Monday, April 30, 2012

Every Dog Has Potential for Greatness

By Linda Cole

Inside every dog, there's a potential for greatness, and all it takes to let your dog shine is to find what he loves to do, what his passion is. Dogs are a reflection of us and when you take the time to learn who your pet is, you might be surprised by what you find in his heart and yours.

‘Great’ has different meanings in the dictionary, according to how the word is used in a sentence. In this case, great (greatness) means outstanding, superior in character, important, noble or distinguished. Each of those words, in my view, aptly describes our canine friends. All dogs have a potential to achieve greatness when they are shown respect and given guidance to find their true calling.

My dogs will never star in a movie or win Best in Show. None of them will ever take first place in dock diving or fly through the air to catch a Frisbee in front of an adoring crowd. However, each one has achieved greatness simply by being. They aren't perfect, and they try my patience at times. They love to join in and howl with the neighbor's dogs when a siren is wailing. They bark at neighborhood cats and go crazy when a squirrel is in sight. But they're all exceptional, in my eyes, and when one snuggles next to me and rests their head on my lap or against my chest and looks at me with loving eyes – that is greatness to me.

Not every dog is cut out to be a show dog or excel in agility. Not every dog has the drive or intensity to herd sheep or sniff out someone lost in the wilderness. A potential for greatness has nothing to do with competing in dog sports, being a therapy dog, or any other job we give to dogs. However, when you teach a dog how to weave through poles or catch a flying disc, you give him an opportunity to discover and learn something he could excel in.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Why Do We Love Our Pets?

By Julia Williams

Anyone who shares their life with a pet could fill a book with reasons why they love them. There’s nothing quite like the magical relationships we have with our pets, and each one is akin to the ‘no two are alike’ snowflake. The pet-human bond is such a beautiful thing, really, and I’m so grateful for my furry friends. Not a day goes by that I don’t stop to think about how blessed I am to have these precious souls in my life. What follows are just a few of the many wonderful things that being a pet parent offers.

We love our pets because they...
…Show us how to live in the moment.
…Inspire us to be better human beings.
…Help us to appreciate the simple pleasures.
… Do something funny or silly every day.
…See us at our worst and love us anyway.
…Are the best listeners in the whole world.
…Give us a reason to get up in the morning.
…Are great best friends and surrogate children.
…Teach us that it’s okay to ask for what we want.
…Relieve us of the need to own an alarm clock.
…Encourage our nurturing and protective sides.
…Turn a house into a home, just by being in it.
…Eat every CANIDAE meal with unbridled enthusiasm.
…Don’t care what we look like or how much money we have.
…Teach us about forgiveness, patience, devotion and trust.
…Do mysterious things that always keep us guessing.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The True Story of a Wild Crow That Saved a Kitten

By Linda Cole

We don't usually think of wild animals as having the capacity to know when another species needs help to survive, and then doing what they can to help. But that's exactly what happened when an abandoned kitten was left to fend for herself. A wild crow swooped down, not to hurt the kitten but to protect her, and he is credited with saving the kitten's life.

Ann and Wally Collito have always been animal lovers. Living on the outskirts of town in North Attleboro, Massachusetts they would sit on their porch and watch the wildlife. One peaceful day in 1999, they noticed a small kitten about three months old walking around the edge of their yard. A couple of days later, they saw her again and noticed a wild crow hanging around the kitten. At first, they thought the crow was trying to hurt the young cat, but they were walking beside each other down the street.

When they kept seeing the kitten, Ann was afraid she hadn't eaten in a while, so Ann decided to set out some food for her. However, Ann and Wally quickly discovered the kitten wasn't as hungry as they had feared. They watched in amazement as the crow walked around their yard and gathered up bugs and worms. He then went over to the kitten and poked his beak into her mouth, feeding her what he had gathered. There was no doubt in their mind, the crow was taking care of the kitten in the only way he knew how. He even showed her where to find water.

Ann named the kitten Cassie, and the wild crow was given the name Moses. No one really knows why or how the two became friends. Crows are intelligent birds, but to see natural enemies acting like friends is definitely not an everyday occurrence. Ann called her vet to see if they could give her any advice on what to do. They were as amazed as Ann and Wally, and suggested they get the kitten and crow on videotape to prove their story, otherwise no one would believe them. So that's exactly what they did. You can see their video here.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: Can Dogs and Cats Have OCD?

By Langley Cornwell

Who knew that when we rescued our dog three years ago she would give me so much material to write about? Granted, she was in pretty bad shape when she came to live with us – but the physical ailments were relatively easy to fix. What’s been more of a challenge is helping her get over her emotional wounds. If you regularly read this blog you know that we’re making tremendous progress with her social skills. In fact, I’ve recently taken on a new job outside of the home and I’m able to take her along with me. That’s right, I get to take my dog to work! That alone has been a fantastic opportunity for her (and for me; it’s great having her at the office all day). The stimulation of being in a new place and interacting with new people is helping her grow.

We’re delighted that she’s getting less skittish. There was a time when she’d either cower in the corner or lunge and bark aggressively when a stranger approached. Now, as long as people don’t focus their attention directly on her, she’s okay. One day I hope to say she’s fully relaxed in a variety of environments, but we’re not quite there yet. Something about a stranger looking at her in the eyes makes her uncomfortable. And if the person speaks to her in a sing-song voice she becomes completely unhinged. The guys in the office have gotten used to her behavior; they’ve learned you have to let her come to you. They basically go about their business and if she approaches one of them they understand that’s their cue to give her a scratch behind the ears. That’s a huge step in the right direction. 

Our dog has another issue that we didn’t understand until lately. There’s this one specific spot on her backside, on the left of the base of her tail, that she licks constantly. She has to contort into an unnatural position to reach the exact spot, which is no larger than the size of a half-dollar. It can’t be comfortable to assume that position but she licks the area for long periods of time. She’s gone after that spot since she first came to live with us and she licks it so frequently that it’s discolored. We thought it was because of a skin allergy, fleas, a hot spot, a mosquito bite or some other medical reason.

We’ve taken her to two veterinarians and all of those things have been ruled out. Recently, a new vet joined the clinic where we go. After she conducted a thorough examination and pronounced our dog healthy, we started talking about some of her ‘odd’ behaviors. Since there is no medical reason our dog hyper-focuses on licking this small spot, the vet said it might just be a quirk or nervous habit. She likened it to a human biting their fingernails and that the act of repetitive licking soothed and comforted our dog. That made sense and seemed to fit with some of her other proclivities. 

Monday, April 23, 2012

Why Do Dogs Like to Lean on Us?

By Linda Cole

One of my dogs, Max, is a big guy. When we're outside in the dog pen, he likes to come over and sit beside me. However, he doesn't just sit, he leans and if I'm standing up and not paying attention, he knocks me sideways because his lean is more of a flop against my legs. All of my dogs like to lean on me at times, but why do they snuggle up next to our legs or beside us on the couch?

Kelly, the matriarch of my dog family, will either sit beside me on the couch or climb onto my lap and lean against me. Then she lays her head on my arm or chest and melts my heart with her eyes as she gazes into mine. Some of the time, I know she's trying to butter me up for some CANIDAE Tidnips treats, but usually it's because she likes to cuddle whenever she gets the chance. Keikei and Riley are fond of sitting on my feet when I'm standing or sitting, which keeps my feet warm on a cold night.

Cuddling is one reason dogs lean against us, but think about how dogs, especially small dogs, see our world. It can be a pretty intimidating place for some canines. A dog that feels unsure of himself or is shy will press up next to your legs for security. A scared dog may move behind you and seek comfort knowing you are there to protect him. It's his way of saying you make him feel safe.

Dogs communicate with us on all levels and there's a reason for what they do. We are the ones that have trouble understanding what they are trying to tell us. But when you think about how we communicate with someone we care about, we respond in similar ways as dogs. How many times have you seen a small child hugging his mom's leg or leaning against her while she's chatting with someone. A shy child might peek out from behind his mom as he leans against her for safety. What parent hasn't had their child sit next to them on the couch or in their lap and lean up against them? Whether it’s for security or just to cuddle, it's the same reason why dogs lean on us – because we make them feel secure, and because they love us.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Could your Pet be the Next Facebook Sensation?

By Julia Williams

One cannot help but notice the growing popularity of pets on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Given the number of pet lovers in the world, it shouldn’t be shocking to discover that some pets have more fans than many celebrities. But did you know some pets are even more popular on Facebook than prominent media organizations? Last year, social media news blog Mashable compared the fan bases of some popular internet pets to major media outlets, and the pets trumped CNN, FOX News, ESPN, the New York Times, Current and People Magazine!

Some of the most popular pets on Facebook gained notoriety first, and their large Facebook following came later. However, many were unknowns who somehow managed to captivate the masses. Perhaps most telling of all, the popular pet pages on Facebook are purported to be managed by the pets themselves. According to the Daily Telegraph online newspaper, “One in ten of all UK pets have their own Facebook page, Twitter profile or YouTube channel…” Some pets even have all three!

Further, legions of people seemingly buy into the notion that cats and dogs are capable of using a computer and thus, are managing their own Facebook pages and interacting with their fans. Ok, seriously…they know pets can’t type but prefer to look the other way for the sake of the fantasy. At least, I hope that’s what’s happening here. LOL.

As a pet lover, I understand. So many times, I’ve been caught up in the ‘voice’ of a particular Facebook pet that I find myself believing that what they said actually came from them and not their human servant. Well, not really…but almost. I liken it to that thing in the movie industry called the suspension of disbelief. A moviegoer knows certain things are just not possible, but they suspend disbelief for the sake of the story. Certainly, many tales become far more interesting told from the point of view of a pet, so we play along.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

How to Give Your Cat a Pill

By Langley Cornwell

My neighbor has a cat with asthma. She travels for work, and when she’s gone I cat-sit for her. The cat is generally easy to care for but recently she needed oral meds and I had to give her a pill every day. We have a cat but fortunately our little guy has never had to take a pill so I had absolutely no experience in this area. I consulted a few cat-loving friends and got loads of good advice.

One friend used to give her cat a daily thyroid pill. She was able to hide the pill inside a tiny bit of something the cat liked, such as cream cheese, butter, turkey, or a bite of FELIDAE wet cat food. She would cover the pill with the ‘good stuff’ and roll it into a bite-sized ball. The cat looked forward to this and would gulp the whole thing down. My friend doesn’t know if her cat knew the pill was in there or not. Maybe she knew but just didn't care because the ‘treat’ was so good. Whatever the case, this method worked well and she never had the stress of worrying about how to get her cat to take a pill. This probably works best with very small pills. The asthma pills for my neighbor’s cat were a bit large but it was worth a try.

No luck. It didn’t matter what I wrapped the pill in, that cat would devour the delicious outer coating and spit out the whole pill. My neighbor laughed at me via text; she had warned me that the ‘hide the pill’ method was going to be unsuccessful but I needed to prove it to myself because the alternative seemed so difficult.

If you’ve ever had to give a cat a pill, you already know how hard it is. Maybe I’m wrong here but I think even the most seasoned cat-people would rather not have to do it the manual way. In fact, Animal Planet says cats enjoy taking a pill as well as they enjoy taking a bubble bath – and I honestly think giving my neighbor’s cat a bath would have been easier.

Here’s a combination of what the experts at Animal Planet recommend and what worked for me:

Have the pill within arm’s reach before you even think about starting the process. Some people recommend lubricating the pill with butter to make it easier to swallow.

Confine your cat to one room; preferably a room the cat is familiar with. Equip the room with the pill and a blanket or large towel. Check to see if the pill can be taken with food. If so, have a high-value treat like FELIDAE TidNips on hand.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

What is Flyball?

By Michelle Martin, CANIDAE Team Member

When you ask the average dog lover what agility is, they can probably give you a general description, but ask them what Flyball is and you usually get a response like “Fly…What??” My goal today is to introduce readers to the wonderful, action packed sport of Flyball! It’s a fast paced dog relay race that sets two teams of four dogs each, to race each other. Flyball is a fun sport that combines agility and an advanced game of fetch.

Flyball is a competitive team sport that was invented in California in the late 70’s. Herbert Wagner was credited for creating the first ever Flyball box when he showed millions of Americans his dogs playing Flyball on the Johnny Carson Show. Soon after, dog trainers were making their own Flyball boxes and in the early 80’s the sport became so popular that the North American Flyball Association (NAFA) was formed; they are a know worldwide. Today we have two associates that host Flyball competition, which are NAFA and U-Fli.

Flyball races place two teams of four dogs and handlers each to their own lane, racing side-by-side, over a 51-foot long course. Each dog runs in a relay fashion over a set of four jumps in a straight line, and then they hit the box, which triggers the ball to pop out. The dog then catches the ball (on the “fly”) and returns over the jumps with the ball to their handler. The next dog is released but cannot pass the start/finish line until the previous dog has. The goal here is to have the dogs cross as close as possible to the start/finish line. The first team to have all four dogs finish the course without error is the winner of that race. If you could take a guess how fast this could be done, what would it be… 1 minute…30 seconds? Can you believe the fastest that Flyball has been raced so far was clocked at 14.690 seconds! This is the world record held by a club called Touch n Go during a 2011 competition.

Like I mentioned, a Flyball team consists of 4 dogs running; usually one of those four dogs is a lot smaller than the others. People watching a competition always wonder why there is a small dog on the team. They think we are just being “nice” to let the little dogs play. In actuality the hurdle heights are determined by the smallest dog on the team, which is then called the “height dog.” Dogs and their owners really like having small dogs on the team because it lowers down the jumps, which usually means the big dogs can run faster! So we big dog owners really like having the little dogs play.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Dog Training is a Commitment You Make to Your Pet

By Linda Cole

Dog training isn't a hard concept to grasp, and neither is teaching your dog. It's a commitment you make to your pet. You are the teacher and your dog is your student. Some dog breeds are harder to train than others, not because they aren't smart enough to learn, but because of their breed characteristics. Any dog can learn, if you take the time and commit to his education. Training a dog isn't just about teaching basic commands. For some dogs, it's also finding something they like to do and then teaching the necessary skills needed to succeed in whatever it is. You could say it's a college education for your dog.

Most owners understand why their pet needs to know certain commands that help to keep them safe and under control. Dogs are also capable of learning things on their own just by watching and listening to us. My dogs figured out on their own what “back up” and “wait” meant because those are two commands I've always used when it's time to go outside to their pen. “Back up” means give me a chance to open the basement door, and “wait” means let me get down the steps so you all don't knock me down the stairs. It hit me one day when I forgot something and turned around. They were standing behind me patiently waiting for me to open the door. Yep, I had a light bulb moment and learned something about dog training at the same time.

Training shouldn't be a boring chore for you or your dog. Make it fun and interesting – playtime with your dog. As long as there's a commitment by you to reinforce what it is you want them to learn, they will learn, even if you don't realize you're teaching them. That's the beauty of dog training. Most dogs do want to learn and are willing students who pay attention to what we say and do. Positive reinforcement, commitment, plenty of CANIDAE treats and praise are the tools you need to teach your dog.

Giving your dog a job to do isn't a must, but if you have an energetic dog with a high prey drive or one that's well socialized, friendly and likes people, you have a pet that could excel at agility or as a therapy dog. Of course, dog sports or jobs require additional training for the specific activity. In most cases, you can find classes that can help you teach your pet what they need to know. Langley Cornwell introduced us to the sport of Treibball earlier this year. It's a growing activity for dogs of any size or age.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Thank Heavens Our Pets Don’t Hold Grudges

By Julia Williams

Last night my cat sauntered into my office and began dragging her behind across the carpet. I’ve seen dogs do this but never a cat, and certainly not my prissy baby girl Belle. I was aghast. I picked her up and discovered that an immediate bath was in order. Now, given that most cats loathe water, a bath is not something one attempts even under the best of circumstances. A bath on the spot was foolhardy, but I was in panic mode. I wasn’t about to set this cat down on the carpet again.

I hurried into the kitchen, carrying her outstretched as though I was holding a ticking time bomb, for in a way I was. I grabbed a bath towel and proceeded to run water as fast as I could. Belle writhed in fear and tried to scratch her way out of my grip and the impending immersion. I hastily placed her in the water and washed her, she all the while clawing at me and meowing pitifully, desperate to get out. I toweled her dry and she ran off to sulk under the table. A little while later, attempts to coax her out with FELIDAE Tidnips proved unsuccessful. I felt awful because in hindsight I didn’t handle this well, and I know I frightened her.

I was worried she’d stay mad at me, and that I had damaged our incredibly close and loving relationship. But it was done; I couldn’t unring that bell. Amazingly, when I went to bed a few hours later, Belle came in and curled up next to me by my pillow, as she does every night. And this morning, she came in and crawled up to get her hugs and love, as she does every day. She wasn’t mad anymore, and I hadn’t negatively impacted our relationship. Whew.

I think this happens to every pet owner at some point, because we’re not perfect and we screw up. We do things that our pets have every right to be angry at us for. We do things unintentionally that, if it had been a human, they might never speak to us again, because humans hold grudges and pets do not. Hold a person down and force a pill down their throat or shove them into a sink full of water – how long do you think they would stay mad at you? Longer than an hour or two, for sure.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Helping Animals in Third World Countries

An Unforgettable Trip to Nicaragua   

Suturing post surgery with the supervision of Dr. Carvajal
Hello! My name is Jaimie Spitz, and I'm a fourth year animal science major at California Polytechnic State University. With the help of CANIDAE Natural Pet Food Company, I was rewarded a sponsorship that granted me the opportunity to work with the Volunteers for Intercultural and Definitive Adventures (VIDA) and travel to Nicaragua, one of the poorest nations in Central America. I participated in a volunteer program that established a temporary veterinary clinic, assisting over 200 malnourished animals in a two week span.

VIDA is a nonprofit organization that sends groups of students to third world countries in Central America. The participants are comprised of mainly pre-vet, med, and dental students who are given the rare opportunity to gain practical, hands-on experience while aiding the disadvantaged communities of people and the overpopulation of stray animals that inhabit the area. The majority of these people are living in poverty, making less than $2 a day, and don't have the necessary knowledge or resources to care for their pets or children, let alone themselves.

Ometepe Island, Nicaragua
With the kind help of CANIDAE, I was able to join a team of 40 pre-vet, med, and dental students from the University of Madison, Wisconsin. Our mission was to learn and help as many animals and people as possible in the duration of our two week program. With a group of 7 pre-veterinary students, a translator and a lead veterinarian, our team set up a makeshift veterinary clinic in a local elementary school on the beautiful Ometepe Island in Nicaragua. Our supplies were limited by donations, so we had to work with what we had. The clinic consisted of three intake tables covered with large plastic bags, a pharmaceutical table, a surgery prep corner, a surgery table centered in the location with the most access to direct sunlight, and a recovery area identified by laid out newspaper and used towels.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Moving in Together: How to Socialize Pets from Two Homes

By Linda Cole

Adding a new pet to a home where one is already residing can be a challenge for some pets, but bringing two or more pets together under one roof when you move in with your significant other can be an even bigger challenge. The goal is to help each pet transition into their new life without breaking up your relationship. It can be a delicate balance, in the beginning, for owners and their pets.

Combining pets from two different homes means both pets' routine has been changed. They have to get used to new smells, sounds and how each person interacts with them. Pets don't usually like change, and it can be a reason why some pets develop behavioral problems. It can take time and patience to make a transition, and how to handle the pets is a discussion couples need to have before they move in together. It's important to socialize pets as soon as possible and it's equally important for each person to take the lead role with dogs from both homes. Pets are important to their owners and can be a reason for friction between a couple if it's not handled carefully.

Socializing pets when moving in together is done the same way a new pet is added to a home. However, there is one difference to keep in mind – each pet has a bond already established with their owner. Dogs are more apt to follow their owner's commands over someone new in the home. The solution is for both people to learn which commands are used and be consistent with them to keep the dog from being confused. Discipline is also a subject that needs to be discussed, as well as what sort of liberties will be permitted by both owners. Are pets allowed to sleep in the bed? Is the furniture off limits? It's important to have a serious heart-to-heart talk before moving in together to work out a compromise, if it's necessary.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Dog Breed Profile: the Expressive Norwegian Lundehund

By Langley Cornwell

Many years ago I adopted a dog from the shelter that looked to be partly yellow Labrador; the other parts were anybody’s guess. I always thought she had some type of Spitz breed in her because of her fluffy, high-set tail that arched over her back. She also had what I thought was a Spitz-like personality. One of the things that set her apart was her expressive ears, they could move in every possible direction. Friends and family loved this dog as much as I did… almost. I remember we were at a big outdoor, dog-friendly gathering once and the conversation drifted to favorite dog breeds. More than one person said they wished my dog was a specific breed because they wanted a dog just like her. She was my constant and cherished companion for 17 years.

During the time that precious pup was part of my life, I hadn’t heard of Norwegian Lundehund dogs. Since then, however, I’ve learned that the Lundehund is a small and active Spitz breed that has upright, triangular ears that move in every direction. Their ears can fold forward, backward, or shut at will, just like my dog’s ears. Furthermore, online images of the Norwegian Lundehund look very similar to the way she looked. There’s no way to confirm it (and it certainly doesn’t matter) but I’ve come to believe that my dog was part Lab, part Lundehund.

The Norwegian Lundehund has a distinctive combination of traits not found in any other dogs. The ear acrobatics are one of the special qualities. Another is that this dog breed has six toes on each foot. Additionally, they’re able to lift their head up and tip it backwards so far that it can touch their back bone. That’s a unique set of characteristics for this one-time Puffin hunting dog.

The history

As the name denotes, the Lundehund is from Norway, where their job was to locate and retrieve live Puffin birds from the fissures of sheer upright Norwegian cliffs. At that time, Puffins were a meat and feather crop for the farmers of Norway so the Lundehunds had an important role in the local economy. But in the 1800’s, Puffins became a protected species and Norwegian Lundehunds were no longer needed. The breed numbers sharply decreased and the Norwegian Lundehund dwindled down until the breed was close to extinction. Several concerned Norwegians joined together and established a plan to save the breed, and the plan is working, albeit slowly. There still are not many of these dogs in existence.

One thing that may help the growth of the breed is the fact that the American Kennel Club recently recognized the Norwegian Lundehund.

Monday, April 9, 2012

How Do Pets Find Their Way Back Home?

By Linda Cole

There's no shortage of stories about pets that become lost and then somehow were able to find their way back home. Some of these pets had to travel thousands of miles in order to get home. They had to navigate over rough terrain and cross obstacles many humans couldn't handle, yet they were able to survive and find their way back home, even if it took a year or longer to get there. The 1993 remake of “Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey” was based on a true story of the survival and determination of two dogs and a cat to find their way home through 250 miles of the Canadian wilderness. We know some pets can find their way back home, but how do they do it?

This is a topic I've always found intriguing. It's one thing for a pet to find their way back home over short distances, but it's another thing when they set off to find their owner in a completely different state or town they've never been in. One story recounts how an Irish Terrier dog named Prince went searching for his owner, a soldier serving with the British army during WW I. Prince had grown so depressed when his owner was shipped overseas to France that he stopped eating. Finally, he ran away from home. No one knows how Prince was able to cross the English Channel, but once he was in France, he started searching for his owner in the war torn land with bombs and bullets whizzing all around him. Prince found his owner in Northern France in a foxhole.

How lost pets can find their owner or their home remains a mystery to scientists. There is, however, one interesting theory: the homing instinct, which is broken up into two types. The first type is when a pet finds their way home using something other than the usual five senses. A sixth sense, if you will. It's known that animals have the ability to make a sort of “map” in their mind of landmarks, scents, sounds and familiar territory. It's believed pets are sensitive to the earth's magnetic fields and this gives them the ability to know which direction they're going by using an inner compass. But the question still remains, how do they know which way to go? No one knows, but researchers do know if magnets are attached to a dog or cat, the homing ability is taken away.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Do Dogs and Cats Know Right From Wrong?

By Julia Williams

A few weeks ago, when my cat Rocky guest wrote a post on How to Spoil Your Cat, he mocked me for making a big deal out of his counter surfing when company was there. He implied that I freely allow him to get on the kitchen counters when no one is looking, which is only partially true. I do make a bigger fuss when people are over, because I know how ‘icky’ it is for many people to see cats walking on surfaces where food is prepared. However, it’s not like I love him getting up there. It grosses me out too, but I have tried everything known to man to keep him off the counters, and nothing works. Whenever there’s food preparation going on or I'm dishing the FELIDAE cat food into their bowls, he’s right there in my way, trying to steal anything he can get his paws on. Let’s just say he’s earned his nicknames, Naughty McNaughterson and Quick Paw McGraw, and that should speak volumes about my ordeal with this cat and kitchen counters.

Rocky’s post prompted a reader to comment that they believed in disciplining their cat to teach it what was acceptable behavior and what was unacceptable. I laughed and told my friend, “Oh, Rocky knows it’s wrong to get up there, but he does it anyway.” This got me to thinking about animals and whether they really do have a capacity to know right from wrong. Plenty of people are adamant that animals don’t have any sense of morality or the ability to think about such concepts as ‘right and wrong’ in the same way that humans do. Many claim animals are incapable of complex human emotions and have no grasp of concepts like right and wrong.

But Professor Marc Bekoff from the University of Colorado disagrees. He believes that morals are ‘hard-wired’ into the brains of all mammals. “The belief that humans have morality and animals don’t is a long-standing assumption, but there is a growing amount of evidence that is showing us that this simply cannot be the case,” he said. Professor Bekoff presented his case in a book called Wild Justice: The Moral Lives of Animals which I’ve not read but now have on my wish list.

I was only kidding when I told my friend that Rocky knew what he was doing was wrong, but I was intrigued by the possibility nonetheless. So much so, that I decided to conduct an informal poll among my pet loving friends. I asked them if they believed dogs and cats knew right from wrong. The responses I got were about half yes and half no. Regardless of which side they were on, people gave various examples and reasons why they believed one way or the other. This proved even more thought provoking.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Military Working Dog Foundation

By Langley Cornwell

Stories and photographs of soldiers bravely serving our country move me. Many of the stories depict another type of soldier, the four-legged type. The U.S. Military has been using working dogs to help defend our country since World War I. In fact, brave canine soldiers were used in WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Persian Gulf, Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq. The U.S. War Dogs website estimates that these amazing military heroes saved more than 10,000 lives during the Vietnam conflict alone.

A quote on the U. S. War Dogs website says it all: “The capability they (Military Working Dogs) bring to the fight cannot be replicated by man or machine. By all measures of performance their yield outperforms any asset we have in our inventory. Our Army (and military) would be remiss if we failed to invest more in this incredibly valuable resource.” - GENERAL DAVID H. PETRAEUS, USA. 9 February 2008

While that’s impactful and inspirational, there comes a time when these military dogs are released from serving our country and must find a forever home. These dogs are at various stages in their lives; some are young dogs who didn’t meet the training standards of the military K-9 boot camp, some are older dogs that have completed their tours and it’s time for them to retire from service, and some are dogs that have been medically discharged from service due to sickness or injury that interfered with their ability to perform their mission. In all of these cases, the dogs need to find a safe and loving place to live out their years.

That’s where The Military Working Dog Foundation gets involved. This 501c3 non-profit organization’s mission is to help the Department of Defense Military Working Dog Center find suitable homes for our four-legged soldiers after their period of service to our nation.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Zip: The Inspiring Story of a Disabled Dog

By Linda Cole

No matter how hard we try to protect our pets, accidents happen. It's how we respond to help a pet deal with devastating injuries that makes a difference in how they recover. A dog named Zip survived a horrible accident that changed her life forever. Sue Cohen, Zip's owner, has had to deal with health concerns of her own. After seeing a You Tube video of Zip running an agility course in her wheelchair, I contacted Sue to learn more about her amazing dog. However, I discovered through our conversations that Sue is equally amazing and inspiring. She didn't allow Zip to give up, and Zip returned the favor.

As I watched the video, I could see the smile on Zip’s face and her enjoyment was evident as she ran. Zip could no longer sail over bars, weave through poles or race through tunnels, but just being on the course made her happy. Tears welled up in my eyes as I watched the brave Border Collie run. Her body may be disabled, but in her heart Zip is the same dog she has always been. Not even a wheelchair can keep her away from a sport she loves.

Sometimes a dog gets lucky and finds the right owner. This was the case with Zip. Her first home was with an owner who didn't understand the needs of a Border Collie, and while Sue was fostering Zip, she fell in love with her and discovered Zip's potential in agility. “When I got the papers from the previous owner, I saw that her grandfather had been imported from Scotland and there was a Great Britain Herding Champion (a highly coveted achievement) in her bloodline. I had already named her Zip and I found out she had an ancestor also named Zip.”

Sue lives with chronic pain and was diagnosed with genetic degenerative disc disease when she was 22 years old. The disease has made it difficult for her to do agility with her dogs, but agility is something she enjoys as much as her dogs. When Zip didn't give up, her determination inspired Sue to keep going too.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Benefits of Massage Therapy for Pets

By Langley Cornwell

Holistic health care for our canine and feline friends is gaining traction. There are all types of herbs and remedies being touted to keep dogs and cats healthy. You may or may not embrace this mindset, but whatever you think of the trend, there is a hands-on therapy that has captured my attention. The benefits make sense to me, it’s free and it’s something I can do at home for my pets. I’m talking about pet massage.    

I’ll admit to indulging in a massage once in a while. I’m convinced of the benefits of massage for me, so it stands to reason that the same would benefit my dog and my cat. Additionally, I’m a huge advocate of creating and maintaining a strong bond with your pets. Any activity you participate in together furthers that bond – so that’s another plus for giving your dog or cat a massage.

An article in Your Holistic Dog convinced me to start massaging our four-legged family members because it explained the benefits in layman’s terms. Some of the benefits are easy to quantify but other benefits of massage therapy are hard to measure. Sure, obvious mobility improvement can be measured but there are other reasons to consider pet massage. One big reason is that massage and other hands-on therapies increase the movement of your animal’s body fluids, thereby washing their internal systems. This increased fluid circulation flushes toxins and strengthens their immune system. In addition, massage is believed to provide your pet with relief from pain and from stress. As in humans, stress manifests itself in a variety of physical ways and contributes to an assortment of illnesses. Here are some of the measurable and immeasurable benefits of pet massage.

Stimulate bodily fluids and expedite recovery from surgery or sickness

As already touched on, dog and cat massage stimulates all the fluids in the body including water, lymphatic fluids and even blood. If your pet has recently undergone surgery, you can give him a massage to speed up the recovery time. Massage circulates the sedation or anesthesia through the body quicker. Moreover, the stimulation of bodily fluids helps release stored toxins and flush them from the body, thereby enabling your pet to recover more quickly from sickness. Another benefit is that the movement of lymphatic fluids can strengthen your pet’s immune system.

Monday, April 2, 2012

The Easiest Dog Breeds to Train

By Linda Cole

If you're willing to put in the time and commitment needed to train your dog, any canine can and will learn. However, some breeds are easier to train than others. A dog’s intelligence plays a role in training, but so does a willingness to pay attention so they can learn. Keep in mind, though, each dog is an individual and the ability to learn depends on how committed you are and the method you use to train them. All of the dog breeds on the list below are highly intelligent; it's their eagerness and ability to learn that makes them among the easiest breeds to train.

The Border Collie, as you may know, is considered at the top of the list in intelligence. He has an eagerness and need to learn as much as he can. A Border Collie’s mind is always going, and he is capable of learning so much more than most owners realize. He loves competition and excels in agility, sheepdog trials, Frisbee competitions and obedience. If you're looking for a happy, smart and energetic dog, this is a great breed –but only if you know what you're getting into. Border Collies are for owners who understand the dog's work ethic and need for lots of exercise which keeps them from developing behavior problems.

The Poodle was bred as a water dog and the traditional cut wasn't meant to be for show. The purpose of the “Poodle cut” was first done by hunters to help protect the dog's joints when he was in the water. The hair is left around the joints and specific parts of the body to protect vital organs from the cold water. The Poodle is ranked in the second spot behind the Border Collie in intelligence and does very well in obedience training as well as agility, hunting, tracking, rally, and in the show ring.

The German Shepherd is probably the most versatile working dog of all of the breeds. An athletic, loyal, and powerful dog, the GSD has the heart and intelligence to excel at a variety of jobs. They are used as seeing eye dogs, service dogs, therapy dogs, in search and rescue, mine detection, avalanche rescue, on bomb squads, drug detection, guard dogs, for herding, protection, in police work and for tracking. This dog is also exceptional at agility, Schutzhund, herding, Frisbee, obedience training, flyball and endurance.

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