More Than a Cone


Dealing with Separation Anxiety in Dogs

Separation Anxiety in Dogs

Let us paint you a picture: It’s been a long day at work, you’re exhausted and ready to be home. You walk in the door, greeted by your favorite furry friend and that is when it hits you. Your living room has been turned upside down, the house has few new funky smells, and the fluff of your newly purchased couch had all been torn out. It’s a disaster! You’re ready to lose it, but how can you get mad at their cute puppy eyes when all they ever wanted was someone to play with?

This scenario happens every day, all over the world, but why?

When you leave the house, it is common that your dog will show signs of distress due to separation anxiety. Dogs are social, loyal creatures, many of whom constantly need attention and want to play. This is especially true when they are at a young age. Many dogs in the shelter have once been abandoned or surrendered, which often leads to a higher chance of them experiencing separation anxiety. They are afraid of being left alone again. But don’t worry, there are several ways to decrease their anxiety by making them feel more comfortable when you’re unavailable. We’re not saying these problems can be solved overnight, but rather over time and consistent effort, you can change these behaviors.  

Signs of Separation Anxiety

·         Escaping: Came home to scratched doors, broken fences, or chewed up windows? Dogs will try to escape when they’re bored or in need of attention. When they’re in a confined area and have a limited space to play, they’ll have the urge to escape. Puppies, especially have the most energy and want to play, they’ll do anything to leave! Try to secure the area, because escaping can result in terrible consequences, such as having a loose dog, or if an aggressive dog attacks the neighbors.

·         Destructive chewing: Damaged furniture? Still can’t find the left pair of your favorite shoes? Dogs love to chew, and one way for them to cope is to bite on household items. Excessive chewing can cause ruptured teeth, and it isn’t good for your dog’s jaw! You might want to provide them with some toys or rawhides before heading out of the house.

·         Urinating and defecating: If your dog is potty trained, but is still leaving his droppings around the house, he is showing signs of distress due to separation anxiety. To prevent accidents from spoiling the house, purchase dog potty pads and place them in spacious areas.

·         Increased Vocalizations: Your dog will howl, bark or whine after you leave their presence. They will be more agitated and sensitive to sounds.

Now that we have the symptoms identified, let’s look at ways to prevent the causes of separation anxiety:

·         Morning walk/ jog: Take them on a walk before leaving the house. This will not only be great exercise for you, but for your dog too! Spend about 20-30 minutes in the morning and take a stroll around the neighborhood. This allows you to spend some time with your dog, and burn some excess energy.

·         Toys! Interactive dog toys can keep your dog, especially intelligent working breeds, distracted for hours. It gives them a unique challenge that can stimulate them mentally, and can help lower their energy build up. Puzzle toys such as a Kong are durable and very satisfying for them to chew. Simply stuff treats inside the toy, give it to your dog right before you leave the house, and you’re good to go!

·         Rawhide: Enough with the shoes, and pillow stuffings all over the living room! Well, one of a dog’s natural instincts is to chew. Rawhides are one of the most popular dog chews, which are made from the hide of cows or horses. Dogs can spend hours chewing on them, which will keep them busy while you’re out. This can also prevent dental diseases; the repetitive chewing can scrape off the buildup of plaque on the surface of their teeth. These treats will not only freshen your dog’s breath, but keep your couch in one piece as well!

·         Consistency, consistency, consistency: You have routines, they should have routines. If possible, try to feed and exercise your dog the same time every day. Create a schedule of when you’ll be giving them extra attention. It will let your dog know that even if you’re busy sometimes, you’ll always spare some time just for him when you can.

·         Adopt another dog: It may sound crazy, but getting your dog a companion at home may ease the separation anxiety. They’ll keep each other company while you’re out.

·         Enter/ leave the house calmly. Giving your dog extra attention when you leave can trigger some emotions. Try to leave discreetly without notice. When you come home, greet them lightly and wait until they have calmed down. Your dog is keenly aware of your emotions, so if you are sad, or nervous, or excited they will be too. So, if you’re dog is highly reactive, make sure you monitor your emotional responses as well.

Here are some related articles that you may find helpful:

Five Ways to Help Your Dog Cope With Time Away from You”,

Separation Anxiety in Dogs”,

Winnie Goh
Two is Better Than One

Are you considering getting another pet for your home? Here are a couple reasons why you should consider adopting a new family member to your household!

  • Loneliness and Separation Anxiety - Not only are they a new companion to you, but they make a great friend to your pet too! While you are out of the house, your current pet will be less lonely at home. That companionship and playfulness helps alleviate boredom, anxiety, loneliness, and separation anxiety. They could be spending time with one another and playing in the yard. How else can they get in a good game of tug-o-war? Since they have each other, the dogs will need less attention from you and they won’t be as needy. You won’t have to feel guilty leaving them alone when you’re off to work.
  • Physical Health - This can enhance their physical health and keep them in shape. A partner gives them more of a reason to exercise as they encourage play and interaction in both parties. This health benefit also extends itself to longevity, helping both animals live a longer and healthier life.   
  • Dogs are Naturally Social Creatures - If they don’t have a human companion with them, your next best bet is to have another pet. They’ll have a life-long companion to grow old with. If one of them is distinctly older than the other, they will be able to teach the youngster how to practice normal behaviors, while a younger dog encourages youthful vigor.

But before you bring a new friend home, here are some things to consider:

  1. Do you have a senior dog? If yes, certain younger pets may be too playful and energetic for older dogs, so it’s best to take some time to introduce the two in a neutral setting.
  2. Does your dog or cat get along with other pets? Know if your pet is social and willing to welcome in an unfamiliar dog or cat to your house.
  3. Is your pet spayed/ or neutered? If you’re considering getting a pet of different genders, be sure your dog or cat is already spayed or neutered to prevent unwanted pregnancies. Your best bet is to have both of them spayed/ neutered before bringing a new pet home.
  4. Are you ready? Only consider adopting another pet if you’re ready to give attention to another animal at home. Having one dog or cat is already a lot of work! A second companion is not a substitute for your own affection and attention, so be ready to expand the love you’re capable of sharing.

Here are some related links that you may find helpful if you’re considering having another pet at home:

Winnie Goh
Why Cats Make the Perfect Companion

Did you know that there are more cats owned in households in the United States than dogs? According to the American Pet Products Association (2015-2016), there is an estimate of 85.8 million cats owned, while there are 78 million dogs owned. Although we think of cats as mysterious creatures, they can have big huge, playful personalities, and they make the best companions. Here are 10 reasons why you should consider adopting a cat in your home:

  • Low maintenance - Cats are independent and easy to have around the house. They aren’t like dogs who need your constant attention. They know how to keep themselves busy during the day, so if you’re always on the go, having a cat will be perfect for you! No need to take them on walks either.
  • They’re clean - Cats naturally groom themselves. It is not necessary to bathe them on a regular basis. They know how to keep themselves clean.
  • Quiet - With the exception of the occasion meowing and purring, cats are typically quiet animals. They aren’t as noisy as having dogs (and they won’t bark at the mailmen).
  • Helps with loneliness - You’ll never feel alone when you have a cat around. They make the perfect cuddle buddies too, so if you ever feel like lounging around on a Sunday afternoon, they’ll keep you company.
  • Can be litter trained - Cats are very easily to litter train. They almost naturally know how to use the litter box, so you don’t have to worry about them having accidents around the house. Just provide them a litter box, and you’re good to go! There’s no need for frequent trips to the backyard.
  • They are entertaining - Cats are naturally curious creatures, they love exploring their surroundings. With so much personality, they’ll entertain you as they entertain themselves in their own mischievous ways.
  • Reduces stress - Having a pet to care about distracts you from other worries and frustrations. Cats will help alleviate the stress from other situations, and rather gives you a reason to be happy.
  • Good with kids - Depending on the breed, cats are typically good with children. They’ll mind their own business. Your kids will create an emotional bond with them too.
  • Compatible with other cats - Cats normally get along with other cats, so if you’re thinking of having more than one, it’s possible. If they grow up together, you won’t have to worry about cat fights.
  • You are saving a life - With approximately 3.2 million cats that enter the shelter each year, you will help save a life by providing them a loving home.
William Schwing
10 Perks of Fostering

Are you considering a new pet for your home, but aren’t sure what breed, size, or age is fit for your home? Or maybe you know what you’re looking for, and you want to adopt, but you have other considerations that give you a pause. Try fostering! Either fostering a new litter or a dog/ cat who needs special attention can help a shelter tremendously.

Here are 10 perks of fostering a dog/ cat:

  1. Saving lives. Fostering for even a week, month, or half a year can help save the life of a cat or dog in various ways. Being a volunteer foster parent is truly a rewarding experience, especially when you watch them grow, become less anxious, and start becoming more social.

  2. Clears space. With so many abandoned dogs and cats entering animal shelters, there are less space there is for each animal. When you foster, it clears up a spot for another incoming pet.

  3. You’ll get to know them. Fostering is essential for the process of adoption. The animal will have the chance to experience what it is like inside a home. Foster parents can take note of some habits and specific needs that the animal have, which will be useful for future adopters to know about them - whether they are good with kids, are potty trained, or have separation anxiety. Most animals who have been fostered have a higher chance of being adopting!

  4. Afraid of long term commitment? If you are interested in having a furry friend in your home but you are still unsure if you can keep him, fostering is the answer! You can decide on how long you want to foster them, but it is preferred that you foster the animal until it has found a permanent home, so timing can vary depending on each situation.

  5. Temporary emotional support. Having a dog or cat can really help you through tough times. You can’t go wrong with a furry friend by your side to help you cope. Even if you aren’t ready to have a pet of your own, they will be there for you in the meantime.

  6. Want a pet but aren’t sure? If you’re interested in having a new dog or cat at home, but aren’t sure which is the most suitable for you, consider fostering. You get to know the dog or cat on a more personal level and you get to see if they are fit for you.

  7. They feel loved again. Many animals behave differently in a shelter than they do in other situations, which is totally understandable. Imagine being in a cage, in an unfamiliar place with other scared animals. When you foster, the dog or cat will have the chance to feel what it’s like to be loved and played with again. They get to experience free space and have human interaction. They’ll love and appreciate you by showering you with attention and kisses.

  8. Helps them socialize. An animal in a shelter will forget what it’s like to socialize with other animals and humans. They may be shy at first because they have been abandoned by their previous owner. This helps them become more social and experience what it is like outside of a caged environment.

  9. All you need is your time and love! No need to worry about veterinary bills - the shelter has you covered.

  10. Maybe you’ll fall in love too! Who knows, there might be a chance that you consider adopting the dog or cat that you fostered. You’ll get just as attached as they are to you. You’ll help them find their forever home.

Here are some related links that you might find useful:

William Schwing
6 Reasons to Adopt

You know the story: A dog or cat is surrendered by their owners or worse, found without a collar, tag or microchip in the streets, and they end up in a nearby shelter waiting for someone to come claim them. As more and more animals pack swelling shelters, those who’ve gone without adoption are euthanized to make room for those who might have a better chance at adoption.

But here’s something you may not know: This same story plays out 7.6 million times each year. It’s true. If US shelters were a state, they would have the 13th highest population, more than the state of Washington, more than all of Arizona. In fact, if you added the populations of Rhode Island, Montana, Delaware, North and South Dakota, Alaska, Washington D.C., Vermont and Wyoming they still would not add up to how many animals enter shelters each and every year.

So as you consider adding to your family, here are 6 reasons why the best place to find a new dog/cat is the shelter:

  1. You get to know the dog/cat first. Many shelters allow you to have some time alone with the dog or cat before you make your final decision. The playtime will give you some time to get to know them little better and see if they are suitable for you and your family members. Some of them have previously been placed in foster homes, and previous foster parents could let you know more about what they are like at home, their personalities, and specific quirks about the pet.
  2. Variety. Unsure of what breed, size, age, or personality you want in a dog/cat? There are so many different kinds of dogs or cats that are placed in shelters. Keep an open mind! Whether you are looking for a family dog, a running companion, or a best friend to binge Netflix shows with, the animal shelter is the perfect place to find diversity. You never know what kind of companion you might fall in love with.
  3. Many costs are covered. Most shelters and humane societies have already provided vaccines and have them neutered/ spayed before they are taken home. This will save you a couple hundred dollars from a visit to the vet clinic. When you buy a dog at a pet store, you are more likely going to pay vet fees on top of what you pay for the dog. 
  4. Save money overall! Also, adoption fees for dogs and cats are a lot cheaper than purchasing one from a pet store or breeder. Shelters want to find these animals a safe, loving home, so some fees are necessary, but they are usually within budget. 
  5. They will appreciate you. Being stuck in a cage, in an unfamiliar place, with other scared animals around you for so long is not so fun for any creature, including these animals. They’ll shower you with lots of hugs and kisses. You will feel the love they have for you, and you’ll feel great that knowing that you gave them a chance.
  6. What’s better than knowing that you’ve helped save a life? With so many available animals at the animal shelter who desperately need homes, you are helping them empty spaces for more incoming strays.

If you’re thinking about getting a new friend at home, make a trip to your local animal shelter! There’s no better place to find your perfect match.

Here are some related links that you may find helpful:

William Schwing
Branching Out: My Beloved Companion

More Than A Cone gives back to animals in many ways, but there are other animals in need that go under the radar because their owners happen to be experiencing homelessness. The pets of those less fortunate nevertheless deserve veterinary care and treatment, and we believe it’s our duty to find ways to reach them since their owners are mostly unaware of us.

25% of homeless people have pets. Why? For the same reasons we all have pets. Some may say that homeless people are undeserving of pets, but we’d argue that the homeless are some of the most devoted animal stewards in our society, and they are just as concerned about the well-being of their pets as anyone else. We’ve seen firsthand homeless people who’ve gone without for months in order to save for treatments for their pets.

So MTAC set out to try and figure out a way to create awareness and support for pets of those experiencing homelessness. First we looked for organizations that routinely provided outreach services so that we could study how their setups worked, and find out if our outreach program would be a good fit. We found LOTS (Life on The Streets) Ministry. They provide a free breakfast, and free mobile laundry and mobile showers every Saturday at The Crossing Church in Costa Mesa. Saturday’s regular services are commonly known as “Breakfast at The Crossing”.

The first thing we saw when visiting Breakfast at the Crossing were people with pets. Thomas had with him his pit bull named Honeybun, Steve was with his dog, Bosco, and Jim was carrying his teacup poodle, Fifi, inside of his hoodie. When we asked if they’d like veterinary services to come to Breakfast at The Crossing they unanimously said yes, and proceeded to tell me of their pets’ many veterinary needs.

We drove away convinced Breakfast at The Crossing was the perfect place for us to see if we could pull off a free veterinary services outreach program. But there was still the question of what to call it and who would help us. We came up with My Beloved Companion because that’s pretty much what pets are to people, and it’s a universally relatable sentiment.

When MTAC approached VCA about My Beloved Companion’s outreach program they wholeheartedly wanted to help. They immediately offered volunteer veterinarians and technicians to treat the animals. Then Henry Schein Animal Health joined, providing medical supplies. Soon we had KONG providing toys and leashes, and KVP providing e-collars. 

With our ducks in order, we still didn’t know how many animals we would need to provide services for. There’s an unknown component to doing outreach with the homeless. They’re typically not wired to online social networks, and, understandably, there’s a tremendous amount of skepticism among them. The most vulnerable in our society are always the easiest to exploit, and they’re well aware of that.

So how to build trust when we have little access? We kept in touch with Shawn Davidson who runs LOTS. MTAC designed a My Beloved Companion flyer announcing the upcoming outreach program. Shawn passed them out and spoke about our plans at Saturday services. His estimated we’d probably see 15-20 animals, but with advertising possibly 35+.

As we neared the program date Shawn informed us with the good news that he expected a good turnout. We prepared for 75 animals just in case.

On the day of the outreach program, while setting up bright and early, there was still a palpable sense of the unknown. Would anyone show up? But to our great surprise My Beloved Companion’s first community outreach program was a huge success. In the first hour we saw 20 animals, and by the end of the day 50 animals were cared for by the loving volunteer staff from VCA.

We all learned a lot. It becomes perfectly clear what’s missing when you’re in the thick of it. But the overall consensus was that we should improve the program. And later Shawn followed up with a report that everyone on his end was thrilled with the program, and he asked if we’d return.

Coda: For More Than A Cone, the “cone of shame” is a misnomer. The cone was designed to do good, but it somehow ended up with a bad rap because of how silly it makes animals look. By transforming the cone into artwork we aim to change attitudes about the cone, and in turn underscore how significant and valuable animals truly are.

My Beloved Companion is not only a community outreach program, it’s also an awareness campaign with the goal of changing attitudes about homeless people. Through the art of messaging we aim to find common ground with all animal lovers, and promote volunteerism. No one sets out to become homeless, and hopefully in our lifetime it will no longer be a societal issue. But it takes more than money to solve big issues, it takes the will of a people to right societal wrongs. And, historically, the will comes from understanding and relating to an issue. Engaging is the first step.

– Bill Rangel, Executive Director, More Than A Cone

William Schwing
"Spill" sculptures-there's a connection

I stumbled upon “Spill” sculptures by Subodh Gupta online and it reminded me of the giant pet cone created for MTAC’s 2015 Art Festival event.

Gupta creates new meaning from ready made objects with the objective of inciting dialog around social issues. His “Spill” sculptures are about the wasting of natural resources and the emptiness of consumerism. 

MTAC’s oversized pet cone was created to suggest the scale of the animal issues that we focus on, mainly pet adoption, which the cone has come to represent. And much like how Gupta uses everyday kitchen objects to speak of social ills, MTAC uses the humble pet cone to speak of the plight of animals. 

I was thrilled to find and learn about Gupta’s inspirational artwork. He too challenges viewers to think of our shared impact on the world by helping us see everyday objects in a completely new way. 

Check out more of Subodh Gupta's work here.

–Bill Rangel

William Schwing