Friday, March 30, 2012

Accepting the Pet You Get


By Julia Williams

Very often, people adopt a pet with a preconceived notion of what that pet will be like, or they might have an idea in their head of what they want their pet to be like. Some people adopt a new pet expecting it to be like a previous pet they loved. They may even think, “He’s the same breed, so he should have the same traits my Rover did, right?” Some people even adopt a cat expecting it to behave like their dog, and vice versa. Problems arise when they bring the pet home and find out that the vision in their head doesn’t mesh with reality. The pet doesn’t act the way they wanted it to or expected it to. What can you do?

There’s really only one thing you can do – and that is accept the pet you get. All pets are unique individuals, and they have certain likes and dislikes. You get what you get, and you can’t change their individuality any more than you can change the personality of your friend, spouse or co-worker. Think of their personality like the color of their fur – you can’t turn a black cat into a white one no matter how much you might long to have a white cat.

Now, sometimes you can change how they interact with you if it’s based on their past; for example, you can help a fearful abused pet become more confident and trusting. But I’m talking more about things that are part of the personality your pet was born with as opposed to traits that were shaped by experience. It can be really difficult for pet owners to give up on that mental picture they had of the “perfect pet.” We may really want our pet to be a certain way, and it’s disappointing when they aren’t, but it is what it is. Sometimes you get what you want, and sometimes you don’t.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Exploring the Emotional Attachment to your Pet

By Langley Cornwell

There is no relationship that equals the attachment we have to our pets. I’m not saying the attachment is better or worse than the attachment we have with humans; I’m just saying we form a bond with the animals in our lives that cannot be duplicated with another human. I can wax on and on about the strength of the connection I feel with my pets, as I’m sure you can too. But have you ever really analyzed the emotional attachment you have with them?    

According to a study compiled from the American Pet Products Association 2011-2012 National Pet Owners Survey, 33% of U.S. householders own at least one cat, and 39% own at least one dog. In truth, I thought the numbers would be higher. Even so, most everyone has lived with a pet at some point in their lives and during that time, they’ve certainly formed some type of attachment with the pet.

An article in Psychology Today looks at ‘attachment theory’ and applies that concept to humans and their pets. They say that pets are the perfect object of a human’s attachment because they are affectionate and easily accessible to anyone. As I understand it, there are several types of attachment styles: secure attachment, ambivalent attachment and avoidant attachment. In human-to-human interaction, attachment theory postulates that people adopt a style of relating to the important people in their lives based on their relationship with their primary caregiver when they were a child. What’s interesting is this concept of attachment extends to our pets.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Adorable and Tenacious Dandie Dinmont Terrier

By Linda Cole

When you look at a Dandie Dinmont Terrier, you see a low to the ground, slightly longer than he is tall, adorable little dog that's not a particularly imposing canine. However, the Dandie Dinmont was bred to hunt vermin and has a fierce reputation when it comes to doing the job he was bred to do.

The Dandie Dinmont is an old breed that originated around the border areas of England and Scotland during the 1700's. The Skye Terrier and the Scotch Terrier were the most likely breeds the Dandie Dinmont originated from. The Scotch Terrier is most likely the foundation dog for the terrier breeds, and was one of the oldest breeds in Scotland. Unfortunately, it's extinct today and isn't related to the Scottish Terrier.

Originally, the Dandie Dinmont was called the Pepper and Mustard Terrier, and they were popular companion animals to gypsies and farmers who lived along the border between Scotland and England. They were bred to hunt and kill badgers and otters; they were also a marten, rabbit, skunk or weasel's worst enemy. Their short legs allowed them to easily go underground after fleeing prey and the dogs were highly prized for their courage, hunting ability, independence, intelligence, and confident nature along with a laid back and affectionate disposition with people. It wasn't until a book was published that the breed got its name.

Sir Walter Scott wrote a novel in 1814 called “Guy Mannering.” One of his characters, a farmer, was named Dandie Dinmont and owned six Pepper and Mustard Terriers. Scott's vivid description of farmer Dinmont's dogs was so good, it made the breed famous. Soon after that, the name was changed to the Dandie Dinmont Terrier. Today, this breed is hard to find in his native country.

Because this dog is small, he can develop small dog syndrome if his owner doesn't take the lead role. However, it's not always easy to ignore this dog's large round and warm dark eyes staring up at you. He's affectionate and loves being around kids. As long as you are consistent, patient and firm, and let him know who's the boss, training a Dandie Dinmont is easy.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Tips to Help Avoid Costly Vet Visits

By Langley Cornwell

If you have a pet, you already know how costly it can be to go to the veterinarian’s office or worse, the emergency animal hospital. The best possible scenario is one in which you keep your dog or cat perfectly healthy and out of harm’s way, and only go to the vet for regular checkups. If only it was that easy.

Having lived with multiple animals my entire adult life, I could write volumes about all of the middle-of-the-night emergency vet visits I’ve taken. If I could have avoided some of those visits I might be driving a more reliable car, too – but that’s another story.

So what can you do to avoid some of those costly visits? I’ve compiled a list from a variety of resources as well as my personal observations and experiences. While most of these tips are common sense, it helps to have a reminder once in a while.

Socialize your dog at a young age. Dogs that are comfortable around strangers and other dogs are less likely to show aggression toward humans and they get into fewer dog fights.

Get your dog or cat used to simple grooming. Start this early too. Pets that have been acclimated to simple grooming tasks at a young age allow their owners to trim their nails, brush their teeth and clean their ears so you don't have to pay groomers or the vet to do these things.

Take basic obedience classes. As with socialization, a dog that is good with basic commands is generally better-behaved. If your dog listens to you and obeys you, you are better able to protect them. Once I was playing fetch with my dog in the back yard. Something caught her attention and she became fixated on an object in the grass, which was unusual because she loved to play ball. I issued the ‘leave it’ command as I was running over to see what was in the grass. Upon my command, she backed away from a copperhead snake.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Don't Let Fear Stop You from Adopting a Dog

By Linda Cole

Since I was raised with dogs and have never had a time when I didn't have a pet, it's hard to imagine people having doubts or fears about adopting a dog. I do understand the importance of making sure you can handle the dog breed you bring into your home. I've dealt with aggressive dogs, small dog syndrome, fearful dogs and confident ones. To me, it's no big deal, but to someone not as comfortable working with a dog, it is. It's like trying to learn a math formula or anything else. The teacher knows the information and the student wants to learn, but sometimes it's not that easy.

When I think about the dogs I've had in my life, there has been a variety of mixed breeds and purebreds. One thing I know as a longtime dog owner is that it gets better when you take the time to ask questions and learn. I've never hesitated to take in another dog because I am active and they all fit into my lifestyle. I have never met a dog I couldn't handle. So to me, it's hard to imagine hesitation when it comes to adopting, but that's because I've always had dogs.

What got me thinking about this topic was an article written by my friend Julia Williams, where she was pondering her fear of being a bad dog owner. Knowing how responsible and caring she is with her cats, I know she would be a great dog owner, but I can understand where she's coming from. Caring for a dog is different, but both dogs and cats need love, attention, exercise, and a responsible pet owner who understands their needs. In order to have a positive and lasting relationship, it's important to pick the right dog.

No pet is perfect, and neither are we. I've made mistakes over the years with my dogs and then learned the right way to interact with them. It's a learning process we all have to go through. Dogs don't read the “How to be a Good Dog” manual, and we have to be willing to roll up our sleeves and work with them. Don't fear the unknown but rather, seek out answers to bring it out into the open where it can be dealt with and set free.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Cat Breed Profile: the Turkish Van aka Swimming Cat

By Julia Williams

Although I’ve never actually had a purebred cat myself, I always like learning about different cat breeds. Many have fascinating histories or characteristics that make them unique. The rare Turkish Van cat actually has both.

The Turkish Van (pronounced “von”) is an ancient cat breed believed to have originated in the Lake Van region of Eastern Turkey. Unlike many purebred cats of today, the Turkish Van is a natural breed, not a man-made breed. Turkish Vans are a semi-longhaired white cat with colored markings primarily on the head and tail. Vans are said to be an active, affectionate, playful, intelligent, strong and healthy breed with no known genetic defects.

Perhaps most interesting of all is that Turkish Vans love water, hence their nickname “Swimming Cat.” Vans not only play in water, but will enter ponds, horse troughs and shallow streams to swim in it! Some have speculated that the cats learned to swim in order to cool off during the extremely hot Turkish summers, and to catch fish.

In an article published by the Cat Fanciers Association (CFA) Diane Marcus writes, “The Turkish Van is unique – in its history, its color and pattern, its personality and its ability to survive, virtually unchanged for thousands of years. It shares an area known as the ‘Cradle of Civilization’ with mankind.”

History of the Turkish Van Cat

In 1955, British photographers Laura Lushington and Sonia Halliday were hired to promote tourism in Turkey. While traveling around taking photographs, they became interested in the native white cats with auburn markings on their heads and fluffy tails. After their assignment, the women took a pair of unrelated male and female Van cats back to England and found them to breed true, i.e., they produced kittens that looked exactly like their parents.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

How to Identify and Treat a Pet’s Minor Eye Injury

By Langley Cornwell

My neighbor was running her errands last week. As always, her dog was along for the ride, hanging out the passenger side window enjoying the wind in his face. They are inseparable; I’ve rarely seen her without her trusty companion at her side. This particular day was mild but very windy. Late in the afternoon I received a panicked phone call. Her dog was pawing at his eyes, pacing the floor and panting. He wouldn’t eat his dog food at all, and was only mildly interested in his CANIDAE TidNips™.

Her dog was in obvious discomfort and she didn’t know why. Not sure what to do next, she wanted me to come over and take a look. After observing her dog’s behavior and discussing how they spent the day, we concluded that her dog had debris in his eye from the car ride. Because her dog was so uncomfortable and it was after hours, we thought she should take him to the emergency veterinarian clinic. When they got there, our layman’s diagnosis was confirmed; he had a corneal abrasion, a scratch on the very outer lens of his eye.

How Will I Know?

According to her vet, minor eye injuries are a common occurrence in dogs and cats. In fact, all types of pets are prone to eye injuries including small animals like guinea pigs and mice. The problem is, when your pet is showing signs of minor eye injury distress, it’s often hard to identify his ailment. Thus, many owners do not know when it’s appropriate to take their pet to the vet.

Dogs and cats get minor eye injuries from many different circumstances including riding in a car, playing with other animals, from pine needles, or even from hay or woodchip kennel flooring.

If your pet is acting uncomfortable and you cannot identify the cause, the source of his distress may be corneal abrasions or another minor eye injury. Look for the signs: if your dog or cat is squinting, blinking rapidly or keeping his eye closed, that may be the problem. Other common indications of an eye problem include tearing, bloodshot eyes, avoiding bright lights and pawing at the eye area.

What Should I Do?

If your dog or cat is squinting, blinking rapidly and/or avoiding bright lights, there is probably a foreign object in his eye. Keep your pet calm and talk in a soothing voice. It’s important for you to remain calm under the circumstances, because your pet will know if you are anxious and your anxiety will add stress to the situation. As you talk soothingly, gently lift the upper eyelid and look for debris lodged underneath. Do the same with the lower eyelid. Be careful not to force or slide your pet’s eyelid open because you don’t want to drag the foreign object over his fragile cornea. Instead, softly pull the eyelid away from the eyeball.

If you see something in there, Pet MD recommends flushing it out with room temperature water. If that doesn’t work, try to gently ease it out with a damp cotton swab. This will be especially difficult with cats and nervous dogs but give it a try; the object may flush out easily. If you can’t remove the object quickly and easily yourself, don’t risk further damage to your pet’s eye. Cover the eye with a bandage and take your pet to your veterinarian immediately.

If your dog or cat has bloodshot eyes, is squinting or tearing up excessively, he may have a scratch on his eye. First lift the lids and check for debris. If you don’t see anything, cover the eye with a clean damp cloth and bandage the cloth to your pet’s head. If you have one, put on an Elizabethan collar. If you don’t have one, bandage the dog or cat’s paws and dewclaws so they cannot continue to scratch at the eye area. Go straight to your veterinarian.  

Other indications of a minor eye injury include a watery, green or yellow discharge coming from your pet’s eyes. These symptoms may indicate a foreign object trapped under the eyelid, abnormal eyelash growth, blocked tear ducts, an eyelid defect, an eye infection or allergies. In all cases, seek professional advice. Your vet will be able to treat the problem and tell you how to manage a pet with an injured eye once you get home.

Don’t take chances with your pet’s vision. Even the most minor eye injury can develop into an infected wound which can result in your pet losing his eyesight.

Photo by Robert Degennaro

Read more articles by Langley Cornwell

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

How an Abandoned Dog Found Her True Calling

By Linda Cole

Sometimes, life throws even dogs a curve ball and they suddenly find themselves abandoned and alone. And sometimes, life has something special in store for a little homeless dog left all alone. This is a story about an abandoned dog named Antoinette, and how she found her true calling.

When this story began for Annie, it could have had a completely different ending if the right person hadn't found her. It's easy to pass judgment on others, especially when it comes to the treatment of a pet, but none of us really knows how we will react to a situation until we're confronted with one. Sometimes, it's hard to see a light at the end of the tunnel and we make the decision we feel is right at the time. For Annie, everything turned out better than her owner could have guessed. Her guardian angels were watching over her and placed Annie's fate in the hands of a stranger who found her in a dog park on a cold Thanksgiving night last year in Springfield, Illinois.

Stormy Edwards was walking her dog when she heard a dog barking from the Stuart Park area. The dog sounded like she was in trouble, so Edwards decided to investigate. As she neared the sound of the barking, she realized it was coming from one of the pens in the dog park. Using a flashlight, Edwards found a scared and confused Cockapoo named Annie that had been left inside one of the pens, along with a dish of lasagna and a bowl of water. A note had been placed under the lasagna that began with “My name is Antoinette, Annie for short.” The note went on to say that Annie's owner had become too ill to care for her and she had put Annie in the pen in hopes another dog lover would find her and take her home. Annie's shots were up-to-date and she had been spayed. It ended with a plea to whoever found Annie, “Please take me home. I am a loving dog.” The note was written by a woman.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

How to get your Dog to Calmly Walk Past another Dog

By Langley Cornwell

Our dog is not easy to train. Truth be told, it’s most certainly my fault but when we went to obedience school even the teacher commented (on multiple occasions) that she has a mind of her own. Still, we keep at it and we’re making tremendous progress. Her ‘sit’ is flawless and she’s excellent at ‘down’. She knows what ‘leave it’ is and obeys that one most of the time. She also knows ‘come’ but we’re at about 60% compliance with that one. She walks beautifully on a loose lead; no pulling or lunging after squirrels or rolling acorns.

I tell you all this to say that, while quirky and somewhat stubborn, she’s fairly well behaved. In addition to basic obedience commands, we’ve worked tirelessly on her socialization. This is the area that needs the most work, and we still take steps forwards and backwards with our shy girl.

Rehabilitating this sad rescue dog has been a rewarding journey. I’ve learned a lot and grown right along with her. There is one area, however, that can only be described as an epic failure: walking calmly past another dog. Seriously, we’ve worked on this for three years straight. We’ve tried multiple techniques and still haven’t mastered it. I see other dogs that can do this without giving the passing dog a sideways glance.

Not our girl, she becomes a bundle of energy, bubbling over with enthusiasm. She lunges towards the other dog, all big smiles and wagging tails. I issue a ‘sit’ command, which she usually gets every time, but when another dog is in the mix, no way. It’s as if she can’t even hear me. She likes to greet the other dog nose to nose and do the dance that two dogs do when they first meet. I’ve always managed to eventually get her to look at me and I can usually gain control of the situation, but the next time a new dog passes us, the mayhem begins again.      

In a recent poke around the internet, I ran across a suggestion that I have not tried yet. Adam Katz from states that when a strong motivation for distraction presents itself, your correction must escalate. I don’t think my correction escalates when a dog passes and my girl goes crazy. If it does escalate, it isn’t very elegant, more like a scramble for order. What Katz suggests sounds a bit unconventional but it can’t be any crazier than the scene my dog and I create under the current circumstances.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Pets Don't Sweat the Small Stuff

By Linda Cole

I've always marveled at how pets never sweat the small stuff. Responsible pet owners who pay attention to their pets see every day how they respond to things going on around them. Sure, dogs bark at things they see or hear, but that's only because they want to be polite or they're giving a warning to let a potential intruder know they've been seen. But on the whole, pets take life in stride and no matter what comes their way, they deal with it and continue to move on.

When I was a kid, we lived in the country and it was, in my view, the best place to live. My dog Trixie and I would run through cornfields chasing rabbits we flushed out from under a bush. We would stare at the cows, watch deer grazing off in the distance, and do other fun things to entertain ourselves. There was something about animals that always drew my attention and I loved to sit on top of a wooden fence and watch what they were doing. The one thing that's common with all animals is that they don't let little things get in their way.

Pets don't worry about the insignificant things that happen in their day. They don't ponder the meaning of life; they just live it one day at a time. I had a dog named Mickey who lost his eyesight and hearing when he got older, but it didn't slow him down one bit. He navigated the basement steps when it was time to go outside as if he could still see each step, and he could smell his CANIDAE dog food a mile away. I'm sure he missed his vision and hearing just like a person would, but he never once gave up. He adapted and moved on with no complaints.

Pets have an amazing ability to deal with disabilities and hide an illness. Letting a potential rival see them in a weakened state can be deadly for a dog or cat living on the street. That's one reason why it's so important to know who your pet is as an individual. When you know your pet well, you can tell when they are sick or injured, even when they try to hide it.

Friday, March 16, 2012

How to Help Your Dog Adjust to Change

By Langley Cornwell

Many dogs don’t respond well to change. Our skittish pup gets knocked out of her frame if we move furniture around, so I dread the day when we move into a new home – for that reason only. I’m really ready to move to a place with a bigger yard, but that’s another story entirely. Back to the dogs… when we do move we will have to take her sensitive nature into consideration. In preparation, I’ve studied up on ways to make the process easier for her. And looking ahead, there will be other changes in store for her as our lives progress. Here are tips for helping your dog adjust to changes that may come your way.

New Home

Before anything else, please remember to have your dog’s tags updated with the new address and telephone number, and keep the tags on them at all times. They may slip out the door and get lost in the new neighborhood. You have to do your part to keep your dog safe.

If it’s possible, take your dog to the new neighborhood before you move, and let them walk around and become familiar with the surroundings. The more you can do this, the better. During the move itself, determine where your dog’s bed or crate will be immediately, ideally before your dog ever enters the new house. Do the same with the food and water dishes. Have your dog’s food dish full of CANIDAE dog food and have their water dish full of clean, fresh water when they arrive. Make sure there are plenty of familiar smells around the new place, things that smell like your dog and things that smell like you and your family. 

When your dog comes to the house for the first time, talk soothingly to them and allow them to explore the place at their own pace. In the past, I’ve ‘seeded’ the house with CANIDAE TidNips treats for my dogs, putting some on the sofa, some in their beds and random other places for them to find. As the dogs explored their new accommodations, they happened upon a treat here and there – and got a sense that this new home was a good place.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Life of a Certified Service and Therapy Dog

By Ambassador Doc-Barker

My name is Ambassador Doc-Barker. I’m a 2 year old Chocolate Labrador Retriever and Team CANIDAE Member.  I am a service dog certified through Canine Support Teams, Inc., a therapy dog registered thru Delta Society®, and a Canine Ambassador for the Make-A-Wish Foundation® of America through the Wishes Forever® endowment campaign, as well as my family’s loving pet.  I have eaten CANIDAE dog food my whole life! I started out eating the All Life Stages (ALS) formula, and for the past year I have eaten Grain Free pureSEA, and I love them both. 

As a balance and mobility service dog, I help my mama do many things. I pick up items she has dropped like her car keys, money, credit cards, etc. I help her by pulling her wheel chair or scooter and a grocery cart, which is a huge assistance to mama. I also help her get up from chairs and up and down stairs and inclines. Because I am a therapy dog, my fur needs to be soft, shiny and petable for all whom I visit, and my CANIDAE food keeps it that way.

As a canine ambassador, I travel around the country accompanied by my family, bringing awareness about service and therapy dogs and the important jobs they do, and also bringing awareness about a children’s charity through a canine connection. Ambassador Barker, my mentor, was mamas first service and therapy dog as well as a canine ambassador. He ate CANIDAE All Life Stages (ALS) too!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Are Your Home and Yard Free From Poisons?

By Linda Cole

March is poison prevention month, and it's a reminder to reflect on what you have planted in your yard, and what you have stored in the garage, basement and around the home. It's also a good time to think before you plant dangerous garden plants in areas your pets have access to. The time you take to check for poisons in and around your home can save your pet's life. Make sure your home and yard are free from poisons.

Poison prevention month is meant to bring awareness to the dangers of accidental poisonings, not only for pets, but for humans as well. On September 16, 1961, Congress designated the third week in March as National Poison Prevention Week. Every year, poison control centers from across the country report more than 2 million incidents of accidental poisonings with over 90 percent happening in the home. Although the majority of victims of nonfatal poisonings are children, pets are also at risk of accidental poisonings because there are a lot of toxic products and food in our homes that pets have easy access to.

Thousands of pets are poisoned every year, with an up-tick in cases reported during the holiday season when cats and dogs have more people food available to them that can be toxic and kill them. Chocolate, alcohol, walnuts, fatty meats, grapes and raisins are on a long list of people food that can poison pets. The best way to keep your pet safe is to avoid giving people food altogether, and just stick with a high-quality pet food such as CANIDAE or FELIDAE. A pet's begging eyes may be hard to resist, but an emergency trip to the vet after an accidental poisoning could be expensive and heartbreaking.

Antifreeze is extremely toxic to pets. It doesn't take much to poison a dog or cat. The dangers with antifreeze are that it has a sweet taste pets are attracted to, and it's pretty easy for pets to find little puddles of antifreeze in driveways or on streets. If you spill antifreeze while adding it in your car's radiator or if your radiator boils over, clean up the spill immediately to keep your pets safe as well as any neighborhood pets that may wander onto your property. Snow globes contain a small amount of antifreeze in the liquid, but it's enough to poison pets and children if a globe is broken or cracked. For more information on antifreeze poisoning, visit the Pet Poison Helpline website.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Breed Profile: the Energetic Entlebucher Mountain Dog

By Langley Cornwell

I’ve never met an Entlebucher Mountain Dog in person. In fact, I’d never heard of this dog breed until I learned they were one of the six new breeds that competed in the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in February. The pictures I’ve run across show good looking, tricolored dogs with wonderfully expressive faces. I wanted to know more about these beauties.

About the Entlebucher Mountain Dog

A native of Switzerland, this dog breed is also known as the Entlebucher Sennenhund or the Entelbucher Cattle Dog. They are the smallest of the four AKC Swiss breeds. The original purpose for this easily-trained dog was herding and guarding, and they were highly valued for their strength, vitality and work ethic. These days, Entlebucher Mountain Dogs are usually kept as an energetic companion animal.


Medium-sized and muscular, this dog looks square and sturdy. They have a well-proportioned head with a strong skull and a long, powerful jaw. Their smallish eyes are brown and their triangular ears are black. Some Entlebuchers have a congenital bobtail.  They all have a smooth, close coat with balanced black, tan (fawn to mahogany) and white markings. The coat is white on their chest, blaze, toes and the tip of their tail; the tan color always separates the black from the white. It’s the tricolored markings on their faces, however, that drew me in. Those symmetrical markings give their faces so much expression; these dogs look extremely intelligent and responsive. Regarding their size, male Entlebucher Mountain Dogs are between 17 to 21 inches and females are between 16 to 20 inches tall at the shoulder.

Monday, March 12, 2012

What Would You Do to Protect Your Pet?

By Linda Cole

I remember when I got my first pets and took them to the vet for their checkup. They handed me a questionnaire concerning how I wanted them to care for my pets. One of the questions was along the lines of “How much money was I willing to pay?” I thought that was a stupid question. The first choice was “Cost is not a consideration,” and I checked that box. They weren't asking if I could afford it, they were asking if I wanted my pets treated no matter what the cost might be. I accepted the responsibility of caring for my pets the day I took them into my home, and that included any and all medical care. Vet care is one way we protect our pets, but there are other situations when pets need our help. How far would you go to protect your pet?

The thing about accidents is that we can't anticipate when one will happen. No matter how hard we try to protect ourselves or our pets, sometimes the worst case happens and we find ourselves in a sticky situation. I read a story about a woman who pushed past firemen to try and get into her burning home to save her dogs. Thankfully, they had already been saved by the firemen, but she didn't know it and was willing to run into her burning home to save her pets.

We can't really know how we would react an emergency situation until it's staring us in the face. When forced to make a quick decision, some pet owners may not stop to think about the danger to themselves. I think most of us who love our pets would do what we needed to do to protect our pets, if at all possible. Sometimes there's danger involved, and sometimes it's giving up a home in order to keep a pet.

Last December, a 79 year old women living in Oklahoma was forced out of her home by a landlord who decided her mobile home was too old. It didn't matter that she had nowhere to go. She wasn't able to find a landlord who would rent to her because of her pets, so she chose to live in her car with them. For her, getting rid of her pets was not an option.

Friday, March 9, 2012

What Does Your Pet Food Really Cost?

By Julia Williams

If a bag of pet food (let’s call it Brand A) sells for $20, and Brand B sells for $26, which one actually costs more? Most people are going to say the obvious answer is Brand B, right? Not necessarily! Now, we all know that $26 is more than $20, so how can that be? It’s because there is more to figuring out how much your pet food really costs than just the price of the bag or can.

One of the most common misconceptions about pet food is that it costs more to feed a high quality food like CANIDAE. People come to this conclusion because they are only comparing what one bag of pet food costs versus another brand of similar weight. I have seen this time and again, most recently when a pet owner reviewed CANIDAE dog food on their blog. Their dog did really well on the food, and both owner and dog were very pleased with the food. However, she said it wasn’t something she could afford to purchase to keep her dog on. A reader commented, “It's a shame that it's too expensive for you to buy all the time.”

It makes me sad to know she found a food her dog loves, but she didn’t keep her dog on it because she thought she couldn’t afford it. Moreover, that food was helping the dog with its sensitive stomach issues, but now it would be going back to eating an inferior pet food solely based on the price of Brand A versus Brand B.

Instead of looking at the cost of each bag, a better way is to consider how much it costs to feed your dog or cat per day. This is a real eye-opener for many pet owners. A bag of lower-quality food will obviously cost less by the pound, but here’s the catch – you will have to feed *much* more of it every day! Better quality foods like CANIDAE don't include all of the fillers, so what you're buying is just the good stuff. This means you feed your pet much less food than lower quality brands. The end result is that a bag that costs more per pound is actually less expensive to feed!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

How Pets Help Children with Autism

By Langley Cornwell

Most people who share their life with a pet enjoy talking about how strong their connection is with their animal. They like to discuss how much they delight in spending time with their pet. They share stories that illustrate how well their dog or cat understands them. I’m one of those people; I can talk about the power of the connection I have with my dog and my cat for hours. I am completely convinced that living with pets is good for my mental and physical health. What’s more, I know living with a cat has helped my mother-in-law tremendously. My husband and I are amazed at the positive influence a little gray tabby cat from the local animal shelter has had on his 87-year-old mother’s life. It’s as if she’s awakened from a long sleep. She and ‘Skeet’ are a perfect match, and getting her this cat is one of the best things we’ve ever done for her. 

With this in mind, it’s not a far leap to believe that being around domesticated pets can be a helpful, positive and enriching experience for children with autism.

How animals help autistic children

First hand testimonials from parents and documented reports from clinicians confirm that interacting with animals (sometimes called animal-assisted therapy) offers emotional and physical benefits to autistic children. Structured programs like horseback riding or swimming with dolphins are beneficial, but the animal interaction doesn’t have to be that organized to be helpful. Something as simple as having a dog in the house can have a positive influence on a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder; it helps with their physical development by improving their coordination and strength. Additionally, a joyous relationship with an animal will help an autistic child develop more self-confidence and a deeper sense of well-being.

Colleen Dolnick, a Missouri mother who has a 10-year-old son with autism, tells Everyday Health: “Animals can be amazing for children with autism. Animals can relate to these children. And these children, who have a hard time relating to peers, can really relate to animals.”      

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Jacqueline Rennebohm and Her Seeing Eye Dog Dexter

By Linda Cole

Jacqueline Rennebohm was diagnosed with Cone-Rod Dystrophy, a degenerative eye disease, when she was nine years old. However, she hasn't let a little thing like failing eyesight stop her from pursuing her dreams. I had a chance to speak with Jacqueline via Skype and I'm proud to introduce to you an energetic and positive young lady and her German Shepherd seeing eye dog, Dexter. They are the newest Special Achiever team sponsored by CANIDAE.

Jacqueline attends the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario, majoring in environmental health. On top of her studies, she's also a 100 and 200 meter sprinter in track and field, training to hopefully nab a spot on Team Canada and represent her country in London, England at the 2012 Paralympic games in September. A human guide runs beside her when she's on the track and guides her. Dexter sits on the sidelines and roots her on. His job is to aid Jacqueline off the track.

Dexter received his training at Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation in Bloomfield, Connecticut, and Jacqueline was matched with him last August. His training began two years earlier at the age of eight weeks when he was placed with a volunteer foster family for a year and a half. He was socialized and taught basic skills. The next six to eight months was when he learned how to be a guide dog. Dexter's training required two years, and Jacqueline had to learn the basics of working with Dexter in just two short weeks. Guide dogs can take some time to bond with their owner, but Dexter and Jacqueline hit it off right from the start. You can hear the love and respect she has for Dexter when she talks about him.

Jacqueline has been feeding Dexter CANIDAE All Life Stages and has been impressed with the results. “The food works for him so well. He has the right amount of energy and his coat is so soft. We were at a function last night and there were other guide dogs there, all German Shepherds, and a couple of the owners asked, 'What are you giving your dog? His coat is so soft.' They are all blind, and they're feeling the dogs and they started to notice the difference; they could tell Dexter's coat was the nicest. It is, and I'm spreading the news about CANIDAE because he's so chipper and looks really healthy and lean. I can truly say he's being fueled properly and is able to keep up with my pace with ease, so he's on the right food, for sure.”

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Why Do Cats Meow?

By Langley Cornwell

Our cat has a very specific language and I know what he is ‘saying’ almost every time he meows. My husband marvels at how well I interpret our cat’s sounds, but it seems natural to me. I spend a lot of time with the little guy and tend to his needs. We understand each other. Moreover, he’s extremely communicative.

Jack, a neighbor’s cat, and our cat are best friends. They hang out on front porches and patrol the neighborhood together most of the day. If our cat is out and Jack isn’t, he’ll go to Jack’s door as if to say “can Jack come out and play?” and vice-versa. Their interactions provide entertainment for the whole neighborhood; everybody tells “Jack and Jet” stories. In total, I’ve probably watched these cats for more hours than I care to admit. One thing that stands out to me is that these two never meow to each other. All of their communications –of which there are many– are primarily inaudible. This observation got me thinking about how well my cat communicates with me through meows and why I never hear him and his buddy meow to each other.  

In researching this, I learned that cats only meow to people, not to other cats. Cats communicate with one another through scent, facial expressions, body language and physical touch. Think about it. You’ve probably heard a cat caterwauling for mating, hissing to scare off intruders, screeching when he’s hurt or fearful, or chattering when he identifies prey, but I bet you’ve never heard a cat meow to another cat. They save that for humans.      

According to Cornell News, only a mother cat and her young kittens meow to one another. A kitten mews to get attention from her mother cat and once the kitten is grown, they stop. This begs the question, why do cats meow to people? Cornell University did an evolutionary psychology study and determined that cats meow to people because it works. Cats have figured out how to get what they want from humans.

Since we evidently don’t understand the scent-messages the cat leaves us, and most of us are not entirely fluent in cat body language, cats have to resort to some manner by which to communicate with their humans. Because our cats are dependent on us in every way, they have to meow to get what they want. So cats are bilingual – they speak cat language to one another and they’ve developed a second meow-language to communicate with humans. Brilliant!  

Monday, March 5, 2012

How to Pick the Right Dog Trainer

By Linda Cole

Dogs need to be educated so they understand what you expect from them. If they misbehave, it's not because they are bad; it’s because they don’t know what you want. It's not difficult to train a dog, but it does require time and a commitment. If you have no idea how to train your dog, that's where a qualified dog trainer can help. With all of the trainers advertising for your dollars, how do you pick one, what can you expect from a trainer, and what kind of questions should you ask?

When hiring anyone to interact with your dog, whether they're a dog trainer, animal behaviorist or even your vet, you need to feel comfortable with them. If at any time you don't like how a trainer is handling your dog, don't like their training techniques or special collars they use, or feel they're being abusive, you have the right to stop them. How your dog is handled should always be your decision, not theirs.

What can you expect?

A dog trainer's job isn't to actually train your dog. They teach you how to train your dog. It has to be done by the owner and no one else can do that job for you. A good trainer helps you learn how to communicate with your dog, teaches you the basics and assists you in your dog's training. It's then up to you to work with your dog at home every day. A good trainer shouldn't give you a guarantee of success because if you don't follow through with their advice and instructions, your dog will have trouble learning. However, they should make sure you're satisfied with the service they provided. You have to be committed to your dog's training for him to learn.

Friday, March 2, 2012

How to Spoil your Cat

I am trying hard to look innocent
By Rocky Williams, Feline Guest Blogger

Let me just say right up front: I am a privileged cat. I know I’m spoiled, and I don’t apologize for that because really, it’s a blessing. The day the Warden took me out of that flea-ridden shack, I didn’t have many hours left. I call that my lucky day – I won the cat lottery, because I came to live with someone who spoils me.

Now, sometimes that word ‘spoil’ is seen as a negative thing, especially when it pertains to children and even at times, dogs and cats. The Warden used to get upset when her mother (not an animal lover!) accused her of spoiling her cats. It stopped bothering her when she realized it was true, but wasn’t something she should be ashamed of. Spoiling your cat is a good thing. I speak from personal experience.

The Warden spoils me by letting me sleep pretty much anywhere I want, even if that’s on her chest and she can barely breathe because I’m such a strapping lad. When I leave my luxurious black fur on her light-colored couch, she doesn’t care. Ditto for whatever she’s wearing. She knows that walking around town covered in cat hair is a badge of honor. She spoils me by stopping whatever she’s doing when I demand my petting time. She believes, and rightly so, that no boring human task could ever be more important than spending quality time with her cat.

The Warden spoils me because when I am naughty, which is often – pretty much every day, all day long – she doesn’t get mad. If I put my paw on her dinner plate hoping to snag some chicken, she just laughs and pushes it away. The day I actually snagged something but unfortunately it was mustard and that promptly got deposited on the couch, she didn’t scold me. Furniture can be cleaned, she says. When I crawl all over her trying to distract her so I can do the grab-and-run with her food, she doesn’t mind that I get cat hair in her mouth or on her plate. It’s edible, right?

One day I swished my big floofy tail in her Caramel Macchiato, and then I flicked the caramel foam all over the carpet. She laughed especially hard that day. The Warden spoils me because she thinks of me as comic relief, a stress buster in kitty form. The Warden knows that being naughty is just my nature, and she loves me in spite of it. Or is that because of it?

Thursday, March 1, 2012

How to Know if Your Pet is in Pain

By Langley Cornwell

Years ago I was away on a business trip and had a pet sitter stay at my house to help with my two dogs. When I got home, one of my dogs was acting funny. Her energy was low, she wouldn’t eat, and her breathing was labored. Even though there were no visible signs of an injury, I knew immediately that she was in pain. The problem was, I had no idea why (or for how long, the pet sitter hadn’t noticed). Because it was after-hours, we went straight to the overnight emergency clinic. The veterinarian agreed she was in distress but couldn’t make an immediate diagnosis. Because she was also dehydrated, my sweet Lab was put on fluids and pain meds. I was frantic with worry but did take comfort in knowing that she wasn’t in acute pain any longer.  

As hard as this is to imagine, there was a time when veterinarians thought pain was good for animals if they were hurt. The logic was that the pain kept the animal still and quiet, which helped expedite the natural healing process. Fortunately, that belief is antiquated and, as in the case with my dog, vets now practice the opposite.

Pain management for animals is an important issue in veterinary medicine. An animal’s pain is now managed until the pain is believed to be completely gone. The American Animal Hospital Association and the American Association of Feline Practitioners both support the theory that pain management improves an animal’s recovery process in all cases including injury, illness and surgery. Moreover, since pain management reduces the stress an animal feels and increases their sense of well-being, it may help a pet live a longer, more comfortable life.          

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