Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Top Dog- Chloe

Meet, Chloe, Top Dog of Catherine of Washington state.

Breed: Miniature Pinscher. Also called "Mini Pin" or "Min Pin
They come in black/tan, red, or chocolate/tan like Doberman Pinschers, but they are not actually related to Dobermans at all. This toy breed is a mix of Dachshund and Italian Greyhound.

Fun fact: The word "Pinscher" means "biter."
Q: Does Chloe like to bite?
A: Sure, sometimes! (They were bred to hunt vermin, after all!)

Age: "teenager" (I guess a lady never reveals her
exact age.)

Words that describe her: Sweet but naughty

Chloe's family thinks she looks adorable in her hoodie, but Chloe begs to differ. She's not a big fan.

Catherine says a Mini Pins are sweet and cuddly dogs, but not for everyone. Things you should know before considering this breed:
1. They need room to run
2. They need firm training and may be difficult to housebreak
3. You'll need to remain vigilant when they are off lead, because when they get on the trail of something, they're difficult to call off!
4. Do you like a tenacious, stubborn dog? A small dog with a big personality? Then this breed's for you!

But wait! They're also sweet, funny, affectionate and adorable!

Chloe's best trick: She plays soccer! She will chase the ball as it's kicked back and forth and try to bite it! Mini Pins love to play!

Most endearing trait:
When she is feeling snuggly, she will burrow into your armpit to sleep.

Paws for Reflection: Mini Pins make wonderful pets for the right family. Study the breeds to know which one is right for you, but also recognize that each dog within each breed is unique--just like we are!

Thursday, March 26, 2009


Some dogs love all people without discrimination. Others are cautious around men, skeptical of children, dislike people in uniform, or even certain family members such as Aunt Gertrude with her loud, high pitch voice and quick movements.

Since I'm home with her all day, Kelly definitely has a preference for me. If we've been out on an errand, it doesn't matter who else comes through the door with me, Kelly will push past everyone else to get to me first, and jump up on me wagging and shaking with happiness! I have to admit, it does feel good! But recently, when my son Andy came home from college for spring break, he was disappointed Kelly didn't make more of a fuss over him. Of course they connected later and Kelly was glad to see him, but Andy felt a bit dissed at first.

This weekend something unusual happened. Mike and I and my daughter Kate and her friend Derek were all coming home at the same time. Derek is someone Kelly had never met before, or if she had it had been more than 5 years ago and maybe only once or twice. But when we all walked in the door, she pushed past everyone and went right up to Derek instead of me! Derek hadn't called to her or made any advances to her in any way. Somehow Kelly was just attracted to him. And I could tell throughout the evening as Derek was here visiting, that Kelly bonded with him quietly. I wonder what it was about Derek that made her take to him instantly? I thought it was sweet. (And I made a mental note to tag Derek for dog sitting if we should need to go away!)

Have you noticed any unique people preferences in your dogs?

Paws for Reflection: Bond with the people who make you happy.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Pets are Great Rx

Here's Kate with her little kitty, Cinnamon. She works hard to brush her, trim her nails and feed her cat good food and keep her healthy. But does Cini Mini also keep Kate healthy?

I've always heard that owning a pet was good for your health. When we're not feeling well, many of us have found comfort in the love and devotion of a pet at our side. Remember the great scene in the book (and movie!) Marley and Me, when Jenny is despondent over her miscarriage, and Marley rests his head on her lap? His calm, loving presence is part of what helps Jenny heal.

I know my dogs help me feel better. Kelly's even spurred me on to walking and losing weight, which has definitely contributed to my improved health. In researching my recent column, I also found studies that documented this pet-owner health connection. Researchers have found, for example, that pet owners often have a lower blood pressure than non-pet owners, especially when in stressful situations. I also learned that having pets in the home can actually reduce a child's chances of developing allergies.

Stop by and visit my Guideposts pet column, Five Things About Pets to learn more.
Wait for the slide show to load (Be patient...this may take a few) then click on the Health and Wellness tab below the slide show. When the title comes up, click on the blue title "Five Ways Pets Can Improve Your Health."

Paws for Reflection: As if we needed another reason to own a pet!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Top Dog-- Luca

Every month I introduce you to another great dog, and here's one I can't wait for you to meet! Sue and her daughter Lindsay have the most adorable Morkie--Maltese and Yorkshire Terrier. What a charmer!

Name: Luca (of The Godfather fame!)
Age: 2 1/2
Weight: about 9 pounds. Don't you just want to pick him up and snuggle?!
Outfits: Naturally, Luca looks adorable in canine clothes. He wears winter sweaters, and has a cut blue t-shirt that says It really wasn't me!
Favorite toy: red teddy bear. Awwwww.
Funniest habit: opening empty water bottles and chewing on the lids.
Outings: He loves riding in a doggy tote, and sometimes joins his Mom shopping or to the bank.
Best trick: He can stand on his back legs indefinitely!
Sweetest thing: If someone isn't feeling well, he won't leave their side.

Paws for Reflection: Every great dog deserves its day!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Little Green Sprouts

We live in the city, so we don't have much of a garden. But any little growth we're able to nurture always makes me giddy with excitement. It's like finding the gold straw in a stack of hay. So when Kelly and I went outside for our walk this morning, here's what we saw. Daffodils!

Spring is still a few days away, but I was thrilled to see these beautiful, green signs of life. This is early for upstate New York, where we still could get blanketed with snow well into April.

Walking outside today, bright and sunny (yet still a bit brisk) I couldn't help sing to myself this sappy little poem:

Spring has sprung
The grass has ris
I wonder where
The birdies is?

Yes, it's disturbingly ungrammatical. As a writer, I'm embarrassed to even acknowledge this ditty. But my mom always used to sing when the weather started to turn nice. It brings back sweet memories of being a child and welcoming the new season. So I can't help it, I still like it.

So for now I'm enjoying the sun and the 35 degree weather. Kelly, too, is outside romping around, staying out longer and longer. This is a beautiful sign of spring to come.

Tulips and daffodils poking up in the garden alongside the driveway and the side of the house.

Something has already started to munch these tulips. Here in the city, it's most likely a cat.

Paws for Reflection: New life, beautiful flowers, glorious warmth...God's most amazing season is upon us.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Taking Me for a Walk

Here is another picture from Kelly's photo shoot. I'm not exactly sure how this came about, but it captures a typical moment in our day--Kelly taking me for a walk. We start off healing nicely. She's actually pretty good about walking on a leash. But if I take a turn in a direction she doesn't want to go, she takes the leash in her mouth and pulls me in another direction. Our typical route is up the road for about a mile. But if I'm feeling lazy and try to turn back before she's ready, she'll also try to pull me back on track.

I guess she's my four-legged trainer.

Paws for Reflection: Non-verbal communication can be very effective.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Shaking and Panting

Last night, around midnight, I thought everything was fine. But when I opened the back door to let Kelly inside after her last evening romp in the yard, I got a scare.

Kelly was panting heavily, and shaking. When I crouched down to pat her, she started to come to me, then turned and ran into the living room. She seemed disoriented. I sat on the floor next to her and pat her, feeling her entire body trembling. I thought something had frightened her outside. But she didn't calm down.

She kept coming to me, then turning and hiding in the corner. She crouched behind our elliptical machine--a place she'd never spent any time before. I sat on the floor as close as I could get to her and stroked her, trying to soothe her. Her eyes were red and she kept looking up at the ceiling, as if she heard a strange noise. She didn't want to come to me, but preferred to hide where she must have felt safe. I just sat there quietly and talked soothingly once in a while.

It took a half an hour for her to stop shaking. I finally got her to lie down beside me on the couch. After, I gave her some bits of cheese and she drank some water and then went to bed. This morning she seems fine.

About a year ago she had a seizure, and while she'd acted differently at that time (she kept stumbling and falling, but otherwise seemed alert), I'm guessing this might be another episode. The veterinarian had said to keep an eye on things, and to record in a notebook any time she had an episode. Nothing would be done about it unless the seizures got much closer together. One or two a year is not something my vet would medicate.

Today Kelly seems better, but it sure does worry me. It's scary to see her so upset and not know exactly what is wrong. It's still possible that something outside frightened her, but I thought she would have calmed down much sooner than a half hour later. She's not usually a skittish girl. At least for now, she's back to her old self.

Paws for Reflection: Wouldn't it be nice if dogs could talk and tell us what they are thinking or feeling?

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Photo Shoot

We needed some publicity shots for a new pet column I'm writing, so Kelly and I ventured to the portrait studio Saturday. Kelly is good with people, but she does get a bit overexcited in new or crowded situations. Perhaps not too wisely, I chose a photo studio in the mall, mainly because I had a coupon. Kelly walked eagerly down the crowded halls (not so wise decision #2, I scheduled the shoot for a busy Saturday afternoon!) and climbed the slippery steps to the second level.

Fortunately the studio was not too busy and we got a nice, quiet room in the back. Kelly didn't mind getting her picture taken, but she wasn't real cooperative about posing. Also, after about 2 minutes, she was so excited/tired/stressed her tongue hung out. A dog with a tongue hanging out is cute, but I would have liked more than one shot with it back in! I guess in the future, I'd arrive earlier in the hopes that she'd have more time to relax before the actual shoot.

The photographer was more than willing to take any shots we wanted. We only got one shot of Kelly alone, since we needed us together for the column, but if I'd been thinking I would have asked for more of her alone. The one we got is unique, but not as cute as she can be. I'll post it next time.

Tip of the Tail: Bring a prop or something special to a photo shoot to let your personality shine through.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Baby Toes

My niece recently had a baby, her first child. I'm so excited for her... and for my "little" brother and sister in law--the new Grandpa and Grandma. (hehe!) I just love this photo my brother took of Michaela's little feet. It reminds me to look at every little part of a whole and marvel at how everything all works together, and what a miracle it all is.

Does this new life make me long for another baby, now that my kids are all grown up and flown the nest? Uh...no. I'm too tired! But it does make me look forward to the day I'll become a grandma. Not that I'm hurrying that or anything. But I can imagine the rewards in store when I look at the little offspring produced by my own offspring.

And, of course a grandchild will produce much fodder for new stories. I think I've about tapped out the Empty Nest angle! (If you subscribe, see my recent empty nest story in the current March/April issue of Angels on Earth, entitled "Message of the Falcon") Some day I'll be writing about how I feel too young to be a grandmother and how things have changed since my kids were babies. And there will be sure to be pictures too, of little feet, little fingers, and lots of little baby smiles.

Paws for Reflection: Babies (and puppies!) are so cute! Best advice: Just give them lots of love.