Friday, January 29, 2010

When there's compassion

Earlier this week the news reported on an animal abuse case. I refused to listen to the newscast and avoided the newspaper stories. Not that I wish to remain ignorant to animal abuse cases, but I just knew my heart couldn't take hearing about what happened to the pups.

Sometimes the stories have happy endings. Even so, I find it so difficult to think of what the animals endured.

(Photo of Jiffy, above, from USA Today)

Another story is (arguably) not so much a case of abuse, although the dog involved did suffer. Thankfully, there is a happy ending. A recent Dogster blog shared the story of Jiffy, and 11 year old border collie who had become so obese, it could barely move. One frigid night in December 2008, he couldn't get off the sidewalk. His owner called 911 for help, but unfortunately had to leave the dog outside--it had frozen to the sidewalk. That makes me so sad.

But here's the happy ending. The dog was saved, the owner ticketed and forced to give him up, and now, after more than a year, he has lost weight and is 76 pounds. Still overweight, but much healthier.

It's hard to hear about animals suffering. But it helps a bit when people step in and do the right thing, when animals are shown love and compassion, and when there are happy endings.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Five Great Small Pets

This is me when I was 21, with my guinea pig Gulliver. I can’t keep it a secret; guinea pigs are my favorite small pet! Gulliver would squeak whenever he heard me open the refrigerator door--he knew where I kept the lettuce! And he loved to snuggle up with my dalmatian.

Of course, there are many other great small pets. Are you looking for a starter pet for a child? Do you live in an apartment or smaller space? Do you lack the time to care for a cat or dog? One of these small pets may be just right for you.

1. Guinea Pig. I love guinea pigs because they’re cute and cuddly, and full of personality. They squeak, shriek and even purr. Guinea pigs come in long hair or short hair, and many different sizes and colors. I recommend the short haired, because the longer hair requires more care and cleaning.

2. Hamster. Small enough to fit in your pocket, hamsters only require a small cage or aquarium--although larger systems with bridges and penthouses are more fun! Hamsters like to keep busy exploring and chewing. Check out an adorable, long haired Teddy Bear Hamster. Because hamsters are so small, however, they’re not recommended for very young children.

3. Hermit Crab. Not into something cute and furry? Maybe this is the pet for you. A hermit crab won’t cuddle up in your arms, but it’s quiet, interesting and unusual. Plus, it is pretty cool to see a seashell suddenly get up and walk.

4. Rabbit. Rabbits can be very sweet. My rabbits lived in a large hutch outside, but frequently came inside to play. Some rabbits can be litter box trained, and will hop about a safe home environment. Sometimes they are skittish and nervous. Most rabbits require a larger cage than other small animals, and will need room to exercise.

5. Tetra Fish. These fish are a good choice for beginners. Tetra fish are hardy, active and fun to watch. Neon tetra are bright and colorful. Keep them in a school of 6 or more. They’re easy to care for. Also, aquariums are peaceful.

Check out Animal World for more information and help deciding which is right for you. What small pet do you like best?

This post first appeared on, March 2009.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Monday Pet Roundup

Hi and welcome to Monday's Pet Roundup. Kelly and I are rounding up interesting pet news and websites for you.

* Want to help the efforts in Haiti? A Dog's Life blog alerts us to the Planet Dog Foundation Fundraiser for Haiti Rescue dogs. Great blog, and a great project.

* If your dog gets rock salt or other de-icing chemicals in its paws, be sure to wash them off with warm water, and remove any ice balls that may be stuck between the toes. Here are some more winter weather tips for your pet. Also, Donna McKinney on Suite101.c0m has tips from the ASPCA and reminds us not to use metal food and water dishes outside, as a dog's tongue could stick to the metal in extreme temperatures.

*The Shiba Inu puppy cam has returned! Beware, you won't get anything else done once you click on this!

* I love this blog with some great tips on riding in the car with your dog. A systematic approach to making your dog comfortable includes sitting in the car with the engine off, turning on the engine, and then making a short trip with plenty of praise and rewards for a job well done.

*Is there anything cuter than this wee little hamster in his wee little home, complete with pillows and placemats? You've got to see these pictures on adorable pet site, Cute Overload.

*If you missed this amazing dog rescue Friday, you've got to see this video, courtesy of Dogster for the love of dog blog. I couldn't believe how the fireman wrestled the large dog and held onto him while suspended in the so thankful that "Lucky" is now safe.

* Does your pet have a blog? I'm reading blogs by a pug, a sheltie and a bunny! From Purina Petcentric, here's a listing of more pets who blog!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Top Dog or Superior Cat? Survey Says.....

Last week I ran two columns; one on reasons why we love our cats, and the next on why we love our dogs. I especially enjoyed reading your comments on your furry friends.

I would never take sides as to which I believe is better--I love both cats and dogs (and rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters and turtles too!) However, the Associated decided to take on the task to determine which pet America preferred. Their poll, conducted October 1-5, 2009, by GfK Roper Public Affairs & Media interviewed nearly 2,000 adults and concluded that dogs were the favored pet.

According to the poll, 74% of the respondents reported that they "like dogs a lot" and only 41% reported that they"like cats a lot." In addition, 15% said that they "disliked cats a lot" while only 2% said that they "disliked dogs a lot."

Here are some of the comments pro and con. Please keep in mind that these are not MY opinions, but those gathered from the poll!

Some people like dogs because they:
have a great personality
are loyal
are interested in pleasing their owners
are good with kids

Some people dislike dogs because they:
are noisy
are disruptive
lick themselves
lick people
are unclean
need too much activity

Some people like cats because they:
are smarter than dogs
comfort people
are independent
are good companions
are very clean

Some people dislike cats because they:
don't care about pleasing their owners
are destructive
kill birds
screech at night
are independent
just sit around

I know most of the people who read this blog probably love both cats and dogs. We don't have to take sides! However, for the sake of a hypothetical argument, if you able to have only one pet, a cat or a dog, which would it be? Why?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A Home for Buster

This is Buster. Can you help him?

Buster is a 4 year old neutered Shepherd mix, about 40 lbs, very healthy and up to date with all his shots, looking for a forever home.

Buster has had a tough time over the last few months. He found himself at a kill shelter in GA because of the economy and at the last minute he ended up on a transport up to the Washington DC area. He ended up in a rescue in someone's home with 13 other dogs and he was kept in a crate just about the whole time.

He is a great dog who is very polite, but a little shy because of all he's been through. He is well behaved, and knows all of his basic commands, He prefers to be in a home with older kids who aren't so loud, or a home without kids. He was yelled at quite a bit and he really doesn't like yelling. It makes him cower and shake.

He's done well with other dogs, and he likes to watch one of the trainer's dogs run and play and throw her toys around like a crazy girl. He is curious about her toys, but he hasn't picked up any to play. He walks well on leash and really does enjoy going for walks, but most of all he is starving for love and attention and someone who is just going to sit with him and pet him and tell him how beautiful he is. He also loves to snuggle!

He is presently in the DC area, but arrangements may be able to be made for transporting. If anyone knows of someone who could be a good foster home or would be interested in adopting him, please email or contact Chris Shulet

Good luck, Buster!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Monday Pet Roundup

Hi and welcome to Monday Pet Roundup!

Here's Kelly with her trick, "Say your Prayers." Did you know that January is National Train Your Dog Month? There are many places to get information on how to train your pet. Classes from local experts, books, pet stores. In addition, the Internet offers many resources that can help.

Over at Pet Central, you'll find a training exercise per day of the month of January. Actually, each day contains three or four tasks. This would take a fair amount of time and dedication each day, but you can probably go at your own speed (and your dog's!)

To learn more about clicker training, check out Click Flicks.

I've interviewed Animal Planet host Joel Silverman, and recommend his website with training tips, Companions for Life.

And here are some popular dog training blogs:

Ahisma Dog Training

Behind the Behavior

Fearful Dogs

Pam's Dog Academy

Kelly could use some more training, which really means that I should work with her more consistently. One of her challenges is coming inside consistently when called (chasing squirrels, smelling that great smell, etc. take precedence.) What are your training challenges? How are you working to resolve them?

Friday, January 15, 2010

5 Reasons to Love a Dog

Wednesday I posted a column on 5 Reasons to Love a Cat. Today, in all fairness, I would like to share some of the reasons why I love dogs. And let's hear from you, other dog people, and why you love your dog, too!

5 Reasons to Love a Dog

1. Dogs want nothing more than to spend time with you. Kelly follows me around the house. Even if I've gotten up and moved only a few feet away, she follows me, wanting to be right by my side. When I take the time to walk her or play with her, there is nothing she'd rather do.

2. Dogs generate great body heat. I love it when Kelly curls up beside me. I instantly feel her warmth spreading over to me, like a hug. And that translates into love.

3. Dogs forgive and forget. It doesn't seem to matter if I was out all day, neglected to fill the food bowl, or accidentally stepped on her tail--Kelly forgives. She greets me enthusiastically when I finally come home, accepts the food happily whenever it's presented, and turns around to lick my cheek even when she's hurt.

4. Dogs are hysterical to watch when they play. Kelly can be such a klutz when she plays, banging into walls, tripping over her feet, and tumbling around like a spazzy acrobat. But she's never embarrassed. She loves to have fun, to attack her playtoys with abandon.

5. Dogs bond. Kelly loves everyone in the family, but she especially bonds with me. She doesn't want to experience life alone, but to share her days with me. I especially love it when I come home, and see her peeking out the front door window, waiting for me. It makes me feel like I was missed, and she seems to tell me that she's happier when I'm around. I know I'm happier when she's around!

Please leave a comment here and tell us why you love a dog!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

5 Reasons to Love a Cat

This blog is heavily dog-centered, but I've met many wonderful cat people here too. Although I don't have a cat now, I've shared my home with cats in the past; my family's first cat, Maria, and an especially tolerant calico, Henrietta. I loved her because she played with me and my brothers; she enjoyed taking a ride in our spinning recliner chair, and we happily obliged. I don’t think my dog Kelly would tolerate that!

Last year I asked friends and family why they love their cat. This column initially ran on in June, 2009.

Here are five people sharing reasons why they love their cats:

1. Kate of Virginia, owner of Cinnamon (red Tortie/Tabby, left) always thought she was a dog person, but thinks her kitten Cini-Mini is purr-fect at keeping her company. “When I’m sitting on the sofa reading, she’ll jump up on my lap and cuddle,” says Kate. Cinnamon is also entertaining because she loves to play. She flips over a fluffy white feather on a stick.

2. Dennis of Idaho, owner of Susie (cream and gray Domestic Shorthair) and Duke (apricot Tabby) says one reason he loves cats is because they consider themselves equal to people. He finds one of their charms is how "bossy" they can be towards people. “Even if you are still sleeping, a cat desiring breakfast is not to be denied.” Dennis’ cats will get up on the bed and put their paws on his cheek or his nose until he gets the message.

3. Judy of Vermont, owner of Pipsqueak (striped Tabby) loves cats because they love you back unconditionally and are good conversationalists. Pip talks to her in her little squeaks. “She carries on quite a conversation,” says Judy. When asked what Pipsqueak might be saying, Judy surmises: “ I’d rather be watching birdies but I know you need me on your lap right now.”

4. Mary Beth of New York, owner of Deirdre (calico Tabby), Archie (Tabby with white chest and boots) and Erasmus (Tabby) states the best thing about cats is that they act like cats all the time, and love you as cats. They’re affectionate if you know how they show it. Mary Beth’s kitties show her love by head-butting her, and “whispering purry things” in her ears.

5. Cees of Amsterdam, Holland, owner of Mickey (black and white European Shorthair) comments, “A cat will give you a feeling (s)he needs and loves you - while looking perfectly as if (s)he doesn't need anybody in the world at all.” When Cees arrived home from vacation, the very first greeting he received was from his cat, sitting by the front door in the hallway. “Much quicker than my son and daughter arrived to greet me,” he adds!

Why do you love your cat?

Friday, January 8, 2010

Healthy New You!

One of my goals this new year is to focus more on healthier, whole foods. Less processed stuff. To know what I'm putting in my body. And that goes for feeding my dog too. There are many advocates supporting making your own dog food. I've read about raw diets. But for me, I think I'll continue to buy the best, healthiest commercial pet food I can afford. And then, supplement with other healthy foods. And I will keep researching and keep an open mind. Here are some of the foods I already feed Kelly, on occasion:
Green beans
Baby Carrots
Cheese (maybe this is not in the "healthy" category, but I use low-fat cheese in small amounts as rare treats, and she loves it.)

As I've been reading about this topic, I was surprised to learn about some other fruits, vegetables and grains that are considered healthy for dogs. Some might even help prevent cancer. In Animal Wellness magazine I read about a beautiful Golden, Shawnee, 14 years old, who was thriving on whole food raw and cooked diet. Here are some other foods that are healthy for your pet:
Apples-- vitamin C and antioxidants.
Blueberries-- contain resveratrol, a natural compound with anti-cancer properties
Pumpkin-- helpful to the digestive tract
Chickpea flour--potassium, iron, folate, copper and magnesium

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Starring in My Sister's Keeper

I'm always on the lookout for the dog in a TV show or movie. Not just the main character in major dog themed stories, but also the minor role. Eddie in Frasier. Tiger in The Brady Bunch. Bruiser in Legally Blonde.

A few weeks ago I watched the movie version of one of my favorite books, My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult. There were dozens of reasons I wanted to see the movie: to compare the screen adaptation to the book, to see the story come to life, to watch Abigail Breslin and Alec Baldwin's performances. Also, to check out scenes with lawyer Campbell Alexander, in which his dog Judge is featured. A border collie mix named Ryder played Judge in the movie.

Judge is Alexander's service dog, although the lawyer refuses to share exactly what function this dog serves. He first tells Anna that he has an iron lung and the dog keeps him away from magnets. In the book, he offers up different explanations to others, thus keeping alive the suspense and curiosity as to the dog's real function. I wish this hadn't been cut from the movie, as it would have helped the viewer in the same way it served the reader.

(SPOILER ALERT) In the end it is revealed that Judge helps warn Alexander of approaching epileptic seizures. I never could figure out exactly why the lawyer kept this information secret, when sharing the knowledge could have benefited him, especially in the trial scene where the courtroom judge reprimands him to keep his dog quiet or he'd be removed. I also don't understand why, at that point, Alexander ignored his dog's warnings, when that was the very reason he had the dog to begin with. I can understand that he didn't want to miss the excitement going on around him at that point, however if the judge had been aware of the dog's purpose to begin with, she probably would have called for a break so Alexander could leave to take care of his health needs.

Anyway, it is interesting to note that such dogs do exist. There are dogs who assist a person through a seizure, and there are also dogs who are believed to be able to pick up on subtle changes in behavior or the sent of the owner before a seizure occurs. For more information, check out What about Seizure Dogs? by the Epilepsy Foundation.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Monday Pet Roundup

Hi and welcome to Monday Pet Roundup!

Nothing better than good news, and I love these tearjerker stories from USA Today. Read about the rescue of deserving pets such as Choo Choo the Boxer, who had been ruthlessly abandoned tied to the train tracks, and a Basset Hound who also was found near the tracks, apparently hit by a train and lost a leg and part of an ear. There's also the story of a Pointer-mix who was adopted after waiting in a shelter for 8 years for his forever home. Although I got teary thinking of the hard times that befell these pets, they now all have happy endings.

If you love cats, you'll enjoy the latest edition of Catnip Chronicles. Dr. Eric Barchas, DVM discusses coughing in cats including reasons for coughing and recommended course of action. Also, learn how to teach your cat to come or stand on its hind legs.

Who is the top dog in American pop culture? The dog in the song "How Much is that Doggie in the Window" or in the picture of dogs playing poker? Perhaps it's Snoopy, or Eddie the dog from Frasier, or a sports mascot such as Texas A&M's Reveille or Georgtown's bulldog? The AKC conducted a survey to find out who America voted for.

Good Morning America reports that dognapping is on the rise. They suggest never letting your dog run loose or leaving your dog unattended in the car. Also, have your pet microchipped, and consider the AKC's Lost Pet Alert if your pet is stolen or missing. This great service sends out an e-mail notification to veterinarians, shelters and animal control agencies within a 50-mile radius asking them to be on the lookout.

We all know that puppy mills are bad news. But here's some good news: More than 400 pet stores across the country have signed The Humane Society of the United States’ puppy friendly pet store pledge. The stores promise not to sell puppies, but instead to support local animal adoption programs.

“Pet stores that profit from the cruel puppy mill industry need to stop their puppy sales. We encourage people who want a new pet to first consider adoption from local shelters and rescue groups, which are filled with healthy, loving dogs who need a family of their own...” Stephanie Shain, senior director of The HSUS' puppy mills campaign, said in a statement.

According to the Humane Society website, puppy mills are mass production facilities that churn out large numbers of puppies under inhumane conditions for sale at pet stores. The breeding dogs at puppy mills spend their entire lives in cramped cages or kennels with little or no personal attention or quality of life. Consumers who purchase puppies from pet stores often unknowingly supporting the puppy mill industry.

I can't walk into a pet store without wanting to free all those puppies in cages. Can you?

What do you think was the best pet news last year? How can we help our pets more this year? I'd love to hear from you. And, join us again next Monday for more Pet Roundup.

Friday, January 1, 2010

This Year I Resolve to Take you on More Walks...

One of my New Year's resolutions ALWAYS involves dieting/eating healthier/exercising, and the last several years, that's applied to my dog Kelly, too. Lorraine Corriveau, wellness veterinarian at Perdue University's School of Veterinary Medicine takes involving your pets in your New Year's resolutions a step further. From writer Soumitro Sen, of the Perdue Newsroom (December 16, 2009) Here's Corriveau's top 10 list of New Year's resolution involving pets:

1. Spay or neuter your pets, adding more years to their lives and improving their behavior.

2. Provide age-appropriate health care so that you develop a good idea about their health and build a relationship with your veterinarian.

3. Give them a diet suited to their age and medical condition
. Pets kept at their ideal body weight live longer. Look for foods designed for different stages of life and medical conditions.

4. Give them medicines regularly to prevent heartworm and fleas.

5. Groom them at home, especially the minor grooming procedures, because it causes less stress.

6. Exercise and play with them more often, each day if possible.

7. Ask your veterinarian or seek expert advice on behavior problems. A basic training class might be useful, especially for a new puppy.

8. Socialize pets with other animals and people by enrolling them in a dog park, an agility/training class or socialization classes.

9. Donate time, effort or resources to a local animal welfare group.

10. If your pet is especially social, patient and people-oriented, consider certifying it as a therapy animal. Studies have confirmed that pets increase a person's life span, help speed recovery for both young and older patients, and are a great moral booster to people in various psychiatric and medical programs.

Provided by Purdue University (news : web)