Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Mellow Dog Breeds for 'Couch Potato' Types

By Linda Cole

We know how important it is to pick the right dog for your lifestyle. An energetic person will love the lively energy of a Border Collie or a Terrier breed, but some people would rather chill out on the couch and cuddle with a laid back dog. If you're looking for a mellow canine companion, here are a few breeds to consider.

The Mastiff is a large, muscular dog. In fact, it's one of the largest breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club and known affectionately as “the gentle giant.” However, don't underestimate this dog. Although they are friendly and gentle, they were bred to be guardians and will protect their family and home. A Mastiff is a quiet dog who is happy lounging on the couch (of course, then there's no room for you!) or going for a walk. He may be a couch potato, but daily exercise is still needed to keep him healthy.

The Greyhound is the fastest dog in the world, reaching speeds over 40 mph. Their natural prey is rabbit and hare, but they were also used to hunt deer, stag, fox and wild boar. When they aren't working, this dog breed is the ultimate couch potato and as mellow as you can get. I know from experience how happy these dogs are. My great aunt and uncle raised Greyhounds and Whippets. As a kid, I loved visiting them because I got to play with the dogs. Greyhounds are loving, but can be a bit aloof when it comes to strangers. Just like any dog, they need exercise and excel at lure coursing, racing and agility. However, if you're as mellow as the dog, he will be happy with daily walks. If you're interested in adopting a Greyhound, please check with the National Greyhound Adoption Program. They are always looking for suitable homes for retired racing dogs.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Caring for a Senior Pet

By Langley Cornwell

Everyone who shares their life with a dog or a cat wishes their pet would live longer. Even so, with advances in veterinary medicine companion animals are living longer than ever before. This increased lifespan is a wonderful thing, but because pets are living longer they can become afflicted with certain ailments that younger pets are not susceptible to. It’s the same thing we humans face; as we age, our bodies and minds change. Advancing into our golden years will mean a different type of medical attention for most of us. Your pet will need a different type of medical attention as well.

For your pets, aging may bring on osteoarthritis, mobility changes, weight gain, heart, kidney, and liver disease, benign or cancerous tumors, hormonal conditions such as thyroid imbalance and diabetes, and other things. Because of these possibilities, the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) recommends that you prepare to modify some of the activities you currently enjoy doing with your pets. As your senior  pet starts to slow down, you have to adapt. Also, it will be necessary to work with your veterinarian to stay on top of your pet’s changing conditions and adjust their lifestyle to accommodate the aging process.

When does ‘old age’ start?

For dogs, small breeds usually live longer than large breeds, and cats generally live longer than dogs. Some dogs are considered middle to senior aged when they reach around 7 years of age. And some cats are considered middle to senior aged when they reach about 10 years of age. It really varies with each individual animal.

How will I know my pet is approaching ‘senior’ status, and what should I do about it?

Physical changes: As your pet’s body ages, physical changes will naturally occur. Some of the changes are easy enough to deal with, but a common problem that’s difficult to manage is inappropriate urinating. With both cats and dogs, the kidneys are one of the most common organs to lose function. As well trained as your pet may be, they may not be able to control where or when they eliminate as they get older. Do not scold your pet, but take notice and call your vet immediately. Incontinence or excessive urination can indicate diabetes and/or kidney failure, and both of these conditions are treatable with early detection.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Owney, the Mail Dog that Rode the Rails

By Linda Cole

Last July, the U.S. Postal Service honored a little dog named Owney with his very own forever stamp. Owney the Mail Dog was a terrier-mix stray who made his home at the Albany, New York post office and served nine years as the ‘unofficial mascot’ of the U.S. Railway Mail Service. The stamp recognizes Owney's steadfast loyalty to the mail service. This is a cool interactive stamp and when it's held up to your computer webcam, you can see Owney barking and running. He was indeed a special dog, and his story is worth retelling so we don't forget how extraordinary dogs can be.

It was in the day when trains and wagons carried the mail and at the peak of the Railway Mail Service. In 1888, a scraggly looking dog was abandoned by his owner who had been working in the Albany post office. The other mail clerks liked having Owney around and decided to adopt him. He became their unofficial mascot, and made himself at home among the mailbags.

The little dog wasn't content to live out his days inside the post office, however. He apparently enjoyed traveling and decided it was his job to ride along with the mailbags to guard them. To make sure no one mistook Owney the Mail Dog as a stray or in the event he became lost, the Albany mail clerks gave him a collar with “Owney, Albany Post Office, New York” written on it.

One story recounts a day when they feared Owney was lost. He followed mail that was taken off a train and loaded onto a wagon. It was headed to one of the local post offices. The wagon and mail arrived, but Owney couldn't be found. Some clerks went back over the route and discovered him patiently waiting on a mail bag that had fallen off the wagon!

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Chronicles of Zee & Zoey

By Julia Williams

As a writer, books hold a special appeal to me. In a bookstore, I become the proverbial ‘kid in a candy store’ and can’t wait to sample them all. I love the feel of holding a book in my hands, love the way they smell and how the words look on the printed page, which is why I’ll probably never get a Kindle; it’s just not the same.

You can imagine my excitement then, the day Deborah Barnes’ The Chronicles of Zee & Zoey: A Journey of the Extraordinarily Ordinary arrived in my mailbox. I’d read about this book on other cat lover’s blogs and have gotten to know the author through her own blog. My anticipation swelled as I opened the package and took out the book, which was wrapped in leopard print paper and fastened with a custom-made seal. The high gloss cover was simply breathtaking. Zee, a handsome Maine Coon mancat and Zoey, an exotic Bengal, appeared so lifelike that I half expected them to leap into my arms.

Opening the book, I discovered leopard spotted inside covers front and back, and a matching bookmark. Leafing through it, I saw enchanting artwork, charming page borders with butterflies and dragonflies, and lots of beautiful photographs of cats, dogs…and KITTENS! Oh my. I was already smitten with the book, and hadn’t read a single word! I knew then that if the words –the ‘meat’ of any book to be sure – were even half as lovely as the visual presentation, it would be a memorable reading experience.

I was not disappointed. The Chronicles of Zee & Zoey is many different things all rolled into one delightful book. At its core is the touching ‘Romeo and Juliet-inspired’ love story between two unique and extraordinary breeds. The book follows the feline pair from the moment they meet and become inseparable, through the trials and tribulations of accidental kittens and the separation this creates. Unlike the Shakespearean tragedy, however, this love story has a happy ending as Zee and Zoey reunite once their four kittens are grown.

Speaking of kittens, the book also presents an honest look at what raising a litter of them entails, with chapters devoted to their first 8 weeks– from teeny tiny babies with their eyes shut tight, to rambunctious kittens capable of mass destruction in the blink of an eye. I particularly enjoyed these chapters because they brought back fond memories of a time I helped a friend with his kittens. Deb describes the ‘chaos that is kittens’ so well, and it’s clear that although these demanding little beings were not always sugar and spice, she loves them wholeheartedly. “Most people would joke that any cat living with me, had won the cat lottery as far as homes go,” she writes. After reading her book, I completely agree.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

How to Help Your Dog Enjoy Veterinarian Visits

By Langley Cornwell

Veterinarian visits used to be difficult for us. Our dog would revert back to her shy and fearful behavior whenever we had an appointment. In fact, she would start trembling and whining when we pulled into the parking lot. While we had mostly conquered her insecure behavior in other areas, vet visits brought it all flooding back. It was an effort just to get her out of the car and through the front door. We knew we had to get serious about helping her. Our goal was to make trips to the animal clinic seem as natural as trips to the dog-friendly pet supply store.

The emotional state of your dog during a vet exam is particularly significant. If your dog remains stressed or fearful during a vet visit, anything that happens to her while she’s there can become something she will want to avoid forever. This unfortunate belief can result in the dog overreacting to even the simplest, most non-confrontational handling by the vet staff. With patience and training, however, veterinary visits can be less stressful. Now our dog actually looks forward to going! Here’s how we did it.

Practice visits coupled with positive reinforcement. The veterinarian we use is sympathetic to our dog’s shy and fearful behavior. He kindly allowed us to bring our dog around for random informal visits, without having an actual appointment. On these unscheduled visits, we always had plenty of her favorite CANIDAE treats on hand. We passed the dog treats out to the receptionists, technicians and other staff members so they could offer them to our dog.

Originally, she was not interested and stood statue-still in a crouching position. On subsequent visits, she finally started tentatively sniffing around. Progress! At least she wasn’t frozen in one spot, trembling and crying. As she gradually became more accustomed to the sights and smells of the clinic, she started to relax. Finally she began accepting dog treats from the staff. This took awhile, but she ultimately became familiar with the facility without the association of shots/handling/scary stuff. 

This technique works best if the only people offering treats to your dog are the veterinarian staff members. Avoid the temptation to give the dog treats yourself. You want the dog to connect going to the vet with getting treats from the staff.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

What is the True Worth of a Pet?

By Linda Cole

I once had a coworker who felt it was her duty to chastise me for rescuing stray pets and giving them a temporary home while I tried to find their owner, and then a forever home if their owner couldn't be found. The money I spent on their vet care and food was beyond her comprehension. After months of complaining, one day she said “That's stupid to spend your money on those cats and dogs. Just think how much money you'd have if you got rid of them.” She had no idea what I spent on them because I never talked about it, but it was what she said next that made me blow a gasket. “Just dump them in the country. No one will know.” I won't repeat what I said to her, except to say she got an earful on what I thought about her suggestion. She had never been a pet owner and I knew I would be wasting my breath trying to explain something she couldn't comprehend.

To me, all animals have worth and it has nothing to do with money. They are all living beings and have a right to life. To ignore a lost/stray pet that needs help with food or finding a home is not something I can do. Also, if I found a wild animal that needed help I wouldn't hesitate to do what I could for them.

I realize the true worth of a pet is different for everyone because we don't all have the same kind of relationship with our pets. For many of us, though, our pets give us a reason to get up in the morning. They can make a rainy day seem sunny and bright. Pets have a contagious enthusiasm for life they pass on to us, if we're willing to take it. For other owners, their pet plays a limited role in their life and can easily be replaced. To them, it's “just” an animal.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Firefighter Dayna and the Fire Safety Dogs

By Langley Cornwell

Dayna Hilton joined the fire service in 2000. In 2003, her rescued Dalmatian Sparkles gave her the idea to teach fire safety to children. Through the years, Dayna and her Fire Safety dogs have touched the lives of thousands of children nationwide and saved the lives of several. Additionally, she’s the Executive Director of the Keep Kids Fire Safe® Foundation and she’s authored three children’s books: Sparkles the Fire Safety Dog, Sparkles the Fire Safety Dog Coloring Book and Sparkles Goes to Boston.

I had the honor of ‘meeting’ Firefighter Dayna via chats and emails. You see, with Dayna, even if you don’t talk to her personally it feels like you know her. Her boundless energy, focused fire safety message, and undying devotion to her dogs are a magnetic combination. As a ‘one woman and two dog’ operation, she’s been able to accomplish so much. She and her dogs are passionate about what they do and have dedicated their lives to helping keep children safe. Here is an excerpt of our recent interview.

How did you find Sparkles?
I rescued her through the Dalmatian Assistance League of Tulsa. She came from a home overflowing with animals; Sparkles had been living in squalor with 62 other dogs.

What can you tell us about her background?
Aside from where she came from, I don’t know much about her background. What I do know is she was naturally great with children. Whenever kids approached she would roll around seeking belly rubs. One day we were playing and, just for fun, I wanted to see if she could crawl really low. She did it immediately, without any formal training. Crawling low is a crucial component of surviving a fire because it keeps your smoke inhalation to a minimum. When Sparkles began low-crawling on command, the idea for spreading a fire safety message to children was born.

Did Sparkles inspire the books?
Yes, totally. Sparkles had a tail that wagged non-stop; the only time her tail stopped wagging was when she slept. The idea for my first children’s fire safety book came from that tail! One day, Sparkles and I were getting ready to do a fire safety presentation at the school, and I put on her red vest, as I always did. That day was special though, as I looked at her and truly saw the love in her eyes. She couldn’t wait to get that vest on and go to work. I knew immediately that a children’s fire safety book was born!

Every day that Sparkles was in my life was a blessing. When I think about all of the lives she touched it’s overwhelming. Not only was she an amazing fire safety dog and a true credit to the fire service, she was a wonderful friend and companion.

From the time we met, Sparkles tried her best to make me happy. When I would leave the room, her ears would perk up and she would stand there, sometimes for hours, just waiting. Her love was unconditional.

Sparkles truly found her calling, and I am forever grateful she was in my life. When she passed away, I was heartbroken at losing my best friend, but I’m thankful that her legacy lives on, both through Tango and Siren, through “Sparkles’ Pathway” and through all the lives she has touched and will continue to touch. She was more than just my friend; she was a friend to millions of children. It is my hope that all the fire safety dogs that follow will share Sparkles’ passion for helping keep children safe, and we will continue to help save lives. Sparkles would have wanted it that way.

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Noble and Impressive Tibetan Mastiff

By Linda Cole

The Tibetan Mastiff is a perfect example of why getting the right dog for your lifestyle is so important. According to the American Tibetan Mastiff Association, “If you want an obedient dog, a dog that you can walk off leash, a dog that will come when called, the TM is not the dog for you. If you lead an active social life with many people coming in and out of your house, the TM is not the dog for you. If you have small children or many children come to visit, the TM may not be the dog for you. If you prize your wood furniture (or your plaster walls) and you will be upset if they were chewed on (or eaten in their entirety), the TM is not for you.”

It's not that the Tibetan Mastiff is a bad dog that can't be controlled. He's an intelligent, strong willed and independent dog who believes he knows more than his owner. However, he is loyal and extremely protective of his family and property. People the dog doesn't know will most likely not be allowed to enter your home. He's adaptable, likes to think on his own and make his own decisions, and is quite capable of having good judgment.


The Tibetan Mastiff was bred as a guard dog and will protect family and home with a fierce determination. This rare dog breed is descended from the ancient Tibetan Mastiff that is thought to go back as far as 1100 BC in China. Little is known about the history of the early dogs. They lived and worked in the high Himalayan Mountains as guard dogs and were isolated for centuries. During the day, the dogs were kept confined and released at night to patrol the entire town. Some villages only had one dog on guard duty at night.

The dogs were also effective fighters and protectors, and were used in armies of the Assyrians, Persians, Greeks and Romans. They even went into Europe with Attila the Hun and Genghis Khan. However, the breed continued to exist only in the Himalayans and central plains of Asia until 1847 when one was given to England's Queen Victoria. Today, this giant rare dog breed is even hard to find in their homeland. They are still used to guard livestock and protect their owner from mainly wolves and snow leopards.

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Myth of the “Independent Cat”

By Julia Williams

As stereotypes about cats go, the two I dislike almost as much as that Crazy Cat Lady thing are “felines are so independent” and “cats are not affectionate.” If I had a dollar for every time I read those and similar statements in some blog or article on the internet, I’m pretty sure I would be living on a tropical island (or at least someplace where the winters aren’t so inhospitable.) Time after time, cats are described as aloof, unfeeling, unfriendly, not desiring human companionship, able to take care of themselves, wanting no interaction with their owner, etc. etc.

I have to wonder who all these people are, and have they ever lived with a cat? I’ve shared my home with 11 cats over my lifetime, and none of mine have ever been any of those things. On the contrary, they’ve all been friendly, loving souls who clearly crave and love human companionship. I also know countless many people –family and friends in real life as well as pet blogging acquaintances – who have formed close, loving bonds with their feline friends. Surely all of our affectionate, human-loving cats were not flukes! Yet that myth of the feline as a totally independent creature incapable of love is everywhere.

One the one hand, I have to laugh since it’s such a ridiculous notion to me. On the other hand, it’s kind of sad because who knows how many homeless cats in shelters are overlooked by people who hear and read that nonsense many times over… and actually believe it. They rush little Sally and Billy past the cages with the cats without so much as a glance in their direction, because they want a family pet that the kids can interact with and share love and affection, and everyone knows that isn’t what cats are like, right? Of course.

So the family adopts a dog instead and the children never know that a cat could be a fun, funny, loving, sweet, and wonderful pet that would enrich their life in so many ways. It’s a crying shame. Oh, it’s great for all the shelter dogs that find a forever home, to be sure. Yet it’s mighty unfair to all the cats who’ve done nothing to deserve this negative label.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Have You Heard About Treibball?

By Langley Cornwell

Treibball is a competitive canine sport that originated in Germany. The sport is designed to give high-energy, active dogs the mental and physical stimulation they need to be happy, well-adjusted animals. In addition to the many benefits the sport offers our canine friends, Treibball is also good for pet owners – it’s a fantastic way to form a deep and abiding bond with your dog! The sport fosters communication and teamwork between a dog and his owner/handler on many levels.

What exactly is Treibball? Here are answers to common questions about the sport.    

Who can participate?

The activity is good for dogs of all ages and sizes. It’s especially suited for active working dogs that do well off-leash. But don’t count out dogs that require special consideration because Treibball is a great activity for building confidence in shy dogs. It can also help reactive dogs with their impulse control issues. In fact, any dog that loves to play chase games, herd, or to use their intelligence and problem-solving skills will enjoy Treibball.

Is competing in Treibball similar to Agility?

Not really. Competing in Agility requires specialized equipment. Additionally, Agility requires a certain level of physical adeptness from the handler, who must have the ability to run with the dog and direct the dog through each obstacle. Treibball is good for encouraging the same type of teamwork and communication that Agility promotes, but it doesn’t require the same level of physical exertion from the handler.

What equipment is required for Treibball?

This is another thing that makes Treibball so accessible; the equipment is easy to find and relatively affordable. You use the same balls that humans use for exercising and stretching, those standard inflatable exercise balls (also called Swiss balls or Pilates balls) available at sports stores and department stores.

For Treibball, you want to use a ball that is at least shoulder height to your dog. Since these balls come in heights from 45 cm to 75 cm, if you are teaching Treibball to a tiny breed dog, you can start with a standard playground ball.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

How to Pick the Right Pet

By Linda Cole

We all have our reasons for why we picked a certain pet to share our home with. Adopting a pet is a tremendous responsibility, and it's essential to pick the right pet that fits your lifestyle. For some people (that's me) any pet fits in, but it's not the case for everyone. There are many things to consider before deciding on the right pet. If you're thinking about adding a pet to your family, here's a short quiz to contemplate.

1. How much space do you have?
a. I live in a small apartment with no yard.
b. A couple of acres and a modest to large house.
c. A nice little place with a decent backyard.

Space is important to consider, because not all dogs will make a good pet if they are cooped up in a small space. All dogs need exercise whether they are a high energy breed or not. If space is limited, consider which dog breed would be happy in a small space, or perhaps get a cat instead. Check for dog parks in your area, and plan on daily walks if you live in an small home and/or have a tiny yard.

2. What kind of lifestyle do you have?
a. I have a couple of young kids.
b. I live alone and love to curl up on the couch at night to read or watch TV.
c. Exploring the great outdoors is my passion.
d. I work long hours and often on the weekends.
e. I have an active night life.

Lifestyle needs to be considered because some dog breeds and young children aren't a good mix. Not all dogs enjoy being around little kids. Think about how much time you have to devote to a pet. Leaving a dog home alone for long periods of time can cause them to develop behavior issues, and cats need attention, too. Do you have time to train a dog? Do you like to entertain on a regular basis? Do you like to go out a lot? Do you like to be active on the weekends, or are you more of a homebody? 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Does Gender Matter when Adopting a Second Dog?

By Langley Cornwell

The short answer is yes, gender does matter when selecting another dog to bring into your home. Of course there are exceptions to this; I had two female rescue lab mixes (from two different backgrounds, years apart) peacefully live long and happy lives with me. But experts agree that, for things to have the best possible chance of working out, the second dog should be of the opposite sex.

Here’s the situation. A family I know wants a second dog. Their older male dog, Rover, is a sweet and gentle old mutt, and they are completely at ease when Rover and their young child play together. Still, they feel it’s time to open their home and their heart to another animal.

During their search for a second dog, they fell in love with a male puppy that needs a safe home. This pup is in an urgent situation and they feel they must step in and help. Still, the family did the responsible thing and consulted animal behaviorists and trainers about their situation. Right now, their household is harmonious; everyone is comfortable with their routines and the home runs like clockwork. While they are ready to adopt another pet, they want to do it the right way.

Every one of the animal experts said the family should keep looking. Even though the family has fallen in love with a male dog, experts strongly recommend they avoid getting a second male. Why? Because although Rover is a sweet and gentle senior dog, there will be some level of conflict between the two males. Yes, they may work things out in the beginning, but experts fear the dogs will likely go to battle in six months, a year, two years or more – when the dogs determine it’s time to change the pack order. The risk is there for the dogs’ entire lives.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Crazy Pet Laws - What Were They Thinking?

By Linda Cole

We hope politicians carefully consider new laws they craft because of the impact it has on us. However, sometimes you have to wonder if these law-makers were of sound mind or sober when it comes to some laws that make absolutely no sense at all. Case in point: the following funny pet laws from different states. You do have to ask, “What the heck were they thinking?”

Sterling, Colorado says if you allow your cat to run around loose at night, she must have tail lights attached to her behind. So some poor cat gets pulled over for having a broken tail light, not wearing a seat belt and has no proof of insurance. And heaven forbid if she made a stop at the local catnip patch!

If you have a cat or dog who likes to relax with their favorite cigar now and then, don't go to Zion, Illinois. It's illegal to let your dog or cat have lit cigars there. I wonder how big of a problem that is in Zion?

In Hartford, Connecticut, it's illegal to educate your dog. I suppose it might be embarrassing to have a dog giving a graduating speech as the valedictorian.

If you make an ugly face at a dog in Oklahoma, watch out. You can be arrested, fined and/or thrown in jail! “So what are you in for?” says one inmate to another. “I made a face at a dog. Got 20 years. It was a really ugly face.”

International Falls, Minnesota must have some mighty big cats in their neck of the woods, and they are apparently pretty mean and feisty as well. They had to pass a law making it illegal for cats to chase dogs up telephone poles. Picture a poor Great Dane shaking on top a telephone pole waiting for the mean old cat that chased him up there to move on.

French Lick Springs, Indiana requires that all black cats wear bells on Friday the 13th. I wonder if this is to alert passersby that there might be a witch hovering just above them on a broomstick… or maybe it's the cat that's the witch?

Friday, February 10, 2012

A Tribute to Annabelle, My Furry Valentine

By Julia Williams

Each of my three cats is affectionate in their own way, but there’s just something incredibly special about Annabelle. I felt a connection with her the moment I rescued the tiny bedraggled kitten from the jaws of death. These last few years, however, my bond with Belle has grown stronger than I ever could have imagined, and it’s taken me by surprise. Oh sure, plenty of people have formed close bonds with their pets and I have with all of mine, too. Yet this sweet-tempered girl with a diamond on her nose…she is different somehow.

I don’t think of Annabelle as a substitute for human affection; I don’t compare the two, for how could I? What we share is a pure love that makes me feel blessed and happy to be alive. Sure, this relationship has limitations because she is, after all, a cat. But notice I did not say “just a cat.” Belle will never be “just a cat” to me. She is my life, and I love her more than anything on earth. I would do anything for Belle, give her anything she needed to be happy and healthy.

There are many different things that make this little cat so special to me, but what I love most is that she truly wants to be close to me. Every day, Belle comes into my home office and softly mews until I pick her up. She sits on my lap like a child, one leg draped over my left shoulder and her body over my heart. I wrap both arms around her tight and rest my cheek on top of her head. I close my eyes and listen to the sweet melody of her contented purr.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Benny Wong and His 5 Disc Dogs Win Free CANIDAE!

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 via email during the past quarter. The winner gets to pick any formula of CANIDAE dog food or FELIDAE cat food.

The most recent winner is Benny Wong from Pasadena, California. Benny is very familiar with the CANIDAE brand and has chosen to receive free dog food. “We definitely feed our dogs CANIDAE! We use both the All Life Stages and Grain Free pureELEMENTS™ formulas,” said Benny. A longtime dog lover, Benny is also an active member of a Disc Dog club and competes regularly with his crew of canine athletes. “With 5 dogs, we sure can use this free food,” said Benny.

Here’s what Benny told us about himself and his canine family:

“I have been in the disc dog community since 1991. I belong to a disc dog club called Disc Dogs in Southern California. I’ve been president off and on for 4 years, and currently I’m the clinic and competition coordinator for the club.

My first dog Sammy, a poodle-terrier mix, started my addiction on wanting more dogs. He was my wife's lap dog that I converted into a disc dog. We adopted him in 1990 at 8 weeks and he was so perfect for us. We took him everywhere, and he took our heart at the age of 15 1/2.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

How to Stop Dogs from Stealing Toys

By Linda Cole

Dogs are naturally curious about what another canine has. If one dog has something, it must be good and may be worthy of swiping. You may not have a problem at home with your dog stealing toys, but if you're at the dog park, stealing another dog's ball or toy may not be a good idea. You can stop your dog from stealing toys by teaching your dog four basic commands.

A dog doesn't know it's not nice to steal toys or that things he picks up in his mouth could be harmful to him. Basic commands help us control our dog's behavior more quickly so we can stop him before there's a problem. Start with plenty of CANIDAE TidNips treats, have patience and a commitment, and always keep it fun.

Drop it: When your dog gives up what he has in his mouth, he gets something better in return. Begin where there are no distractions. Attach a leash to his collar and let it drag on the ground. Give him a favorite toy and let him play with it for a few minutes, then show him a treat and give him the command to “drop it.” Say it only once. Your dog should obey any command as soon as you give it. If he drops the toy, give him the treat and praise. Offer him the toy and say, “take it,” wait a few minutes, then give the “drop it” command. Treat immediately when he drops the toy. If he tries to wander away with the toy, step on the leash and offer him the treat. There's nothing wrong with trying to out-wait him if necessary. He'll get the idea as long as you stay calm and patient.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Round Kibble is the Cat’s Meow! FELIDAE is Changing Shape.

Same Great Formulations, Same Great Taste. Just a New Round Kibble.

The meows are in! When cats were asked to choose from many different shapes of kibble, they gave two paws up to round, again and again! As a result, CANIDAE Natural Pet Food Company has decided to change the shape of FELIDAE Cat & Kitten, Chicken & Rice and FELIDAE PLATINUM® kibble for cats to a simple round circle.  Our two Grain Free FELIDAE kibble formulas – pureSEA™ and pureELEMENTS™ – already feature this round shape cats prefer most.

We want to make it very clear, however, that although the shape of FELIDAE kibble will soon be changing, all of our premium-quality formulas will remain exactly the same. Rest assured – the formulations and every quality ingredient that is currently in the kibble will still be the same in the new round-shaped kibble. The food will still provide the same high quality, natural nutrition for cats and kittens, just in an improved, new round shape that felines favor over other shapes. We believe your cats will love FELIDAE cat food even more than they already do.

Repeat testing has shown this is the shape cats love the most. Also, this new round shape results in less kibble breakage, which means fewer crumbs and less “kibble dust” at the bottom of the bag!

A scientific study was done with five different kibble shapes including an X (cross/star), a triangle, a triangle with a hole, a cylinder, and a round “O” shaped flat disc. The study determined that cats overwhelmingly prefer round kibble over any of the other shapes.

The recent research, coupled with the success of this shape in our Grain Free line for cats, led to the decision to change our other three formulas – Cat & Kitten, Chicken & Rice and FELIDAE PLATINUM® – to the round shape as well. Now all five FELIDAE kibble formulas will feature the new, round shape that cats prefer most!

The new round kibble shape will soon begin rolling out to all of our independent retailers across North America. You should begin to see the new FELIDAE kibble in bags featuring the sticker “Cats Prefer Round” on them in the coming months. Depending on an individual store’s stock and turnover, not everyone will have the new round kibble available for purchase at the same time as the product begins to transition into store inventories.

Again, everything you (and your cats!) already love about our premium-quality FELIDAE kibble will remain the same – only the shape is changing for our Cat & Kitten, Chicken & Rice and FELIDAE PLATINUM® formulas. When you have an opportunity to try the new, round FELIDAE kibble, we’d love to know what your cats think of it. Please feel free to leave us a comment below.

Monday, February 6, 2012

How to Bond with Your New Puppy or Kitten

By Langley Cornwell

The bond you have with your puppy or kitten begins the moment they come home with you, and continues to grow throughout their lifetime. Ways to strengthen this bond include affection, training, grooming, playing, exercising and participating in a variety of activities with your new puppy or kitten. What you do in the early stages of your union sets the proper foundation for a solid, lasting connection; a connection that will benefit both of you in more ways than you can imagine.

Bonding with a new puppy

The first week or ten days of a puppy’s life consists of nursing, sleeping and not much else. During that time, the puppy’s mother is his source for everything. If he gets separated from his mother, she finds him and leads or carries him back to the litter. If he gets hungry, she feeds him. If he cries, she comforts him. The bond between a puppy and his mother is the first and most important relationship of his little life.   

Once the pup’s eyes and ears open, he begins to notice things beyond just his mother. As the puppy ages and is able to fend for himself, his relationship with his mother becomes less dependent—more like a friendship. When the pup is between three and six weeks old, he begins to develop relationships with his littermates and learns basic social skills from their interactions.

According to noted veterinary behaviorist Dr. Nicholas Dodman, a puppy’s distrust of unfamiliar people starts developing at around eight to ten weeks of life. At this time, it’s essential that the puppy is introduced to others.

At about eight weeks of age, most puppies are available for adoption, and that’s when a puppy’s new human enters the picture. Early separation anxiety is almost unavoidable at the beginning of the relationship, because the puppy misses his mom and littermates. It’s at this time that you must become ‘everything’ to your new puppy—so if he whimpers or whines, you tend to him.

If you’ve ever heard or read that you’re supposed to let your puppy cry through the night, ignore that advice. That’s incorrect. You are now substituting for the puppy’s mother, and mama dog doesn’t ignore her babies. By meeting the puppy’s demands you will keep him on the right track for appropriate social development. Additionally, the puppy will gradually re-attach to you, his new provider. This is when your connection begins to really take shape.       

Friday, February 3, 2012

Behavior Problems: Is it the Cat or the Owner?

By Julia Williams

The second season of Animal Planet’s My Cat From Hell began a few weeks ago. Naturally, I’ve been watching. Even though I don’t have a “difficult” cat, I still like this show because it’s spreading some very important messages to pet owners – namely, that problem behaviors can be corrected, that there are reasons behind every cat’s demeanor and actions, and that even the meanest cat can become loving, happy, playful, friendly and well-adjusted. All it takes to turn a misbehaving cat into a model feline citizen are some very simple changes – but not from the cat, from the owner!

My Cat From Hell features Cat Behaviorist Jackson Galaxy, who shows desperate owners how to save their relationships with each other and their cat. Just by making a few changes in their own behavior and/or their living space, the cat owners can create harmony out of chaos, and keep the cat out of the shelter and in the family where it belongs. Jackson proves to the owners (and the viewers) that these cats are not mean, they’re just misunderstood.

To the casual observer, the name of this show implies that devilish behavior problems are the fault of a “hellish cat.” If you watch the show, however, you quickly learn that Jackson believes most bad behaviors stem from things the owners are either doing, or not doing. I wholeheartedly agree. It is true there are instances where the cat’s behavior is not a direct correlation to the owner’s behavior and/or the living environment, but this is usually a reaction to trauma or a negative association from its past. No cat is “bad to the bone” or incapable of rehabilitation. All it takes is a little knowledge and insight.

All creatures have needs, and cats are no exception. If their needs aren’t being met, they’ll let you know one way or another. It’s foolish to think you can just bring a cat into any living environment without considering what it needs to be happy, and expect life to be hunky dory. Responsible pet owners understand that the onus falls on them to provide the right living space and stimuli in order to have a happy cat. That may mean providing vertical spaces for a cat that likes to be up high, providing enough exercise and play sessions for a high-energy breed, giving a timid cat a safe place to retreat from the pesky family dog, or teaching the cat how to redirect its hunting instinct from your ankle to an interactive toy that mimics a bird. Each cat is different, and thus, each solution to problem behavior will be, too.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

How Trust and Loyalty Builds a Bond

By Linda Cole

Earning your pet's trust isn't a given. You have to work at developing a friendship with your pet just as much as you do with a person. With trust comes respect and bonding, and once a pet gives you their unconditional love, they will never break it. Our pets give us a pure and sincere love for their entire lifetime.

There's no question in my mind that animals are a lot smarter than they are given credit for. Pet owners who have a strong bond with their dog or cat witness firsthand the remarkable and sometimes even amazing abilities they have. In a study on the loyalty of dogs, researchers had two people sit side by side in a room. One person was the dog's owner and the other person was a stranger. There were two colored plastic cups turned upside down over a dog treat; when the dog was brought in, both people pointed at the cup beside them. Researchers wanted to see if a dog would follow the pointing finger of a stranger. Each time the dog came into the room, he responded only to his owner and ignored the stranger's pointing finger. The researchers concluded this shows how much dogs trust their owners.

Loyal dogs will do whatever is needed to protect the ones they love. I had the dogs outside in their pen late one night, several years ago. We had a fresh layer of snow on the ground which made it as still as a mouse sensing a cat. Suddenly, a coyote was standing on the other side of the pen staring in at us. The dogs were nervous and made no sound as they gathered around me as though they were protecting me. I could tell they were nervous, though, and they also wanted me to protect them. But I have no doubt that if the coyote had tried to get into the pen, he would have had to deal with my dogs. Needless to say, we quickly went back inside the house.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Dog Breed Profile: Meet the Charming Puli

By Langley Cornwell

The Puli, an ancient sheepdog from Hungary, has been helping Hungarian Shepherds herd flocks for over 1,000 years. Interbreeding almost extinguished the Puli breed in the 17th century; fortunately, the breed began a revival in 1912 and the first Puli standard was established in 1915.

Once accepted in four different sizes, the medium size Puli became the most popular and is the size that is now accepted as the AKC standard.

About the Puli

These dogs are solid, energetic and alert. Sometimes called Hungarian Water Dogs, the Puli is a strong, tough herding dog – able to perform its duties across any terrain. Their trademark wavy or curly coat naturally clumps together into what resembles dreadlocks. It’s these wooly ‘dreads’ that protects Pulik (plural) from unforgiving climates.

The dogs are vigorous athletes with a high level of confidence and intelligence. Pulik do extremely well both as herding dogs and as family pets. Today, the Puli is often seen in the show ring as well as in the herding, obedience, agility, tracking and therapy dog arenas.


The Puli is a well-proportioned, compact, medium-sized dog. His head is average sized and looks in balance with his body. The tail is unaltered. His deep-set, almond shaped eyes display a high level of confidence.

His distinguished, weather resistant coat is plush and abundant all over his body. The dense outer coat is wavy or curly with a soft undercoat. The coat clumps together to form the aforementioned ‘cords’ or ‘dreads’ as the dog reaches adulthood. The dog has been described as an animated string mop. 

The Puli makes a striking impression with his intelligent eyes, long, shaggy coat and animated, light-footed stride.

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