Kids & Pets
September 17, 2019
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How many is too many felines? To spend or not to spend on pets? Dog Days of August Fostering is fun Dog fights – often more bark than bite Summer hazards for pets Odd couples and unusual friends Sonoma County Vegfest – learn about a plant-based diet The Richard Crane School- Cougar Cub Character Assembly Belated Happy Mother’s Day RP Animal Shelter has a rodent nursery All the pieces in place Cautions for your pet on the 4th of July Long distance adoptions Richard Crane’s walk-a-thon Bark After Dark benefit a great success Richard Crane- Cougar Cub Character Assembly for May 20 Hahn Elementary-Life skill recipients for May To be a senior cat during the summer is the pits Mark your calendars-Support Bark After Dark Black is beautiful! Spring is turtle season? Thomas Page Academy awards for May Summer camp review Saving Hopps becomes a job Monte Vista Elementary Student Builders-2018 Why nice animals sit We appreciate our volunteers John Reed Elementary-Positive behavior winners for April 30 You love pets? Quality vs. quantity Bark after Dark is coming Nov. 3 John Reed Elementary Positive Office Referral recipients Fires, floods, mudslides oh my! Monte Vista-Student builders for April 2 Monte Vista Elementary received recognition of being safe Monte Vista-Award winners for May 7 Monte Vista School Student Builders for October 2 Rancho Cotate High School Recognition of Curiosity for the month of October Monte Vista Elementary-Student builders for March 5 Richard Crane-Cougar Cub Character Assembly for April 1 Penngrove Elementary-Life skills for April 10 Inside or out – the debate continues Hahn Elementary School Monte Vista Walk-a-thon The Richard Crane School Cougar Cub Character Assembly students November 5 Planning for our pets Penngrove Elementary- Life skills for Feb. 27 RCHS seniors sign commitment University Elementary-Life Skill Award for Perseverance for the month of April Summer fun for animal lovers Hahn Elementary-Lifeskill recipients for the month of April John Reed Elementary School A beloved dog, a stolen car and...a happy ending Broken legs in cats very costly Furry fire victims John Reed Elementary- Honor roll 2018-pets in review Finding strays out of Sonoma County A visit to Thomas Page Academy Leoni wins speaker contest Bunny fur ban bill The Richard Crane School Cougar Cub Character Assembly April 29 Penngrove Elementary School A lifetime commitment Hahn Elementary Life skills awards - October, 2018 Are you ready for Thanksgiving? John Reed Elementary- Positive behavior for Dec. 12 Monte Vista School-second grade celebrates the holidays The Richard Crane School Cougar Cub Character Assembly- Jan. 14 Hahn Elementary-Life skills for November Dictionary mania It’s spring and kittens are popping The truth about no-kill, does not mean zero deaths Thomas Page STEAM Club Young kittens are lots of work RCHS awards for Kindness the month of October Penngrove Elementary Life skills awards- Oct. 24 Helping out in Paradise “Mary did you know?” Monte Vista Elementary- Student builders for Dec. 18 Your help is needed when we offer generous programs John Reed Elementary-Positive Behavior winners for January Tale of Cooper Penngrove Elementary - Life skill awards for Feb. 20 Want something cuddly, attend the Bunfest 2019 John Reed-Positive behavior winners for March 26 Disaster preparedness for our pets CPI offers support University Elementary School Rohnert Park tree lighting ceremony Long-term residents need a home University Elementary School -Life skill award for responsibility The Richard Crane School Cougar Cub Character Assembly- Dec. 10 Penngrove Elementary School-Life skills A Happy reunion Monte Vista-Student builders for Feb. 19 Obese pets are not cute Monte Vista Elementary-Being responsible Hahn Elementary-Lifeskills for the month of March Monte Vista School Sept. 18 Free-roaming cats – is it safe Living with multiple pets Monte Vista School Student Builders for Dec. 4 Holiday happiness and mishaps Penngrove Elementary-Life skills for Dec. 12 Monte Vista Elementary- Student Builders for Jan. 8 Monte Vista Elementary School - Student builders for Jan. 22 Penngrove Elementary-Life skills for Feb. 6 Penngrove Elementary-Life skills for Feb. 13 John Reed Elementary-Positive behavior winners for Feb. 26 Rancho Cotate High School-Students of the month for Feb. and March Richard Crane School for Sept. 17 Penngrove School - For the life skills of gratefulness Thomas Page Middle School - Principal honor roll Penngrove Elementary TSA selecting more floppy-eared dogs University Elementary - Creativity Life skill awards for Jan Silver Paws times two University Elementary-Feb. Life skill awards for Creativity Hahn Elementary Life skills for the month of Feb.  2019 World’s ugliest dog® contest University Elementary for September Rancho Cotate High School Students for the month of Nov. Thomas Page Elementary School - Lifeskill awards Prepare pets for better grooming visits Rohnert Park municipal code update Rancho Cotate High School Achievement award for January Richard Crane Elementary Cougar Cub Character Expectation award winners for the week of Feb. 25 Penngrove Elementary for Sept. 12 Hahn Elementary School - Life skills for Nov. 2018 Girls, it is time to make changes and be empowered Monte Vista Elementary-Student builders for Feb. Visiting Cape Town SPCA John Reed School Positive behavior winners for Nov. 27 Thomas Page Academy Respect, Integrity, Service and Endurance awards Step up your kids’ STEM skills Taking work on vacation John Reed Elementary- Positive behavior winners for Jan. 22. Monte Vista Elementary-Student Builders for Sept 4 Penngrove School Lifeskill award for Sept. 5 Penngrove Elementary - Lifeskill Award for Aug. 31 Teacher Amy Miller is wrapped up Some assembly required: Putting together the pieces of your rescue pet University Elementary School life skill awards for the month of August Penngrove Elementary Lifeskill winners for the week of Aug. 22 John Reed positive behavior winners for Aug. 28 Happy Birthday Richard Crane School walk-a-thon Hope unleashed for pets with cancer Penngrove School Aug. 8 Richard Crane School Cougar Cub Character Assembly students for Aug. 20 Penngrove School for Aug. 15 Penngrove Elementary Lifeskill award winners for Aug. 1 Rescuing Pitbulls: When myths affect reality Try attending Sonoma County VegFest Aug. 18 “Stuff the truck” Time to get immunized before school starts 5 tips for bringing your pet to work this summer School bus safety 101 Living with a 3-legged dog is not easy Can we can clear the shelter?

Small dog syndrome: When predators are also prey

By: Brooke Wrisley
August 31, 2018

While Mickey is away on vacation Animal Shelter Assistant Brooke Wrisley will be covering the pet column.

How often do you hear the term “ankle-biter” when referring to a small dog? How about any of these classics when referencing a little dog’s seemingly feisty disposition: “small dog syndrome,” “little man syndrome,” or “Napoleon complex”? Am I missing any? We have a lot of creative ways to refer to the unique liveliness which often comes standard with the smaller of our canine companions; from Chihuahuas to Shih Tzu’s we understand there is something about being small that just encourages a big attitude, but how many of us really understand the reasoning behind this “little dog/big ‘tude” phenomenon? Even for savvy dog owners, the truth may surprise you.

Most of us think of dogs as predators; at the very least we acknowledge that they are the meat-eating descendants of wolves and much of our care methods, from training to nutrition, are rightfully constructed with this in mind. However, it is also not so difficult to look at a Dachshund or a Yorkie and see that they are very different from wolves in many respects that we must not ignore – namely: size. Small dogs have a very unique place in the canine world and they know it – and they’ll usually tell you all about it, too! Whether the dog is boisterous, shy, fearful, confident, or some combination thereof, a little dog’s mentality exists in a very particular overlap of predator instincts gained from their wolf ancestry and prey instincts developed overtime as a result of being smaller and therefore more vulnerable. We must not forget that while we breed teacup and miniature sized dogs oftentimes for companionship alone, these dogs experience the world from an angle which so often casts us humans of all ages as loud, looming giants.

So what does this mean for small dog owners and tiny dog enthusiasts? As with most animal interactions, it is all about empathy and learning each dog’s individual language. Not so long ago I assisted in rescuing a Chinese Crested/Chihuahua mix who had been abandoned at a horse ranch and was living feral for close to a month before we were able to capture her. As a result, her survival instincts were that much closer to the surface than might have been the case for a dog who had always lived in a home. I noticed right away the difference in her attitude as a little dog who had relied on her predator-as-prey instincts to survive; most notably I can recall her ducking between patches of tall grass whenever she was in an open field and I realized suddenly and with no small amount of shock that she knew she was “hawk bait” and was protecting herself. Never before had I thought of a dog, what’s supposed to be this wolf-descendant predator, as a prey animal who would need to think like they might become someone’s dinner if they are not careful.

What may look like bossiness or fear-aggression to us is also likely to be a survival response, asserting their right to exist. Alternatively, what looks like a kind hand from us may, for a little guy, feel like a predator coming to swoop down upon them! While these prey instincts may be particularly highlighted in rescue cases, or cases wherein a dog has had to rely on them to survive, we must understand that these instincts exist within all dogs under a certain size. Taking the time to reassess the way we treat our tiniest companions will only bring us all closer together. Take that, Napoleon!


Upcoming Events:

“Get them back home” campaign – Every lost pet should have a way to get back home. FREE pet ID tag and a back-up microchip are available to all residents of Rohnert Park and Cotati. No appointment necessary, just come by the shelter during our regular open hours: Wed. 1-6:30 p.m., Thur.-Fri.-Sat. 1-5:30 p.m. and Sun. 1-4:30 p.m.

Fix-it Clinics – Free spay and neuters for cats; and $60 dog surgeries (up to 80 lbs.) for low-income Rohnert Park and Cotati residents. Call 588-3531 for an appointment. 


Mickey Zeldes is the supervisor at the Rohnert Park Animal Shelter. She can be contacted at