Animals

Suzie. Photo from Smithtown Animal Shelter

MEET SUZIE!

This week’s shelter pet is Suzie, a 12-year-old Border Collie waiting at the Smithtown Animal Shelter to be adopted in time for the holidays. She and her two senior siblings sadly lost their dad and want to live out their golden years showered with love.

Suze does have significant arthritis and a chronic skin disease. She is available for adoption or forever foster in a home that can manager her medication. She has a young and playful spirit, even if her body isn’t always up to it. She loves to be petted, to be outside exploring and FOOD! She can live with another calm dog and children ages 12 and up. She is spayed, microchipped and up to date on her vaccines.

If you are interested in meeting Suzie, please call ahead to schedule an hour to properly interact with her in the shelter’s Meet and Greet Room.

The Smithtown Animal & Adoption Shelter is located at 410 Middle Country Road, Smithtown. Operating hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the week, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on the weekend. For more information, please call 631-360-7575 or visit www.smithtownanimalshelter.com.

Betty

MEET BETTY!

This week’s shelter pet is Betty, a 9-year-old pit bull mix waiting at the Smithtown Animal Shelter. Betty has a sweet and loving nature, and needs to be in an adult only home with no other pets. She loves to cuddle and sleep.

Betty’s history is unknown, but this loving dog does need someone that is experienced with the breed and can manager her significant arthritis.  She is spayed, microchipped and up to date on her vaccines.

If you are interested in meeting Betty, please call ahead to schedule an hour to properly interact with her in the shelter’s Meet and Greet Room.

The Smithtown Animal & Adoption Shelter is located at 410 Middle Country Road, Smithtown. Operating hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the week, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on the weekend. For more information, please call 631-360-7575 or visit www.smithtownanimalshelter.com.

By Tara Mae

Something wild is coming to Smithtown. Sweetbriar Nature Center now offers A Wildlife Experience, a unique program offering one hour private guided tours that grant unprecedented access to its buildings, operations, and animals. Located at 62 Eckernkamp Drive, the nonprofit organization provides natural science education and native wildlife rehabilitation services for the community.

The personal tours will allow participants to see the center’s recently renovated wildlife rehabilitation area, now called the Steven Goldman clinic, which is usually off limits to visitors.

“It’s an experience that you’re not going to get anywhere else,” said Veronica Sayers, Sweetbriar’s program coordinator. “It’s not very often that you can see how a wildlife rehab works. You don’t normally get this experience unless you’re in the field.”

Attendees will also be able to explore parts of the main building, which houses some of Sweetbriar’s permanent residents and is generally open for self-guided excursions.

Guests will be able to observe the animals and meet a few of Sweetbriar’s regular ambassadors like Cali, an imprinted Baltimore oriole; Marguerite, an imprinted blue jay; Nugget, a screech owl; and Tulip, an opossum.

The tours give insight into more than the lives of the animals; they delve into the backgrounds of Sweetbriar and the Blydenburgh family, on whose estate the center and preserve now exist. Guides are able to supply greater historical context as well as details about the architecture of the structures and grounds, according to Janine Bendicksen, Sweetbriar’s curator and wildlife rehabilitation director, who came up with the initial idea.

One of four staff members, Ms. Bendicksen noted that she, her coworkers, and the dedicated team of volunteers are constantly brainstorming for ways to keep Sweetbriar operational in the time of COVID-19. The private tours are a way to raise money and benefit the community Sweetbriar serves. “Instead of just asking for money and donations, we are giving back,” she explained.

During the pandemic, Sweetbriar, like many organizations, has had to completely reimagine how it functions. At the peak of the lockdown, the employees were looking after approximately 100 animals by themselves, without the assistance of volunteers, according to Ms. Sayers. In this time of emotional turmoil and economic uncertainty, Sweetbriar has sought to create new ways of connecting with the public and supporting the animals in its care.

As sources of revenue shrunk, animals in need of help were being brought to the center at a higher rate than in years past. “Many rehab centers are experiencing this,” said Ms. Bendicksen. Since the beginning of 2020, the center has treated more than 2,000 animals.

Sweetbriar Nature Center administers comprehensive rehabilitation to wildlife and generates much of its funding from community engagement and outreach programs. Located on 54 acres of diverse woodland, garden, wetland, and field habitats, the center’s grounds are open year-round to the public, free of charge. Since the onset of the pandemic it has been unable to host the events and activities it normally offers, on which Sweetbriar largely relies to support its animals and endeavors.

A Wildlife Experience is available to parties of up to six people by appointment only for $104. People may register and pay the fee online at www.sweetbriarnc.org/animal-encounters. After you purchase your ticket, Sweetbriar will email you to set up a date or they can send you a gift card to book at a later time. Please give them at least 3 days to respond after you’ve purchased your ticket. The tours are mask-mandated and photos are encouraged.

For more information, please call 631-979-6344.

All photos courtesy of Sweetbriar Nature Center.

Photo from Town of Brookhaven

Town of Brookhaven Highway Superintendent Daniel P. Losquadro has announced the sale of personalized video messages from Santa, in lieu of the annual Holiday Light Spectacular featuring in-person visits with Santa at the Holtsville Ecology Site. All proceeds from the sale of the video, which costs $25, will go directly to the feeding and care of the more than 100 animals residing there.

Parents or loved ones can visit www.BrookhavenNY.gov/Holiday to complete a brief questionnaire about their child or children. In the spirit of Christmas magic, they will then receive a unique, personalized video message from Santa via email. Messages may include up to five children. The videos also include behind-the-scenes footage of Santa visiting with the animals who reside at the Holtsville Ecology Site year-round.

“While we are very disappointed that we are unable to host our Holiday Light Spectacular this year, we came up with an alternative that would still allow children to experience that special visit with Santa Claus in a very personal way,” said Sup. Losquadro.

A OneDrive link to your customized Santa video (MP4 file) will be sent to you via email as soon as production is complete. You will receive your video no later than Dec. 23. Please note, only a limited number of videos will be sold/produced; order early to insure you receive a message from Santa. For more information, please call 631-451-9276.

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METRO photo

By Matthew Kearns, DVM

I recently had a client from our clinic call who was interested in adopting a cat. The individual our client was adopting the cat from mentioned that she herself had tested positive for COVID-19 and had recovered (the cat never exhibited any symptoms). Our client was concerned that the cat could be an asymptomatic carrier and potentially infect her with COVID if she adopted.

I would like to be clear: there is no evidence of risk at this time. There are documented cases of both dogs and cats that have tested positive for COVID (some exhibited symptoms), there are no cases that dogs or cats have spread COVID to people. This question got me thinking: what diseases should we be concerned about?

Any infectious disease that can be spread from animals to humans is termed zoonosis (plural zoonoses), or a zoonotic disease. The human population most at risk for zoonotic diseases are young children (under 5 years of age), the elderly (over 65 years of age) and the immunocompromised. This following list of zoonotic diseases is not a complete list, but rather the most common I have seen in dogs and cats.

Intestinal Parasites: Giardia and Toxocara species (roundworms) are common. These parasites can be quite significant, especially if you have young children in the household. This is why veterinarians always recommend bringing in a fecal sample with new pets or on an annual exam.

External Parasites: Fleas and ticks can not only suck blood and irritate the skin, but also transmit disease. Ticks carry Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted fever, and many other diseases. Fleas carry Bartonellosis, or cat scratch fever, and bubonic plague. Certain mites such as Sarcoptic mange can lead to scabies.

Skin Infections: Dermatophytes, or ringworm, is very contagious. I usually see cases of ringworm infections in kittens that spread to humans. Certain bacteria such as Staphylococcus spp. can be of concern. Both dogs and cats carry numerous bacteria in their mouths that are dangerous so any bite or scratch should be evaluated immediately.

Viral infections: The most dangerous viral disease carried by dogs and cats, Rabies, has a vaccine available for prevention. Make sure both for your pet’s safety, as well as your own, you keep them current on their Rabies vaccine.

Remember to keep your pet safe, as well as yourself during these uncertain times. Remember to bring a fecal sample to your pet’s annual exam, stay current with vaccines, and maintain parasite control. Also check with your own veterinarian with any other concerns you may have.

Dr. Kearns practices veterinary medicine from his Port Jefferson office and is pictured with his son Matthew and his dog Jasmine. Have a question for the vet? Email it to [email protected] and see his answer in an upcoming column.

Chloe

MEET CHLOE AGAIN!

This week’s shelter pet is Cool Cat Chloe, a 4-year-old domestic short hair patiently waiting at the Smithtown Animal Shelter for her happily ever after home. Chloe has been featured before in the paper and we are hoping that the second time is the charm.

This beautiful girl is gentle and calm and has lived with other cats, small children and a small dog.  Chloe was surrendered because her family could not manage her seizure disorder. She needs someone who can medicate her twice daily (she is very good for her meds) and bring her to the vet twice a year for bloodwork to check her medication levels.

Chloe is an absolute mush and she loves to be petted and brushed. She is spayed, microchipped and up to date on her vaccines.

If you are interested in meeting Chloe, please call ahead to schedule an hour to properly interact with her in the shelter’s Meet and Greet Room. The Smithtown Animal & Adoption Shelter is located at 410 Middle Country Road, Smithtown. Operating hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the week, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on the weekend. For more information, please call 631-360-7575 or visit www.smithtownanimalshelter.com.

Bailey

MEET BAILEY!

This week’s shelter pet is Bailey, a 5-year-old Terrier mix waiting patiently at Kent Animal Shelter for his furever home.

Rescued from a high kill shelter in Texas, Bailey is a sweet boy. He’s a little shy at first, but loves to go for walks and waits patiently for his favorite volunteer dog walker to come and take him out. Bailey loves to be outdoors! He also has a great appetite and would never pass up a treat!

Bailey would do best in a home without cats, and likes to choose his own doggie friends. He comes neutered, microchipped and up to date on his vaccines.

Kent Animal Shelter is located at 2259 River Road in Calverton. The adoption center is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information on Bailey and other adoptable pets at Kent, call 631-727-5731 or visit www.kentanimalshelter.com

Above, a representative from One Love Dog Rescue and OSJL store associates with some rescued puppies.

As part of Ocean State Job Lot’s “Close to Our Heart” program, the OSJL store located at 2150 Middle Country Road in Centereach made a donation of $400 to One Love Dog Rescue of Smithtown on Oct. 5 to support and contribute to its important mission. The 100% volunteer and foster-based rescue group is dedicated to the rescue, healing and re-homing of abused, unwanted and abandoned dogs.

“A cornerstone of our company is our philanthropy,” said David Sarlitto, Executive Director, Ocean State Job Lot Charitable Foundation. “Whenever we open our doors in a new community, we make a donation to a non-profit that is ‘close to the heart’ of our local team, but with so many communities struggling right now, we’ve expanded this program to allow our associates to make additional donations to organizations that are meaningful to them.”

Black-throated Blue Warbler. Photo by Luke Ormand

By John L. Turner

I have always wanted to have a vegetable garden with fruit trees and bushes to grow food for my family, but the Nassau County house we lived in for 35 years, unfortunately, just didn’t have the yard space. In that small space my effort at growing veggies and herbs was restricted to pots of tomatoes and basil on a wooded back deck and I simply had no room for bushes or trees.

But moving to Setauket, on a property with a long back yard, gave ample opportunity to construct a large garden, and construct I did. Surfing the Internet in general, and Pinterest specifically, I scrutinized dozens of different designs, layouts, and materials before finally settling on the idea of two raised, double concrete block beds, one in the shape of the letter “S”, the other its mirror image and one more rectangular bed in the front (I’ve since expanded the garden about 50% by adding on two wings).

I liked the idea of the concrete blocks because it meant not having to spend so much time with 65-year-old knees on the ground, concrete because it will never rot out and need to be replaced, and because I could plant herbs in the hollows of the blocks. The S-letter configuration would allow easy access to any part of the two beds. I planted twenty blueberry and twelve raspberry and blackberry bushes along with a very young fig tree around the garden’s perimeter. A peach and Italian Plum tree are on order.

I had several motivations for the garden. I have long wanted to live more sustainably and one way to do that is to eat healthy, pesticide- and fertilizer-free foods close to where they’re produced. Well, I never use pesticides or fertilizers and I couldn’t get much closer than the 200-foot distance between the garden and kitchen. And given the omnipresence of the COVID pandemic and its regular and depressing drumbeat of death filling the world with despair, I needed to participate in something that was life affirming and enriching. I had embraced the saying: “When the world wearies and society fails to satisfy, there is always the garden.”

There is another garden saying: “There are no gardening mistakes, only experiments.” Well, I conducted my first “experiment” when I planted too many plants too close together, ensuring a vegetable jungle in the weeks and months ahead. The beans didn’t behave themselves despite my effort to “grow them vertical,” climbing on everything around them and their viny web and the tomato tangles made it a wee bit difficult to get some of the beans and cherry tomatoes once ripe.

Despite the tangle creating more shade than is preferable, all was good though and the eggplants (graffiti, Japanese, American) tomatoes (Beefsteak, heirloom, and two types of cherry), squash (Spaghetti, Butternut, zucchini), cucumbers, artichokes, strawberries, broccoli romanesco, one lonely artichoke bought on a whim, collard greens, beets, kale, swiss chard, corn, many types of melons, numerous pepper varieties, leeks, and basil filled the beds. Herbs I diligently planted in the hollows of the blocks included parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme (an ode to Simon and Garfunkel), dill, mint, chocolate mint, lavender, cilantro, and oregano.

Watching countless YouTube videos about vegetable gardening I soon learned the value in “going vertical” as a means to incorporate more veggies. So to add vertical dimension to the garden I arched cattle panels — four foot wide, sixteen foot long meshed metal fences — over the paths, connecting to the beds. The panels provided a surface for the squash, beans, and tomatoes to grow on, thereby using space more efficiently and allowing me to plant more veggies in the beds.

All was good until the local deer paid a visit. The first night they were surreptitious, revealing their presence with only a scattered hoof prints in the beds and a few nipped peppers. And here I made a true mistake. Applying human and clearly non-deer logic, I assumed the deer discovered the garden, explored it, and made the decision that given their very modest amount of damage, that it generally wasn’t to their liking. Well, the next night they returned and “liked” it a lot more, in fact I might use the word love — they devastated the peppers and beets, and ate all of the broccoli and the swiss chard but one. With the help of my son Travis, a Rube Goldberg style, yet effective eight foot high deer fence was soon installed and has worked like a charm since.

One unexpected result in the garden were the appearance of mystery veggies and fruits I never planted, springing up in places where I didn’t plant them. Indicating the presence of seeds in the eight yards of topsoil/compost mix I used to fill the beds were some cantaloupes, melons, and tomato varieties I hadn’t bought. At first I was confused and then it dawned on me — unless screened very well there are a lot of seeds in soil, as evidenced by how quickly neglected dirt piles at construction sites start to sprout growth.

There was enormous satisfaction for starting something and then letting nature go at it. I marveled at the rapid growth of the plants, their strength and vitality, as they prospered due to the simple combination of adequate water, ample sunlight, and rich soil. Within a month eggplants, two inch high plants when planted, had grown to three feet and started blossoming in multitudes, their beautiful purple petals the texture of tissue paper contrasting with the bright yellow pistils. Tomatoes grew six to eight feet in two months and squash, adorned with brilliant flowers, rested atop the archways. Melons and cucumbers splayed this way and that. By late summer life was riotous in the garden.

And the scents and smells — basil, thyme and rosemary, in full sunlight, effervescing aromas into the air around them, the addictive smell of the good earth when trowel intrudes the surface to make room for planting a small pepper plant filled with so much promise. And the taste of vine-ripe tomatoes, so tomatoey (is that a word?) filling both palate and nose with the unique smell of this ubiquitous member of the nightshade family.

Birds were omnipresent throughout the gardening season. A pair of red-tailed hawks, screeching overhead, gave cause to gaze skyward; this pair bred, I think, in the nearby state-owned Patriots Hollow property. Catbirds regularly “meowed” from the bushes around me and a mockingbird regaled in song on a daily basis amidst the sweet whistling song of Baltimore Orioles.

Both Carolina Wrens and Song Sparrows often perched on the panel arches, probably eyeing which tomato they were going to pierce! Speaking of perched birds on panels — as I was harvesting cherry tomatoes on an October morning Emmy, one of my Springer Spaniels, flushed a bird from the ground. It flew toward me and momentarily perched on the top of a cattle panel. Suddenly and delightfully, three feet away at eye level was a resplendent male Black-throated Blue Warbler. Eye candy in the garden.

We found great joy in harvesting the bounty of vegetables and using them in various recipes. Swiss chard with raisins and pine nuts, collard greens with turkey bacon, various eggplant dishes, sautéed peppers and leeks, roasted tomatoes and beets, and fresh blueberries were but a few of the meals the “back 40”provided. Often the veggies never made it to the house — occasionally a salt shaker would accompany me to the garden. I’m not sure there’s anything tastier than a sweetened, freshly picked cherry tomato sprinkled with a little dash of salt.

I also found joy in composting. All the veggie discards from food prep ended up in a large jar regularly brought to the compost bin. With each jar dump the product of this year’s garden was being recycled, for use as a soil supplement next year, connecting this year to the next. I felt good about this, in knowing I wasn’t adding waste to the garbage stream the town picks up at curbside which is incinerated with the ash being dumped at the town landfill, but rather was used to make soil that will nurture the growth of future plants.

After the first year, I’ve learned a lot about gardening; things done well and things done poorly, some reflecting beginner’s luck while others were gained through experience and insight. What is most clear to me is that I obtained so much more than a bounty of tasty vegetables as I too gained a bounty of lessons, experiences and memories. This reminded me of one last quote by a gardener who noted: “I like gardening. It’s a place where I find myself when I need to lose myself.”

A resident of Setauket, John Turner is conservation chair of the Four Harbors Audubon Society, author of “Exploring the Other Island: A Seasonal Nature Guide to Long Island” and president of Alula Birding & Natural History Tours.

Parker

MEET PARKER!

This week’s shelter pet is Parker, an 8 to 9-year-old Chihuahua and COVID orphan currently waiting at the Smithtown Animal Shelter for his furever home.

Parker’s mom loved him very much and it shows. This little guy adores all people, cats and friendly dogs big and small. He was over-indulged by his prior owner and some bad habits developed. He has resource aggression and needs a home that is comfortable managing this, giving him strict rules and structure and a parent that understands he is 100% worth the effort.

Parker is adored by every person that meets him. Unlike most Chihuahuas, he loves meeting new people and going on adventures. This poor boy has been through the ringer and needs a family that won’t give up on him.

He is neutered, microchipped and up to date on his vaccines.

If you are interested in meeting Parker, please call ahead to schedule an hour to properly interact with him in the shelter’s Meet and Greet Room. The Smithtown Animal & Adoption Shelter is located at 410 Middle Country Road, Smithtown. For more information, please call 631-360-7575 or visit www.smithtownanimalshelter.com.