Thursday, February 28, 2013

What Would Dogs Do If They Had Thumbs?


By Keikei Cole, Canine Guest Blogger

The other day the “Boss” was laughing about a holiday on March 3rd, If Pet's Had Thumbs Day. Visions of high fives and thumbs up suddenly came to mind. After thinking about it for a minute, I knew this was something I could sink my teeth into, so I decided to bark out my own list of what I'd do if dogs had thumbs.

You Tube videos. Yep, I'd film and post funny hooman videos. It's fun to watch those hoomans – such interesting creatures. I can see it now, Keikei, the internet sensation of the Doggiesphere, made possible with opposable thumbs. The boss is always cackling over videos of my canine cousins chasing their tail or doing a slow motion shake. I'd film hoomans in super slow motion trying to keep up with us at the dog park. Especially their face when we're doing something they think we shouldn't be doing. Hoomans can move pretty fast sometimes. BOL.

The remote control would be mine. I like to watch Animal Planet as much as any doggie, but it would be nice to surf for something else and change the channel without having to use my nose or teeth. I would go with an exciting canine action flick or maybe a canine thriller. And I'd have my own bowl full of CANIDAE TidNips™ and Snap-Bits™ to munch on. I might even sprinkle in some FELIDAE TidNips™ to kick it up a notch.

Texting looks sort of cool. I like the noise it makes. I'd text my doggie pals in the neighborhood to coordinate a specific time when we all howl. Oh wait, this is even better – we could stare at a wall and pretend like we see something the hoomans can't see. That always gets them.

You know how some hoomans love to sit around playing cards for hours? I'd get my own card game going! We would play the doggie version of Go Fish. I'm sure you've heard of it. It's called Go Cat. If we get the wild card, we have to chase a kitty up a tree.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

How to Massage an Arthritic Dog


By Langley Cornwell

My friend Karen recently adopted a senior dog with general arthritis and hip dysplasia. Good for her, right? It started with a conversation we were having about the high number of senior dogs in shelters, and how sad it was for an older dog to live out his or her days behind bars. In our local shelter, senior dogs make up about 10% of the overall population at any given time. When trying to understand why, a shelter worker told us that oftentimes families surrender their senior dogs when they reach an age where they require extra care. What a shame.

Karen’s goal is to provide her new dog, Goldie Girl, with a safe and comfortable home during her twilight years. Their union is heartwarming; it’s amazing how quickly Goldie Girl and Karen have bonded. And the dog seems to have turned back the clock several years. She holds her head a bit higher and her limp is less pronounced. Karen attributes the quick bonding and Goldie Girl’s improved physical state to massage.

The article I wrote titled The Benefits of Massage Therapy for Pets helped convince Karen that her new dog would get a lot out of regular massages, but she didn’t want to cause Goldie Girl any additional pain. Having no experience with massage, Karen went looking for advice on how to massage an older, arthritic dog. She found what she was looking for on The Dog Channel, where there is a helpful tutorial on massaging a senior dog. Here are some simple pointers.

Why massage an arthritic dog?

Arthritis is a degenerative disease that causes pain and soreness in a dog’s joints, specifically the hips, lower spine and knees, and, less severely, to the elbows and shoulders. Massaging your senior dog’s aching muscles a few minutes every day will help slow down the degenerative process of arthritis. Furthermore, massage can help relieve some of your dog’s arthritis pain and reduce some of the muscle tension associated with the disease.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Why Do Pets Sleep Curled Up in a Ball?

By Linda Cole

It's not uncommon to find a sleeping dog or cat curled up into a ball on a chilly winter day, even though it's cozy inside. With their nose tucked into their tail, and feet covered with their body, this position gives them warmth to help ward off a winter chill. Sleeping curled up in a ball is not exactly a comfortable position for pets to be in for long periods of time. However, there are a couple of reasons why a curled up position is favored at times, and it has to do with evolution.

Both reasons go back to our pets’ wild roots. We give our dogs and cats soft beds for comfort and warmth. In the wild, there are no cushions, and a cold night requires a bed that's been scratched, trampled, and dug out in dirt or tall grasses. Scientist are still trying to figure out why dogs do some of the things they do, like walking in circles before lying down, but they believe the behavior is a hard wired survival tactic against the weather, predators, and hidden insects or snakes.

Dogs and cats are no different from us when it comes to wanting to be cozy in their surroundings. Curling up into a ball on a cold night is the best way to conserve body heat, and provide enough warmth to ward off the sting of a cold bed. This is also the best position to protect themselves from predators that may decide to attack. The curled up ball protects vital organs and their stomach area.

Sleeping curled up isn't an ideal way to get a restful sleep. In order to stay in one position, the muscles remain tensed up which doesn't allow pets to relax enough to move them into the rapid eye movement (REM) part of sleep, something we all need for a proper night's rest. Our pet's sleeping position tells us a couple of things. If a dog or cat sleeps on his back in a more relaxed posture, he's warm or even too hot or he feels so comfortable in his surroundings that he doesn't feel a need to protect himself by curling up.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Teaching Your Dog to Hand Target


By Lisa Mason

First time and seasoned dog owners can benefit from training their canine companions to obey various commands or perform certain tasks and tricks. Hand targeting is just one of many training tools used. In fact, this version of “come” is easy to teach, easy to learn, and can be taught by dog owners of any age or experience level.

About Hand Targeting and Its Benefits

Hand targeting is a command that teaches the dog to touch his nose against the palm of the hand. As with the more basic and simple verbal “come” command, hand targeting is considered basic obedience. It should be mastered thoroughly before the dog and trainer move on to more complex tricks such as “sit pretty” or “jump.”

Benefits of this training command vary based on the desire of the trainer. It can help teach a dog to respond to visual cues, which can be beneficial when calling the dog from far distances or even for more complex future training such as agility training. It can help teach a shy dog to be more trusting of new people, and it can be beneficial to dogs who are hearing impaired.

How to Teach a Dog to Hand Target

To start, a container of their favorite CANIDAE treat should be on hand at all times. In the beginning, it is beneficial to rub the treat against the palm of the hand to help encourage contact with the dog’s nose. This is considered the easiest and most efficient way to teach hand targeting, as the aroma draws the dog’s nose in.

Friday, February 22, 2013

A Pet Portrait? Priceless!!

My painting!
By Julia Williams

“Like a kid on Christmas morning” doesn’t even begin to describe how I felt waiting for the Fedex guy to show up with a package the other day. I got up extra early, because I knew I’d have to sign for the package and I didn’t want to be in the shower when he arrived. Overkill, yes – but I wasn’t taking any chances on missing this delivery! As it happened, he didn’t arrive until nearly 4 p.m., and by then I was ready to crawl out of my skin. Have I mentioned that patience is not one of my virtues? LOL.

I carefully opened the big box so as not to damage the precious cargo within. One look…and I was smitten. My smile was so wide I could have eaten a banana sideways. Maybe even two bananas! So what was in there that had me so ecstatic?

It was a painting of my sweet girl kitty, Annabelle, and it was even more beautiful than I knew it would be! This was something I’d wanted to do for some time. My relationship with Annabelle is just so extraordinary that I wanted something to treasure forever. She’s almost ten years old, and though I hope to have at least ten more years with this special one-in-a-million kitty, we just never know how long we’ll have with those we hold dear.

The photo Sue used
I’ve never loved a cat so deeply and completely as Annabelle, and I’ve never felt so loved in return. I wanted a way to honor the beauty of our unique relationship while she’s here, as well as a way to keep her memory alive once she’s gone. To be sure, she will live in my heart for all time, but I think this painting will be a wonderful way to keep the connection strong.

I chose artist Sue Hains after seeing a photo on Facebook of another pet portrait she’d done. It was of Gwen Cooper’s Homer the Blind Wonder Cat, and it perfectly captured his personality. I looked at the other portraits of cats, dogs, horses and birds on Sue's website, and I just knew she would do a great job. We exchanged several emails and then I had the difficult task of deciding which photo to send Sue. In the end, I chose one that I loved for the sweet, soft expression on Belle’s face.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Can Animals Be Mentally Ill?


By Langley Cornwell

We enrolled our new dog in a group training class and the experience has been eye-opening. The class is filled with all kinds of dogs and all kinds of people. Some dogs catch on to the commands immediately, while others take a long time to learn what’s expected of them. One gal is having a hard time with her dog. She told the trainer that her dog acts crazy at home too, and she’s sure her dog is mentally ill. The comment stimulated a class discussion about whether animals can actually be mentally ill.

According to the University of Melbourne’s research department, the answer is yes. Dr. Gabrielle Carter, a faculty member of the University’s Veterinary Science department, specializes in animal behavior. Not only is Dr. Carter an expert in her field but, because this is a relatively new area of study, she is an advocate and is working hard to increase awareness of mental illness in pets.

Dr. Carter explains that even though there are tremendous dissimilarities in different mammals, their biological systems, brains and nervous systems share similarities. She reasons that if humans are known to have mental illness based in altered brain function, then it is sensible to expect the same holds true for other animals.

Mental illness in different animals manifests in different ways. For example, dogs may suffer from noise phobias, separation anxiety and aggression. Cats may compulsively over-groom themselves and spray inappropriately.

Through behavioral therapies and in this case, medication, Dr. Carter recently helped a dog that had inexplicably developed a fear of her own backyard. The dog wouldn’t go into the yard she had once loved. If she was forced into the yard, she would desperately try to escape. The dog’s mental issues got worse; she became acutely fearful of anything unfamiliar, developed generalized anxiety issues and extreme noise phobias. It got to the point where the dog spent most of her time cowering in her owner’s bedroom.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Dog Breed Profile: Dogue de Bordeaux


By Lisa Mason

The Dogue de Bordeaux, also called the Bordeaux Bulldog and French Mastiff, is a very amazing dog. It’s not known exactly how this breed first originated, but some speculate they were linked to breeds like the Bulldog, Tibetan Mastiff and Bullmastiff. What is known for sure is that the Dogue de Bordeaux is a smart breed that has protected his “master” for many years. This Dogue de Bordeaux profile will help you understand the breed better so you can determine if he’s suited for your family. Responsible pet ownership means learning all you can about your pet so that you can provide the best care possible.

Stature

The Bordeaux Bulldog is a muscular dog with a gigantic, wrinkled head and a short, stocky body. These features make this French breed a very powerful and intimating dog. They have a medium to short but wide muzzle that averages about a third the length of their head. The nose is big and the upper lip hangs down in thick wrinkles over their lower jaws.

The dog has a loose fold of skin that hangs from his neck, and light or dark brown eyes that are set far apart. He has small ears compared to the rest of his body. The base of his tail is broad but tapers off at the end. He has muscular legs, a broad chest and loose skin.

The adult Dogue de Bordeaux usually weighs between 120 to 150 pounds and stands up to 30 inches high. Their coat varies from light to dark shades of brown and sometimes they’ll have a reddish color mixed in. Around the eyes, nose and lips are usually a darker shade of brown or red, and some dogs will have white marks on the toes and chest area.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Good TV Shows for Dogs


By Bear, Canine Guest Blogger

Howdy! Well, it’s been a while since I’ve been allowed to write a post here, you know my mommy always wants to say things her way. Besides I’ve been a little busy lately… I’ve become a couch potato!

When Mom has to leave the house she always leaves the TV on for me so I don’t, as she says, destroy things. I really don’t, but when I hear things outside and want to see, I sometimes have to climb up on her desk or on the table near the window. Okay, sometimes I might put my paws on the windowsill and maybe the curtains get pulled down if there’s a cat or another dog in my yard. Hey, I’m just letting them know they are trespassing!

Oh yeah, back to the story… so, she leaves the TV on and turns it up to drown out other sounds, then she leaves. I don’t know why this woman thinks an intelligent dog like me is going to be interested in children’s cartoons; it’s obvious she hasn’t a clue about a doggie brain. I have figured out how to find the shows I want to watch, and let me tell you there is much better programming on for pets than cartoons!

Did you know there are entire channels dedicated to food shows? That’s right; I can curl up on the sofa and watch people cook all sorts of yummy foods. My favorite is Diners, Drive-in’s and Dives with that spiky haired Guy Fieri – boy, he finds all the best food!

When I’ve drooled a nice puddle and am tired of wishing I could eat what’s on the television, I move to the other end of the sofa and choose another show. There are lots of shows on Animal Planet that are great fun for a dog to watch.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Can You Give Your Pet the Flu?


By Linda Cole

No one looks forward to the flu. The chills, aches and pains can send even the hardiest person to bed for a few days. We try to do what we can to avoid the flu, but when symptoms appear, we know people around us are at risk of catching what we have. It was thought at one time that pets in the home couldn't be infected, but new research is raising a red flag that says it is possible to pass the flu bug to our pets.

So how do you know if you're dealing with a cold or the flu? After all, they have common symptoms. Colds enter the body via the nose and primarily affect us above the neck with runny nose, sneezing, congestion and sore throat. Some people might have an achy feeling, with a low grade temperature. You know you're coming down with a cold because symptoms develop over a period of a couple of days. The flu hits you like a brick. One minute you're fine and the next you're wrestling with muscle aches, chills, fever, fatigue and tightness in your chest, all of which are likely to send you to bed. Other symptoms can include a running nose or cough, but not as severe as with a cold.

The common belief for years was that our pets couldn't catch the flu from their owner, but new research has challenged this with studies that show it is possible. When an infectious disease moves from animals to humans, it's called zoonosis. Reverse zoonosis happens when humans infect animals. In 2009, the H1N1 flu virus, also known as the swine flu, had the first ever recorded case of a human transmitting the flu to her two cats. The woman recovered, but her cats died. Since then, 11 cats, one dog and a handful of ferrets have been infected with the flu after having contact with a sick human.

Friday, February 15, 2013

4 Year Blogiversary Bash and a Giveaway!


By Julia Williams

Bow wow WOW! It’s been four years since CANIDAE began the Responsible Pet Ownership blog, and what a ride it’s been. Let’s pop a cork and have a PAWTY!

I’ve been Editor of the RPO blog for nearly all of that time, and I’ve watched it grow and evolve to become something better than I ever imagined. Blogging has been around for awhile now, but in many ways is still in its infancy, and there’s so much yet to discover.

I can’t wait to see what the next four years has in store for this blog, as well as for all of the other pet blogs and bloggers I’ve come to know and love. Social media is a unique sign of the times; unless you have a fairly new dictionary, you won’t find the terms “blog” and “blogging” in there. And yet, blogs have become a part of daily life for many of us. Whether we read blogs, write blogs or do some of both, it’s hard to imagine them not being there.

CANIDAE began this blog with a few simple but heartfelt goals – to connect with customers, make new friends, share interesting and fun stories, and impart knowledge to help people be the best “pet parents” they can be.

Four years and nearly 2,000 posts later, I’m happy to say these goals have all been met, and so much more. Responsible pet ownership is at the heart of everything this blog stands for and strives to accomplish. It’s the cornerstone of the CANIDAE brand as well as the philosophy of all who work for the company.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Famous Cat Actors


By Langley Cornwell

There are plenty of famous animated cats in cartoons, on television and in the movies. We’re probably all familiar with the likes of Sylvester, Felix, Tigger, Oscar, Tom and Garfield, but what about live cat actors? It seems like the live dog actors get all the press. Even here, I recently wrote about Eddie, the dog from Frasier, and Toto but I’ve never given any space to live cat actors.

Granted, anybody that has ever shared their life with a cat knows it’s not easy to teach a cat to perform a task on command. For that reason, there are not as many famous cat actors to write about. Still, our feline thespians should get the recognition they deserve, so here is a little background on some famous cat actors.

Vito Vincent

A congenial orange tabby named Vito Vincent has achieved a level of fame and a reputation for being incredibly calm, even amidst the hustle and bustle of film and television sets. So far, Vito has gained recognition by being on high profile TV shows that film in New York, like 30 Rock and The Colbert Report. His owner and manager believes that Vito will get even bigger and better gigs in Hollywood, so they recently moved from the Big Apple to the West Coast so Vito could let his star shine bright.

Milo

In The Adventures of Milo & Otis, the cat actor and the dog actor got equal screen time. Oh well, at least the cat got top billing. In fact, The Adventures of Milo & Otis is a remake of a Japanese movie called Koneko Monogatari, which means A Kitten's Story. Milo is an orange tabby kitten and her canine companion is a pug named Otis. Dudley Moore provides the voices of both characters and all of the actors are animals; no humans show up in this film. The movie reportedly took four years to complete due to the complexities of working strictly with animal actors – I wonder how many truckloads of training treats like CANIDAE TidNips and Snap-Bits were used to get the animals to do what they were supposed to?

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

How the Karelian Bear Dog is Saving Wildlife

Mishka meets an abandoned bear cub
By Linda Cole

Humans have raised, bred and trained dogs to perform specific jobs for centuries. Canines have been used to guard flocks, homes and families, and to perform tricks to amuse us. There are even wildlife detection dogs. When we use the talents of dogs, it not only makes a job we have to do easier, it can also be the most effective way of taking care of a problem. A biologist working for the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife decided to combat a bear problem by utilizing one of the most efficient solutions to wandering bears – the Karelian Bear Dog. With the help of this brave dog breed, wildlife is being saved, and people are better protected.

The Karelian Bear Dog (KBD) is a rare and ancient breed native to Finland. They were bred to hunt elk, lynx, cougar, deer, moose, boar and bear. This fearless dog is ready to fiercely fight to the death to protect his owner, if necessary. This isn't a breed that likes to share his human with other dogs, and is dog aggressive. Nor is this a breed for someone who doesn't know how to properly train and control a powerful dog.
Mishka is ready to go to work!

The Karelian Bear Dog is a natural hunter with a high prey drive, picking up both air and ground scents. A medium sized dog, standing 19 to 23 inches and weighing 40 to 65 pounds, the KBD is independent, extremely loyal, tough and an intelligent guard dog. The Karelian Bear Dog has no problem standing up to large prey, and he will not back down.

Anytime wildlife officials can find nonlethal methods to deal with problem predators getting too close to where humans live, it's a good thing for the environment, the animals and people. The KBD is capable of dealing with a Grizzly bear, but Washington State primary uses the dogs to control black bear. A pilot program in 2007 was set up with one dog, Mishka, and his handler, WDFW Officer Bruce Richards. It didn't take long for both of them to prove their worth by effectively dealing with complaints about problem bears.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Dog Inspired Valentine's Day Crafts


By Tamara McRill

I'm a dog person who likes to make special things for every holiday. So of course I had to make some Valentine's Day crafts inspired by my canine loves! The three doggie Valentine’s Day crafts featured here offer a little something for everyone and are fairly easy to make. They even make excellent gifts for the dog lovers in your life.

Sweetheart Dog Book Page Art

Have you ever seen those framed book pages with an ink drawing or sketch of a dog on them and wished you could have one of your pet? I have and finally figured out just how simple it was to make. Especially after using some of the same techniques used in making a dog portrait pumpkin.

Supplies: Ruler, scissors, tape, pencil, black ink pen or fine point marker, red marker, book or newspaper page, frame, computer and photo of your dog.

1.  Measure the opening of your photo frame.

2.  Cut your book or newspaper page 1/2 inch wider than that measurement. (Bonus points if you can find a page about dogs.)

3.  Bring up your dog’s photograph on your computer screen. Blow it up just big enough to fit in the center of your book page.

4.  Tape your book page to your monitor and lightly trace the photograph. You don’t have to get too detailed, just get the general impression, but don’t forget to give the idea of your pet’s general markings.

5.  Untape your book page and go over what you have traced with a black pen or marker.

6.  Color the dog’s tongue and collar with red marker.

7.  Draw a red heart in the upper right or wherever you like best.

8.  Frame your book page art.

Of course, feel free to take any artistic license! Dusty was quite fascinated with his portrait.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Ara and Spirit: Our Home [s]


By Ara Gureghian

The floor was hard this morning as Spirit romped around, his usual self being the Daily Clown. That is what Pits do. It's vibrations through my own steps I felt, and no, it was not "parquet," it was frozen dirt from this ongoing winter. Crunch... crunch. Frozen mud. Unfamiliar spaces for me, it takes me at least 24 hours to get the lay of the land, this mental "I am here" feeling while the tent is pitched near a fire ring. It takes Spirit seemingly only a few minutes to be "at Home." He lives in the moment, definitely more accomplished than myself.

We have been on the road full time camping for a bit over 6 years now. Time has flown by, and every day is more exciting than the previous one. Our Home has become more mental than anything else. Of course Spirit has his familiar spaces where he feels more comfy than others, such as in his sidecar and his spot in the tent. That is it.

Hard to explain. Home is our togetherness. 365/24/7. Not a moment less. It is the two of us making one. Words too well understood, eye glances saying it all, imperceptible gestures leading the ways to our own dance through this Life of ours together.

There is no beginning and no end in his mind, and what a wonderful way to live as I have taken many lessons from him. Some laugh at that notion. We are after all humans, they are animals. How can that be? It is. Spirit is as I call him also my Pawsome Human and I don't "own him." We cohabitate. There is never a complaint toward the lack of walls, a fence maybe, a gate, a room dark at night where the stars would not glow. We are in the Wild at most moments but far from being wild. I have never trained him as my previous two Buddies in my Lifetime while I am approaching myself 65. It is more of a "mutual understanding" so much based on Love and respect, and much natural communication.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Do Cat Families Have a Pack Order?


By Julia Williams

Is there such a thing as an “Alpha Cat” in a multi-cat home? And do the cats fight for dominance, to be the pack leader? Is there “pack behavior” or a “hierarchal structure” in a group of cats who live together?

I used to believe the answer to all of those questions was a resounding no. Many people still do. There are plenty of people who are adamant that cats are not social creatures, and that there’s no such thing as an Alpha Cat or a pecking order among felines. They maintain that only dogs and wolves form packs and defer to the pack leader.

While it is true that felines are not “pack animals” per se, many cat owners (myself included) will tell you that in their own household it does seem like the resident cats actually do establish a pecking order. Perhaps not every feline family forms a hierarchy, but some do. Not in the same way that wolves and dogs do, but in a uniquely feline way.

As I said above, I always found the notion of an Alpha Cat improbable. What changed my mind was that I read what other cat-knowledgeable people said about it, and then I began to consciously observe my own cat family to see if what they said held water. Truth be told, I was surprised by what I saw when I actually studied the behaviors of my cat family.

Cats have been an integral part of my life ever since I was a young girl. It’s kind of funny to me now, that in all those years I never really saw certain behaviors. However, I’m certain it’s not because the behaviors weren’t there, but that I just wasn’t paying attention. When I began to really look at how my cats interacted with each other, I saw their relationships in an entirely different light.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

How to Make Sure Your Dog Likes You Best



By Tamara McRill

When my chocolate lab Wuppy first came into our home three years ago, I had one ultimate fear: What if my dog doesn’t like me the best? That may seem like a strange or small thing to worry about, but it was a very real possibility, given that my fianc√© is a dog magnet. We already had a dog that was “his” and every dog that comes across him gives him an enthusiastic happy tail/face licking woof of approval. I missed that special bond of being an animal’s favorite person, so I took steps to make sure we were bringing home a puppy that would love me as much as I already adored him.

1. Meet Often Before Bringing Home

I had the opportunity to get to know my Wuppy before his owners couldn’t keep him any longer. I already knew that he liked me, because he would follow me around their home. That played a huge part in our agreeing to add him to our family.

Always try to visit and interact with a dog before bringing one home, so you know how they will respond to you. You never know what a dog has been through before you adopt them. You could resemble someone they are afraid of, or maybe they smell another dog and don’t like it.

Also make sure to introduce the dog to everyone who lives with you, so you can gauge who they will bond with the strongest. It doesn’t have to be a deal breaker if they go to one of your kids or another family member more often; you just want to make sure they feel comfortable coming to you. That’s enough to start a relationship.

2. Be the Sole Provider

We all know that the quickest way to the canine heart is by being the person with the tastiest dog treats. If you want your new dog to consider you his #1 human, you’ll have to be the one that feeds them their CANIDAE and hands out all of the TidNips and Snap Bits. It’s not a job you can shove off on another family member, and it means you will have to be there when they need to eat. It’s a commitment to take care of their needs.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

What Are Your Pet's Favorite Things to Do?

Alex and Kelly

By Linda Cole

Over the last six months, I had to say goodbye to two of my canine best friends, Alex and Kelly. Both of them lived long, happy lives, and when it's time for a pet to cross over the Rainbow Bridge, all we can do is hold their memory in our heart. I can’t help but smile whenever I think about the favorite things they loved to do. Pets are like us in many ways, and have their own likes and dislikes.

Alex, a Beagle/Terrier mix, was my little yapper. She would wander around outside in her enclosure patrolling the area for anything that warranted closer inspection. If it moved, she yapped. Barking was something she really enjoyed doing. It was her way of letting me know she was on it, even if “it” was just a plastic bag blowing down the street. My office window overlooks the dogs' pen, and when she had trouble finding her “off button,” all I had to do was call her name and tell her to come.

She was usually at the far end of the pen, and dutifully trotted over to the window as if to say, “What? Can't you see I'm busy?” She'd be quiet for awhile, until something moved, and she was off on another adventure, yapping as she ran over for a closer look. Alex loved following insects moving in the grass or watching a butterfly flutter around her head. She'd sit and watch birds flying overhead, and always had her nose in the air to catch scents blowing by. She was always alert, just in case something moved and needed her attention to let me know...something moved.

Kelly, a Jack Russell Terrier mix, was 17½ years old when she passed. As far as she was concerned, I belonged to her. She always knew where I was and what I was doing around the house, and was by my side, inside or outside. Although, during her younger years when a rabbit bolted out from underneath a bush, she couldn't resist a good chase. She was, after all, a terrier. But she always stopped and returned as soon as I called her back. Kelly's absolute favorite thing was snuggling with me at night, and she'd drift off to sleep knowing I was safe by her side.

Figaro

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Music Therapy for Dogs?

My new pup, "Big Al"

By Langley Cornwell

We adopted another dog recently. He needed a home quickly so we are making it work, even though our original plan was to wait until we moved into a house with a yard before getting a second dog. One of our biggest concerns with bringing another shelter dog home was that he might undo some of the work we’ve done with our shy, fearful resident dog, Frosty. In order to get ahead of any potential problems, we immediately enrolled the newest member of our pack in training classes.

Armed with a new harness, a dog mat, a clicker and plenty of CANIDAE TidNips treats, we were ready for training. The first day we worked on basic mat work and name recognition exercises. While practicing having the dog stay on the mat, our instructor had a “stranger” dress up in a crazy outfit and weave through the participants. The dogs were supposed to remain calmly on their mats and not react to the mysterious stranger in the giant sombrero. After that, the instructor pulled out a vacuum cleaner that has to be the loudest one I’ve ever heard.

Happily, our new pooch was unfazed, which is the exact opposite of how Frosty would have responded. She would have tried to eat the sombrero-wearing lady whole, and she would have become completely unhinged by the vacuum cleaner. In fact, several dogs in the training session did not fare well during this portion of the class, which prompted an interesting discussion about the influence of sounds and music on an animal’s behavior.

An article on the WebVet website explains this subject in detail. It starts with a series of questions. I think most dog owners would answer yes to at least one of these questions: Does your Pug pace and whine when the alarm clock goes off? Does your Labrador retriever howl when you run the blender? Does your Australian shepherd bark incessantly when your neighbors mow their lawns? Is your Dalmatian afraid of the vacuum cleaner?

Monday, February 4, 2013

Helping Black Dogs and Cats Get Adopted


By Linda Cole

Black Dog Syndrome is a very real problem in animal shelters. It seems like the more common or plain looking a pet is, the less likely they will find a home. Trying to give a voice to those who have none isn't always easy to do, and it can be frustrating when it seems like no one is listening. But it's important to keep speaking out because one voice can make a difference, if it's persistent and comes from the heart. A young girl in Kansas is proof that one person can create change; she is speaking up for black dogs and cats in shelters.

A dark colored shelter dog already has one strike against him. If he is large with even a hint of bully breed in his DNA, he automatically has three strikes against him. Many shelters try to help a dark colored pet get noticed by adding a colorful bandanna or collar around their neck, but many potential adopters simply look past them anyway. The ASPCA has found that a dog or cat with more than 65 percent of a black or dark coloring in his coat is less likely to be adopted.

Why people walk right by a dark colored dog or cat is a mystery, but there are some theories. Black cats are often associated with witches and black magic. Some people believe the darker color makes a pet unlucky. Black dogs appear more aggressive to some, and their roles in movies too often portray them as mean and associated with the bad guys. Potential adopters have used phrases like “they're spooky looking,” “you can't see their eyes,” or “they don't look trustworthy.”

It's possible a black pet is harder to see among lighter colored coat colors that have a tendency to catch someone's eye. I know from experience with my black dogs and cats how difficult it is to get a good photo of their face, especially if the light isn't very good. It's difficult for shelters to capture a cute facial expression when you can't get a good picture of their eyes.

Friday, February 1, 2013

The Burning Questions All Cats Have


Human, I am NOT amused!
By Rocky Williams, Feline Guest Blogger

Someone declared that one day in January would be National Answer your Cat’s Questions Day. Who? I don’t know, and because I’m a lazy cat, I won’t look it up on that weird thing you humans call the Web. The only web I care about has juicy spiders dangling from it…but I digress.

Now, we all know it’s every human’s job to try to figure out exactly what your cat wants so you can go about meeting his demands post haste. Hence, I think dedicating a day to answering your cat’s questions is a great idea. I tip my furry paw to the person who came up with that one! It just might help you in your never-ending quest to make your cat happy. Which is your number one job, am I right?

Ok. Never mind that National Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day was in January, and today is the first of February. I couldn’t let that hinder getting some answers to the burning questions I’m sure all cats have. I asked the Warden for a little Q & A time, and ever the dutiful cat lady, she complied.

Rocky: Why do you put my bag of FELIDAE kibble in the cupboard, where I can’t get to it whenever I want a snack?
Warden: That’s precisely the point, Rocky. You’d “snack” 24/7 if I let you, and your handsome man-cat body would turn to flab. Not to mention, this would blow my pet food budget to smithereens.

Rocky: Why do you get so hopping mad when I try to steal a teeny tiny morsel of food off your plate? Haven’t you ever heard of sharing?
Warden: If I shared my food every time you wanted something I was eating, I’d waste away to nothing!

Rocky: Why do you talk to me in that silly high pitched voice? I’m a cat, not a baby!
Warden: Because you’re adorable, and I can’t help myself. Every human who spends time with a cute cat will eventually succumb to “baby” talk.

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