Monday, January 31, 2011

Soldier's Pets Have Their Own Guardian Angels

By Linda Cole

Before 2005, military personnel who were also pet owners were left with a hard choice to make when the time came for them to deploy overseas. If they couldn't find a temporary home for their pet with family or friends, or a new permanent home, they were forced to relinquish them to a shelter. Linda Spurlin-Dominik and Carol Olmedo decided there should be help for soldiers and their pets. They established an organization called Guardian Angels for Soldier's Pet (GASP), because they felt that no one should have to give up their pet when their chosen job is protecting our country.

Guardian Angels for Soldier's Pet is a nonprofit, all volunteer operation. Their stated goal is to provide a suitable and loving home environment for a soldier's pet when they are called to defend or represent our country anywhere in the world, whether it's in peacekeeping, humanitarian relief, or for combat duty.

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Right Way to Walk Your Dog

By Tamara L. Waters

Have you ever seen a dog walking a person? Perhaps you have even been walked by your own dog. If so, you know how exhausting it can be to walk a dog incorrectly. The ideal way is for YOU to be walking the dog. Check out a few of these tips to help you learn the right way to walk your dog and ensure that you aren't the one worn out at the end of the exercise.

Walk in Front

From my own experiences with walking my dogs, the proper way to walk a dog is with you in front and the dog following along. A better way to look at it is for you to lead the walk, not your dog. Putting yourself in the role of leader during a walk allows your dog to relax and follow along.

To help start the walk out correctly, do not allow your dog to go first out of the door or gate of his pen. Begin the walk in the position of leadership so your dog understands that his only job is to enjoy the exercise – not to lead you along.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

What Pets Do to Amuse Themselves

By Linda Cole

Pets are quite creative in finding ways to entertain themselves when they're home alone, and it's not always something destructive. I had a cat who loved to unroll toilet paper, but it had to be a new roll before she would touch it. She didn't just unroll it, she would take the loose end and wind it around chairs and table legs and she somehow always managed to unroll the entire roll without tearing it. I'd come home from work to find my dining room had been TP'd by my cat.

Pets do crazy things sometimes whether they're home alone or not. I've had cats over the years that would while away the hours sitting in a window watching what the neighbors were up to. In fact, I would go so far as to say they were spying on the neighbors. I suppose to them that's just as productive as when we sit in front of the TV staring at it for hours at a time. However, one cat took more of an interest than the others. She would cock her head back and forth as if she couldn't believe what was going on outside her window. Anytime she heard a car door shut, voices outside or the mailbox lid flop down, she would race to her window to investigate. New Year's Eve parties were really hard on her.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

How Much Is Too Much to Spend on Pets?

By Julia Williams

I recently found a great blog called “24 Paws of Love” that chronicles life with six big dogs. I’m sure it’s not easy to meet the physical and emotional needs of six dogs of any size, but these wonderful people do it willingly because these dogs are family. What inspired me to write this post was their commentary about some of the things people say to them about their dogs. They’re asked how they can afford to feed so many dogs, or told that they’ll never get ahead financially unless they “get rid of some of the dogs.”

Wow – really? I have to wonder about the type of person who could say such things. They’re not pet people obviously, and they seem to be lacking in self censorship and social decorum. Would they walk up to “Octomom” Nadya Sulleman and tell her, “It must be hard to feed 14 children, you should give some of them up.” Unthinkable, right? Never mind that Nadya herself admitted on Oprah recently that she was financially destitute. It’s just not socially acceptable to tell a parent how many children they can or should have. It may or may not be the best choice for someone to have 14 kids, but it’s their choice. Likewise, it should never be acceptable to comment on how many pets a person chooses to have or how much money they spend on them – the exception being, animal hoarders who aren’t capable of caring for vast numbers of dogs and/or cats.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Nursing Homes are going to the Dogs!

By Suzanne Alicie

People who love pets can’t imagine having to live without the comfort of a furry back to stroke or a purring foot warmer. However, as responsible pet owners age they may have to face the fact that they can no longer live alone and must move to a nursing home. Because there are so many people with different ailments and afflictions in a nursing home, more than likely the person won’t be able to take their beloved pets. New residents in a nursing home may experience depression due to the changes in their life and the loss of their pets.

Just imagine raising a puppy and providing it with wonderful care, attention and all the best in natural pet food like CANIDAE for years and then finding out that you are unable to care for him anymore. You are going to be moving to an assisted living facility and have to give up your precious pet to another family. It’s heartbreaking.

Monday, January 24, 2011

How to Use a Clicker to Train Your Dog or Cat

By Linda Cole

Clicker training has been rising in popularity over the last several years as a useful tool for dog training. Many professional dog trainers never leave home without their clicker and use it in conjunction with treats and positive reinforcement. It works well for training both dogs and cats, but there is a trick to using a clicker the right way to reinforce the behavior you want to teach. It's not hard, but it is all in the timing and knowing when to click.

Dog training doesn't require a lot of time, but it does require commitment. A puppy's training should begin the minute you bring him home. This way he grows up knowing what you expect from him, and he's not as likely to develop behavioral problems down the road. An older dog whose training was neglected when they were young and now has behavioral problems can still be taught appropriate behavior using positive reinforcement. A clicker enhances the reinforcement with a quicker response from the person doing the training.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Jasper Thrives on CANIDAE, and Now He Eats for Free!

By Julia Williams

The sponsor of this blog, CANIDAE Natural Pet Foods, selects one reader every three months to receive a free six month supply of their premium quality pet food. It’s yet another gesture of goodwill from a company I’ve come to know as being exceedingly generous and kind to both their two- and four-legged friends. The free pet food winner is chosen at random from every new reader who subscribed to the Responsible Pet Ownership blog via email during the past quarter, and they get to pick any formula of CANIDAE dog food or FELIDAE cat food.

The lucky winner from last quarter is Heather Cann of California, or perhaps I should I say Jasper Cann, since he is the one who will actually be enjoying the food! Jasper is an adorable 2-year-old Miniature Poodle that Heather said is “very sweet, a little spunky and always playful.” Heather’s family adopted Jasper from a local shelter in 2009 when he was about 4 months old.

They searched rescues and shelters for 2 months for a dog that was more asthma/allergy friendly before they found Jasper. “He was a small, scruffy little puppy at the time and looked more Fozzie the Bear than a poodle. But Jasper was totally fearless of our toddler Stella, so we knew he was a good fit for our family,” said Heather.

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Alaskan Malamute, a True Arctic Breed

By Ruthie Bently

The Alaskan Malamute’s origins go back 2,000 to 3,000 years, and their creation is credited to the Mahlemut Inuit tribe of northern Alaska. Most experts agree that the Malamute is one of the earliest dog breeds of North America. It is debated that they owe their existence to the breeding between domesticated Arctic wolves and early dogs owned by the tribe. It has not yet been scientifically confirmed, but the Alaskan Malamute might be the nearest living relative to the “First Dog” according to Mietje Germonpré, a paleontologist at the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences. He feels that 30,000 year old dog remains recently found closely resemble the Alaskan Malamute due to their size.

I find it easy to believe that this breed is descended from wolves, as they do tend to howl more than they bark. I have had the chance to hear wolves howling, and the similarity is interesting. An extended family member owns a Malamute with ice blue eyes (this is a disqualification in the confirmation ring). When she looks at you, you get the impression that she is looking into your soul.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Ways to Help Your Local Animal Shelter

By Tamara L. Waters

Most local animal shelters are not-for-profit organizations and work on a shoestring budget while relying upon donations and volunteers to help the animals in their care. This year, why not make plans to give a helping hand to your local animal shelter with a few of these ideas.


Your local animal shelter is probably understaffed. Most often, these organizations need every willing body to keep things running and to take care of the animals that end up here. There are so many ways to volunteer your time to help out.

Are you handy with a screwdriver and good at fixing things? Your local shelter may appreciate having someone who can come in and replace and repair things in the building. How about volunteering to do some laundry? Blankets and towels that are used for the animals always need to be washed.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Do Dogs and Cats Get Cabin Fever?

By Julia Williams

Around this time every year, the side effects of winter start to take their toll on my household. My three cats and I all become irritable, depressed, bored, restless, frustrated, and just plain ticked off at the world. The bitter cold and knee-deep snow make the outdoors inhospitable, so we hole up indoors. On good days we are able to stay out of mischief; on the darkest days of winter we go stir crazy, which generally results in some sort of bad behavior. What that behavior is varies with the day (and the species), but yes – just like humans, pets can and do get Cabin Fever.

While not an actual disease as the name suggests, Cabin Fever is a state of mind. It’s a claustrophobic reaction brought on by an extended stay in a confined space or a remote, isolated area. Although Cabin Fever is more prevalent in winter, it can occur any time of the year.

Normally well-behaved dogs and cats suffering from Cabin Fever may begin to pick fights with other family pets. They might stare vacantly out the window all day, chew on things they’re not supposed to, or race around the house like something possessed. So what’s a responsible pet owner to do when the weather outside is frightful? Find ways to make being indoors more enjoyable!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Health Benefits of Being Loved by a Dog

By Suzanne Alicie

I could begin this by saying there are many health benefits that come from owning a dog, but dog owners know that the main benefit of having a dog is being loved by him.  Unconditional, adoring, slobbery, jumping, romping love is a health benefit in itself.  There are also many other health benefits to being loved by a dog, and loving a dog as well.

Responsible pet owners know that having a dog means they are responsible for not only the food and shelter of their dog, but also for the many other aspects of his life. This leads to a healthy and regimented routine. There is a time for walking, a time for playing, a time for eating, and a time for resting. This is a healthy way to live your life because it keeps you from becoming too busy. You can’t become too unscheduled, because your dog is depending on you to be there at a certain time of day to provide food, attention and care.

Dogs are also a great way to enjoy getting your exercise. When you are outdoors running and playing with your canine friend, you don’t think of it as exercising. However, not only are you out getting fresh air, you are also raising your heart rate and often working your muscles. Regular physical activity is healthy for pet owners of all ages.

Monday, January 17, 2011

How Well Has Your Pet Trained You?

By Linda Cole

We are so misinformed in believing our pets are well trained by us. They actually have a unique ability to train us and in reality, we don't realize until after training is complete, how great a job they did on us. Don't believe me? Read on to see if you recognize any of the training tips pets use on us every day to get anything from a tasty treat to our attention. From our pet’s point of view, we are the ones who need training.

Housebreaking. One of the first things you do after getting a puppy is teach him where you want him to go. Our training begins the moment we frantically leap over an easy chair to stop the “accident,” which by then is usually already in progress, and rush the puppy outside as he/she leaves a trail out the door. Pups teach us to watch them like a hawk! Housebreaking a pup isn't difficult, once you learn their particular little dances and looks they give you when the crucial time has come and leakage is imminent.

Cooking utensils, laundry baskets and TV remotes crash to the floor as we attempt to get to the puppy before it's too late. People who never considered running sprints or jumping hurdles will fly over the couch or coffee table to get to their adorable puppy squatting in the middle of the living room. From a pup's point of view, we need training because watching a lumbering human race towards him with panic etched on their face and screaming, “NOOOOO,” is scary!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Humor: Why You Shouldn't Choose a Lame Dog Name

By Tamara L. Waters

Growing up, I had lots of dogs as pets, but it wasn't until I was 18 years old that I picked out my very first puppy of my own. He was a mixed-breed puppy, blond with a stripe of white on his forehead (see photo at left). I'll admit he was spoiled, and I named him Twinkie.

Yes, Twinkie. That’s right; I named the poor little guy after those delicious cream-filled sponge cake treats. Why did I name him Twinkie? My brother made the comment that he looked like a Twinkie due to his blond fur and the white stripe. My immature teenage mind thought “Awwww, Twinkie! That's such a cutesy wutesy wittle name for the puppy wuppy! *squeal*”

Looking back, I can see that my choice of name for this little guy doomed him to being the butt of every doggy joke, and friends and family alike viewed him as a frou-frou dog, even though he wasn't – all because of his name. He developed a little dog attitude that said to the world “Pamper me. I am the sweet Twinkie baby!”

Friday, January 14, 2011

Tokyo Cat Cafes Offer Feline Friendship for a Fee

By Julia Williams

Many things that originated in Japan have since become commonplace in America and other countries – origami, anime, martial arts, Pokémon, karaoke, teriyaki and sushi, to name just a few. In the animal arena, the Japanese have given us the Maneki Neko (Beckoning Cat), Hello Kitty, the Japanese Macaque (Snow Monkey), the Japanese Bobtail cat breed, and the Shiba Inu and Akita dog breeds. “Cat Cafes” are the latest Japanese craze. Although wildly popular in Tokyo and surrounding areas, it’s too early to tell if cat cafes will ever be found in America. I like the idea of cat cafes myself, but then I do have my reputation as Crazy Cat Lady to uphold.

What’s a cat cafe, you ask? It’s a quiet, cozy place where people can go to sip tea or a latte while enjoying the companionship of a room full of friendly cats. A “cat menu” introduces patrons to each of the different felines in the cafe, with photos and information on their name, breed, gender and age. The fee varies by establishment, but typically costs around $8 to $10 for an hour of feline friendship. The meticulously groomed resident cats are free to lounge wherever they please – on the sofas, chairs and tables, in cat trees and baskets, and even on your lap, if you’re lucky.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Relationship between Dog Health and People Health

By Linda Cole

Dogs are not only “man's best friend” – they are also aiding researchers who study dogs to discover better ways to treat humans. Because dogs live in the same environment that we do, they are also exposed to the same sort of things that cause cancer, diabetes and other diseases we share with our dogs. By discovering the genome responsible for a disease in dogs, researchers have a better understanding of the disease in humans, and know what to look for. New research in dog health is helping scientists learn more about people health.

A genome is one single set of chromosomes that contain all of its genes, i.e., the total genetic makeup of a cell. A genome contains all of the biological information all living things need that makes each species unique, including humans. The information in the genome is encoded in the DNA and divided into genes. Because our genetic makeup is so diverse, it's been difficult for researchers to pinpoint exactly where diseases like cancer and diabetes originate in our complicated makeup.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Getting to Know the German Shorthaired Pointer

By Lynn Taylor, Team Dogs Unlimited

A versatile hunter and all-purpose dog, the German shorthaired pointer (GSP) possesses keen scenting power and high intelligence. The breed is proficient in many different types of recognized sports, but primarily bred for upland bird hunting, pointing and retrieving.

They’re a medium-sized breed, can be solid liver or black, liver and white, or black and white in color. The height of the breed, measured at the withers, is 23 to 25 inches for males and 21 to 23 inches for females. The weight is 55 to 70 pounds for males and 45 to 60 pounds for females.  Their short coat sheds, but grooming is minimal.

The GSP loves interaction with humans and thrives as part of an active family who will give them an outlet for their energy. The GSP is usually very good with children, although care should be taken because the breed can be boisterous especially when young. They’re an even-tempered, intelligent and loyal family watchdog that has enthusiasm for their work. An athlete, they can adapt to their living situation, but require consistent exercise. The German shorthaired pointer needs plenty of vigorous activity. This need for exercise (preferably off lead) coupled with the breed's natural instinct to hunt, means that training is an absolute necessity.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Adjusting to a New Pet in Your House

By Suzanne Alicie

As firm believers in responsible pet ownership, we never advise giving a pet as a gift unless you are sure it is wanted. Many times parents take advantage of a holiday or birthday to give their children a much desired pet, or one weekend they simply give in to repeated requests for something furry and fun. No matter what the occasion of welcoming a new pet into your home, there are many ways in which your family will have to adjust. There are also ways you can prepare beforehand to make it easier on everyone involved. 

A family discussion of the responsibilities that each person will have once the pet arrives, the doling out of pet chores and preparation of the home for the presence of a pet will help everyone be prepared for the excitement and upheaval that a new pet can cause.

Monday, January 10, 2011

How to Housebreak a Puppy

By Linda Cole

Puppies are so cute, until you find a little surprise waiting for you on the kitchen floor. Hopefully, you didn't discover it in the dark. Housebreaking a puppy can be frustrating, but it's not impossible nor is it the puppy's fault. Stay calm and committed and you'll be surprised how quickly you can train your puppy where to go.

A puppy can't control his bladder muscles properly until he's at least 12 weeks old, and he simply can't “hold it” for very long. He doesn't know going inside is bad. Housebreaking a puppy takes patience and consistent training to teach him where the appropriate place to eliminate is. Yelling at a puppy for going inside the house won't teach him anything positive. He will understand you're upset, but he doesn't connect his mess to why you are angry with him. Because dogs live in the moment, he relates your anger with whatever he was doing at that moment. If he eagerly greets you at the door and you respond by yelling at him, he learns greeting you makes you unhappy and he'll stop greeting you. You want your pup to have only positive thoughts about you. Inappropriate discipline creates unnecessary stress and a confused dog.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Fun Songs for Dog Lovers

By Tamara L. Waters

Sure you love your dog, but how about go another step and create your own play list of songs that make you think of your canine buddy? Take a listen to these 13 tunes that are about dogs or make you think about dogs – for the dog lover in you.

Atomic Dog - George Clinton. This song will get you and your puppies moving while you get your funk on. You can't sit still when "Atomic Dog" starts playing.

Hound Dog - Elvis Presley. The King of Rock and Roll sang this great cover song, and it's a classic. I'll bet you knew it would be on this list!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

New Research Explains Why Dogs Aren't Wolves

By Linda Cole

I admire the spirit of wolves, an animal who has found the world to be a hostile place, even though man has embraced a species that was born from them. There are similarities between dogs and wolves, but dogs are not wolves. The reason why is because of a makeup in their genome – the total genetic makeup of a cell.

After comparing D.N.A. from dogs and wolves, geneticists have determined that dogs are indeed related to the gray wolf. They studied the mitochondrial D.N.A. which remains unchanged as it's passed down through the mother's (maternal) line and found identical D.N.A. in both animals. Genetically, dogs and wolves are 98.8 percent identical.

Scientists are still debating when and how domestication of dogs took place and whether it was humans who first tamed wolves or if wolves found associating with humans in their best interest. Some scientists go so far as to say our early relationship with domesticated wolves was an important part in the development of the human species. The working relationship between wolf and man enabled humans to bring down bigger game which provided them with more food. More food led to larger families and a growth in human population. Wolves joined with man for a mutual relationship that benefited both sides.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Inexplicable Human-Animal Bond

By Julia Williams

When it comes to pets, I believe there are three kinds of people in this world: those who have never had a pet and don’t care to, those who enjoy having pets but don’t form particularly close bonds with them, and those who think of their pet as a family member that they would do just about anything for. I find it interesting that my mother is in the first group, my late father is in the second group, and I am in the third group.

Of further intrigue to me is that my sister shares my deep love for cats, while my brother has a cat but only because his children begged for one. This would seem to indicate that the ability and/or the desire to form close bonds with pets is not hereditary, nor is it shaped by your upbringing.

I honestly don’t know where my love of cats came from, but it’s quite clear it didn’t come from my mother or my childhood. Living on the outskirts of a small rural town, we did have an assortment of animals – a dog, some cats, two Shetland ponies, a few cows and chickens – but I don’t remember being especially fond of any of them. That changed when a cat named Pepper came into my life as an emotionally troubled young girl.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Does Your Dog Watch Television?

By Suzanne Alicie

Have you ever looked at your dog and thought he was watching television? Better yet, have you had music playing and thought for sure that he was listening intently while his tail wagged in time to the beat? Well, you may not be far off base with that thought, but Rover is probably paying attention to the visual and auditory stimulation in a way that is different than the way a human watches TV and listens to music.

Dogs have eyesight that is different from that of humans, so when your dog appears to be watching television, he isn’t exactly seeing the action and the story unfold, but he is seeing the flickering light and hearing the sounds. You’ve probably seen your dog get excited when a dog barks on the television, or whine when there is a high pitched sound. 

Many responsible pet owners who have to leave their dog home alone will leave a television on to provide the dog with “entertainment.” Whether the dog is entertained or not, the television provides the lights and sounds that he is used to when his owners are at home. This may keep the dog from becoming anxious or acting out when he is left alone for a few hours. 

Monday, January 3, 2011

What to Do if another Dog Attacks Your Dog

By Linda Cole

Walking your dog is a healthy activity for you and your dog. Going to dog parks provides a safe and enclosed area where you can let your dog run off leash and play with other dogs. Sometimes, however, a dog comes from out of nowhere and attacks your dog. Breaking up dog fights between your own dogs at home is one thing, but trying to break up a fight when you're away from home is something completely different. How can you protect your dog and yourself if another dog attacks your dog?

It can be hard to figure out why another dog suddenly attacks your dog. A dog's body language can be subtle, and signals from both dogs can be missed by the person holding the leash. However, whatever it was that caused the hostile reaction doesn't really matter when two dogs are locked in battle, with you on the other end of your dog's leash. Of course, it's best to avoid a fight all together, but that's not always possible and breaking up dog fights can be dangerous for dogs and people.

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