Welcome to iHCPL: The Next Generation. This site was created as the next step in Harris County Public Library's iHCPL Learning 2.0 Program; a discovery learning program designed to encourage staff to explore new technologies. The original iHCPL program was adapted from The Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County's Learning 2.0 Program.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Pets #74: Social Petworking

Do you want to tell everyone you meet all about your adorable four-legged friend? Do you carry pictures of your pet in your wallet or have them framed around your desk? Do you drive home from work during your lunch break just to let your puppies go “potty,” even if it means you’ll only have 10 minutes to eat? OK. Maybe the last one only applies to me. But if you love to share your pet’s greatness with the world, you might be interested in a few of these websites. You can sign up for a few depending on what type of pet you have.

Make a profile for your pet
Go ahead; give your furry friends an online presence. There are many pets that have their own blogs. They’ve managed to get their humans typing and uploading their pictures for them.

Dogster.com is a social networking site for dogs (or Catster.com for cats). These blogs or “doggie diaries” are written as if the pets themselves are writing them. Their profiles include information about the dogs as you would see on human social networking sites. Dogster also has a pet Q & A section available, and you may also find information about your baby’s specific breed. Don’t miss the section full of great deals for pet products. Their Vet Blog has lots of useful information for cat and dog owners, as well. And, of course, you can’t have a site dedicated to dogs without a photo gallery. Even if you don’t create an account you can browse through themed photo galleries.

There are many options out there when it comes to creating profile for your pet. Depending on your type of pet, you can try CuteasHell.com, Doggyspace.com, Petster.com, Hamsterster.com, myDogspace.com, PetBrags.com, or PetPop.com.

Social Networking for Pet Lovers

So now that Sparky has his own profile, you should look into creating one for yourself. The great thing about these sites is that you will be meeting other pet lovers -- people who can relate to a lunch break that's 85% pet care and 15% eating.

Animalattraction.com donates $1 to the Petfinder.com Foundation for every person that creates an account on their site. They donate more money for every day you log in to your account. You can find breed specific information on their site and find pet lovers’ profiles in your area. Petside.com and Petdoc.com are great places to join if you want something with a focus on your pet’s wellness. Other sites include FetchaFriend.com, Petcrash.com, YouPet.com, Wuffstuff.com, or Yeepet.com.


Take a look at a few of the sites and choose one that interests you. If you have a pet, create a profile and blog about the registration process and site features. If you don't have a pet, blog about the different tools available on that social petworking site.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Pets #73: Losing a Friend

For many pet owners, their pet is a major part of the family. As such, the loss of that pet can have a very deep impact. However, so few feel justified in feeling that loss. Some find it difficult to express their grief with those who are not pet owners. Perhaps afraid they will hear “it was only a pet,” few share the emotional impact their furry, feathered, or scaled family member's passing. Websites like the Humane Society of the United States have a page to assist pet parents with the loss of a pet, which can be a lonely experience.

Even more difficult, adult pet owners are often faced with making the ultimate decision for a pet because of illness or loss of quality of life. Twice I have been required to make the decision about a pet, and it has been an agonizing struggle. The ASCPA has a FAQ about pet loss as well as facing the choice of euthanasia and recommended reading to help assist in these choices.

As the Internet has with so many things, there are communities and websites to help connect people with similar experiences in pet loss. One of the most extensive websites on pet loss, offering resources in grievance counseling, is the Delta Society. While the organization itself is located on the east coast and its focus is on improving people’s health and well being via interaction with animals, it provides valuable information on pet loss and grieving.

Through the years, people have found ways to help them grieve the loss of their pet. The popular story of Rainbow Bridge has proven a comfort for many people, and is often referred to on many websites that are pet related.

If you, or someone you know, have had to face or is facing such a difficult time in their role as a pet owner, visit these sites for options and assistance in grieving. Also, general searches on Pet Loss and Grieving can bring up a variety of memorial webpages and references to assist.


1. Do a search on pet loss and grieving and pick a few of the websites. Tell about two or three that you found most helpful (i.e. information, ease of use, supportive). Was it a well known organization? Would you recommend it to others?
2. If you have experienced the loss of a pet, please feel welcome to post a memoriam in the comments below or on your blog.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Pets #72: Pet Health Online

I am pretty sure that my dogs receive better health care than I do. It's certainly more expensive. A little background knowledge and quick sources for pet health research are essential tools to provide the best health care for your pet without turning you into a penniless nervous wreck.

How do you know what regular medicines and vaccinations your animal should have? What symptoms make it necessary to take a trip to the 24-hour Emergency Animal Hospital on a holiday weekend? Is it okay to share my chocolate sundae with a labradoodle? Why was Bob Barker always so fired up about spaying and neutering? Let's take a look!

General Health Sites

The pet care section on the ASPCA site gives an excellent overview of different health care topics for a variety of animals and is very easy to navigate. MedlinePlus, the authoritative human site, has a wide variety of articles related to pet health from very reputable sources. PetMD also features a great deal of general information, including travelling needs and first aid by pet type. If your pet is a cat or a dog, you can determine their "real age" through DogAge or CatAge.

Spaying and Neutering

From a humane perspective, a medical perspective, or a behavioral perspective, there are many good reasons to spay or neuter your pet (not just cats and dogs). If cost is an issue, the ASPCA Free and Low-Cost Spay/Neuter Database will help you find an affordable clinic in your area.

What to Eat...and Not to Eat

We're all guilty of giving in to a pleading look and sharing our human food with our pets, but some of the things we eat are harmful to animals. Cats are particularly sensitive to garlic. Dogs can develop kidney failure from grapes or raisins. Chocolate is dangerous, even though it smells attractive to pets. Attention should also be paid to what animals are able to eat when unsupervised. Many common plants can prove to be poisonous to animals, as well as household items, like potpourri.

For basic pet food nutrition, many of the major pet food brands offer informative web sites. Of course their products are listed as the best, like the Iams, Eukanuba or Purina sites. Hill's Pet Nutrition and the American Veterinary Medical Association sponsor a site to help make your pet more fit and avoid the dangers associated with obesity. Many tools are available to help with exercising your dog, cat, rabbit, hamster, reptile or ferret.


  1. Find out your pet's Real Age through DogAge or CatAge and post about it in your blog.

  1. Blog about your pet's fitness routine or something you saw on Petfit you would like to try.

This month's module brought to you by Kathleen Green, Linda Stevens, Beth Krippel and Daisy Torres.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Pets #71: Finding a Pet

Adopting a pet can be a rewarding experience that adds love and companionship to your life. But before you adopt a pet you need to make sure you are ready for the responsibility and that you pick the right pet for you and your lifestyle. You may think your sister's Labrador is fun when you visit them at their house with the big fenced in yard. But if you live in an apartment and have to walk the dog several times a day (picking up his Labrador-sized poop as you go) it might not seem fun at all.

Take this quiz to find out what kind of pet might be right for you:
Pet Picker Quiz

If you have children in your home there will be other concerns to address before adding a pet to your family. The Humane Society has an excellent article about things to consider when selecting a pet and introducing it into a home with children.

So where do you find this creature who is going to make your home or family complete? There are two wonderful resources that allow you to search for pets by zip code, type and breed. Pet Harbor searches shelters for the type of pet you select. First you select the type and breed of animal and then you select which shelters you want to search. Petfinder also allows you to search by type and breed and will list the results by distance from the zip code you type in. Listings from Animal Rescue organizations can be found in Petfinder. Petfinder also offers a wonderful section on pet care for a variety of pets as well as pet health and training. Other places to find pets are ASPCA, Citizens for Animal Protection (CAPS), and Harris County Animal Control.

Adopting a pet from a shelter or pound is usually easy involving only an application and small fee. Adopting a pet from a rescue organization is a little more involved and will usually cost more AND will have a home visit with interview to make sure you and the pet are a good fit. You will also sign a contract promising to keep the pet or return it to that rescue agency--no giving it away to someone else! Many pet rescue organizations are breed specific and often use Petfinder for their pet listings. Some local animal rescues are Houston Cat Rescue, Dachshund Rescue of Houston, and Boston Terrier Rescue of Houston.

Before bringing your pet home you will need get things ready for his/her safety and comfort. Pet Proofing is easy if the pet is contained in a cage but is more involved for pets allowed to roam. The ASPCA offers some suggestions for preparing your home for your new pet.


1. Take the Pet Picker Quiz to find out what type of pet might be right for you.
2. Do a pet search in Petfinder or Pet Harbor and discover some animals that need a family and a home like yours.
3. Write about the results in your blog.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

October's iHCPL: We'll Make Your Pet a Star!

This month's module is one for the animal lovers. We'll start the month with submitting entries for the HCPL Cutest Pet contest, then look at finding a pet online, pet health, dealing with the loss of a pet, and end with social petworking. Completion of all four posts in this module will earn 2 hours of training credit for library staff.

With the proliferation of cute animal sites available now, you no longer have to wait for Aunt Betty to send you the latest batch of pictures of dogs dressed up in Halloween costumes for your "awww..." fix. You can visit Cute Overload for the motherload of cuteness from the entire animal kingdom, complete with funny captions. LOL people can go to I Can Has Cheezburger? for cats or I Has a Hotdog! for dogs. Baby animals are always popular, and so are The Daily Puppy and Kittenwar. But, wait, where do we go for local cuteness?

Mirror, Mirror, on the wall, who's the cutest pet of all?
We know there are many adorable pets in HCPL families and each one of us thinks that ours is the cutest. Just for fun this month, let's put it to a vote! Anyone who would like to participate should put a picture of their pet(s) in the iHCPL Pet Parade folder on the S: drive by October 16th. Please name your file with your pet's name-your name (example: Charlie-Linda Stevens). If you have more than one pet, you can submit more than one entry or you can put them all together in one photo for a big bang of cute. Voting will take place on Harriet from October 19th through the 30th and a winner will be announced at the end of the month. If the number of entries is large, we'll split the voting by type of pet. If not, dogs, cats, birds, fish, lizards, rabbits and hamsters will all compete against each other for the coveted title of "HCPL's Cutest Pet."
The pet contest is for fun, so you can participate without doing the rest of the module and exercises, or you can get credit for the Pets module and exercises without entering the contest.
Please contact Linda Stevens with any questions and check back on Monday for an actual learning post, "Finding a Pet Online."
This month's posts are brought to you by Linda Stevens, Kathleen Green, Beth Krippel and Daisy Torres.
Photos copyright JupiterImages.com