Keeping in step at the parks

By Caryl Clem:

April’s monthly theme is for everyone to walk so put on your favorite soles and head for a park while practicing social distancing. Cook County Forest Preserves feature 70,000 acres and over 350 trails to investigate while Chicago’s parks cover 7,600 acres. To locate the scenic 31,000 acres with 206 pathways and trails to explore; the largest selection of endangered and wildlife species in Lake County along the Des Plaines River or the shores of Lake Michigan.

A contest had been held to decide what the best park should offer and the winner influenced the next 50 years of park designs, Frederick Law Olmsted. The New York Central Park in 1857, was a showcase of beauty, a park with rolling landscapes and graceful wrought iron benches. The most frequent visitors were the wealthy. The best roads were there for carriage races held on a regular basis. By the turn of the century parks were constructed for the working class in neighborhood locations.  The love of sports becomes part of park services in the 1960’s.  Parks offers a huge variety of activities from museums, conservatories, cultural centers in addition to exercise.  A majority of parks feature a younger child area with playground equipment and sand boxes. Any park is an adventure to walk through while studying nature. There are interactive maps with GPS available, for instance LCFPD.org/maps.

The Rails to Trails movement idea started in Chicago. May Theilgaard Watts in 1963 wrote to the Chicago Tribune proposing closed Chicago-Aurora-Elgin railroad line was a space to walk going to waste, this was a missed opportunity. In her words, “ if we have the courage and foresight..then from this strip we can create a proud resource.”  Years later, The Illinois Prairie Path Organization turned her words into a reality currently used by over 800,000 people who have walked along the Illinois Prairie Path. Outside of  Chicago, this site offers locations complete with ratings.

The best example of wetlands is in the Spring Bluff forest preserve in Winthrop Harbor that links to the Chiwaukee Prairie in Wisconsin. The 4, 500 acre is the highest quality of coastal area in Illinois and southeast Wisconsin awarded the Ramsar Wetland of International Significance in 2015.

History and culture exploration are offered in several parks; for example The Dunn Museum in Libertyville, Indian Park near the West Rogers Park area’s Cultural Center offering Native American themes to pay tribute to the former Pottawattomie tribes that occupied this territory,  and Chicago History Museum in Lincoln Park . Old roads and horse trails wind through Ryerson Woods in Riverwoods.

For dog owners,  (annual permits required )pawsitivly great spots In Lake County,

   Dog Park Maps
Duck Farm »              Independence Grove »             Lakewood »
Prairie Wolf »             Waukegan Savanna »

For Chicago, check out these trails for your favorite pet.

Currently, many parks are closed so check before going. Spend April walking, even around your neighborhood. Doctors advise a minimum of 30 minutes for at least 5 days a week. When the parks open again, explore and feel the excitement of a new adventure while improving your health.

Doggone Advantages

By Caryl Clem:

February hosts several media ignored holidays. Your dog has the keenest sense of smell, can read human moods, capable of learning support for the handicapped while offering consistent loyalty.  National Dog Walkers Day is 2/23 and February boasts supporting Responsible Pet Ownership month. “Going with the Dogs” has positive not negative results.  Documented healthy advantages include fighting heart disease, lowering blood pressure, and improving muscle tone and stress while improving mental bonding enjoying natural beauty.  Every pet broadens the spectrum of love in your life.

Feeding  your dog is past the time when uneaten food from a dinner plate slid off to land under the table because your dog was ready to lick the floor clean.  Dessert for dogs was not a concern. Dog food has evolved to supply a full range of nutrition. Dog food treats reflect the same food trends their owners are experiencing. February is National Snack Food month and Milk Bone is proof that doggie treats can keep pace with our chips and various munchies markets.

The first dogs walking to consume dog biscuits were show dogs. Spratt from England was marketing a dog biscuit cake to nobility and wealthy owners asserting that his cake would make the dogs stronger and fit to compete. By 1895 his product had arrived in America becoming famous after a 1902 scandal from the Madison Garden dog show claimed a Lady Ella dog contestant had died from poisoning found in her dog cake. The secular market of dog cakes was ready for the common place owner.  An American inventor, Carlton Ellis in 1907 patented the dog bone shaped biscuit in three sizes. Milk Bone pounced on this image in their first big advertising campaign.  The original very expensive biscuit geared to satisfy the wealthy dog owner market shifts its customer base.  In 1908, F. H. Bennet Company was mass manufacturing dog bones packaged in cardboard boxes at affordable prices.

The Milk Bone Company has a web site that shows the marketing themes through 100 years.  The first in 1940 proudly features the three sizes ready to please any dog.  The push for home grown wholesome foods ingredients was seen in the 1958.  The star flavor in 1971 was “Beefy” during the same time big burgers were the rage. Getting rid of teeth plaque has its own video.  ” Ham and cheese” flavors were featured in 2008 and by 2016 along the list of 20 flavors added the all American favorite, “Peanut Butter”.  The latest addition has a pouch in which to place dog medication.  The early ingredients that were causing dogs to gain weight have been streamlined into diet friendly combinations.  Del Monte now owns Milk Bone.

During a time when an increasing number of people are fighting obesity or isolation, owning and walking a dog makes sense.  Dog ownership is a cure for loneliness while a motivation to practice healthy habits for the sake of your dog.   Finding “treats” for your dog(s) offers a wide variety of choices online, below are a few suggestions:

Three Dog Bakeries: Home

Dog BakeryDog Birthday Cakes Cookies & Treats, Fresh…

The Barkery Gourmet Dog Birthday Cakes, Cookies, Treats …

“Treat Your Boo” Event with Pet Costume Contest

Through the years, I have loved picking out Halloween yearly costumes for myself and my own children. Though, I never thought about dressing up the guinea pig we had for a short time and our cats. I assist in a kindergarten class and I wonder if they are going to dress up their favorite pets. Actually, we have a new kitten at home…she might look good in the lion costume. PetSmart is truly the place to share this Halloween holiday with your entire family. You can enjoy picking out ghoulish goodies, classic costumes, and spooky toys for your dog, cat or even your guinea pig.

Have you ever dressed up your guinea pig as a mermaid? What about serving your pets special Happy Halloween treats or have them hang out in their own haunted house? At PetSmart,the leading pet specialty retailer in North America, online and in stores, you will find a full range of costumes for small breeds plus large dog outfits. A variety of pet accessories are available that include different collars, bandannas, bows and hats as well as Halloween bedding.

Pet parents are invited to PetSmart stores nationwide for a “Treat Your Boo” event on Saturday, Oct. 26 from noon to 2 p.m. local time. Dogs will be able to learn tricks for treats, and pet parents can fill a treat bag for their pet, at PetSmart’s exclusive Trick or Treat stations. The party will feature a costume contest with awards for first, second and third place, plus a certificate for social media bragging rights.

To make those social media posts really shine, stores will offer photos with Chance the Mascot for pet parents to share with followers by tagging with #petsmartparties. For those who want to keep the pet Halloween party going, free yard signs will be available at the event letting neighbors know that dogs are invited to their homes to trick or treat on Halloween night.

And after asking a few in my kindergarten class if they were dressing up their pets, some said that their pets were going to be disguised as pumpkins. More pet parents and families are choosing costumes for their pets in celebration of Halloween as well as pets being included in birthdays, and all sorts of celebratory events.

What a perfect time right now to attend pet parades while sharing pet photos of this dress up event on social media. PetSmart truly enjoys helping pet families share their ultimate experiences of fun together.

Dr Michelle Radwanski – Argonne Animal Hospital: A true gift

I sat in the chair in my living room rocking him gently, as he rested his face in my neck, purring.  For eighteen years, we had done this routine when he was sick or just needed special attention but this time I was deeply sobbing knowing what the rest of the day might bring.  He was seeing a new vet in a few hours. She was a Mom to a student at school and we talked about Joe Bo briefly on a school field trip.

We waited in the exam room, Len and I, taking turns holding him and I thought of our last cat who was the same age when she had died at home two years before. It was a holiday weekend and horrible to watch her fail without a vet’s assistance.

Dr. Radwanski, owner of Argonne Animal Hospital in Lemont, Illinois, walked in ready to examine Joe Bo. She had a thorough knowledge of explaining what was happening with the cat as she gently explored his body especially for not having seen him before or any  past veterinarian records. She was extremely skilled in determining that he was in his declining days as she communicated clearly and also mentioned some medical options that may prolong his life a few days, a few months. However, we knew as a family with advice from Dr. Radwanski, that euthanasia was best for him and the procedure was completed that day without pain. Joe Bo’s quality of life had been greatly reduced and the doctor cared only about his welfare and that he did not suffer any further.

Dr Radwanski completed her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine with honors in 2000 at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. Since then, she has over 18 years of experience caring for animals in the western suburbs of Chicago. She is skilled in diagnostics, anesthetics, surgical, and dental procedures. She holds a special interest in preventative medicine, senior care, dermatology, pain management, and dentistry. Most of all, she has become a respected community veterinarian.

A true angel was brought into our lives that day in Dr Radwanski at Argonne Animal Hospital as we said goodbye to Joe Bo. If we get another kitten or maybe a puppy, he or she will be immediately attended by the doctor for the first annual exam, crisis, or whatever comes first. There are no other words to express her honest love and true calling for the animals she treats.

Please feel free to call her office anytime or visit her website at argonneanimalhospital.com

Remembering your first pet: National Pet Day-April 11

By Caryl Clem:

My constant companion as a child in the 1950’s was not a doll or stuffed animal, it was a petite, soft furry black cocker spaniel named Candy.  She was difficult to hold because she would be licking you furiously while wagging her tail. A spinning top was easier to grip. She followed me no matter where I went, listened to my stories and never told anyone my secrets. She turned me into a dog lover.  After Candy passed away, Mother and Father said, “No more dogs”. I felt inspired after watching Disney movies, a pet could be any willing animal.

Next door to my house was an unsightly lot full of abandoned vehicles, commonly termed a “junk yard”. Naturally, my parents had forbidden me to travel there. During a morning stroll pass the junk yard, I could distinctly hear a dog whimpering.  My heart jumped snapping my body into rescue mode. I broke house rules, I had to find that dog!  I found more than a dog, a starving mongrel mother and puppies. I ran home to plead mercy for them.  A compromise was made between me and my parents, I could cautiously assist animals but I was not allowed to bring them home. I met with the owner of the junk yard and he agreed I could feed approved animals if I told him where they were. I did not realize I was the reason many animals went missing.  I found a variety of critters including several snakes and a snapping turtle during those years.

According to the 2017-18 statistics, over 68% of American households own pets. Dog owners are more prevalent than cats. The pet industry has tripled in the last 15 years.  Pet ownership trends in pet ownership show more seniors are adopting pets (Pets for seniors), most pet owners purchase insurance, diets focus on nutritionally balanced and organic food supplies. Pet spas are offering grooming, massage and exercise with T.V. socialization. There is even a Dog Persons Dating App. Restaurants that advertise “bring your dog to dine”  are opening.

Pets and their owners share a bond that creates a chemical in the brain that lowers blood pressure, fights depression, and lowers chance of strokes. Owning pets can reduce allergies in children according to several medical studies.  Parents debating the value of a pet should check out an excellent review of 22 studies of the impact of companion animals on child development.

The charm of animals can be enjoyed in a variety of movies. Grab some snacks and watch a few of my favorites : Finding Dory (2016), Zootopia ( 2016), Eight Below (2006), Happy Feet (2006)Finding Nemo (2003), War Horse (2001), My Dog Skip (2000),Babe(1995),Free Willy (1993)Homeward Bound, The Incredible Journey ( 1993) Adventures of Milo and Otis ( 1986) and Benji( 1974).