Friday, November 30, 2012

Will My Pet Remember Me Forever?

By Julia Williams

Anyone who’s forged a deep bond with a pet has likely asked themselves that question or a similar one. We want to believe that the bond we share is so unbreakable, so life changing not just for us, but for our pets, too. We want to think that if we were ever separated, no amount of passing time could dim our pet’s memory of us. We want it to be true for them, as it certainly is for us.

We never forget our pets; no matter how many months or years go by, the love we shared is always fresh in our minds. We smile remembering all the things they did that made us laugh. Our hearts swell thinking of the endearing way they curled up to sleep in their favorite spot, or gave us that quick little lick on the tip of our nose. We could never forget the happiness they brought with them when they came into our home.

The saying “pets leave paw prints on our hearts” is oh so true, and those paw prints are forever. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if it could be the same for our pets? That the gentle hands that gave them loving pats every day could imprint on their heart till the end of time, and the voice that soothed was remembered forever?

We know our pets have the mental capacity to remember us for short periods of time. There’s plenty of evidence of that – one only has to search YouTube to find hundreds of examples. Perhaps you saw the heartwarming video that went viral, of the pup running out to greet her “Daddy,” a soldier who had just returned home from Afghanistan. That dog’s excitement and joy is palpable; clearly, this pup did not forget the one they loved.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Caring for Rescued or Abused Dogs

By Eliza Wynn

Animal lovers who have adopted an abused or rescued dog know it's one of the most rewarding things they've ever done. It can also be hard for first-time adopters to figure out how to make things easier for themselves and their new companions. These dogs have been through a lot, and their experiences often make them hesitant to trust people again. It's up to the adopters to help them adjust to their new life as part of a loving family. With that in mind, here are some tips for caring for rescued or abused dogs that will help them feel safe, confident and loved.

Supply Run

Not having essential supplies when you need them is stressful, and pets pick up on that stress. Before bringing your new family member home, be prepared for the inevitable messes by having pet-safe cleaning supplies on hand. Other important items include puppy pads, grooming and first-aid supplies, chew toys, CANIDAE dog food, and a leash and collar. By preparing in advance, you'll be more likely to stay calm when things don't go as planned.

Home Vet Visit

As a responsible pet owner, you'll want to have your dog's health checked out right away. If possible, arrange to have a trusted veterinarian provide the initial exam at your home. Once your dog realizes that this new person is a friend, you can schedule future visits at the veterinary clinic.

Use a Gentle Tone

Use a gentle tone of voice whenever your dog is nearby, and always speak his name kindly. Loud voices and harsh words can be frightening, especially to a dog that's already anxious or fearful. Use praise when appropriate, occasionally supplemented with a CANIDAE dog treat. Sing to him softly, and if this has a soothing effect, use the same song whenever he needs some extra TLC.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

How to Help Your Pet Deal with the Winter Blues

By Linda Cole

Some dogs enjoy outside winter activities, but not all pets or people want to be outdoors when those frigid winds are howling. Cabin fever can be a problem for our pets, but indoor activities can help to ward off those winter blues and help you both stay in shape.

Remote Control Cars

OK, so my first suggestion gives cats and dogs more exercise than it will you, unless you need to lose some weight in your fingers. However, playing with a small remote control car inside is a blast for most pets and helps get them up and moving. The noise of the car rolling along the floor gets their attention and holds it while they contemplate how to attack this strange new creature that dared to disturb their sleep. Look for a pet friendly car that doesn't have small parts which can fall off or be pulled off by your pet. You will also want to find one that is strong enough to hold up to a dog or cat who finds the courage to attack it. I have to admit, this is a favorite activity at my house.

Indoor Obstacle Course

An interesting obstacle course can be made with whatever you have in your home. Set up a course where your dog has to jump, crawl and find his way around the course, utilizing furniture along with other fun obstacles like empty drawers, clothes baskets, paper sacks made into tunnels, boxes, broom handles and piles of pillows. Think outside the box to make a challenging and fun course. Cats can also learn to navigate an obstacle course. Use their favorite wiggly toy or a laser light for them to follow. Don't be afraid to get down on all fours and have your pet follow you. The idea, after all, is for both of you to get up and move!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Fictional Dog Biography: Toto

By Langley Cornwell

Who was Toto? Fans of The Wizard of Oz movie are likely very familiar with this loveable little dog whose real name was “Terry.”  Toto is one of the most beloved and well-known dogs in film history, and this dog paved the way for many great dog actors in show biz.

There were other famous dogs of that era: Prince Carl, the Great Dane appearing in Wuthering Heights (1939); Buck, the Saint Bernard who co-starred with Clark Gable and Loretta Young in Call of the Wild (1935); Musty (Swiss Family Robinson); Mr. Binkie (The Lights that Failed) and Promise (The Biscuit Eater) were all very well-known. But Toto, Dorothy’s adorable little sidekick, warmed the hearts of many and remained a fan favorite.

There is a lot more to Toto than you think. First, he was actually a she, and her story is a canine “rags to riches” tale.

Terry was a purebred Cairn Terrier who was born in 1933 in Alta Dena, California, according to her biography. She was taken in by a married couple with no children, and they named her Terry. The couple had problems house training Terry so they sent her to Carl Spitz’s dog training school in the San Fernando Valley for help.

Spitz put her through his usual training process and in just a few weeks, she was no longer wetting the carpet. However, the owners had then become late on the kennel board fees and when he attempted to contact them, their phone had been disconnected. They never came back to retrieve Terry, so Spitz and his wife decided to keep her.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Important and Cool Jobs Dogs Have Done

By Linda Cole

Whether it's guarding a flock of sheep or following a scent, our canine friends have been working by our side for centuries. Some breeds, however, have some pretty important and cool jobs they were bred to do.

Saint Bernard

In 1050, an Augustine monk set up a hospice and monastery in the Alps to give travelers crossing the mountain pass between Switzerland and Italy a place to find shelter. The first dogs were brought to the monastery in the late 1600s when monks added the Saint Bernard for use as guard dogs and pets. These dogs had a shorter coat and were smaller than today's breed. In the mid 1700s it was discovered the dogs had a good nose for finding people buried under snow, and the monks began to train them for search and rescue. The dogs were so good at their job, they were sent out on their own in pairs to search for people who needed to be rescued. “Barry the Great Saint Bernard” was a favorite of the monks and Swiss people, and is credited with saving more than 40 lives. Despite the many pictures we've seen of Saint Bernard dogs wearing a keg, no kegs were ever used during search and rescue missions.

Alaskan Malamute

Cousin to the American Eskimo, Samoyed and Siberian Husky, the Alaskan Malamute is a true workhorse of the North. Used by the Mahlemuit Eskimos in Alaska to haul goods and supplies, these dogs gained fame for their endurance, work ethic and strength. Considered an American made dog, the Malamute was so highly sought after by miners during the Alaska Gold Rush years, that a good dog could be sold for a hefty $500 price.


This is an ancient breed developed by the Samoyede people in Siberia. The Samoyed is as close to a primitive dog as any breed, and there is no fox or wolf genes in this dog's DNA. Used to haul heavy loads, to hunt, as guard dogs and to herd reindeer, the Samoyed was a much loved animal to the Samoyede people. Because they were so dependent on their dogs for survival, the dogs were welcomed inside their tents at night.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Giving Thanks for Our Pets

If there is one thing that unites all of the contributing writers here on the CANIDAE RPO blog, it’s the deep love we have for our pets. Today, on the day when family and friends gather to give thanks for their many blessings, we each wanted to share with you some of the reasons we love and appreciate our four legged friends.

Julia's cat, Annabelle
Julia Williams: I’m thankful for my pets because they make life worth living. That may sound corny, but for me it’s true. I simply couldn’t imagine living without the loving presence of a pet.

These wise and gentle souls have taught me so many important life lessons, and they’ve made me a better person because of it. In addition to being remarkable teachers, my cats are best friends, roommates, healers, trusted companions, stress busters, good listeners and great secret keepers.

My cats are not my children and I am not their “mother,” but they do provide an outlet for that nurturing instinct we all have. It fulfills me to take care of them, and makes me feel good to meet their every need. Regardless of how much money I might have on any given day, my pets make me feel like the richest person on earth. Their love is a priceless treasure never to be taken for granted. I make a point to give thanks each and every day for these beautiful beings, my angels with fur, my beloved cats. They have my heart…and I would not have it any other way.

Langley's pets, Frosty and Jet
Langley Cornwell: I’m thankful for my pets because we love each other so much.

I’m thankful that my precious, shy pup writhes in delight every time I say something to her. She can be across the room, (she’s never far away), minding her own business and I’ll look up from my computer, meet her eyes, and say “hey girl, hey pretty girl.” When I do, she starts her happy squirm. If I keep talking to her, she gets up so she can get more of her body in motion, and wiggle her way over to me. When she gets to where I am, she either forms a crescent with her body and leans against me or bends her head so she can plant her forehead against my legs. When I talk she wants contact. Our contact feels like she’s trying to give me a hug. It’s hard to explain but, in that moment, our love for one another is palpable.

I’m thankful that my cool, macho-acting cat is a complete family man. He’s got a fake swagger that cracks me up, but he’s a lover through and through. When I’m in the house, he’s always in the room with me, usually on or near me. When I’m outside, he’s right where I am. He knows my car and when I drive up, he runs to greet me, like a dog. I love that he loves me as much as I love him, and that he’s quick to demonstrate his love.

Tamara's dogs, Dusty and Cody
Tamara McRill: A little smile is twitching loose on my lips right now, just thinking of all the reasons I have to be thankful for our three dogs, Wuppy, Cody and Dusty. They’re good at that, making me breathless with laughter even when I’m trying to argue and otherwise be ungracious. Their mad-dashing, bone-chucking (often at my head), slobbery affectionate antics make it easy to get distracted from heavy thoughts and fall in with their happy ways.

Their open and individual personalities encircle our home in silliness and love. Something in which I’m grateful to be a part of every day. It keeps things lively.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Do Some Dogs Really Prefer Men or Women?

By Tamara McRill

While visiting a rescued pup we had placed in a new loving home, his female owner commented that he was a “guy’s dog.” This had me wondering if some dogs really do prefer males or females. After all, it was a variation of comments we hear from pet owners all the time, like “my dog hates men,” “she’s a girl dog, so she bonds better with men,” and other similar phrases. But is there any science to back up our observations?

Man’s Best Friend?

There are few studies on the issue, but it turns out dogs in general may prefer men. Neurotic or anxious men, that is. A study conducted at the University of Vienna, “Relational factors affecting dog social attraction to human partners,” showed that dogs approached male owners more often than female ones.

More so if the male owner was neurotic, as determined by a personality test. But personality may play as big – if not bigger – role than gender, as the dogs also stayed close to neurotic female owners.

The study actually brought up more questions than answers, as more independent behavior from the dog could be an indication of a more secure attachment and not gender preference.

Does Nurture Trump All?

A large number of pet lovers on dog forums believe that dogs simply like best whichever person takes care of them. Therefore, they tend to like the gender that typically feeds them and doles out the CANIDAE dog treats. I’m sure that has a lot to do with it, but since I work from home and am the main caregiver and num num dispenser in my household, I can attest that this isn’t always true.

I have spent a hugely disproportionate amount of time with Cody – even when he was our only pet – and still simply don’t exist when Mike is in the room. Oh, he may make a big deal when I make my first appearance of the day, but after that it’s all about Dad.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

What's New for This Year's National Dog Show?

Russell Terrier
By Linda Cole

For most families, the holiday season is about tradition. One tradition many dog lovers look forward to every year is the National Dog Show. I recently sat in on a media conference call with David Frei, Director of Communications for the Westminster Kennel Club, and Mary Carillo, retired tennis pro and dog lover who reports behind the scenes of the benched competition. David and Mary discussed what's new for this year's National Dog Show.

November 22 is the 11th year for the National Dog Show, which draws around 20 million viewers every year. The dog show is only one of six where the public is allowed to mingle with the pets, handlers and groomers for an “up close and personal” look at what goes on to get the dogs ready for competition.

Treeing Walker Coonhound
If you're in the Philadelphia area, you can take in the show first hand November 17 - 18 at the Expo Center in Oaks, PA. You can check out the contestants in the bench area, talk to their owners/handlers, and enjoy demonstrations by canine athletes showing off their mad skills in Freestyle Flying Disc and Diving Dog. Two new breeds, the Russell Terrier and the Treeing Walker Coonhound, will be introduced this year at the show. This brings the number of dog breeds officially recognized by the American Kennel Club up to 175.

A new therapy dog ambassador team will be introduced this year at the National Dog Show. Li'l Abner and Stella are Dogues de Bordeaux, and Vivian is a Staffordshire/Boston Terrier mix. They will be walking in the footprints of two very special therapy dog ambassadors who passed away earlier this year. Eli, a Belgian Sheepdog, was at ground zero after the 9/11 terrorist attack. He also worked with troubled teens and was part of David Frei's Angel on a Leash organization. Eli died on April 11, just weeks before his 13th birthday. He was owned by Sherry Hanley.

Monday, November 19, 2012

“Puppies Behind Bars” Changes the Lives of Many

By Langley Cornwell

Puppies Behind Bars was featured on Oprah Winfrey several years ago and started making headlines. The organization caught my attention because 1) it’s about animals and 2) it highlights what the “love of a dog can do for your life.” All true animal lovers can attest to the truth of that statement, but Puppies Behind Bars is a wonderful illustration of just how true that statement really is.

Today, the organization continues to do wonderful work, bringing the love of a puppy into the lives of inmates who are taught how to train eight-week-old puppies to become service dogs for the disabled, including wounded veterans.

Most of these inmates have never known love or responsibility, with many having been told their entire life that they are worthless, and these precious puppies can teach them both. Not only is the offender’s life changed forever, but the life of someone who needs their assistance is also forever changed for the better.

Inmates who raise these puppies take part in an extraordinary effort that is often challenging but brings great rewards. The pups live in the cells with the inmates, who are designated as their primary raisers. They take their pups to classes to teach them basic obedience skills. The inmates are responsible for all of the puppies’ needs including feeding them nutritious dog food like CANIDAE.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Those Silly Kitties Sure Love Their Boxes!

1st Place Winner

By Julia Williams

Our recent FELIDAE photo contest was a big hit with cat lovers, and lots of fun for us here at the CANIDAE RPO blog, too.

We received nearly 75 entries of awesome cats in boxes! It was so difficult to pick the winners, because they were all just so darn cute.

The almighty box is a great invention for lots of practical reasons, but I particularly appreciate it for its “cat magnet” properties. I have never understood the appeal of the box myself, but then I’m not a cat.

2nd Place Winner
Seriously, if cats could talk in a language I could understand, the first thing I’d ask them is, “What’s up with the box?”

I really loved seeing all those kitties enjoying their boxes in so many different ways – playing, sleeping, hiding (or trying to hide!) and just hanging out in their favorite place.

The photos of cats trying to fit into itty bitty boxes made me laugh, and the photos of feline friends curled up in a “box built for two” tugged at my heart.

My cats don’t really like to share their boxes, and they sometimes fight over them like Tigger and Kovu, the cats in our 1st Place photo taken by Tamara B from Oregon.

3rd Place Winner
I’d like to thank everyone for entering their wonderful photos. If you’d like to see the ten winning photos, click here. You can also see the entire gallery of Cats in Boxes photos here.

Congratulations to the winners! From the first tasty bite down to the last little crumb, I’m certain that all the kitties will enjoy their FELIDAE cat food and TidNips treats.

Read more articles by Julia Williams

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Unique Coat Colors of the Siberian Husky

By Linda Cole

The Siberian Husky is one of seven dog breeds, identified through DNA testing, as one of the most ancient breeds with bloodlines closest to the gray wolf. Unlike most dog breeds, the Husky coat comes in a wide variety of colors, and some coats have multiple colors mixed in it. One coat is very much wolf-like.

Jet black - Individual solid black hairs make up the outercoat, which is monochrome, meaning, the coat is made up of different shades of a single color. The undercoat is either black or dark grey and the tail, ears and hindquarters are deep black. The paw pads are usually very dark.

Black - The outercoat is made up of individual black hairs, white at the root. There may be solid white hairs mixed in with the black. The tail, ears and hindquarters have yellow and brownish hairs mixed in. The undercoat can be white, beige, charcoal or a mixture of the three.

Silver black - Mostly white hairs with black tips make up the outercoat. The head and along the spine is black with silver on the ears, tail and hindquarters. They have a white undercoat.

Wolf grey - A yellow/brown color makes up the outercoat starting at the root and ending in a black tip. Beige, yellow, red or tan colors are found behind the ears, the hindquarters and along the saddle area on the back. The undercoat is beige.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Animal Obesity Clinics: Reasonable or Ridiculous?

By Langley Cornwell

Some time ago I had an active and rambunctious black Labrador retriever. Even though she was very food oriented, I was able to keep her at a healthy weight because of all the exercise she did. Then she had a small surgery and gained weight during recovery. It was my fault. Even though her energy expenditure was less than half of what it used to be, I continued to feed her the same amount of dog food. Not smart. So I reduced the quantity of her food and she got back down to a healthy weight range. Although that simple formula worked for us, I still see lots of overweight pets. Even so, I was surprised to read about animal obesity clinics.  

It's not only humans that are fighting obesity. More and more dogs and cats seem to be battling the bulge and, just like humans, the complications of obesity in pets can be serious. But does that mean you need to take your pet to an obesity clinic? Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University seems to think so. With their opening of the first animal obesity clinic in the country, the school hopes to help pet owners tackle obesity issues that may be plaguing their pets. Let's take a closer look at the situation to help us determine whether or not an animal obesity clinic is really necessary.

The American Pet Obesity Problem

We've all seen the occasional cat or dog that’s so large he has to drag his oversized belly around, but other dogs and cats that don’t seem so big may also be classified as overweight. Recent studies actually show that over half of the dogs and cats in America are obese. Your pet may not look overweight to you, but even a small amount of extra weight can be dangerous for a pet.

Why Obesity in Pets is Dangerous

There are a number of risks that are associated with overweight pets. Just like humans, the risks of your pet being overweight are numerous. One of the most risky conditions associated with pet obesity is diabetes. However, there are also a number of other risks, which include heart problems, joint issues, a higher risk of death during surgery, decreased liver function, and even heat intolerance. In other words, obesity can shorten the lifespan of your dog or cat.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Should You Leave Your Dog In the Dark?

By Tamara McRill

Know that feeling when pulling into the driveway at night, flush with shopping success, only to be slammed with guilt because you didn’t leave any lights on for your dog? Yeah, me too. After I run inside to pet the dogs, I always wonder: Are dogs okay with being left in the dark?

Not just that, but is it also safe for dogs to be in the dark? Can they see?

Generally Better Night Vision

Obviously, that can depend on your dog, but it turns out it may also depend on just how dark it is in the house. Dogs do have better night vision than people in very low light situations. This is because they have a special structure in the back of their eyes that reflects more light to the retina.

So your furry housemate is going to make out more looking out the window at night than you will, but that is due to their eyes being able to better utilize the small quantities of light available. Say, from other lit up windows, streetlights or the moon.

Pitch Dark Navigation

When it comes to pitch black darkness, though, dogs can see about as well as we can. Which is pretty much nothing. Wait, but your dog can navigate the living room with absolutely no light? I believe you, but chances are it is because of his ability to quickly memorize the layout of the room.

For example: We had a town-wide blackout for five nighttime hours this summer. The dogs walked around just fine, until I moved some pop boxes in the kitchen. Dusty tripped over them on his way through, because he couldn’t see them and they weren’t there the last time he was in the kitchen.

So your dog can probably navigate your home in the dark, just from memory. It’s even easier for them if a streetlight or other light source is shining in the window. Same goes for them being outside at night.

Monday, November 12, 2012

What Causes Leash Aggression in Dogs

By Linda Cole

We've all seen the dog that's pulling on his leash, lunging and barking at other dogs as they walk by. His owner appears to be just as frustrated as the dog. Leash aggression is a common behavior problem created by us when we don't understand why our normally friendly dog is acting in an aggressive way.

The cause of leash aggression

Leash aggression is a behavior problem that should not be overlooked. When a dog exhibits any kind of aggression, it's not something they'll grow out of, and ignoring the problem only makes it worse. The dog's aggression is created when he becomes excited, frustrated or fearful, and all three are reasons for his behavior. Lack of socialization or proper training can also contribute to leash aggression.

Excitement and frustration

Some dogs become so excited when they see another dog, they try to pull their owner towards the other dog. Off leash, he's one of the friendliest dogs around, but put him on a leash and he lunges and frantically barks at other dogs or people. What he wants to do is have a “meet and greet” with the other dog, but his leash is making him frustrated. Leash corrections to try and rein the dog in and control him will only add to his frustration. Because he can't get to the other dog, he becomes aggressive when he hits the end of the leash that's restraining him from doing what he wants to do.


A dog that is fearful may show signs of leash aggression if they are forced to be closer to other dogs or people when they would otherwise avoid them if they were off leash. Not all dogs enjoy meeting other canines or people they don't know. Fear can cause a dog to lunge at another dog in an attempt to keep him at bay, and his snarling bark shouldn't be ignored. In his mind, the fearful dog is trapped by his leash, which causes his aggression.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Life-Saving Service Dog Wins Free CANIDAE!

By Julia Williams

Where else can you win a stockpile of premium-quality pet food just by subscribing to a blog? I don’t know, but I love that the sponsor of this blog, CANIDAE Natural Pet Foods, awards one new reader every quarter with their choice of a six-month supply of CANIDAE dog food or FELIDAE cat food. I can only imagine how exciting it would be to get THAT email!  I’d probably fall off my chair…wouldn’t you?

I always enjoy getting to know the winners and finding out their unique story. Our latest lucky winner was Deborah Van Gelder, who lives in California with her canine friend Denver, a purebred Australian Shepherd. Denver is both a Service Dog and a Therapy Dog, and he and Deborah go to visit the veterans every Friday at the VA Hospital in Loma Linda, California. “Denver and I LOVE going to the VA hospital,” said Deborah. “He will pull me down a certain hallway so that he can visit his favorite patients.”

Deborah and Denver also participate in a fun reading program at local libraries called “Sit, Stay and Read,” which is very popular with both children AND adults. During the summer, they volunteer at a special Kids Kamp helping children who have been abused or neglected. Deborah is a K9 Specialist who trains Service Dogs and Therapy Dogs, and has been doing this for several years.

Since Deborah and Denver do so much for others, I was particularly pleased they won this fantastic prize. I was also happy to find out that Denver has been a “CANIDAE dog” for about three years, and that Deborah credits the food with helping to save Denver’s life!

As Deborah told me, “A while back, Denver suffered from intestinal shutdown (I almost lost him) and had to be placed on bedrest. During that time, I gave him the CANIDAE grain free pureSKY formula. That's what kept him from being sicker, and it stabilized his system. Since then he’s been doing great!”

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Margay, a Rare Wild Cat Breed

By Langley Cornwell

Often mistaken for the Ocelot, the Margay is a smaller breed of wild cat that shares the same territory. In fact, the Margay is also known as a tree Ocelot. There are many differences between the two breeds, however. Sadly, these differences have led the Margay breed to become endangered, which is why it's so important to learn about this fascinating cat. Below, you'll find information about the Margay's habitat, some unique facts about this rare breed, and the reason that this special wild cat is endangered.


The Margay has a beautiful black-spotted golden brown coat along with a white chest. Their spots usually feature a lighter colored center and appear to have a darker ring around the edge. The Margays are one of the smallest wild cats; fully grown, they measure 17-25 inches and weigh between four and nine pounds. In the wild, Margays can live up to 10 years, but do much better in captivity with lifespans reaching 20 years. Their diet in the wild consists of reptiles, birds and small mammals. Sexually mature at the age of one year, gestation for the Margay lasts around 3 months and results in a small litter of one or two offspring.


While the Margay shares the same habitat as the Ocelot, the breed stays in the forest and prefers to lounge in the trees. During the day, Margays rest in caves or other dark areas. At night they spend their time jumping from branch to branch and tree to tree, hunting for their evening meal. Margays are independent cats; they prefer to live alone and usually stake out their territory by marking their scent. This may be done with urine, feces or scent glands. The Margay breed has scent glands located between their toes, and males have more scent glands than females. While territories may overlap, the Margay maintains a solitary lifestyle.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Why Pet Owners Need a Great Sense of Humor

By Linda Cole

Facebook has some really great cat and dog pictures. The other day I saw one with a sad looking dog sitting on a sofa. Scattered around him was the remains of a couch pillow. According to the words on the picture, “it wasn't his fault” – the darn pillow just exploded on its own! That picture reminded me of the time I came home and discovered the tattered remains of a couple of couch pillows that had mysteriously “exploded,” scattering feathers all over the living room, scaring my dogs half to death. Anyway, I'm sure that was their story. I learned a long time ago that pet owners need to have a really good sense of humor!

What's in the sacks, Mom?

It doesn't matter if you're carrying in CANIDAE pet food or sacks of groceries. Pet owners have the doggie/kitty two step down, and the one legged kick back on the door to close it before a pet can make it through the open door. We've also perfected the pet waltz. The one, two, three dance around the pets on your way to the kitchen, skillfully missing paws while keeping inquisitive noses out of the bags of food.

Muddy paws

OK, I know it's not my dogs' fault when it rains, and they still need to go outside to do their business. Now, my dogs hate going out in the rain and they tippy toe outside as if their feet will melt the minute they touch wet grass. However, that all changes if there's something to bark at. My question is, why do they always end up in the one muddy patch in the yard? And what is it about rain and muddy paws that makes a normally quiet dog go berserk and race around on a clean floor after coming back inside?

Hairy guests

Enter the home of a pet owner at your own risk and never wear dark clothes. I'm convinced that a guest in your home will find the hairiest chair or section on the couch. It's almost as if the pet hair fairy swooped in just as the person was sitting down and dumped a sack full of hair under them.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

How Dogs Make Babysitting Easier – and More Fun!

By Tamara McRill

Living with dogs doesn’t just make me a better babysitter – it also makes the job easier and way more enjoyable. At least that is my experience from watching a passel of nephews and other young ones. Of course there are safety issues to consider, but on the whole it is a win-win-win, for me, my pets and the children.

Here a several ways my dogs and I share the work that comes with babysitting:

Turning Off the Cartoons

This is a big one for me, since I don’t like to watch most things twice and kids seem to love watching endless repeats of their favorite shows. I also worry about too much time spent in front of the television. Turning off the TV requires coming up with activities, something that isn’t easy if you are unexpectedly pressed into service.

With a dog, however, there is always something to do. That is a big help when parents are in too big of a hurry to bring anything for their child to play with. So the dog toys become “kid toys” too, and everyone gets some quality playtime.

Safety tip: Don’t let a child and your dog play in an open yard if your pet has protective tendencies. Any stranger that walks up could be seen as a threat to the child, and your dog could get aggressive.

Playing Companions

I was in a situation a few years ago where my nephew Isaiah would be at my house through the day, but the neighborhood children were in school. While we enjoy playing together, he would get sad that there wasn’t anyone young to run around the yard with him. Enter Wuppy. My chocolate lab was just a pup then, full of boundless energy and surprising antics that delighted Isaiah.

And frankly, that delighted me too, as I wore out a lot quicker than my nephew did and way before my Wuppy did. I could supervise the two of them running through the backyard and not be too exhausted to work when done babysitting.

Safety tip: Make sure your pet is trained not to jump on people, especially children, as they could accidentally knock them over or claw their playmate. Also, don’t let children play tugging games with objects close to your dog’s mouth or with sticks. This is to prevent a dog bite or getting your pet’s gums injured.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Do Great Danes Make Good Service Dogs?

By Linda Cole

When you think of service dogs, it's the German Shepherd or Golden Retriever that comes to mind, not a huge dog like a Great Dane. However, this breed is finding a place as a service dog precisely because of their size. The Service Dog Project has been training these massive dogs to assist children and help war veterans have a better quality of life, and you can follow the development of six puppies on two different puppy cams.

The Great Dane is second only to the Irish Wolfhound when it comes to height. This working dog is from the mastiff group, and known as the “Apollo of all dogs” because evidence of the breed dates back to 36 B.C. The Great Dane is most likely a combination of the Irish Wolfhound and the old English mastiff, and was used in the early years as a war dog and hunting dog. Regardless of his name, the Great Dane is of German origin. This dog has the stamina that was needed to chase down wild boar and bear, and the strength and courage to stand up to his prey. He has also been used as an estate guard dog.

A service dog is trained to assist their owner with a specific disability. Mobility assistance dogs helps people who suffer from diseases like Rheumatoid Arthritis, Parkinson's Disease, Muscular Dystrophy, Cerebral Palsy, spinal cord disease, stroke and brain injuries, as well as other diseases or conditions that limit a person's mobility.

The Great Dane is a perfect breed to train as a service dog because of their giant size and gentle personality. Any dog that's used to help give balance support for their owner needs to be at least 45 percent of the person's height and 65 percent of their weight. It takes a strong, tall dog to give confidence to someone who needs support to walk and help to regain their balance if they start to fall.

Friday, November 2, 2012

How to Deal with Cat Carrier Drama and Trauma

By Julia Williams

Many cat owners cite their kitty’s fear and loathing of the cat carrier as the main reason they don’t visit their vet more often. I can totally relate to that. I know annual checkups are important for pets, but I dread the day. Now, I have heard of cats going into their carrier without a struggle, and some that regard it as just another cozy napping spot. I’ve even heard of cats who enjoy car rides and don’t wail like they’re being mercilessly tortured. However, I’ve been a Cat Lady for a long time, and I’ve never had anything close to a carrier/car-ride-loving feline. Hence I liken them to unicorns, dragons and other mythical creatures born from imaginative minds.

That doesn’t mean, though, that we can’t take some steps to lessen the drama that ensues when the “evil PTU” (Pet Transport Unit) comes out. In addition to taking kitty to the vet, cat carriers are vital for moving, traveling and evacuating in an emergency, so it behooves us to make using them as stress free as possible. Your cat may not ever come to love the carrier, but there are things you can do to help them accept it. The goal is to ensure they don’t have a full-blown panic attack at the sight of the carrier, or go into meltdown mode in the car.

The first thing you should do is consider the context of the carrier. If it only comes out right before your cat goes to a place where they have a not-so-fun experience (to put it mildly), it’s easy to see why your cat would fear the PTU and run for their favorite hiding spot at the mere sight of it.

The solution is to make the carrier part of your cat’s surroundings, by leaving it out somewhere in your home. It doesn’t have to be conspicuous, like in the middle of the living room – just where your cat will see it often and become used to its presence. Additionally, the cat carrier will then smell like your home instead of a musty basement or dusty garage. The carrier may even eventually smell like your cat if they become comfortable enough to rub against it. You might also want to use a synthetic feline pheromone spray in or near the carrier. You won’t smell anything but your cat will, and the pheromones are said to have a calming effect.

Since the aim is to get your cat to view the carrier as nonthreatening, you should begin to create positive associations with it. First, place an old towel or t-shirt where your cat normally sleeps. Let them sleep on it for a few days so it smells like them, then place it in the carrier. Next, begin to play with your cat near the carrier. Use “fishing pole” type cat toys to encourage your cat to jump over the carrier or on top of it. You can also throw catnip toys near the opening and eventually, inside the carrier.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

A Dog's Point of View on What We Say

"Don't I look cool?"
By Keikei Cole, Canine Guest Blogger

What you say and what we dogs hear are sometimes two different things. But don't blame us, because there's nothing wrong with our hearing. Humans just need to learn to ask the right question. For one thing, the question isn't “Did you do that?” but rather, “Wow, you left that there just for me?” or “My poor baby. Did that pillow scare you when it exploded and threw those feathers all over the room?” As you can guess, dogs don't always see things the way you do. When it comes to things you humans say, we have a different point of view.

“Oh, come on. It's not raining that hard.”

Yeah, right. That's easy for you to say. You're standing inside. It's not raining that hard. So why does it feel like I'm getting a bath? Not raining that hard. It's coming down in buckets. It takes time to hunt around for just the right spot. I'm going to melt, I just know it. When I get back inside, I'm shaking right beside you!

“You can stare all you want, I'm not giving you any of my food.”

So that's the thanks I get. I'm a highly trained and finely tuned guard dog that keeps all those pesky squirrels at bay. I sound the alarm when someone is walking too close to your home. And yes, I do consider the street to be too close. Get over it! Would it hurt you to give me a bite of whatever you're having? I'm starving, for crying out loud.

“Are you in the cat pan again?”

Stop yelling. You're scaring the cats.

“OK, who chewed up the TV remote?”

Oh great. Why are you giving me the “I know it was you” look? I'm innocent. Honest. Just because it was underneath me doesn't mean I did it. Besides, my question to you is, “Who left the TV remote lying around where it shouldn't have been?” I rest my case.

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