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Ten Things Your New Dog is Trying to Tell You

If only your new dog could talk. Well, they can, in a way: if you listen and observe you'll pick up some important cues. For now your relationship is in its initial stage so here are some of the key things your new dog is trying to tell you:

1. Thank you for welcoming me to your family. I need time to acclimate to my surroundings. Everything is new, and I need to know what is out of bounds and what will now be a normal part of my day. 2. I need to be introduced to everyone in the house—that includes other pets. 3. I need a collar with an I.D. tag. The tag should have your phone number, my name, and your name on it. Even if I have been microchipped, having a visible tag can help bring me back to you if I get lost. 4. I need to be updated on all of my shots. Believe me, I'd rather skip those vaccines but they will keep me healthy and happy. 5. Training should start immediately once you get the okay from my veterinarian. By establishing a routine of positive challenges, I won’t get bored, which means I won’t get into trouble in my new home. 6. I love the new nutrition you are giving me. However, at the shelter where I lived, they fed me a different brand of kibble. Any change in my diet could upset my stomach, so please introduce me to it by mixing the two brands and slowly transitioning me onto my new yummy food. Also, I need some help with portion control: please don’t overfeed me or give me table scraps—even when I stare at you with adorable, pleading eyes. 7. My water bowl needs to be changed each day to make sure my water is fresh and bacteria doesn’t start growing in my bowl. 8. Potty training is just as important for me as it is for you, a consistent routine containing lots of positive praise when I am going at the right place at the right time will keep us both happy. 9. I know you are busy. Can you spend quality time with me? Maybe we can toss a ball around or visit the dog park. It would be great for me if you create a schedule and try to stick to it. 10. Please show me some patience. I am new to everything, and I have to learn to trust you. You will see my personality bloom over the next few weeks and I will spend the rest of my life showering you with affection to show you my gratitude for giving me my forever home.  

Exciting Holiday Wishes Grant Campaign News!

boAs you may know, in October the Petco Foundation joined Ellen DeGeneres and her natural pet food company, Halo, Purely for Pets, to announce a new Holiday Wishes Grant Campaign, where animal welfare organizations would compete to receive grants totaling $250,000.   Organizations were asked to submit success stories exemplifying the lifesaving work of their organizations for a chance to win a $100,000 grant award. With the competition closed, we can report that the response from animal welfare organizations was overwhelming.  We received 4,500 grant applications.  The incredible work being done around the country to save animals is truly inspiring.  We want to thank everyone for taking time to tell us your stories; you all are amazing! One thing became clear in our review -- our original total grant amount of $250,000 was simply not enough. charlieTherefore, we have DOUBLED the total grant award amount to $500,000.  The winner will still receive a $100,000 award and total grants will be awarded in the following amounts:
Grand winner $100,000
Two second tier winners $50,000 each
Five third tier winners $25,000 each
Ten fourth tier winners $10,000 each
Fifteen fifth tier winners $5,000 each
So many animals have had their Holiday Wishes come true because of our animal welfare partners. We are excited to make some Holiday Wishes come true for the winning organizations. Winners will be announced over the next couple of weeks, so stay tuned and good luck to everyone! spunkyBrewster

Preparing your Pet for Photos with Santa

You've decided to take your pet to get  photos with Santa.  Great!  We're here to help.  Whether this is your first time, or you're just hoping to improve upon past experiences, here are some steps MIGHT help.   STEP ONE:  Adjust your expectations While all of your pets are equally adorable, ask yourself: is one pet more cooperative than the others?  While having all your pets in one picture is a novel idea, it’s hard enough to get one to cooperate- why complicate things? [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="245"] via[/caption] Sit still will ya?   Let's be honest, not all of your pets are going to be naturals. And while this may be what you're picturing in your head... [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="504"] via[/caption]   ... the reality is, some pets just don't like Santa. [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="246"] via (Scott Beale)[/caption] Embrace your situation and congratulate yourself for averting a potential holiday disaster!   STEP TWO:  Find a location for your photos Believe it or not, you can't just take your pet to the mall and put him/her on Santa's lap.  You'll need to find a place that is prepared for your pet and everything that comes with 'em. [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="299"] via[/caption]   Petco to the rescue- not only are we prepared to host pets at our stores but Santa will be making a visit December 7th and 14th, from 1pm to 4pm for our Photos with Santa event.  You'll get a 4x6" photo in a keepsake frame for a donation of $8.95.  Donations from this event will help support pets in need. As you can see, our Santa's know how it's done. 20111206022823891730 A vision of pure holiday bliss.     STEP THREE: Primp and pamper your pet You could give them a bath at home but where's the fun in that?  A day of spaw treatments means no cleaning on your part, and less stress overall.  This holiday, our groomers are offering something extra special: the Sugar Cookie Spa Works, which includes sugar cookie-scented premium shampoo, coat conditioner and spritz, spray-on detangler, toothbrush service and a free bandana. [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="245"] via[/caption]   Once you have your pet feeling fresh and clean, it's time to hit the wardrobe aisle.   [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="350"] via imgur[/caption] Aren't you precious?     [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="430"] via imgur[/caption]

This guy puts the "awe" in "awesome."

  Pro tip:  wait to accessorize until after you arrive at your photo session.  Small items like hats, bow ties, socks, etc. are easy to lose.     STEP FOUR:  Relax This step is for both you and your pet.  Before your photo session, go out for a nice long walk or give your cat some extra play time- nothing too messy (because you don't want to have to repeat step three). Oh, and remove anything from it's environment that might cause stress or anxiety (even if it's funny as heck).     Remember not to put too much pressure on your pet. And if you ever need help, a friendly Petco associate will always be there. [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="263"] courtesy of bighangnail via flickr[/caption] We are crazy about your pets, after all. [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="500"] courtesy of lilshank413 via flickr[/caption] Happy Holidays!

Beware of Thanksgiving Trickery

Thanksgiving is a great time to gather with your family, and that includes family pets.  Just be careful that you don't end up in a sticky situation.  Dare to say no to their shenanigans and cuteness because in the end, the best thing you can do for your pet is have their best interest in mind. Here are a few things to look out for this Thanksgiving:   Turkey on the menu?  Nope. Never underestimate a cat- like little furry ninjas, they will disguise themselves  and take what they please. [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="538"] via imagur/eggsterminate[/caption]   ...and no, it's not below them to try intimidation tactics either. [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="500"] via[/caption] Did we mention they were good at disguises? Cat, is that YOU? [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="500"] via[/caption] What about dogs? Surely they wouldn't dare try to fool you! [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="470"] via imagur[/caption]     Wise words, Tupac. Wise words   No shame. [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="354"] via[/caption]   Dogs may not always be as cunning as cats but they have some tricks up their sleeves.   [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="420"] via imgur[/caption]     And moves like Jagger. [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="364"] via[/caption]   But beware! They will go for your Achilles' heel- their undeniable cuteness (and they work in packs! double the trouble) [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="302"] via imgur[/caption]     How about Jedi tricks?  Well let's just hope you aren't weak of mind. [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="367"] via imgur[/caption] Because they really want your noms. [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="299"] via[/caption]     Stay strong! You can do it! No matter what they do, remember that they depend on us to look out for them, and protect them from all harm. [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="500"] via[/caption] So say no to the excess, no to the raisins, no to flatulence (trust us, this is for your good too). [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="370"] via imgur[/caption] And if you must treat your pet, do it with extra pets, appropriate treats and lots of love. [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="329"] via[/caption] [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="250"] via[/caption] From all of us at Petco, we wish you a happy and safe Thanksgiving!

Love is Ageless – By Lori Fusaro

[caption id="attachment_8505" align="alignleft" width="300"]loveisageless Sunny and her sister Gabby[/caption] I’m a professional pet photographer and have been photographing pampered pets for over a decade. I am blessed to have a job that allows me to combine my two passions—animals and photography. But part of me felt like I could be giving more to the homeless pets that languish in the shelter. I decided I needed to find a way to use my talent to give back. And so I started photographing shelter animals to help them get adopted. Sometimes a photo on the Internet is the first link to finding a dog or cat a home. After doing some research I was dismayed at the quality of the photographs used to network those animals in need. It was then I decided to donate my time to take professional photographs that would speak through the computer screen and hopefully make that person want to meet the animal. I go to the shelter early Sunday mornings to photograph the adoptables. It’s one of the hardest things I have ever done—and one of the most rewarding. The Los Angeles shelter system is hardcore. The sheer numbers of homeless pets breaks my heart. I meet these dogs and cats, play with them and take their photos, knowing that many will not make it out. And that is why it’s so important to me that I continue, even through the sadness. Every animal is important and deserves a loving home, but there is a special group that has become a passion for me. Seniors animals. What happens to them when they wind up in an animal shelter? How will they get adopted when the shelter is full of other younger homeless dogs, cats, puppies and kittens, all searching for a home to call their own? [caption id="attachment_8510" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Senior Lab Jake the retired device dog[/caption] Most people want a puppy or a young dog they can train. They are wary of medical expenses that can come with an older pet. They are afraid of opening their heart and losing them far too soon. And that last reason was at the top of my list as to why I could never adopt an old animal. I felt my heart couldn’t handle it. [caption id="attachment_8517" align="alignleft" width="199"]Senior on stairs Mabel lived her last 2 months with a loving foster in Oakland[/caption] But then I began to think about the animals. And I began to think about all the other people in the world that had those same feelings. That’s when a tiny seed was planted in my head. It stayed there, mostly quiet, but a nagging thought that just wouldn’t leave. And then Sunny entered my life. Sunny loves to play with her rope toy. She will do anything for food. Sunny loves to stick her head out the window and feel the wind in her face. She loves to go on walks and cuddle on the couch. Sunny is 17. My life changed the day I saw that gray face laying on a blanket in the shelter. I knew she probably wouldn’t make it out of the shelter alive. She was just…too old. I hesitated for only a second and then I did the only thing I could do. I adopted her and took her home. Little did I know that this one act would change me to the very core. It sounds dramatic, I know, but it’s true. Sunny was the catalyst that made that tiny nagging thought explode into action. [caption id="attachment_8516" align="alignright" width="199"]Senior - white mask Fiona (15) was saved from the East Valley shelter last Thanksgiving.[/caption] So many of these older animals are turned into the shelter through no fault of their own. Many times by people that love them. Families who have no other options but to bring their beloved pet to the pound. One in particular still haunts me. The dog’s name was Snoopy. He was a happy boy with a face almost completely white and an old man’s walk. His owner lost her job, her home and had nowhere to go. She brought him to the shelter with hopes he would find a family that could take care of him. I will never forget her face. Red, swollen, tear-stained and full of such a deep agony. Her breathing was labored through the sobs that she couldn’t control. She stayed there with her Snoopy for 3 hours, dreading the last goodbye. There have been many others that have crossed my path. Hazel, the 12-year-old Alf look-a-like. She was so shut down, confused and so sad. She cowered in the back of the kennel. On her last day she was saved and now lives like a princess with a mama that cherishes her. Rocco, a handsome chow, Poochie and Spot the sister retrievers, Sioux the gorgeous white shepherd, Jake, Sassy, Corndog, Princess, Merlin, Fiona, Leo...the list unfortunately goes on. It’s these faces that are the inspiration behind Silver Hearts, a project I created to bring awareness to senior animals that need adopting. [caption id="attachment_8512" align="alignleft" width="199"]17 year old Sunny - sassier than ever! 17 year old Sunny - sassier than ever![/caption] I’m often asked what have the challenges been since bringing Sunny home. The main issue is veterinary costs. However I was surprised that it wasn’t as much as I had initially anticipated. Her medication is mostly for her arthritis and is very manageable. Many vets will give discounts once they know the situation. And there are low cost options online as well. Even Costco carries pet meds. And many nonprofit organizations have programs that assist with these types of costs. There are little things that help keep these seniors more comfortable. I use a harness for walking Sunny. She sometimes is wobbly on her feet and with a harness I am able to keep her more stable. She also has an orthopedic bed. Stairs can be an issue for some seniors so this might be something to consider before you bring one home. If you do decide to open your home to an elderly pet there are many organizations that specialize. A quick Internet search will show you the ones in your area. You can also ask about foster programs with the rescue. Many have programs for seniors. It’s a wonderful way to help the animal with a rescue to back the financial obligations. And if you are new to this, they can help with support.     At the end of the day, adopting a senior will probably be one of the hardest and one of the best things you will ever do. Love doesn’t keep track of years. It just grows wiser, softer and more forgiving. Maybe a little bit slower, but still valuable and capable of joy. sunny and gabby   Lori Fusaro is a guest blogger for Petco, and a long time advocate senior pet adoption. Be sure to check our her work: Find out more about Silver Hearts: Also seen on: NBC Nightly News Today Show Pets

Blueberry loves Ellen and Firefighters

BlueberryBlueberry loves to watch the Ellen DeGeneres Show.  He especially loved her recent episode where Ellen's guests were two firefighters who saved puppies from a burning building. Ellen also announced the new Holiday Wishes Grant Campaign, where the Petco Foundation, along with Ellen and her natural pet food company, Halo, Purely for Pets, will make the holiday wishes come true for some of the nation's most dedicated organizations.  If you have not seen it click here to watch. Animal welfare non-profits through-out the country can compete to win a $100,000 Petco Foundation grant this holiday season by simply sharing a great success story, along with basic organizational information. Additional grants will be awarded to finalists in the following amounts: $50,000 for 2nd place winner, $25,000 for 3rd place winner and five and ten thousand dollar grants to ten runner-up organizations. Blueberry was so moved by the firefighters' story, he wants to be a fire dog! Applications due by November 22nd. Blueberry encourages all the deserving animal welfare organizations throughout the country to apply today for a Holiday Wishes grant.   ellenVideo

Who Wore it Best – Halloween Edition

These treats are courtesy of our entrants from the Petco “Make a Scene” Halloween contest. This year, lobsters and tacos were all the rage, while hot dogs and bees lost some of their buzz from last year. Join us, the "who wore it best" panel, as we look though some great picks and help us decide who wore it best!  Did the panel get it just right?  You decide! First off we wrestle with the task of choosing our favorite luchador. frankieluchador Xochitl Avila Here we have Frankie as luchador #1 (left) and Xochitl Avila as luchador #2 (right) Michael:  I'm going to have to go with #1.  Love the six pack shirt and leggings. Ryan: I disagree.  Have to go with #2.  I mean, would you want to meet him in a dark alley? Look at that snarl! Melanie:  I'm with Ryan here.  Plus, the color scheme that #2 is rocking totally works for this pup. #2 wins with the panel. Do you agree?  Vote now. [poll id="5"]   Next up, we're going blue in the face trying to pick our favorite Avatar! Avatar AAvatar B Here we have an adorable little chihuahua as Avatar #1 (left) and his challenger as Avatar #2 (right) Ryan: #1 is killing me but that 'do is a don't for me.  I'm going with #2.  The stripes, the face, the ears... It's all just too perfect! Melanie:  Are you nuts?!  #1 puts the "do" in "doozy."  I love everything about it. Michael:  I'm with Ryan.  I love the weapon accessories #2 is sporting. #2 wins with the panel. Do you agree?  Vote now. [poll id="4"]   Next, we love on some lobsters. Cat lobster pug lobster Cat vs Dog! Cat as Lobster #1 (left) and the pug challenger as Lobster #2 (right) Ryan: #2.  I prefer my lobster without hairballs. [giggles] Michael:  I'll go with the meatier choice here.  #2 Melanie:  #2 for me as well.  Pugs are taking over the internet, one cat meme at a time. #2 wins with the panel. Do you agree?  Vote now. [poll id="6"]   Giddy up to the next round- Western inspired! Western doggy Western Cat Western Lizard We have three contestants this time! Dog in Western #1 (left), cat in Western #2 (middle),  and our lizard contender #3 (right) Ryan: Definitely #1.  This dog is on trend with plaid.  I would have gone with #2 but it's a lil too Vegas for me. Michael:  #3 captures the rough and rugged side of the Wild West. Melanie:  Looks like we have a three-way tie because I'm going with #2.  Those cowgirl boots are fabulous.  Isn't she pretty in pink?  Yes, I think so. We have a three way tie. Who do you think pulls this look off the best?  Vote now. [poll id="7"]   Our jokes might bite but these costumes don't!  Up next we have our Vampires. vamp1 vamp2 vamp3   Three bootiful dark vampires! Vampire cat #1 (left), vampire cat #2 (middle),  and vampire dog (right) Melanie:  I'm partial to anything that looks Victorian.  #2 does it for me.  This cat is obviously comfortable with embracing its dark side.  The other two are pretty fantastic though. Ryan: I would say #1 but the fit on the cape is all wrong.  That is one stunning cat.  This is hard.  I'm going to have to go with #2. Michael:  There is something in #3's eyes that really pull me in.  I dare say the fashion world hasn't seen anything as beautiful since Zoolander pulled off "magnum." #2 wins. What do you think?  Vote now. [poll id="8"]     Don't call it a comeback.  Puppy says "knock you out." boxer1 boxer2 These are a different breed of boxer.  In the left, weighing in at 70 lbs we have Boxer #1.  The challenger, coming in at about 8 lbs, Boxer #2. Michael:  #2 is clearly struggling with those gloves.  I'm just not sure this is the right fit for him.  I'm going to go with #1, who really knows how to work the robe look. Ryan: Yeah, that robe is legit.  I'm going with #1 as well. Melanie:  #2 all the way for me.  While I absolutely adore #1, I can't get over the how perfect the head wear looks on #2.  Those eyes are speaking to me. #1 wins. What do you think?  Vote now. [poll id="9"]     Hungry?  Then you might want to pass up this round of scrumptious Tacos! taco1 SONY DSC taco3 Cute enough to eat up (not literally), we have Taco #1 (left), Taco #2 (middle) and Taco #3 (right, rabbit) Ryan: THERE'S A HARE IN MY TACO [laughter].  Okay, they are all cute but i'm going with #2. Melanie:  Agreed.  I love the Taco Bell accessories in #1 and #3 but it's the hat in #2 that really brings this outfit together for me. Michael:  #2 has the whole enchilada.  The right fit, the right accessories, and the right model.   #2 wins. Do you agree?  Vote now. [poll id="10"]   This next round will have you all shook up.  Bring on the Elvis costumes! elvis1 elvis2 elvis3 Which of these pups reigns as the King?  Elvis #1 (left), Elvis #2 (middle) and Elvis #3 (right) Ryan: Yes. Yes. Yes.  #1 wins for me. Melanie: #1 has the best fit.  While I love the collar and #2 and the wig on #3 is fantastic, I think #1 really nailed it with the proper fit, the bedazzling and the flared bottoms. Michael:  #1 has the belly and wrinkles. I love it.   #1 wins. Do you agree?  Vote now. [poll id="11"]   You love searching for him in a crowd--up next here's Waldo. waldo1 waldo2 Who pulled off Waldo the best? Waldo #1 (left) or Waldo #2 (right)   Melanie: This is hard.  #1 has the round glasses. Michael:  I have to agree.  #1 for me. Melanie: Wait.  I can't decide.  I can't handle how cute they both are.  It's a tie for me. Ryan: Oh dear.  Okay, i'm going to go with #2.  It takes a special body type to pull off horizontal stripes.  I agree, both are adorable but #2 wins.   This one ends in a draw. Do you agree?  Vote now. [poll id="12"]     Last but not least we have the Flying Monkeys from the Wizard of Oz. monkey1 monkey2 monkey3 This one is going to be hard but only one can win. We have  Flying Monkey #1 (left), Flying Monkey#2 (middle) or Flying Monkey #3 (right)   Ryan: AHHH. Oh my gosh.  I don't even know what to say. Michael:  #3 all the way. Melanie: Is it possible to explode from cuteness overload?  I can't take much more!  I don't know.  #1 and #2 capture the Winged Monkeys during their more jovial times.  #3 truly speaks to the period in which they were enslaved.  If I have to pick one, and just one then I'll go with #3. Ryan: I think i'll go with #3 as well.  Another fantastic group.   #3 wins. Do you agree?  Vote now. [poll id="13"]

Yummy AquaFarm Recipes

The beauty of an herb is that you don't need a lot to pack a punch. A bit of basil and you get a subtle, peppery note to an otherwise sweet smoothie. A sprig of mint brings a cool fragrance to a tangy citrus drink. Our first two recipes are a perfect example of how a little goes a long way. For a bolder option, our third recipe uses a lettuce/herb combination as the main attraction, sweetened and spiced with a honey ginger dressing. The most exciting ingredient, of course, is the AquaFarm -- our fish tank that grows herbs and greens! Can you say.... AquaLicious!   Strawberry Banana Smoothie aqua smoothie You'll be delighted by our take on this classic favorite. Creamy and perfectly sweet!   1 banana 1/2 cup strawberries 1-2 basil leaves from your Back to the Roots AquaFarm 1 date (with seed removed) 1/2 cup coconut water 2-4 cups of ice   Puree all the ingredients in your blender and serve chilled.   Citrus Mint Smoothie This tangy delight is sweetened just right, naturally. Feel refreshed and alive with this one!   1-1/2 orange 1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice 1-2 fresh mint leaves from your Back to the Roots AquaFarm 1-2 dates to taste 1/4 cup coconut water 1/2 cup ice   Puree all the ingredients in your blender and serve chilled.   Arugula and Alfalfa Salad with Honey Ginger Dressing   1 cup of chopped lettuce from your AquaFarm 1 cup of baby arugula from your AquaFarm 1/2 cup of alfalfa sprouts from your AquaFarm 1/2 cup of croutons crisp bacon (optional) your favorite cheese, shaved For the dressing: 2 tbsps. of honey 2 tbsps. of Dijon mustard 2 tbsps. of olive oil juice from a quarter of a lemon 1 tsp. of finely grated ginger Directions Wash the lettuce, arugula and alfalfa sprouts Mix together all of the salad dressing ingredients Layer the lettuce, arugula and alfalfa sprouts in a bowl. Top with croutons, bacon (if using), and cheese. Start with half of the dressing and drizzle over the salad. Taste and add more dressing if needed. Enjoy!   Feel free to omit the bacon and instead use a hunk of parmesan for a textured, salty, bite!   What are you growing in your AquaFarm? Submit your recipes below.       Written by: Alejandro Velez and Nikhil Arora, Co-founders, Back to the Roots

Great Ones Shelter Winner – Animal Services City of Huntsville

huntsville3 The Humane Society estimates that animal shelters care for 6-8 million dogs and cats every year in the United States, leaving shelters over populated, understaffed and in desperate need of funding.  While we can all do our part in helping to lower these numbers by spaying and neutering our pets, we can also assist shelters and rescues by donating either directly or via projects like the Petco Foundation. At Petco, we're lucky to have opportunities like the Great Ones contest, to help spread good fortune and even luckier to meet the likes of those who run Huntsville Animal Services in Alabama.  We had an opportunity to speak with Karen Sheppard, DVM Director, to find out what they plan to do with the $50,000 they received from the contest.   Melanie:   Were you surprised to learn that you were selected by our Grand Prize Winner, Brent Morgan? Karen:   Oh, my, were we surprised.  It was mid-morning and one of my co-workers came and asked if I would give an interview regarding our shelter's relationship with Petco.  To all of our great surprise we were presented with balloons, photographs, congratulatory handshakes and hugs, and of course the check with all of those beautiful '0's.'   Melanie:   How do you plan to use the prize money? Karen: We are planning on dividing the money into three categories - animal care, field operations and building care with the funds.  We have not made any solid decisions, but all of the purchases are going to help us save more pet's lives.   Melanie: Did you know about the Great Ones contest? If so, how did you learn about it?huntsville2 Karen: Most of our staff listened to Brent's song on our Facebook page.  It is a well-written song about the human-animal bond.  The songs shares the passion of so many of our hearts that work in the animal welfare field.  We hope that Brent's song helps to encourage more and more people to adopt a shelter pet.   Melanie:   If you could share one tip with our fans about the importance of considering adoption, what would it be? Karen:  Be courageous and adopt a shelter pet!'  I have been involved in the animal welfare industry for 25 years.  So many potential adopters are challenged by fear when they consider a shelter adoption.  At times they are nervous and anxious just about visiting the shelter's campus and seeing so many dog and cat faces inside of a cage asking for attention.  If the shelter is still having to euthanize any pets even if the pets are sick or potentially unable to be a safe and happy family pet.  The greatest fear seems to center on the unknown history of the pet.  Why did someone give this puppy, kitten, dog or cat up? Why did this pet find itself lost and unwanted?  And many more questions that even if answers are provided the answers do not seem to bring comfort. Adopting an unknown terrifies so many wonderful potential adopters.  Be brave and take a chance on the precious life being that needs someone to invest in them!   Melanie:   What is the greatest challenge that you face today? Will the prize money help in your efforts to meet the challenge? Karen:  Our area of the United States is still struggling with too many pets and not enough of the market shares of those individuals who will be adding a pet to their family.  We will be using 100% of this award to further our goal of saving each and every precious life!   Melanie:  Are there any tips you can offer people who want to get involved with an organization like yours? Karen:   Get involved.  There is a special niche or job or project for you!  It may take a bit of time to find what makes your heart sing, but if you give it forty hours of volunteer time, you will find it.  You’ll be invaluable to the shelter pets.  It may be taking pictures for Facebook, organizing the foster home email address, letting dogs out to play, doing behavior assessments, baking cookies for the shelter staff, transporting shelter pets from point a to point b, etc.  Find your niche in your local shelter whatever that may be!   Here are some of the beautiful faces that will benefit from the $50,000 (and yes, they are available for adoption!). foster                 Wilson                     cat                     'Like' them on Facebook

History of Aquaponics

aquafarmAquaponics may sound like an underwater Cirque du Soleil spinoff but in fact it's an incredibly efficient farming method that has been around for centuries and is now the basis of a brand new product at Petco. Aquaponics is a combination of Aquaculture (raising fish) and Hydroponics (growing plants without soil) where fish waste becomes an organic food source for the growing plants and the plants in turn provide a natural filter for the water the fish live in. Nitrifying bacteria convert the ammonia from the fish waste first into nitrites, then into nitrates that are an ideal food for the plants. Aquaponics marries all the benefits of aquaculture and hydroponics while eliminating the main drawbacks of each. The process of repurposing fish waste to fertilize crops has been around for centuries. Agrarian populations in Mesoamerica built a network of canals and man-made "floating gardens" known as 'chinampas.' These man-made islands were nourished by nutrient-dense soil and water created by the canals and used to grow high crop yields multiple times a year. The ancient Chinese had their own spin on such an integrated system and created a symbiotic relationship between finfish, catfish, ducks, and plants. The cycle started above ground where ducks were housed in cages on top of the finfish ponds. The duck waste became food for the finfish below, whose waste was processed by the catfish in an even lower pond. Finally, the water from the catfish pond was used by farmers to irrigate surrounding rice fields and crops.  Modern aquaponics was developed in the late sixties by the New Alchemy Institute in Cape Cod, Massachusetts which built one of the first self-contained biospheres. Called an 'ark,' this prototype was able to produce enough food and energy to support a family of four by utilizing solar power and aquaponic design. Today commercial aquaponics operations raise hundreds of tons of tilapia and vegetables while using 90% less water than conventional farming methods.  Now Back to the Roots has condensed this entire ecosystem into the AquaFarm, an attractive table top aquarium that allows you to raise pet fish and grow herbs and vegetables on your kitchen counter. The AquaFarm is ideal for your betta and requires little maintenance or cleaning since the plants growing above the tank convert the fish waste into food. The 3 gallon AquaFarm comes with everything to get started including organic seeds, starter pump and even a Petco coupon for a betta. Now what could be betta than that!   Written by: Alejandro Velez and Nikhil Arora, Co-founders, Back to the Roots