Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Could it be? Look Who's Running Agility!

I've been considering taking Kelly to agility training. She loves to jump, she's quick on her furry little feet, and I think she'd love the challenge. The main hurdle (pun intended!) for us to get over would be her disagreeable attitude toward some other dogs. There is a golden retriever up the street who she adores, though, so maybe there's hope.

Anyway, as I was contemplating Kelly's ability to perform in agility, I discovered this video. Okay, seriously. If THIS animal can run the agility course, then maybe there's hope for Kelly!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Monday Rufferences and Mews

Welcome to Monday Rufferences and Mews. (Formerly Rufferences and Resources.)
Here's what's going on this week.

Should you have your pet microchipped? I keep wondering about this with Kelly. Home Again website recommends this procedure. If Kelly should ever get loose, this would aid in her being safely returned. But for some reason I balk. Why? I'm not sure. It's inexpensive, and the chip is only the size of grain of rice. Are your pets microchipped? What are your thoughts?

Here's a new concept in finding lost pets: some dogs are trained to do the job! If you check out this book, you can learn how to train your pet to be a Dog Detective too.

Most of us have read the popular book, Dewey the small town library cat who touched the world. Did you know that there are more than 700 identified library cats in the world? And the story of Dewey is soon coming your way in the form of a new movie, starring Merryl Streep.

Was it practical or irresponsible for Reality TV parents Jon and Kate Gosling to add two German Shepherd pups to the family of 8 children? Well, now that Jon and Kate have separated, apparently the dogs are not working out. Shoka and Nala are being shipped away to a trainer for an "indefinite" amount of time.

Interested in celeb pets? Check out this site from People magazine.

Okay, the pictures of this are too cute. Three abandoned baby ducks. And their surrogate mom? A feather duster!

A new magazine, Cesar's Way, debuts with advice from Cesar Millan, Tips & Whispers, True Tails, and more.

Georgia is getting tough on the feral cat problem. New rules stipulate that all outdoor cats must be neutered and must have one ear clipped for ID. Regulations also state that if you feed a stray cat on your property for more than 3 days, you are the owner.

A five-year-old autistic boy in Columbia, Illinois just wants to take his service dog to school. The school district opposes. The battle is upsetting, and costing the family in legal fees. Do you think he should be allowed to bring the dog to school?

Friday, September 25, 2009

Dogs Just Want to Have Fun

Kelly flings it around. She bangs it on the ground. She runs from room to room, swinging it into furniture and the walls. This is Kelly's new toy--The Tug-a-Jug. A large, hard plastic bottle with a stopper and rope coming out of the top. The idea is to put some small bits of kibble inside, and the dog will have to figure out how to get them out. This is made more confounding because when the dog pulls the rope at the top, it closes up the stopper and no food comes out. Similarly tipping the bottle upside down to try to dump out the contents results in the stopped closing up the opening. So getting out the food involves trial and error, a little intelligence, a little luck.

I bought this toy because I wanted something stimulating for Kelly, a toy that would engage her in more than just chewing, one that would get her active and excited, and okay, one that didn't involve my constant involvement in throwing or tugging. I love to play with Kelly, and we do so every day. But when I'm working, wouldn't it be nice if she could be playing and having fun too.

Kelly is very active when playing with this toy, but I wonder if she ends up burning as many calories as she consumes. Kelly always finds the bottle toy exciting, and the process of extracting the treats challenging and rewarding. Since she needs to watch her girlish figure, I just have to be careful that the amount of food I put in the toy is part of her normal daily amount.

One non-food related toy Kelly still enjoys playing with is her "dumpling" an organic canvas chew toy with mesmerizing appeal. The toy's designer, Purrfectplay, recently announced a new initiative where they're teamed up with 3 other green companies to provide a green school fund raising option.

What a great idea to encourage awareness of earth friendly and sustainable products to our young people. If your school is looking for a responsible, green fundraising, please consider EcoSimpleFundraising. Manufactured by women-owned green businesses, the products offer a variety of useful items you will love integrating into your every day life.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Best Training Tips from Joel Silverman

A few weeks ago I blogged about a cool touring bus decorated with dog pictures, which I spotted in my local mall parking lot. I've since learned that the bus is traveling across the country, not only promoting an awesome new book, What Color Is Your Dog? but also providing dog training tips from celebrity dog trainer Joel Silverman, host of Animal Planet's Good Dog U. Kelly and I could certainly use some tips!

In honor of National Dog Week, Joel Silverman answers the most frequent dog training and nutrition questions:

National Dog Week is September 22-28. Bil-Jac and celebrity dog trainer Joel Silverman have teamed up to help pet owners and pet lovers, looking to adopt, celebrate this special week with their furry friends.

On tour for his new book What Color is Your Dog? Silverman has traveled more than 5,000 miles cross country giving free training seminars at humane societies and animal shelters.
Through his travels, he has been asked almost every question imaginable about man’s best friend and here, he shares some of the most common and important questions to consider when training your best friend, or thinking of adopting a new addition to the family.

Q: What steps should a family take to pick the right pet for their family, and also to prepare for the arrival of the new pup?

A: Realize that with this decision comes a 15-year commitment to love and care for this pet. Really ask yourself if your family is ready. If you have two children in diapers and both parents are working, now may not be the best time for a new addition. Wait a few years.
The chemistry between the family and the pet is very important. Spend some time interacting with the animal and determine if it is a good fit for your family.

Q: After adopting a new pup, when should the owner begin training him?

A: Build a positive relationship with your dog prior to training. The mistake people make is that they try to build this relationship as they’re training their dog. That’s one thing that I really disagree with. I think it’s important to build a relationship prior, and become the animal’s friend.
You should take 4-7 days just to get to know the dog.

Q: How should dog lovers utilize treats and other rewards in their training process?

A: Treats are a great way to train good behavior in your pet. I would train a puppy using both treats and praise, but slowly decrease the treats and add more praise. This way you are going from 75 percent treats and 25 percent praise to eventually 90 percent praise and 10 percent treats. Treats are the greatest tool to use. I use Bil-Jac treats as they offer a variety of sizes and flavors perfect for training purposes. I have used Bil-Jac treats for 20 years and they fully support my mission to decrease the number of animals in animal shelters through adoption.

Q: How long does it take for a dog to develop a level of trust and understanding with their owners?

A: It just takes time. Some dogs may take 2-4 weeks to have a noticeable change. The first step in training any animal is to establish a friendship with them. Find out what they like and don’t like. Then, spend the next few weeks really developing a relationship with him and making sure that he understands you are there to help and nurture him. Through this step you will establish trust with the dog. This trust lets him know that you are there to protect and guide him.You do not want to establish a dominate leader role right from the start as this could set you up to fail with any dog. If you have a truly aggressive dog that will bite, then I recommend getting a professional to help you train him.

Q: Can you really teach an old dog new tricks?

A: Of course you can! All dogs have the ability and desire to learn, whether they are a pure bred dog or a mutt.

Q: Dogs have a tendency to beg for people food. How can pet lovers keep their dogs begging at bay?

A: You should never reward your dog for begging. Feeding your dog scraps from the table is rewarding the begging behavior and your dog is more inclined to do it in the future, because he thinks it's alright to beg. As an added precaution, both chocolate and onions are toxic and you should avoid giving your dog anything with one of these two ingredients in it.

Q: What are some of the benefits of kids having pets?

A: It is absolutely essential for a child to grow up with a pet. It gives children the opportunity to care for something. All the responsibility of feeding, walking and loving a pet translates into children being caring with other children. It also teaches them to treat the animal how they want to be treated. Ask your kids to put themselves in the place of their pet. Ask them how they feel when they are loved; how they feel when they are disrespected. Your dog feels all these things
too. This becomes a very real way of teaching children the golden rule.

Q: What is your favorite breed?

A: I think a good family pet is a mutt, I really do. There are lots of wonderful pure bred options as well. There are so many puppies and adult pets looking for a home. I think every person looking to adopt should visit a shelter first.

Joel Silverman is the author of predicted best-seller What Color is Your Dog? and host of Animal Planet’s Good Dog U. For over 25 years, Silverman has worked behind the scenes training animals for movies, TV shows and commercials. He has appeared on national programs such as Live with Regis and Kathie Lee, CNN, MSNBC and FOX News, along with hundreds of local morning news programs. Silverman has offered advice on pet care and training based on his lifetime commitment to the welfare of animals and their special place in our lives. Silverman is currently on a 100 city book tour for What Color is Your Dog? For more information about Bil-Jac and tips from Joel Silverman, visit or Share stories and pics of you and your best friend at

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

What Kind of Pet Would You Want?

I've had many different pets: purebred dogs, mixed-breeds, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils, fish, hermit crabs. But I always seem to want just one more... another dog to keep Kelly company. An aquarium. A bird, maybe. I've never had a bird. And I must admit, I've always wanted a pet duck. Sure that would require a pond. But I can dream, right?

Here are some other cool pet ideas:

Shetland Pony- Who wouldn't love a tiny horse? They range from 21 inches to 42 inches tall. According to Wikipedia they are gentle, strong and brave but can be "cheeky" or stubborn.

Parrot- The concept of a pet that can talk to you is delightful. My Mom owned a parrot that enjoyed making siren noises and imitating a baby crying. Although they're not the easiest pet in the world, for the right home they can bring years of companionship and enjoyment.

Chimpanzee- Because they seem so much like a human, many people idealize the thought of owning a pet chimpanzee. I always wanted one instead of another brother or sister. I dreamed of dressing it up and taking it by the hand to school. Of course, recent news stories help us to understand that, for most people, chimps are not suitable pet material.

I'd love to know, have you had an unusual pet? What pet have you always dreamed of owning?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Monday Rufferences and Resources

Thanks for coming back to another Monday Rufferences and Resources.

So it's September, back to school time for the kids and even some moms and dads. Now ol' Bowser or playful Casey's schedule is in for some changes too. After a summer of having family members close at hand during the day (maybe even going on vacation or camping with the family too), many dogs and cats now return to waiting by the front door for that school bus to come down the road. Here's some suggestions to help when separation anxiety in pets is a problem.

Image from stock xchg (tatertot10)

Think reading is just for the two-legged members of your family? In many communities dogs are getting into the act, as reading buddies for kids.

When you're away, a home pet sitter seems like an ideal solution. But how do you know they are doing their job? A new business PETZCheckIn lets you know. The service sends you an email, text or phone call to let you know when the pet sitter arrives and leaves. If the sitter doesn't arrive as scheduled, the service activates your back up plan. What do you think?

Proud you own a rescued pet? Then show it off with these special collars and leashes.
Here are some more designs.

Get your vote in now for the Monroe LA News-Star's 2009 Pet Idol contest. You can choose from more than 170 cats, dogs and a few other pets. Voting ends September 25. View pets here.

Ragdoll. Bombay. American Curl. These are not hairstyles, but breeds of cats. Which one is best for your family?

While you're at it, why not take this quiz: What kind of cat are you?

Is a hamster a good pet for you? Oh My Apartment blogs about hamsters as apartment pets. One point to keep in mind: they're nocturnal. (ie: squeak, squeak, scratch, scamper all night!)

Please check back next Monday for more Rufferences and Rescources!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


You've heard of the Westminster dog show? Well, discover the Woofminster 2009!

Woofminster is an amateur dog show and cover dog challenge, held in Scarborough, Maine. The grand prize of the day's event is a professional photo shoot of your dog.

The Woofminster show is held annually in Scarborough, Maine. The event raises money for Planet Dog Foundation (PDF), Planet Dog’s non-profit grant-making organization.
The fun includes raffles, vendors, service dog puppies, food, flyball and agility demonstrations and more.

If you thinking of being in the area, Woofminster is held Saturday, September 19, 2009 from 1:00 – 4:00 pm (registration begins at 12:30).
Tickets are available in advance for $12 for adults, $5 for dogs and $5 for kids ages 7- 18
There's no competing for Best in Breed here. Woofminster categories are:

Best Trick

Most Ear-Resistible Ears

Best Vocal

Best Mystery Mutt

Best Smile

Most Ball Crazy

Best 2-Legged Beggar

Best Kisser

Kelly could probably compete in Mystery Mutt, Most Ball Crazy, or Best 2-Legged Beggar. What category could your dog compete in? Leave a comment and let us know!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Monday Rufferences & Resources

Welcome to Monday Rufferences and Resources, a round-up of pet news and tips this week.

My daughter Kate brought this to my attention, and I must admit I'm having fun feeding and watching Googley, my new pet "hamster." Try out this fun new google app!

Looking for a good read? Here are some more new dog (and other pet!) books:
Soul of a Dog: Reflections on the Spirits of the Animals of Bedlam Farm by Jon Katz (Villard Books) This inspiring book joins the others books by Jon Katz, including Izzy and Lenore, Dog Days, A Dog Year, and A Good Dog.

A Big Little
Life: A Memoir of a Joyful Dog by Dean Koontz (Hyperion Books) about his 3 yr old golden retriever Trixie, a retired service dog.

Horses With a Mission: Extraordinary True Stories of Equine Service
by Allen and Linda Anderson (New Orld Library) collection of true stories.

of Being by Eckhart Tolle and Patrick McDonnell (New World Library). McDonnell is the creator of Mutts comic strip. books shows you how interaction with animals can make us better people.

Read this article for more comments about favorite dog books.

Most people have certain preconceptions about different breeds of dogs. But these biases don't hold true for every dog. Many good, sweet dogs are left out of a loving home because their breed has a reputation. Are you worried that pitbulls are aggressive? Greyhounds need too much exercise? Find out more facts here.

Looking for a new dog blog to read? Check out dexter speaks. Dexter is a 4 yr old golden doodle. Maybe he has something to say to you!

Here's a way you can help. Donations of pet food are being sought to help California fire victims.

There's still time to travel, and you might want to visit these pet-themed fall festivals, including the dachshund races in Findlay OH, and dog-owner look alike contest in silver spring MD.

Have a great week. And please check back next Monday for more Rufferences & Resources. And let us know what's going on with your pets this week! We'd love to hear!

Friday, September 4, 2009

What color is your dog?

Yesterday I was pulling into the mall parking lot, and I saw a huge trailer parked there, with pictures of dogs on the sides.

Naturally that caught my attention. Then I realized that the trailer was advertising a new book, What Color is Your Dog. (Kennel Club Books, (c) 2009)

My first question was: what is going on in that trailer? And then--being a writer--I wondered what was so amazing about this book that warranted an entire vehicle traveling (assumedly) across country promoting the book? It must be really good for the publishers to go to such expense, right?

Since the van was situated way in the back of the parking lot, I figured nothing was happening there. Whatever promotion must be set up in the bookstore. So I wandered into Borders to see if there was a presentation. Unfortunately, I couldn't find anything, not even a sign. I couldn't even find an obvious display of the book. So, I had to conduct my own research.

What Color is Your Dog: Train your Dog Based on his Personality "color."

The book is a helpful guide to training your dog. The first step is to find your dog's "color."

Red is "off the wall"
Orange is "high strung"
Yellow is "mellow yellow"
Green is "apprehensive"
Blue is "skittish and very afraid"

You can find your dog's color here.

I discovered that Kelly is Green. Actually, I think she's more of a greenish-yellow. But okay, we probably already know this basic personality about our dogs. How will this color thing help us?

According to the website, by identifying your dog's color, you can then read the appropriate section of the book to learn the appropriate training techniques for that "color" dog.

(The color technique to explain an idea is not a new concept. Some other examples of books that have used it successfully are What Color is Your Personality and The 8 Colors of Fitness. )

By way of explanation, the website states: "You would never train a Blue dog like a Red dog." Makes sense to me.

The book is filled with sound, practical and easy to follow training advice. It's applicable to every owner and dog who want to learn better behavior and work better together. It looks like a winner.

I also found out why the book warrants such a large promotional vehicle. The author, Joel Silverman, is a professional animal trainer for televisions and movies. He was host of Good Dog U on Animal Planet. He's also trained whales at Sea World, dolphins at Knotts Berry Farm and Magic Mountain, and birds, dogs and cats at Universal Studios. Some resume!

I don't yet own my own copy of What Color Is Your Dog, but I'm planning to get one. Kelly and I could use a few pointers.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

How to Brush your Dog's Teeth

Your veterinarian probably tells you to brush your dog's teeth. I know--if you're like me, it's hard enough to remind your kids to brush their teeth. With all we have to fit in a day, brushing a dog's teeth may be the last thing we can tackle on our expanding to-do list.

But I've learned that dental care is important to a pet's overall health. So I'm making more of an effort to brush Kelly's teeth. And, it really is quick and easy once you get the hang of it. Here are some simple steps you can follow:

1. Gather your supplies.
You'll need a special pet toothpaste. Remember, human toothpastes may upset your dog's stomach. Pet toothpastes come in flavors like chicken, beef, malt and mint. Yum!
You'll also need a pet toothbrush. Be sure to select the appropriate size for your pet. You may want to start off with a small rubber brush that fits over the tip of your finger.

2. Start off slow.
Start by just checking in your dog's mouth. Get him used to having you open his jaws and touch his teeth. Be careful with nippy dogs--you know your pet best. Advance to rubbing his teeth and gums with your finger.

3. Offer a taste.
Put some pet toothpaste on your finger. Let your dog lick it off. She should enjoy the flavor. Experiment until you find the flavor she likes best!

4. Use a gentle brushing motion.
Apply pet toothpaste to the finger brush or a pet toothbrush. Lift your dog's lips and rub the brush gently on the outside of the teeth. Be sure to get the back teeth. You won't need to worry about the inside of the teeth. If your dog balks at the toothbrush, try a square of guaze or washcloth.

How To Brush Your Dogs Teeth (Canine Dental) - VetVid Episode 0 - Watch more Funny Videos

5. Reward!

Keep the tooth brushing time short and pleasant. When you're done, reward with a game of fetch or a walk.

Most veterinarians suggest brushing daily. I admit I fall short of this. But if you can try for once or twice a week, that's a good start. Make it a part of your routine, like before bed or the evening walk.