Visitors and Pets, Be Prepared

Not just for the holidays, Dr. Patrick talks about the Obama’s experience with visitors around our pets.  There is a lesson to be learned here…we almost must remain vigilant with our pets every time a visitor is in the house.  Dr. Pat gives some great tips on how to prepare a pet for a visitor…

Sunny Obama (Photo:

Sunny Obama (Photo:

Sunny Obama Knocks Over Child at White House Holiday Party

Have you been keeping an eye on the holiday happenings at the White House this year? I sure have been, as my client Jane Lynch emceed the annual lighting of the National Christmas Tree. In addition to the first family, Jane got to share the stage with a variety of amazing musical talents, including The Avett Brothers, Joshua Bell, Mariah Carey, Renée Fleming, Forte, Aretha Franklin, Janelle Monáe (a funky favorite of mine), Prince Royce, Arturo Sandoval, Train, and Nolan Williams, Jr. and Voices of Inspiration.

Besides the national Christmas Tree Lighting, other festive events have been going on involving the entire Obama family, including their Portuguese Water Dogs Sunny and Bo. Michelle Obama recently hosted a special event to show her appreciation for military families by inviting them into the White House to see the holiday decorations. The First Dogs made personal appearances at the event and and also had their likenesses represented in the holiday decor. According to the New York Daily News, “two life-sized replicas of the Portuguese water dogs made of satin ribbons are one of the first things an expected 70,000 White House visitors will see this month. Dark chocolate miniatures of the first pets are also part of the annual gingerbread White House display. Another highlight is the towering Blue Room tree, dedicated to military families and trimmed with photos of their joyous homecomings. Mrs. Obama says she wants Americans to never forget the debt they owe service members and their families for the sacrifices they make in serving the country.”

I have the utmost respect for Mrs. Obama, as she always radiates such charm, intelligence, class, and now even the utmost sense of responsibility surrounding the management of her dogs. The New York Daily News article This New York Daily News article recounts the First Lady jumping to action to restrain Sunny during a moment of excitement involving a youthful holiday visitor.

First Dog Gets Excited

Allegedly, Sunny was intrigued by the presence of two-year-old Ashtyn Gardner of Mobile, AL, and excitedly scampered over to greet the young girl. Gardner reportedly lost her balance upon Sunny’s enthused greeting and tumbled to the floor. Mrs. Obama immediately took control of Sunny by grasping the leash and pulling her away from the discombobulated child. Fortunately, Gardner was not injured in the fall nor was she harmed by a scratch or bite from Sunny.

I must give the First Lady accolades for keeping both Bo and Sunny attached to their festive-looking red leashes instead of roaming free among the White House guests. Ultimately the situation appeared to end well, as Obama gave the seemingly unharmed Gardner a reassuring hug.

As I often preach, there are many occasions where pets and crowds don’t necessarily mix well. The excitement of the goings-on at festive gatherings can be stressful to pets and cause them to exhibit behavior changes to which they are often not otherwise prone. Vocalizing (whining, barking, etc.), aggression, escape attempts, pacing, cowering, destructive tendencies, inappropriate urination or defecation, or other behavior can all occur when a pet encounters circumstances causing stress.

Staying Stress Free

If your canine or feline companion is prone to such behaviors, it’s vital to the pet’s well being and a more pleasant holiday experience to minimize any stressing triggers. If you plan to keep your pet at home, engage in an energy draining activity a few hours before the perceived stressful event. This may be a longer walk, a more vigorous hike, a few more throws of the ball, an extra 15 minutes of laser-pointer play, or another exercise of your choice. Otherwise, arrange for an overnight stay in a non-celebratory household or boarding facility. Additionally some veterinary recommended natural products or prescription medications can help relieve anxiety or induce a sedated state on an as-needed basis.

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Posted by on Feb 25 2014. Filed under Animal Reality, News and Views, Pet Behavior. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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