effects of second-hand cannabis smoke on pets have not been as extensively researched as in humans, existing data suggest that it can lead to cannabis poisoning in animals. The best practice is to partake in smoking activities outside, far from your pet.

Pets won’t be able to tell you they’re feeling off, but there are noticeable symptoms that might indicate cannabis poisoning:

  • Agitation or nervousness
  • Abnormally cold body temperature
  • An unsteady gait
  • Altered heart rate
  • Lethargy or drowsiness
  • Inappropriate urination
  • Dilated pupils
  • Excessive drooling
  • Vomiting
  • Bloodshot eyes

Pets exposed to high-THC cannabis products are at greater risk and may require immediate emergency treatment.

If your pet shows signs of cannabis poisoning, immediate action is crucial. Contact an animal poison control center or your veterinary clinic as soon as possible. Many clinics now have expertise in treating cannabis exposure in pets, and some even have dedicated hotlines for such emergencies.

As the wave of cannabis legalization continues to roll across the country, pet owners need to be extra vigilant. While cannabis has therapeutic potential for humans, the consequences for our four-legged friends can be dire. Keep cannabis products securely stored, and be mindful of your usage habits to ensure the safety of your pets.

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When Furry Friends Face Fire: A Guide to Dealing with Pet Burns



The How-To on Emergency Care for Burns in Pets: What You Need to Know.

It’s a pet parent’s worst nightmare. You turn your back for a second, only to discover that your four-legged friend has touched something hot and is now distressed. Accidents happen, and while we can’t anticipate every mishap, we can prepare ourselves for how to respond appropriately when our pets get burned.

The critical moments following a burn are when most people are likely to make misguided attempts to alleviate their pets’ pain. The first rule is to avoid using ointment, grease, or butter on the affected area. Contrary to old wives’ tales, these substances trap heat and can worsen the burn.

Instead, your immediate action should be to immerse the burned area in cold water. This will not only cool the affected area but also serve to dampen any emerging inflammation. Gently dry the burn area and wrap it in a clean or sterile dressing. This is where a well-stocked first-aid kit comes into play.

Even if the burn appears minor, it’s crucial to call your veterinary clinic. The vet will ask you a few questions to gauge the situation and will then guide you on the steps to take before your appointment. In severe cases, the vet may recommend coming in immediately.

If the burn is severe, use a clean, damp cloth to cover the affected area, opting for lukewarm water instead of cold. Handle your pet gently to avoid exacerbating the pain. Placing a muzzle on your pet may be necessary to prevent them from biting you or themselves in distress.

Once at the vet clinic, the healthcare team will conduct a thorough examination. Depending on the severity of the burn, the treatment plan may include painkillers, hygiene care, and nutrient-rich food to hasten recovery. Owners should heed the vet’s advice and make any necessary changes to their pets’ living conditions to prevent future accidents.

For those looking to arm themselves with more first-aid knowledge, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) provides invaluable resources on its website,

It’s never easy to see your beloved pet in distress. Knowing what to do—and what not to do—can make a significant difference in your pet’s pain levels and overall recovery process. Pet burns are a critical reminder that while accidents happen, it’s our responsibility to equip ourselves with the correct information to provide the best care possible for our furry family members.

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Deciphering Furry Wishes: The “Show Me” Technique



A Simple Phrase Unlocks the Desires of Our Four-Legged Companions.

Pet owners often face the conundrum: “What does my pet want?” The riddle of their insistent nudges, eager eyes, or unexpected antics can leave many puzzled. But now, Liz Palika, in her latest book, “The New Age Dog,” provides a straightforward method for tapping into our pets’ unspoken desires.

It’s not uncommon to find ourselves in situations where our pets appear to be attempting communication, whether it’s a dog pacing back and forth or a cat assertively occupying your newspaper. Rather than playing a prolonged guessing game, Palika suggests a more direct approach: simply asking them.

Dubbed the “Show me” technique, it requires the owner to verbally prompt the pet with the phrase “Show me” and then follow the animal’s lead. As you repeat the command and approach various items—perhaps a leash indicating a walk or a water dish signifying thirst—pay attention to your pet’s reactions. An animated response typically means you’ve struck gold.

While many associate training primarily with dogs, Palika’s method is not species-specific. Cat owners, too, can benefit from the “Show me” routine. So, the next time your feline friend disrupts your TV time or makes a spontaneous lap landing, instead of shooing them away, consider asking them to guide you to the solution. More often than not, once their need is met, you can resume your activity in harmony.

Pets, much like humans, have their unique ways of expressing needs and desires. While they might not speak our language, the “Show me” technique offers an avenue to bridge the communication gap, fostering a deeper understanding and bond between pets and their owners. The next time Fluffy or Spot seems particularly insistent, remember: a simple question might just unlock the answer.

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Rethinking Rats: The Misunderstood Rodent You May Want to Adopt



Breaking Stereotypes: Why Domestic Rats Make Fantastic Pets.

Rats. The mere mention of the word conjures up negative images for many: disease, dirt, and general disdain. But what if the very qualities we associate with this oft-maligned creature are not only unfair but downright wrong when it comes to their domesticated counterparts? If you’re considering adopting a small pet, you may find that a rat could very well be your perfect match.

Many people are unaware that rats are highly intelligent creatures. They can recognize their names and even respond when called. This is not a mere response to a sound stimulus; it’s an indicator of their cognitive abilities. Rats can solve puzzles, navigate mazes, and are highly trainable, making them captivating pets for those who engage with them.

This intelligence also makes rats incredibly sociable animals. They enjoy human interaction, loving to be petted or sitting comfortably on a person’s shoulders. For people looking for more than just a pet to feed and look at, rats offer a relationship that’s much more interactive.

Contrary to their wild cousins, domesticated rats are exceptionally clean animals, spending a considerable amount of their waking hours grooming themselves. They are not aggressive and rarely bite, unlike other small pets like hamsters. Their friendly and gentle disposition makes them excellent pets for families with children, serving as a teaching moment for kids about the values of compassion and care for all creatures, not just the conventionally cute ones.

However, there is a somber reality to owning rats. They have relatively short lifespans, averaging between 2.5 to 3.5 years. This is indeed a point of consideration for anyone contemplating rat adoption, but it’s essential to note that what they lack in longevity, they make up for in the quality of companionship they offer. If well-cared for, these pets offer a relationship that, while short, is deeply fulfilling.

Before you let old stereotypes sway you, consider giving rats a chance. With their intelligence, affectionate nature, and suitability for children, domestic rats are a far cry from their misunderstood wild cousins. They may have a short lifespan, but the joy and companionship they bring into a home make them worth every moment. So the next time you’re at a pet store, skip the goldfish and consider adopting a pet that’s smart enough to know you, gentle enough to love you, and thankful enough to be saved from societal prejudice.

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Upcoming Events

all-day Hoopin on the Hill @ Randolph-Macon Academy
Hoopin on the Hill @ Randolph-Macon Academy
Dec 1 all-day
Hoopin on the Hill @ Randolph-Macon Academy
HOOPIN ON THE HILL Basketball Tournament at Randolph-Macon Academy This weekend, Friday (Dec 1) and Saturday (Dec 2!), come out and cheer some excellent athletes on!!! Call Jennifer Avery at 540-683-0790 with questions. We would[...]
all-day Hoopin on the Hill @ Randolph-Macon Academy
Hoopin on the Hill @ Randolph-Macon Academy
Dec 2 all-day
Hoopin on the Hill @ Randolph-Macon Academy
HOOPIN ON THE HILL Basketball Tournament at Randolph-Macon Academy This weekend, Friday (Dec 1) and Saturday (Dec 2!), come out and cheer some excellent athletes on!!! Call Jennifer Avery at 540-683-0790 with questions. We would[...]
10:00 am A Tree-mendous Hike @ Sky Meadows State Park
A Tree-mendous Hike @ Sky Meadows State Park
Dec 2 @ 10:00 am – 11:00 am
A Tree-mendous Hike @ Sky Meadows State Park
Sensory Explorers’ Trail. Explore the rich natural history of trees guided by a Virginia Master Naturalist. Discover the tips and tricks of basic tree identification and the tree-mendous roles that trees play in our environment.[...]
10:00 am Kris Kringle Market @ Trinity Lutheran Church
Kris Kringle Market @ Trinity Lutheran Church
Dec 2 @ 10:00 am – 7:00 pm
Kris Kringle Market @ Trinity Lutheran Church
The Trinity Lutheran Church Kringle Market will take place on Saturday, December 2, 2023 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.  The Kringle Market is centrally located in the Newtown–Stephensburg Historic District in the Trinity Lutheran[...]
10:00 am SPCA Thrift Shop Grand Reopening @ WASPCA Thrift Shop
SPCA Thrift Shop Grand Reopening @ WASPCA Thrift Shop
Dec 2 @ 10:00 am – 2:00 pm
SPCA Thrift Shop Grand Reopening @ WASPCA Thrift Shop
After months of renovations and hard work, the Winchester Area SPCA is thrilled to welcome you back to its thrift store, where every purchase supports the mission of caring for and finding loving homes for[...]
1:00 pm Front Royal Bluegrass Music Jam @ The Body Shop
Front Royal Bluegrass Music Jam @ The Body Shop
Dec 2 @ 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Front Royal Bluegrass Music Jam @ The Body Shop
New Bluegrass and traditional music jam the first Saturday of each month starting Feb. 4th, from 1pm till 4pm. All levels of playing invited to attend.
3:00 pm Valley Chorale “Once Upon a Chri... @ Calvary Episcopal Church
Valley Chorale “Once Upon a Chri... @ Calvary Episcopal Church
Dec 3 @ 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Valley Chorale "Once Upon a Christmas" Concert @ Calvary Episcopal Church
Join The Valley Chorale for a family-friendly concert featuring favorite carols, hymns and songs of the Christmas season!
5:30 pm Free Holiday Meal @ Trinity Lutheran Church
Free Holiday Meal @ Trinity Lutheran Church
Dec 6 @ 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm
Free Holiday Meal @ Trinity Lutheran Church
If one has read the Surgeon General’s 2023 report on America’s epidemic of loneliness and crisis of disconnection, one can then understand the significance that a Holiday Meal can have on the community at large. [...]