Wednesday, November 30, 2011

How My Dog Taylor Got Painted

By Diane Matsuura, CANIDAE Customer Service

This is the true story on how my Labrador Retriever, Taylor, got her portrait painted, but first I need give you a little bit of background information.  My very good girlfriend of 20 plus years, Trudy Soneson, is an artist.  She creates lovely paintings in oils.  I am a photographer.  I can photograph anything but I can’t paint, even walls with a roller, without making a mess.  I have always been in awe of those who can create art by drawing and painting. I digress, so let’s get back to the story. Taylor always loved to curl up in our patio chairs like a person to take a nap, and one evening she was curled up in her favorite chair in her favorite position watching us while we were eating dinner. Trudy and Eric (her husband) were our dinner guests that evening. 

Trudy, the artist she is, was inspired and said, “Take her picture and I’ll paint her.”  Jumping at the chance to have a portrait painted of my dog, I quickly snapped the photo through the patio door.  The photo didn’t turn out so well, seeing that the screen was also in the way, the glass was dirty with paw prints and it was getting dark.  However, Trudy’s finished painting of Taylor was so perfect and did justice to my beloved dog in a way that my photo never could.  Several years later Taylor passed away, and to have this perfect memory of her on that evening, preserved forever on canvas, means more to me than words can ever express.

I decided to write an article about Trudy – how and why she paints pet portraits – and share her thoughts with our readers here at the Responsible Pet Ownership blog. So here it is – her interview with me conducted at the CANIDAE office.

Question: How do you start a portrait, and do you need anything special?
Trudy: I want a clear photo of the pet with a good natural light source that emphasizes the bone structure and fur, especially around the face and eyes.  It’s very important to see the eyes because the eyes show the character of the pet more than anything else.  Multiple angles and positions are very helpful.

Q: How long does it take you to paint a portrait?
T: As a client you will need to be patient. Painting the portrait takes time. I like to have the client view the unfinished portrait during different stages. You want the client to be happy. They know their pet the best. For example, how they hold their ears, tail, etc., and it’s easier to make changes in the painting in the early stages.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

From the Shelter to the Championship Circle

By Langley Cornwell

When I read about a shelter dog that finds a loving forever home, it warms my heart. When I read about a shelter dog that finds a loving forever home and goes on to make it in the big leagues, I stand up and cheer, warm heart and all. The story of Wallace will make you feel the same way.  

Nobody is sure about the first part of Wallace’s life. He was a wandering stray when some good Samaritans found him and took him to the Humane Society. Being an overly energetic, high-drive dog, Wallace had a real struggle; he couldn’t acclimate to the boredom of kennel life. The animal shelter staff was losing faith in this ‘impossible’ pup. The longer Wallace lived at the shelter, the worse his behavior became. His future didn’t look bright.

That’s when Roo Yori and his wife Clara learned about Wallace. With the help of other animal lovers and advocates, the Yori’s pulled this athletic dog out of the shelter environment on August 1, 2005.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Six Ways to Keep Your Dog Smelling Fresh

By Linda Cole

Dogs don't care what they smell like. If they can find something stinky to roll in outside, in their mind, it's an interesting and rewarding experience. Hmm…it’s not so rewarding for us, however. Since I work from home and am with my dogs all the time, doggy odor is not a smell I notice, but I know it is noticeable to other people. There are some tricks you can do in between baths to help keep your dog smelling fresh and less offensive to people who might not appreciate your dog's smell. You can have company over, and still enjoy your dog!

Feed a quality dog food like CANIDAE to help tackle doggie smell from the inside out. CANIDAE has Yucca Schidigera Extract in it, which helps reduce bad breath and foul smelling stools. To help keep your dog's breath smelling fresh, CANIDAE Snap-Bits® and Snap-Biscuit® dog treats contain peppermint. Diet plays such an important role in our dog's good health, and lesser quality foods can contribute to how a dog's skin and coat feels and smells. A high quality pet food is more cost effective in the long run, because your dog doesn't have to eat as much to get all the nutrients he needs, and he eats less.

Dog or baby wipes are quick and easy to use. Both are gentle on your dog's skin and will help to deodorizer him. Avoid using the wipes around the eyes, however. I prefer using the wipes made for dogs, but in a pinch, the baby cleansers are a good alternative if you need to freshen up your pup's smell. Both are also handy to keep in the car to clean up muddy feet before they can track up your backseat. Vinegar and water is another good deodorizer for dogs. Fill a spray bottle with about a third vinegar and the rest water. Shake it up and then mist on your dog. The vinegar won't harm him and it will get rid of those doggie smells. Make sure you don't spray the mixture in his eyes or ears. You can also spray the solution on his bedding in between washings to help keep it smelling fresh.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Why I’m Thankful for My Cats

By Julia Williams

Thanksgiving is a day when many people take a few minutes to think about what they are thankful for. Some families like to do this at the dinner table before the feast. I’m all for this Thanksgiving tradition, but for the last few years I’ve been trying to have an “attitude of gratitude” every day rather than just one day in November. Taking a few minutes each day to give thanks for the good things, large and small, helps me to see that even though things may not be perfect, I am truly blessed.

My “thanks giving” ritual is comprised of many different things, but always includes my cats. I like to give thanks that they are healthy, happy, safe and well fed. I also like to express gratitude for their loving presence in my life. These delightful, silly and sometimes sassy kitties make my life worth living, and I am eternally thankful for their friendship.

I’m thankful for the healing power of Purr Therapy, and how the simple act of having a happy cat on my lap or in my arms can make everything all right. I’m thankful there is always someone here who is willing to listen to whatever I want to talk about, even when I babble.

I’m thankful for cold, wet little noses that give me kitty Eskimo kisses. I’m thankful for the big bear hugs of my big fluffy boy, Rocky. I’m thankful for the funny way that Mickey gently touches my hand with his paw when I’m eating something he wants to sample. I’m thankful for the smile that always comes when Annabelle softly mews in the middle of the night, her way of asking me to lift up the bedcovers so she can crawl underneath.

I’m thankful for the joy I feel whenever I see my fur babies sleeping so contentedly by the warm fire, or curled up snug as a bug in their little bed. I’m thankful for the way their presence makes this house feel like a home. I’m thankful there is always someone here so that I never feel lonely or alone.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Will You Be Watching the National Dog Show Tomorrow?

Eli, National Dog Show Ambassador
By Linda Cole

This year, the National Dog Show will celebrate its 10th anniversary. The televised dog show has become a Thanksgiving Day tradition along with the Macy’s parade. What better way to spend the holiday than surrounded by family and friends as you enjoy a fun filled afternoon of marching bands and floats, good food and lots of great dogs.

I was invited to attend a phone press conference last week that included David Frei and Mary Carillo. David is the Communications Director for the Westminster Dog Show, and Mary is a retired tennis pro turned sports broadcaster. David is hosting the National Dog Show this year, and Mary is the featured reporter and commentator.

The National Dog Show is one of only six dog shows where the public is invited to go behind the scenes to meet the dogs and talk with their handlers and groomers. The show draws the top ranked dogs and this year's entries will be close to 2,000 dogs. Dog lovers can see firsthand how show dogs are prepped for the big stage. Around 20 million dog loving viewers tuned in to watch last year's show.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Diabetic Alert Dogs Help People Reclaim Their Independence

By Langley Cornwell

What do trained service dogs do when they’re a bit too fun loving to be a guide dog for the blind? Some go back to school to become diabetic alert dogs.

Hypoglycemic unawareness is common among type 1 diabetics; many people with diabetes don’t realize they are experiencing a rapid drop in blood sugar until it’s too late. Unchecked, this severe drop in blood sugar can result in confusion, dizziness, sharp stomach pains or even blackouts and seizures. These unfortunate responses can make a diabetic feel confined, restricted and unable to enjoy a ‘regular’ lifestyle. A specially trained service dog empowers insulin-dependent diabetics to reclaim their independence and triumph over the disease.

Dogs for Diabetics

Dogs4Diabetics (D4D) is a non-profit organization committed to offering medical alert dogs to diabetics. These dogs are trained to identify the subtle scent shifts in body chemistry that accompany the onset of low blood glucose in their insulin-dependent human companions.

Former scientist and part-time guide-dog trainer Mark Ruefenacht started D4D in October 2004, reports A diabetic himself, Ruefenacht forgot to check his blood sugar one evening and fell asleep. During the night—as he was experiencing a low blood sugar induced seizure—he was awakened by one of the puppies he was training. Sick and confused, it took Ruefenacht a few minutes to get his bearings. The dog instinctively knew something was wrong and insistently badgered Ruefenacht until he got up and ate some sugary food.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Why It's Important to Be Your Dog's Leader

By Linda Cole

A strong pack leader knows who their dog is and understands that in order to have a stable and happy dog, it's the human who needs to take control of the pack. Even one dog makes up a pack with his family. Being the pack leader involves understanding how dogs view their world. Because we domesticated dogs, it's our job to provide stability and a safe environment for them. Taking the lead role is what dogs expect us to do. If we don't take the lead they will, and that's when behavior problems begin.

It's up to us to teach our dogs how we expect them to act around the home, both with other people and other family pets. According to local and state laws concerning dogs, it's our role as owners to make sure we are capable of keeping them under control to keep the public safe as well as the pet. Dog owners have their pet's best interest at heart, but too many people have problems taking the lead role. Dogs are individual creatures and some definitely have a mind of their own. Each one has their own personality, and few dogs are shy about trying to move into the lead spot if they believe their owner hasn't filled that spot.

Like the wolf pack, dogs also have a hierarchy in their family and one member of their family must be the leader. It's a simple concept for the dog, but dogs aren't wolves and our interactions with our pet are different than how wolves interact in their packs. Dogs are considered to be juvenile wolves that are dependent on us for their safety and needs. If we want our pet to be calm and stable, we have to be their leader.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Isn’t It Time to Retire the Crazy Cat Lady Stereotype?

By Julia Williams

I read an article recently that described cat ladies as “quitters” and lonely sad sacks who never leave the house. By contrast, dog ladies were said to be outgoing, athletic, adventurous and full of life. Stereotype much? The article went on to claim that while dog memoirs (aka dogoirs) are inspiring, life-changing things of beauty, no comparable thing could exist for cat memoirs because “cat ladies only get to be one thing: lonely.” Seriously? Excuse me while I hack up a hairball on that article. cough. gag. urk.

Ah, I feel so much better now! =^..^=

I wish I could say this article was satirical, that this stereotypical characterization of the sad sack cat ladies was a joke. But I can’t…because it wasn’t. And this, I must admit, did peeve me just a bit. It doesn’t surprise me though, given that Crazy Cat Ladies are perhaps the last group we – and by “we” I mean society – are still allowed to make fun of. In fact, many people get a big kick out of ridiculing women who love cats, as though there is something wrong with it, something so “abnormal” about it that these women couldn’t possibly be functioning, happy, friendly people who engage in life and with others. Again… cough. gag. urk.

I watched a dumb show once where one of the characters said “Women with candles replaces women with cats as the new sad thing.” Claiming that loving any animal can be sad just seems so idiotic to me. Dogs, cats, horses, hamsters, gerbils or bunnies – why should it matter to anyone else who or what we choose to love? Newsflash! I’m a woman, I love cats, and I am definitely not a sad sack. I’m not lonely either, not one teeny tiny bit. I even leave the house on occasion to interact with society! And guess what? I’m not an anomaly either. I happen to know many women who love cats, and none of them are lonely old spinsters hiding away in a house full of felines.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Puppy Rescue Mission: Bringing War Dogs Home

By Linda Cole

Military rules are clear when it comes to troops in a war zone and pets. They are not supposed to keep or care for pets at all. Thankfully, this rule is bent when men and women in the armed forces overseas adopt homeless pets. Puppy Rescue Mission is an organization that's helping to bring these war zone pets home.

On the Puppy Rescue Mission’s Facebook page, a poster shows a soldier crouching down and petting a kitten. The poster reads: “It is man's sympathy with all creatures that first makes him truly a man.” I thought about the poster – the image and the words, and how true it is for anyone who loves animals. Soldiers have always befriended pets in foreign lands where they were stationed. Rescued dogs have tagged along on patrols, and have been credited with saving the lives of soldiers. Anna Cannan created the nonprofit Puppy Rescue Mission after her fiancé Chris befriended a group of dogs living at the outpost where he was stationed while serving in Afghanistan.

A few weeks before Chris arrived at the outpost to begin his tour of duty, a suicide bomber had snuck into the outpost during the night. Three stray dogs living at the camp rushed to defend the outpost and attacked the bomber. The dogs stopped what could have been a devastating attack when they kept the suicide bomber away from where the soldiers were sleeping. Unfortunately, one of the dogs was killed and the other two were injured but recovered. When Chris arrived, he and his fellow soldiers embraced the dogs, including a litter of puppies belonging to one of the injured dogs. Chris knew he would eventually return home, and he and Anna began to brainstorm how they could rescue some of these brave dogs and send them back to the States for adoption. Anna began a Facebook page to try and raise the $3,000 per dog it would cost at the time they began their mission to rescue Afghanistan dogs needing homes. You can read their entire story on the Puppy Rescue Mission website.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Ways to Save on Pet Food and Treats

By Julia Williams

Finding ways to save money is on a lot of people’s minds nowadays. Tough economic times call for figuring out how to stretch the budget. We all need to eat though, and so do our pets. With that in mind, here are a few ways to save on dog food, cat food, pet treats and even horse feed!


Until recently, I wasn’t much of a couponer because it didn’t seem worth the trouble. TLC’s Extreme Couponing show sparked my desire to begin using coupons, and once I saw how much I could actually save, couponing has become a way of life. Some people think you can only buy junk with coupons, but it’s not true. You can find coupons for just about anything – including healthy pet food.

Many pet food companies have coupons for dog food, cat food and pet treats on their website and/or their Facebook page. CANIDAE Natural Pet Food Company has several different high value coupons on their website that anyone can request. You can save up to $4 off FELIDAE pureELEMENTS or pureSEA dry cat food, and up to $5 off CANIDAE pureSKY or pureLAND dry dog food.

The CANIDAE website also has coupons for TidNips™ treats for both dogs and cats. These coupons are even better because they are BOGO (in couponing lingo, that means buy one get one). So, you buy one package of Tidnips treats (which my cats ecstatically endorse) and you get one free! If you happen to have a horse, CANIDAE even has a BOGO coupon for its line of horse feed called EQUIDAE. In a couponer’s world, free is the magic word. Don’t ever let someone tell you that you can’t get something good for free, because it’s simply not true!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Purpose of a Dog’s Tail

By Langley Cornwell

We all know what a dog’s tail looks like. We know the tail starts at the end of a dog’s vertebral column and extends beyond his body. We know a dog wags his tail when he’s happy. Other than that, we’ve probably never thought much about it.

There are some types of dogs that are born without a prolonged tail, and there are dogs whose tails have been altered. Some herding and working dog breeds have their tails docked short when they are young; a long tail can be a disadvantage to a working dog because it can interfere with his specific responsibilities and duties. But we’re talking here about the tails of dogs that are long and unaltered, and the many purposes these tails serve.


I can tell what my dog is feeling by the way she holds or moves her tail. Her ears speak volumes as well, but that’s a story for another day. Her tail tells me if she is happy, stressed, aggravated or scared. When she holds her tail high and wags it back and forth, she’s happy. A CANIDAE dog treat never fails to elicit that happy tail wag! When she’s both happy and excited, her tail is high and she moves it in a circular manner which always makes me smile. When something captures her attention, her tail is parallel to the ground.

When my dog is aggravated or feels challenged, she holds her tail a bit higher than her attentive position but not as high as her happy position. I know she feels especially provoked when her tail is held upright and it’s puffed up and rigid.  

Too often, our shy girl tucks her tail between her legs, which lets me know she is scared or feeling submissive. And when she keeps her tail low and wags it quickly, she’s nervous or insecure.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Dog Commandments

By Keikei Cole, Canine Guest Blogger

I'm happy to follow my “dear leader” everywhere, even into the scary places if she’s stupid enough to go there. Well, someone has to keep an eye on her! There is no other critter that will stand by their “boss” as steadfast and loyal as the magnificent, charming creature you call a dog. Case in point: you've never seen a movie about a cat named Lassie racing home to get help for Timmy. Right? I rest my case. BOL!

OK, listen up humans – I'm here to give you some important dog commandments that will make our lives much better. If you break these commandments, the great dog star in the sky will rain on your head.

Dog Commandments:

You shall understand from day one, I will always be the QUEEN of your home. I give my trust and loyalty to those who have earned it, and I expect to be treated with respect at all times. My unconditional love is your reward.

You shall not blame me for what I can't control. I am not a cat, and I need to go outside on a regular schedule. If you don't get me outside in time, don't get mad at me when accidents happen. Walks are preferable because I need some excitement, too. Plus, it keeps me from wanting to eat the couch.

You shall not be critical of my “handshake.” Sniffing from behind is polite dog etiquette. Your eye rolling or red face won't change how we say “HI.”

You shall always reward me with quality treats. When I'm good, praise is great along with my favorite CANIDAE treat because it shows me how much you care. And the QUEEN always gets what she wants from adoring subjects.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Top Ten Reasons to Love a Cat

By Julia Williams

Ah, to love a cat. What’s not to love, really? Well for starters, there are those nights when you get up to use the bathroom and your bare feet step in something squishy. I don’t love my cats all that much in that moment. And then there are those days when they are naughty for no other reason than because they just want to see how red your face can get. But other than that, there are plenty of reasons to love a cat. One that won’t make my list, however, is the oft-used “they give you unconditional love.” I’m pretty sure my cats have at least one condition, which is that they be fed regularly. If I withheld their food for very long, I’m thinking they’d give their love to a neighbor without so much as a backward glance at me. But I digress. Here are my top 10 reasons to love a cat.

10. Cats are such good little helpers around the house. They keep the tub from getting water spots by licking it dry right after you shower. They make sure any crumbs that fall to the floor never need to be swept up. They help you decorate by re-arranging your knickknacks. They keep the coffee table free of clutter, and they make sure your bookshelf is always dusted (with a built in duster no less!). 

9. Cats are always willing to give fashion advice. Case in point: the hilarious feline ‘Catfoodbreath’ posted my favorite tweet ever – “I napped on your outfit to keep you from leaving the house looking like someone who didn’t own a cat.” Having a cat also serves as a deterrent to wearing drab black too often. (Black pants are THE biggest fashion faux pas if you have a cat!).

8. Cats are remarkably self cleaning. There are very few good reasons to give your cat a bath, and considering how they react to being submerged in water, it’s not something you should be doing anyway.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Meet the Latest RPO Winner - Sadie of Beaded Tail Fame!

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. The winner is chosen at random from every new reader who subscribed to the blog via email during the past quarter. The winner gets to pick any formula of CANIDAE dog food or FELIDAE cat food.

The lucky winner from last quarter is Sharla V. of Corvallis, Oregon. Sharla has a beautiful Alaskan Husky named Sadie who will be 11 years old in December. Sharla also has two cats, but has decided that Sadie should be the one to try the CANIDAE food, and has chosen to receive 3 bags of All Life Stages (ALS) and 3 Bags of CANIDAE Beef and Fish.

Some of you may recognize the dog in these photos. That’s because Sadie is often featured on Sharla’s wonderful pet blog called Beaded Tail! I asked Sharla to tell us a little about Sadie, and here is what she said:

“Sadie was rescued by the humane society from a puppy mill in Nebraska when she was just a month old, along with 40 adult dogs and 6 litters of puppies. When my mom heard about these dogs, she went straight to the humane society and put our names on the list of people who wanted to adopt. When the courts finally said the huskies could be adopted, the humane society had raided a Yorkie puppy mill so the huskies were being sent to other shelters to make room. Only two husky puppies stayed behind; one went to a shelter employee and we got Sadie!  

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

How to Protect Your Pet from Wildlife Predators

By Linda Cole

No matter where we live, we share the land with wildlife. Birds of prey, like hawks and eagles, can pose a danger to cats, small dogs, kittens and puppies. Depending on where you live, coyotes, mountain lions and bears may also be a threat. An attack by a wildlife predator can happen in the blink of an eye. How quickly we react can make a difference, and learning how to protect yourself and your pet is your best weapon.

Most predators are active during sunrise and sunset, but they will hunt anytime. Unless you have a 10 foot fence around your property, wild animals will venture into your yard in search of food. Protect your pets by keeping your yard clean. Keep fruit and nuts picked up under trees, and don't leave food sitting outside where it can be found by wild animals. Coyotes will eat anything, including fruit, and you don't want to encourage predators to come into your yard.

Compost piles, thick brush or bushes and wood piles make great hiding places for predators. Situate your compost pile away from the areas used by you and your pet, or keep it in an enclosed area. Keep the area under bird feeders cleaned up. Never leave uneaten pet food outside. Secure trash cans with locking lids so they can't be tipped over, or keep them in a garage or other outside building. Make sure doors are closed to outside buildings to keep unwanted guests out.

Keep your dog on leash during hikes. A dog running ahead of his owner on a trail may return with a predator hot on his heels. If you meet a predator in your own backyard, or while out hiking or walking your dog, stay calm and never run. Pick up small dogs and cats. A stout walking stick is a good weapon to help fend off an attack.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Tips for Introducing a New Dog to a Household with Cats

By Langley Cornwell

We have a cat and a dog, and they are best friends. The introduction was easy for us; we rescued the animals together, so they were getting accustomed to us, our home and each other at the same time. It worked beautifully. But what do you do if you already have cats and want to adopt a dog?

Cats and dogs can live together in harmony, even if you bring them into the household at different times. Much of their long-term relationship depends on the manner in which they are introduced to one another. As long as you are patient and mindful of each animal’s natural tendencies, the transition should be fairly peaceful.

The initial meeting of an adult cat and a puppy

If you have an adult cat that has no experience with dogs, introducing her to a rambunctious puppy requires extra care. Keep these tips in mind:

•  Put the pup on a leash during their first encounter. Keep the leash loose enough for the dog to behave naturally, but make sure you are in control of the meeting.
•  Allow the dog and cat to sniff each other – it’s an important aspect of their initial meeting.
•  Try not to overreact to hissing, growling or barking, which are typical ways for new animals to communicate. Be ready to separate the animals if the hostility escalates.
•  Puppies are naturally energetic; their overzealous behavior can trigger a quick and serious attack from a wary cat. Stay alert.

If none of these tips work, separate the animals with a crate, baby gate or in rooms with an adjoining door where they can sniff each other under the door. Keep them separate for a few days, allowing them time to become acquainted without coming into full contact with one another.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Dog Heroes That Saved Lives and Property

By Linda Cole

The bravery and loyalty of dogs fills the pages of history with unselfish acts of heroism. Dog heroes can be mixed breed and purebred, but the one thing they all have in common is a steadfast devotion to their owner. It can be argued that dogs act purely on instinct, but I think they also act on love and recognize when the people they love are in danger. Many dog heroes were rescued themselves by their owner.

Shana, a half wolf/half German Shepherd, was rescued as a sickly two week old pup. In 2006, she was 7 years old and weighed 160 pounds, which came in handy when she saved her owners, 81 year old Norman and Eve Fertig. The couple had been tending to animals on the Enchanted Forest Wildlife Sanctuary in Alden, N.Y. when a sudden winter storm hit in early December. The storm knocked down huge trees at the sanctuary, trapping the Fertigs between two buildings. It also knocked out the electricity.

Temperatures plunged to freezing, and Norman and Eve were trapped outside without warm clothes or shelter. What Shana did next amazed the couple and firemen who made it to the sanctuary the next morning to check on the couple. Shana began to dig through the snow and dirt under the fallen trees and kept digging until she had a ditch dug all the way to the house. She returned to Eve, grabbed her sleeve and slid the 86 pound woman onto her back. Norman grabbed Eve's legs and Shana pulled both of them through the ditch to their home. Safely inside, she then laid across the couple to keep them warm through the night. From start to finish, it took Shana almost 8 hours to dig a trench 200 ft. long. She was given an award that's usually only given to humans – the Citizens for Humane Animal Treatment's Hero's Award for bravery.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Maneki Neko, the “Lucky Cat” of Japan

By Julia Williams

As good luck charms go, the Maneki Neko is perhaps the cutest one of all. Of course, as a cat lover I am probably biased, but still – the friendly feline known around the globe as Maneki Neko is pretty darn adorable, don’t you think? Chances are, you’ve seen one of these little cat statues sitting at the entrance of your favorite Japanese or Chinese restaurant, or some other place of business. You might even have one displayed in your home. But while that sweet, smiling cat beckoning you with an upright paw might look modern, the Maneki Neko is actually an age-old custom that dates back several centuries, to Japan's Edo Period (1603 to 1868).

What is the Maneki Neko?

The Maneki Neko is a popular Japanese sculpture that’s believed to bring good luck. Maneki Neko means “Beckoning Cat,” and it’s often called that and other names including Welcoming Cat, Lucky Cat of Japan, Money Cat, Fortune Cat and Prosperity Cat. The cat figurine, typically made of ceramic, is often placed by the front door of businesses and homes to welcome guests and attract wealth. Though the Maneki Neko originated in Japan, it's now found worldwide and is a popular collector's item.

Although I’ve seen many different interpretations of the Maneki Neko – including one that bears a striking resemblance to another Japanese icon, Hello Kitty! – they usually always have a red collar and red ears. Some have a bell on their collar, while others have a koban (a gold coin from the Edo Period.) Many also carry a scroll bearing the message “Please come in. You are welcome!”

Maneki Neko Symbolism

There are two versions of Maneki Neko, each with a different meaning. With its left paw raised, Maneki Neko welcomes customers and guests; with its right paw raised, Maneki Neko invites good luck and money. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with displaying both versions to cover all the bases!

Opinions differ on whether the Maneki Neko is a male or female, but most agree that the cat is a Japanese Bobtail. This ancient breed comes in many different colors, but the original Maneki Neko statues were calico, or mi-ke which means “three fur.”

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Special Achievers: Search and Rescue Dogs Ontario

By Linda Cole

Dave Walker and his team of professional humans and dogs make up an all volunteer, nonprofit Search & Rescue (SAR) group, assisting police agencies at no cost to them. The Search and Rescue Dogs Ontario are members of the Hamilton Police Service, and assist in ground search and rescue operations wherever they are needed. I spoke with Dave recently to learn more about this amazing team that’s sponsored by the CANIDAE Special Achievers Program.

The SAR team is made up of four Dutch Shepherds – Raina, Bliss, Nico and Ace – and four handlers, plus Dave. Several of the dogs were rescued or adopted from homes where they weren't wanted, and two puppies are in training to replace two retired SAR dogs. Dutch Shepherds (herding dogs from the Netherlands) are used because they have the work ethic of the German Shepherd along with the extremely high drive of the Belgian Malinois. The team is on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and has been with the Hamilton Police since 2004. 

I asked Dave how long the team had been feeding CANIDAE to the dogs, and if it made a difference in their health. “Several of our dogs have been on CANIDAE for over 5 years with great results,” he said. “For almost a year now all of our dogs (4 working dogs, 2 puppies and 2 retired dogs) have been switched to CANIDAE after we saw the great overall health and energy level of the dogs that were on it. CANIDAE All Life Stages dog food has proven to be a good food for our SAR Canine teams. As their ages range from puppies to current working dogs (5-7 yrs.) and our retired dogs (10 yrs. old), the All Life Stages has worked very well for us.”

I asked if he thought it helped the SAR dogs do their job and he replied, “The tremendous stress that this work sometimes puts on the dogs because of the terrain, extreme temperatures and the physical endurance they need to do the work, makes CANIDAE a great choice for us. It gives all of our dogs, no matter what age, the required nutrition to remain healthy in this challenging work. CANIDAE food keeps their energy levels at top performance.”

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Bed Bug Detection Dogs Sniff Out Pests!

By Julia Williams

When I was young, my mother used to recite the ditty “Good night. Sleep tight. Don't let the bed bugs bite” as part of our bedtime ritual. Now, I didn’t actually know what a bed bug was, in fact I didn’t even know such a bug even existed, but the saying always made me giggle. Bed bugs were mostly a legend back then, as the pests were largely eradicated in the U.S. by pesticides like DDT. Bed bugs remained a problem overseas, however, and travelers unknowingly brought them back to the states. As a result, bed bug cases have surged in recent years, so much so that some say we’re experiencing a “bed bug epidemic.” Pest control companies now have a new weapon to wage war on these biting bedfellows: dogs! That’s right – dogs are being trained to use their incredible olfactory ability to pinpoint where the nibbling critters and their eggs are hiding in homes, hotels and businesses.

Can Dogs Really Sniff Out These Microscopic Pests?

Of course they can! Detection dogs have become highly proficient at finding bombs, drugs, people, weapons and even certain types of cancer. Bed bug “detective work” is just another way we can use their exceptional sense of smell to benefit mankind. Not only that, but dogs can locate these pests quicker and more efficiently than humans can, thanks to a nose that some call “cutting edge technology.”

A dog’s sense of smell is said to be more than 1,000 times more sensitive than ours. In fact, a dog's sense of smell is so acute it can even detect odors that scientific instruments can’t. Train the canines to sniff out bed bugs, and these pests don’t stand a chance!

Why Bed Bug Detection Dogs Trump Humans

The feeble human nose is unable to detect the smell of bed bugs, and must rely on a visual inspection. However, because the critters are so small – newly hatched bed bugs are about the size of a pen tip – finding physical evidence can be like looking for that proverbial needle in a haystack. It can take a mere mortal several hours or more to conduct a visual inspection, whereas a well trained bed bug detection dog can sweep a room in minutes. Moreover, pinpointing the exact location of bed bugs in a home or business reduces both the amount of chemicals used and the treatment costs.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Role of Nutrition When Rehabilitating a Neglected Dog

By Langley Cornwell

It’s an obvious and sad fact that millions of homeless dogs suffer from malnutrition.

Neglected dogs often do not get enough food. When they do get food, it’s usually lacking in basic nutrients. Therefore, their inconsistent food source coupled with unreliable nourishment leads to malnutrition. Canine malnutrition is serious and, for rescue dogs, it’s a way of life due to their incomplete and unbalanced diet.

The Dog Channel outlines the price of poor canine nutrition in helpful detail. It’s clear that without a proper diet, dogs can suffer multiple physical and behavioral problems including allergies, kidney problems, bone problems, skin and coat complications and aggression.

Sure, nutrition-related problems can affect any dog regardless of background, size, or breed. But it’s seen most commonly in neglected dogs. And when it comes to rescuing a homeless animal, sound canine nutrition plays a large role in rehabilitating a previously unloved animal.

Signs of aggression caused by poor nutrition

If a dog has been eating a low-quality diet, there are several reasons he may act in an aggressive manner. One reason is a physical reaction; a dog that experiences pain or illness tends to act hostile if he is in severe discomfort. If an ailment causes a dog pain when he’s touched, he will act inappropriately. The Natural Dog Health Remedies website indicates that another reason a dog may show aggression is because he is not getting the proper nutrition required for his brain to function correctly, so his actions and reactions are unpredictable.

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