Weekly family rail, with tips on boarding your pet, a review of "Partials" and more.

Tip of the Week

Whether traveling for business or fun, it's not always practical to take along a four-legged family member. Arranging care of a beloved pet for an extended absence can be daunting. Knowing what to look for in a kennel, and what to look out for, can help you choose wisely.

- Ask around: "Family and friends can be a good source of recommendations," says Christi Olszewski, registered veterinary technologist (RVT) and instructor at Brown Mackie College - Albuquerque. "Your veterinarian is also a good reference point."

- Scout out facilities: Be sure to tour a facility before boarding your pet. "Ask to see everything, not just a single room or two," says Dr. Barry Kellogg, senior veterinary advisor for the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association.

Here are some factors to consider during your tour:

-- Cleanliness: Floors, runs and kennels should be clean and free of debris.
-- Light and ventilation: The interior should be bright, with odors whisked away.
-- Cage size: Each animal needs space for a bed, plus room to move. For cats, the space also should accommodate a litter box, and offer a place to hide.
-- Exercise runs: Runs are usually located both inside and out; those with a double-gated entry provide extra security.
-- Separation of dogs and cats: Ideally, cats and dogs are kept in separate rooms, not just separate enclosures; it can be highly stressful for cats to reside near unfamiliar canines.

- Who are the caretakers? "Most kennels won't have a veterinarian on staff; however, the staff should be trained and experienced, and include at least one RVT with technical knowledge of health concerns and elderly pets," says Olszewski. Kellogg reminds pet owners to "watch staff interaction with your pet. You want to see if they can sense the personality, and understand animal communication and behavior." The experts also advise to ask about the ratio of staff to pets. The fewer animals each staffer is responsible for, the more individual attention your pet is likely to receive.

- Daily activity: "Ask about the daily routine, the number and length of walks and exercise sessions," Olszewski advises. "Exercise should occur more frequently than is necessary for bladder relief." Kellogg suggests defining exercise. "Do they put him in a run by himself, or is there a person there with hands-on interaction? Some dogs prefer to go running alone. Other animals would become highly stressed without human playtime," he says. He also recommends against group play.

- Individual needs and preferences: Even though the Humane Society of the United States names boarding kennels as a known cause of stress in pets, you can take steps to help calm your furry friend. "Providing a familiar blanket or sleeping pad can help to reduce anxiety associated with being in different surroundings," Olszewski says. "This stress coupled with a sudden change in diet can lead to gastro-intestinal upset. I recommend providing the kennel food your pet regularly eats.” If your dog is on medication, ask about the administration procedure. Most facilities will give medications, but some will not. Ask ahead of time to be sure.

- Brandpoint

Family Movie Night

“Snitch”

Rated: PG-13

Length: 112 minutes

Synopsis: A father goes undercover for the DEA in order to free his son who was imprisoned after being set up in drug deal.

Violence/scary rating: 4

Sexual-content rating: 2

Profanity rating: 3

Drugs/alcohol rating: 3

Family Time rating: 3.5. This Dwayne Johnson movie isn’t for youngsters - stick to the PG-13 rating.

(Ratings are judged on a five-point scale, with 5 being “bad for kids” and 1 being “fine for kids.”)

Book Report

“Partials,” by Dan Wells

Ages: 14 and up

Pages: 472

Synopsis: The human race is all but extinct after a war with Partials — engineered organic beings identical to humans — has decimated the population. Reduced to only tens of thousands by RM, a weaponized virus to which only a fraction of humanity is immune, the survivors in North America have huddled together on Long Island while the Partials have mysteriously retreated. The threat of the Partials is still imminent, but, worse, no baby has been born immune to RM in more than a decade. Our time is running out. Kira, a sixteen-year-old medic-in-training, is on the front lines of this battle, seeing RM ravage the community while mandatory pregnancy laws have pushed what's left of humanity to the brink of civil war, and she's not content to stand by and watch. But as she makes a desperate decision to save the last of her race, she will find that the survival of humans and Partials alike rests in her attempts to uncover the connections between them — connections that humanity has forgotten, or perhaps never even knew were there. - HarperCollins Publishers

Did You Know

Genetic testing in newborns “should be strongly encouraged,” according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, Yahoo News reported. The experts do not recommend testing kids for adult problems such as the breast cancer gene, however.  
 

GateHouse News Service