Friday, February 26, 2010

Great Dog Breed Awards

So many different breeds of dogs! In addition to the classic AKC The Complete Dog Book, I've been enjoying my new book, Smithsonian Handbook Dogs, where I've been learning about more breeds I never knew existed. I'd love to meet them all. In honor of all these fascinating dogs, I've created my own awards. Feel free to add your own nominations, and your own categories too!

Best Ears: I can't decide if I prefer really big ears sticking up (Papillion), or really long ears hanging down (Basset Hound, Bloodhound, Saluki). What kind of ears do you like?

Best Hairdo: Gotta go to the Komondor. To see those dreds is to believe them! (photo above, from Animali d'Affezione)

Best teddy bear impression: Bichon Frise

Best sheep impression: Bedlington Terrier

Most specific breed name: Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever

So homely it's cute: Neapolitan Mastiff (picture, left from Pets' Place.)

Purebred dogs that look my Heinz-57 mixed breed mutt: Lowchen, Spinone, Airedale Terrier, and Otter Hound.

So what do you think? Tell me about your favorite breeds, and what awards they'd win!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

5 Ways to Help Your Cat Get Active

It’s pretty easy to figure out how to help your overweight dog—take him out for a walk. Throw a stick. But what about your cat? Some people describe their feline friends as sedentary, sluggish, laid-back. Okay, lazy. Forget chasing mice. These cats consider exercise climbing to their favorite perch by the window. Naturally, this often leads to weight gain. How can you get your mobility-challenged kitties active? Here are five ways you can help.

1. Try new toys.
Your cat may not naturally respond to those jingly toy balls, or go ga-ga for catnip. Keep trying. Browsing the pet store aisles will reveal a multitude of options. Or who knows, maybe your cat will end up preferring something you have already at home, like a wad of paper or an old shoe lace.

2. Play along.
It’s no fun to play alone. Try tossing a soft ball up a few steps. Dangle a string of yarn along as you walk down the hall. Tempt your reluctant cat with new sounds and noises to investigate.

3. Move the food bowl.
If your kitty’s only exercise is sidling up to the food bowl, make that bowl harder to reach. If possible, set it on a high counter so he has to jump to receive his meal. You could try moving the food bowl around to different places. Some cats enjoy the challenge of “hunting” for their food.

4. Try walking on a leash.
Does your cat crave the outdoors? She might also have fun walking with you outside. Admittedly, it’s not always the easiest process. describes how!

5. Consider a friend.
A frisky companion might invigorate your resident couch potato. You know best whether your cat, and your household, would be receptive to a new addition.

These tips may help your laid back cat embrace some get-up-and-go. If not, my dog Kelly is willing to come over and chase your cat around, just enough to give it a little exercise. She promises to be gentle, and snuggle up with it afterward.

This blog first ran on, September 2009.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Monday Pet Roundup

Hi and welcome to Monday Pet Roundup!

*Technology is constantly surprising me. PC World reports on a New iphone app that "translates" your dogs barks and then "tweets them out to the world"! Right now my dog would be tweeting zzzzzzz.

* More technology news from engadget: Dog e-Minder to record the last time your pet was walked, ate, or took its medication. Do we really need this?

*And finally, My Pet Speaker allows pets to listen to your ipod.

*A California man claims his dog was attacked by a mountain lion. Turns out it was a raccoon. This was determined by some highly advanced detective work, noting "the absence of mountain lion tracks (and) the presence of very large raccoon tracks" in the area.

*What was she thinking?! The New York Post reports that a Brooklyn woman, Donna McPherson, left her little Westie dog tied up to a post outside a store while she ran in "for two minutes" to buy milk. Someone stole the $25 coat off the poor little pup's back. While I agree it's unspeakable for someone to steal a coat off a dog--I mean, really!--it would have been worse if they stole the dog! I've no doubt that she loves her dog, so why risk it?

*Sweet stories on Pet News and Views about how pet lovers met their partners. Dogs, cats and even ferrets helped kindle true love.

Friday, February 19, 2010

New Guinea Singing Dog

The Eukanuba National Championships and the current Westminster AKC Dog Show have opened my eyes to a wonderful variety of dog breeds. Hairy, hairless, even dredlocked dogs in white, brown, spots and brindle.

Is it possible to be familiar with all these different breeds? I thought I was, but I stand corrected. Here's a less common breed I recently discovered.

The New Guinea Singing Dog does indeed come from New Guinea. And, it does sing! (This image was originally posted to Flickr by rgdaniel)

The dog is small, 18-22 pounds, about 15 inches high. It looks like a wild dog or dingo, with a fox's tail.

The "Singer" is rare, possibly even extinct in the wild. There are about 200 in captivity, in zoos and homes. And, the most important thing that I learned is that they are not recommended for most families. Still very closely related to a wild dog and has a strong hunting instinct. Although with proper socialization this dog is friendly, it can be aloof and unpredictable.

This dog has the ability to vary the pitch of its howl. One tone blends with the next, giving the dog their name. Listen to an audio file of these dogs on this site, New Guinea Singing Dog Conservation Society.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Why do pet adoption organizations ask so many questions?

Scrolling down the rows of adorable photos on Petfinder’s website, I came across a reddish-brown spaniel, about 9 months old, with silky ears and soulful brown eyes. I had to have that dog!

Before I could adopt Kelly, however, I had to pass an interview conducted by Kelly’s Rescue Mom. I anxiously sat on the couch as she scrutinized my home and examined my daily routine. Here are some questions you, too, may be asked when you’re ready to adopt that one special dog:
1. Could you provide veterinarian records?
While it doesn’t matter if your current dog had fleas or your previous dog once hurt its paw, adoption organizations want to see that you sought proper treatment for your pets. They’ll also want to ensure vaccinations were kept up to date. This information will show that you provided good care for your pet, and will care for the new dog as well.
2. Do you own your home?
Some adoption organizations require you to own your own home. Others will ask to see a copy of your lease and the pet policy, if you are a renter. They may ask to talk to, or receive a written consent from, your landlord. Making sure the dog is allowed at its new home helps ensure it won’t have to be returned (or worse, abandoned) later.
3. Do you have a fenced-in yard?
You’ll need a safe area for your new dog to run and play. You may even be required to have fenced in yard before you can adopt a dog. A representative will come to your home to verify this. In addition, they may visit to see if your home is safe, and big enough for the breed dog you are considering.
4. Do you work full time?
Adopting a dog is more difficult for those who work outside the home full time. Many organizations will not adopt to families where no one is home during the day. Others will only adopt older dogs, not puppies, in that situation. Families with staggered or flexible schedules, where one adult is home most of the time, or where an older, responsible child is home in the afternoons, will have an easier time adopting a dog.

5. What are the ages of your children?
Every adoption organization will ask about the members of your household and ages of the children. The SPCA will not adopt puppies less than 6 months old to homes with children under 4 years old. Some dogs are not a good match for young children.

While they may seem firm, these questions help place a dog in the right home, with the best care possible. And, with typical adoption fees ranging from $100-$350, you’ll want to be sure the dog is the right match for you and your lifestyle, too.

And the happy ending for us--we adopted Kelly, and she's a joyful and loving member of our family. Good luck finding your fur-ever friend!
(This first appeared on, July 2009)

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Monday Pet Roundup

Hi and welcome to Monday Pet Roundup!

*Don't miss this inspiring rescue story from Dog Spelled Forward.

* Attending a conference is great, but affording one isn't always easy. Blogpaws tells us how to get a sponsorship that may help you attend this great pet conference.

* What to do about those little accidents called submissive urination, from Bark: Confessions of a Dog Trainer blog.

*More on training. David the Dog Trainer tells us why proper crate training teaches a dog that his crate is a "wonderful place to relax."

*Dogs who tweet? Dogster for the Love of dog blog introduces us to a new product, Puppy Tweets.

* The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show is Feb. 15 & 16. Look fors your favorite breed!

*Laugh for the day: Not sure who "started it" the cat or the dogs, but this decorating job leaves something to be desired! From popular site Cute Overload.

Have a great week!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Meet the Petit Basset Griffon Verdeen

Watching the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship Dog Show this year, I had the pleasure of seeing many breeds that were less familiar to me. One breed the announcer mentioned sounded something like "Peeby Geeby." What kind of dog was that? Turns out it was I'd ever seen! A PBGV. Or, Petit Basset Griffon Verdeen.

The dog has a long body and long ears like a basset hound, but it's furry. According to the PBGV Club of America, the dog is a type of rough coated french hound. The full name is pronounced "Puh-TEE Bah-SAY Gree-FOHN VON-day-uhn." Whew, a mouthful!

These dogs are low to the ground and weigh 31-40 lbs. They are friendly, cheerful and intelligent. Bred for hunting rabbits, they have a strong hunting instinct and should not be let off lead when outside or they might be off on a chase!

Who can resist these cuties?!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Monday Pet Roundup

Hi and welcome to Monday Pet Roundup!

Fleck is an adorable Basset/Boxer. But he needs your help! His owner suffered a level 4 brain aneurysm in December, and is still in the hospital. A Dog's Life announces a fund is set up to help provide for Fleck's care, and another rescue dog, while his owner is unable.

If you love to blog about pets, BlogPaws conference is not to be missed. April 9 &10 in Columbus Ohio. More than a dozen great speakers including authors, veterinarians, bloggers, pet experts and PR and social media experts.

I happened to notice a television show called Toddlers and Tiaras, where four and five year olds compete in beauty contests. If this weren't unsettling enough, at this particular pageant the prize for the three top winners were---puppies! Whoever thought that was a good idea?? Shelters and rescue homes screen families carefully, yet these pups were just handed off. And, the show didn't say how old they were, but they looked like they barely had their eyes open.

This adorable dog Wyatt saved his owner! From Dogster's for the love of Dog Blog. Also on Dogster's blog, a great Interview with the talented folk from Draw the Dog.

Great cause. From Navy Times, group offers temporary homes to military pets.

From Martha Stewart, how to make a pet travel cushion.

Friday, February 5, 2010

New York Times says some dogs surgically "debarked."

The old, golden dog heard footsteps on the porch...the door handle turned. Her person was home! She tried to bark a greeting. But all that came out was a raspy squeak. Later, she tried to bark at a squirrel but again, only a squeak. What was wrong?

The dog had been debarked. A surgical procedure where the vocal chords are cut.

The New York Times reports
that this surgery, also called devocalization, is performed by some veterinarians, but has been falling out of favor. According to the article "Critics of the debarking procedure say it is outdated and inhumane, one that destroys an animal’s central means of communication merely for the owner’s convenience."

The article also cites other veterinarians who claim that the procedure, when performed properly and for the right reasons, is a viable option, and may even save some dogs from euthanasia. They say that the dogs recover well and "don't seem ever to notice any difference."

The procedure is sometimes performed on show dogs and drug dealers' dogs.

Let's say a city apartment-dweller has so many complaints about his dog barking that he is faced with getting rid of the dog or eviction. So he decides the surgery is the best solution.

My question is, had the owner tried training? behavior modification? I'm not saying I'm happy with those collars that zap a dog when they bark, but if the situation were extreme, I would prefer that to surgery. What about bringing a pet sitter in during the day to walk the dog and give it some company? Most dogs don't bark constantly for no reason. Could the dog have been bored, lonely, stressed, frightened, or even had some other medical conditions that could attribute to the barking? Perhaps the city apartment wasn't the best home for the dog?

I know that we can't state for sure that a dog is unhappy or traumatized without its bark. But to me it seems sad, putting an animal through a surgical procedure (not without risks) because someone chose to take away the animal's natural ability to communicate in the way intended.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Kyi Leo

Do you like to play "guess that breed" when you see dogs on the street? I always thought I was pretty knowledgeable about different breeds of dog. But I bought a new book
Smithsonian Handbook-- Dogs, and flipped through the pages only to discover name after name of dogs I didn't recognize! Before this, I had a 1970's version of AKC's The Complete Dog Book. A great reference. But now I find my education lacking! Most of the breeds I didn't recognize were foreign sounding names. Many of the dogs are from other parts of the world. So, in an effort to broaden my horizons, I've been looking into some of these less common dog breeds.

Today, we have the Kyi Leo (Image from
size: 9-11 inches tall
13-15 pounds

Cute, shaggy, short legs. If I saw this dog out on the streets, I'd think it looked like a Lahso Apso. Upon reading the description in my book, I see that indeed, it is a cross between a Lhasa Apso and a Maltese. The dog originated in the United States in 1972.

A small Companion Dog, the Kyi Leo is usually black and white, although can also be seen in colors such as all black, cream, or reddish.

The book describes teh Kyi Leo as "easy care" with a gentle, loyal temperament. Upon further research, Dog Breed Info Center describes Kyi Leo as being known for their "liveliness and catlike quickness."

Monday, February 1, 2010

Monday Pet Roundup

Hi and welcome to Monday's Pet Roundup.

* Remember the days of a poster on the telephone pole to help locate a lost pet? Now, technology comes to the rescue with microchips, GPS devices, and even web-based social sites.

*Doctor, heal thyself. But if you are a human physician, don't try to diagnose your pet. Doolittler author Patty Khuly contributes this article in USA Today about why some animals should not be treated like humans, in terms of medical care.

*Do you take your dog everywhere with you? Or do you think dogs don't belong in libraries, stores, coffee shops? Read two opposing views, from the New York Times.

*Lawyers for animals?

*Check out this adorable video on Dogster blog. Assistance Dog even helps get cash from the ATM!

Stop by and tell me something about your pet today. Do you take your pet everywhere with you? (or would you, if you could?!)