Why Do Dogs Roll in Disgusting Things?

By Ruthie Bently

I've lived with American Staffordshire Terriers since 1981 and have been lucky enough to own four of them. While they were all basically the same because they were AmStaffs, they were all different in their personal habits. AmStaffs are a wonderful breed and my first dog Nimber was a great dog that literally cleaved to my left hip, but for all his nice traits (and he had many) he had one habit that I was never able to break. He liked to roll in nasty things.

Before I had put up fencing for a dog yard where Nimber could exercise safely, there was one weekend that the person supervising his recreation period wasn’t leashing him for his walks. As a result he got loose and went wandering on his own. Nimber ended up getting three baths in a day and a half because he kept rolling in green deer poop. I am totally convinced that he went back to the same spot after each bath just to get smelly again. After I put up the dog run fencing, he was confined safely; but every time he got loose he found the smelliest pile of stuff to roll in.

There are many schools of thought as to why our dogs roll in things we think are nasty. Whether it is a pile of fresh cow or horse manure in a pasture, a pile of deer poop in the woods or maybe a dead animal carcass that they run across on a daily walk, some dogs will roll in it. I have happy news, though – not all dogs roll in smelly stuff.

Some people believe that our dogs roll in nasty things to cover a rival dog’s scent, which seems foolish to me. I have owned enough dogs, both male and female, that will mark a spot with either feces or urine after another dog has left a deposit of their own, but they never rolled in it. If anything they got perturbed by the miscreant marking territory that they felt was theirs.

I read something else that I tend to agree with after living with my own dogs, which suggested that the behavior goes back to that original pack. A dog finding something to roll in was doing it to take a message back to the pack. Bees go back to a hive and do a dance, ants lay a pheromone trail back to their nest for other ants to follow back to the food source they have found. What better way for a dog to take a message back, than to roll in the filthy mess? Their whole body is covered in a new smell!

Dogs are very scent oriented in nature; they always smell each other when they meet (if their owners allow them). If a wolf were to roll in fresh deer poop, they could lead the pack back to the area, and the pack could track the deer, which in turn could lead to a new source of food.

Yet another theory that goes back to the original pack, mentions that our dogs may be trying to camouflage their own scent from others. Think about it – they roll in very smelly stuff and come home not smelling like our dog any more. What better way to protect themselves from anything that may want to harm them, or prey they may not want to smell their scent and become spooked?

The last theory is that our dogs get turned on by many odors. Maybe they just like to smell different than they already smell. We humans use perfume, and according to the findings of one laboratory experiment performed, the dogs tested rolled in a large scope of things, including rotting garbage, dung, tobacco, lemon rind and perfume. This would seem to shoot down either the theory about covering the scent of a rival or camouflaging their own scent from another animal.

So the next time your beloved dog rolls in something disgusting, try not to get angry. And if it makes you feel better, think of it as aromatherapy for your dog.

Read more articles by Ruthie Bently

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!

The Health Benefits of Dog Ownership

By Anna Lee

We love our dogs and they love us. As responsible pet owners we do the best we can for our furry friends and they repay us in kind. We also know that laughter is the best medicine and dogs are very funny. Therefore, it makes sense that owning a dog is healthy for us! I am extremely lucky because Abby is a funny dog. She also knows how to melt my heart.

We know that pets enrich our lives. Recent scientific studies have begun to pin-point the ways that companion animals improve our minds and our bodies. Beyond walks and games of fetch, eager faces at the end of the day and many kisses, pets provide documented health benefits.

A 1993 report in the Harvard Health Letter explains that companion animals have more consistent behavior compared to our human companions and that they offer unconditional affection. The effect is lower blood pressure, heart rate and anxiety levels for pet owners. We repay our pets with love and attention. More than 60 percent of pets receive "as much attention as children," according to the 1994 American Animal Hospital Association pet owner survey. In my house Abby receives 100% since we have no children.

Laughter has been proven to reduce stress, increase muscle flexion, lower blood pressure and boost immune function by raising T-cell levels. Laughter also releases the body's natural painkillers, endorphins, and increases emotional well being while decreasing feelings of depression. Dogs are natural born comedians; mine is and your dog mostly like is also. Abby makes my husband I laugh on a continual basis. With recent studies suggesting that depression is more deadly than many other chronic diseases, spending some time with a canine goof-ball might be the best health insurance available. If I am in a bad mood and Abby does something typically Abby, the bad mood lifts away!

Exercise - In a Columbia University Study participants lost an average of fourteen pounds when they started walking the dog for just 20 minutes a day five times a week. Dog owners are more likely than non-dog owners to walk regularly and longer. Taking responsibility for someone else's well being is more compelling than looking out for your own health. I agree with that totally. I put off going to the doctor myself, but if Abby looks a little ‘off’ I call the vet instantly for an appointment.

Socializing - When we walk our dogs in the park or around the block people are more apt to speak to us. Dog lovers will naturally start up conversations. When we socialize with others we feel good about ourselves. We were on vacation a few years back in Chattanooga and visited Rock City. This is a huge mountain with all kinds of fun and interesting things to look at and squeeze through on the climb to the top. At the summit is a fantastic view of several states. That day there were many families with kids who had no desire to look at a view.

We sat down to relax and within seconds were surrounded by kids all wanting to pet Abby. Just watching their little faces made us feel better and Abby certainly didn’t pass up one kiss or pat on the head! Finally, parents realized the kids were having a better time with our dog because they were all on vacation and they missed their dogs back home. Rock City is pet friendly – check their website for more information on a great attraction! (www.seerockcity.com)

Sleep - I don't know about other dog owners, but I know feel confident at night knowing my dog is in the same room snoozing – with one ear and one eye open! Our quality of sleep has a big effect on health. Lack of sleep has been linked to some cancers, heart disease, diabetes, etc. Now if I could just get Abby to sleep later than 6 AM I would be very happy.

All of the health benefits of canine companionship are good for us. Better brain chemistry equals better sleep. More exercise makes for less depression. Better sleep eases mood problems. And wet sloppy kisses can mend a broken heart!

Dogs are good for our health! Since they provide us such a beneficial service we need to make sure we take care of them in return. What better way to take care of your best friend than to feed your pet a premium food like CANIDAE?

Read more articles by Anna Lee

Do Dogs Understand Words?

By Linda Cole

Most of us who own dogs or cats swear they understand every word we say to them. Dogs tilt their head and listen with eager eyes, and cats respond with an acknowledging meow or tail flick which I'm sure means, “Of course I understand exactly everything you are saying.” In reality, they probably understand only a fraction of what I say, but I know cats and dogs understand words.

Research has shown that dogs are more intelligent than what was once believed. It's possible your dog's intelligence equals that of a three year old child. Dogs are just as capable of understanding what we say as parrots or apes, two species considered to be the “Einsteins” of the animal kingdom. Some breeds are considered more intelligent than others, but most dogs are not purebreds. Does a mixed breed have an advantage over purebreds when it comes to intelligence? Do these dogs understand words just as well as their purebred counterparts?

Dogs have an advantage over their owners. Not only do they understand the laws of the pack, they also understand our tone of voice and body language. Body language and tone may contribute more to how dogs interpret our words than what we realize, but dogs understand words and can learn signals from whistles and hand signs. Herding dogs work with their handlers through a series of specific whistles and voice commands. Police dogs and rescue dogs are taught the language of search and rescue, and therapy dogs understand how to assist humans in everyday activities from learned signals and words.

It's believed an average dog can understand up to 165 words and count up to 5. Some dogs may be able to understand even more words. My mom had a mixed breed named Ben. He was so mixed even our vet couldn't figure out the possible breeds, but he was smart as a whip. Ben loved toys and my mother loved buying them for him. A green frog was his favorite and he understood each toy had a name. Each night, mom had Ben pick up his toys. It became a game Ben loved to play. Mom called out the name of a toy and Ben picked up each one correctly every time and put it away in his toy box. I learned from him that dogs understand words and can associate those words with an object or toy.

I have two mixed Jack Russell terrier sisters who know the names of the other members in our dog pack. Just as Lassie knew who Timmy was by name, they know and understand the names we use to call the other dogs. They look at the dog just as we would do in a group of people when someone's name is called out.

Of course our dogs learn to associate words by commands we give them. Down, go outside, stay, go for a walk, fetch or any other word or phrase dogs learn through repetition. However, understanding words and actually knowing what they mean are two different things.

Researchers question whether our pets have the mental capacity to understand love, for instance. Can they really be capable of understanding something as complex and abstract as love or hate? I know dogs are just like us in that they seem to like or dislike certain people. This could be due to body language, protective posturing by the dog or other factors such as unpleasant odors like perfume or other smells on a person. I also know when I cuddle with my dogs and look them in the eyes when I tell them I love them or give them praise, there's subtle ear flicks and a different look in their eyes like they did understand what I said and what it meant. Of course, that too could be simple association with my body language, tone of voice or actions because I'm also scratching their ears or back or giving them a kiss and hug.

Maybe one day research will be able to determine if our pets can learn abstract concepts, but at the end of the day, does it really matter how much they may or may not understand what we say? Talking to our pets is good for them as well as for us. I think most pets actually treasure our conversations as only they can. Positive attention is always good. They may not understand why your boyfriend/girlfriend is such a loser or why you don't have time to play ball right now, but dogs understand words more than what was once thought. So enjoy your next conversation with your dog, but remember, they may understand what you are saying more than you realize.

Read more articles by Linda Cole

7 Incredible Pets that Will Surprise You

By guest blogger Mary Ward Do you Digg It
Looking for the perfect pet can be a tall order, until you consider some alternative options. There are some excellent pets out there that can bring about hours of enjoyment, and sometimes the least expected choices make the best ones.
1. Hamsters: Sure they are rodents, but these are excellent pets for kids. The maintenance and upkeep is minimal for this family-friendly pet, so it’s a perfect starter pet. For the kids that want a family friend to take care of, this is an excellent animal to show what nurturing an animal is all about. These are fairly independent animals so they won’t necessarily show loyalty, but they’re pretty easy to care for.

2. Guinea Pigs: Along the same lines, these cute little bundles of fur are relatively easy to care for. That’s why you see so many of these cute little pets in homes with young people, as well as classrooms across the country. You can shower them with love but they can still do their own thing. This is an excellent pet to be able to care for but not to force too much time or attention as they blend into the family pretty easily.

3. Parrot: Birds are great pets in general, but the parrot can be a lot of fun. These are great pets because they feel like a part of the family as they repeat the words you say, making for hours of entertainment. Parrots are lovable yet fairly low maintenance making them a surprisingly delightful addition to the family.

4. Bunny: Who knew that these cute little fur balls made such excellent pets? Bunnies are great because they don’t require quite as much time or attention as cats or dogs, but yet they can be quite lovable. They can come out of their cage to play with the family, but yet will stay for long periods in their little home without making a peep. Cute and furry, these are a wonderful surprise as family pets go!

5. Iguana: Okay so this may not conjure up the visions of cuteness, but they make for good pets. You can shower them with attention though they don’t require too much in terms of maintenance. A little known benefit to these pets is that if you let them loose in the yard every once in awhile, they will help to control any bug problems that you may be experiencing.

6. Teacup Pigs: Admittedly any sort of farm animal such as this does better with more room to wander, but this smaller version can provide great delight. This tiny version of your typical pig can be lovable and sweet; it just needs extra attention to ensure they thrive. They are so cute though that you can’t help but fall in love with them!

7. Fish: If you want a pet but don’t want to keep up with the maintenance, this can be the perfect solution. A nice tank full of fish can bring about relaxation and a nice sense of companionship, offering some excellent delight to the individual who owns them.

These seven animals make surprisingly rewarding pets and companions, and are often easier to keep for many people and people with special considerations like allergies, time constraints, etc. Always keep in mind, though, that you should do your research to learn about any animal before committing to it as a long-term pet, and always consider alternative resources like rescues and shelters to help along a pet less fortunate.

Mary Ward is a freelance writer and likes writing about animal-related career topics, such as how to obtain an
online Vet Tech degree,job and education tips, and more.

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?

How Many Cats Makes Someone a Crazy Cat Lady?

By Julia Williams

Although I couldn’t find any information on who actually coined the term “Crazy Cat Lady,” it supposedly was first used to describe a cat hoarder, i.e., someone who collects hundreds of cats. Hoarders have serious mental health issues; hence, these cat collectors were called “crazy” despite the very un-pc nature of that slang term.

Later, the term Crazy Cat Lady evolved as a stereotypical label for a lonely, (usually older and always single) woman who either has a house full of felines, or one who likes cats “a little too much.” The Crazy Cat Lady is the butt of many jokes, and she’s made out to be someone who is unnaturally obsessed with cats. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard someone mocking the Crazy Cat Ladies, I’d be rich.

I’ve often wondered, though, how people determine whether someone fits the Crazy Cat Lady stereotype. How many cats does it take to qualify? How much “cat love” is too much? Are you a Crazy Cat Lady if you wear something emblazoned with a kitty, or have cat knick-knacks in your home? Why do we never hear of Crazy Dog Men? Do the same rules even apply to men?

So many questions, and the only one I have a definitive answer to is how many cats it takes to be called a Crazy Cat Lady. I know it has absolutely nothing to do with the number, and everything to do with attitude and lifestyle. You can be a Crazy Cat Lady with one cat, or a dozen. If you dare to choose cats over the traditional route of marriage and children, then you’re most definitely a CCL.

For years, I had a cartoon on my fridge with a woman who said, “My husband told me I had to choose between him and the cats. We miss him sometimes.” It still makes me laugh when I think of it, and I only threw it away because it became tattered and unreadable.

I haven’t always been a Crazy Cat Lady, because I was married for five years. But I am a CCL now, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. I really don’t care what anyone calls me, or who judges me because I choose to love cats. My three cats are among my very best friends, and they bring me the greatest happiness and joy. If someone thinks this is wrong or weird, so be it. I’m content with my choices and lifestyle, and this is all that matters to me.

However, I was a bit surprised to see that the Crazy Cat Lady stereotype has become so ingrained in our society. I discovered this by accident when, out of curiosity, I googled the phrase one day.

I found out there is a Crazy Cat Ladies Society whose purpose is “to use humor to counter the stereotypes made about people who love cats.” They say that claiming the CCL phrase on their own terms takes away its power to offend. Whether it actually does or not, I do appreciate that they’re using humor instead of indignation to counter the stereotype. I don’t personally see the need to be a member, but good for them for taking a stand.

Would it surprise you to learn that there are dozens of products out there devoted to the Crazy Cat Lady? It did me. There is a Crazy Cat Lady Board Game illustrated by four goofily dressed women with silly expressions on their faces. The aim of the game is to collect cats, of course, and the player with the most cats wins.

Then there is the Crazy Cat Lady Magnetic Sculpture Kit, which includes a figure and 12 metal cats that will jump on her the first chance they get. There is a Crazy Cat Lady Nightshirt with a cute illustration on the front, a Crazy Cat Lady Action Figure that comes with six cats (only six?) and a hardcover book titled Outing the Cat Lady: Embracing Your Feline Addiction with Style.

Last but not least is a product that isn’t specifically associated with the Crazy Cat Lady label, but leaves no doubt who the target market is. The Cat Butt Magnet Set includes five furry feline behinds and a hairball. Um…cat butts? I must admit, I find the notion of displaying cat butts on your fridge a little bit strange. It takes the CCL concept to a whole different level. But hey, to each their own.

If there is a Crazy Cat Lady in your life, now you know what to get them for Christmas!

Read more articles by Julia Williams

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.

What Happens at a Dog Show?

By Ruthie Bently

Have you ever been to a conformation dog show and thought you had just entered a three ring circus? Now that the Westminster Kennel Club Show at Madison Square Gardens is being televised, it is a bit easier to follow a dog show, but what really goes on? The premise of an all breed conformation dog show is to find the one dog that is the best representation of its own breed. The way this is done is to judge the dog’s physical structure and overall appearance against a set standard for the breed.

At an all breed conformation dog show, the first thing that happens is that the breeds are judged against their own kind to find the best single dog of one given breed. For example, all Labrador Retrievers would compete against each other. This competition is done in the breed ring. After a dog wins its breed, it goes on to the group ring and competes against the other dogs in a specific group. The different groups are Working, Herding, Non-sporting, Terrier, Toy, Hound and Sporting. So a Labrador Retriever would be shown in the Sporting Group, and a Chihuahua would be shown in the Toy Group. After a dog wins in their group ring, they go on to the Best in Show ring and are shown against all the other group winners that were chosen that day.

There are two other kinds of conformation dog shows: specialty shows and group shows. The specialty show is held for one specific breed; for example, there is an American Staffordshire Terrier specialty show every year. Only AmStaffs are invited, but they could come from all over the world, as long as they are registered with the AKC (if the show is held in the United States). The group show is open to dogs of a certain AKC group, i.e., a show for the hound group would be open to Bloodhounds, Greyhounds, Afghan hounds and other dogs in that group. Each dog entered in any AKC or breed club sanctioned dog show must at least meet the minimum requirements for their breed. Each dog is judged by a set standard for its own breed, and can earn points toward a championship.

It takes fifteen points to become an AKC champion. Out of those fifteen points the dog must earn two majors, which is an awarded score of either three, four or five points. The way they determine how high the points awarded will be, is by the number of male and female dogs entered in the show. The more dogs entered, the higher the points awarded. There are seven different classes that a dog can be entered in depending on their age, whether or not their handler is an amateur, who their breeder is, and whether they were born in the United States. After the seven different classes are judged, the winning males and females are brought back and compete again to see which one is best. The males and females are judged separately and only the top two dogs judged “Best Female” and “Best Male” are given championship points.

Besides regular conformation dog shows, you can attend field trials for agility, tracking, herding and hunting, as well as lure coursing, rally, and obedience trials. You can find shows scheduled in your area by visiting the American Kennel Club’s website for more information. These shows are also a great way to get a feel for a specific breed of dog, and what they are capable of doing. So, if you are looking for a new game to play with your own dog, you might want to give one of these shows a look.

Read more articles by Ruthie Bently

Owner in the Hospital: What Happens to Fido?

Recently, I received an email from a local petsitter who was involved in a very challenging situation. An elderly man was hospitalized unexpectedly and knew his dog was at home alone. Despite the seriousness of his condition, he persistently asked the hospital staff to do something to help his pet at home. With his permission, they contacted the petsitter to check on the dog. It's a good thing they did. The 8 month old puppy, left alone, had all but destroyed the house, probably out of fear and separation anxiety. Between the petsitters, the hospital staff and a local rescue organization, the pup is being cared for until there is more information about the patient's long term prognosis. While this sounds like a simple story, this took a lot of dedicated, caring people to make this happen.

This situation made me think about the dilemma that elderly pet lovers face. I have met several seniors who would love to have an animal companion, but are fearful of a health crisis resulting in the pet being homeless or, worse yet, being euthanized because no one wants them. In other words, they care enough about animals to sacrifice their own happiness in order to prevent something like the above scenario from happening. In other instances, people try to provide financially for their pets, in order to make sure they are cared for if something happens to the owner. Still other people take a chance and choose to remain devoted owners. I wonder what I would do if faced with those kinds of choices. I've had pets in my life from early childhood. I can't imagine what I would do without them in my golden years and especially at the end of my life. (Sigh) I wish there was an easy answer.

Long Journey For Cat

A woman's pet cat was found alive after being buried beneath debris from a house fire for 26 days!

According to the Huffington Post, Sandy LaPierre said that she assumed her 1-year-old female cat Smoka had died from the Aug. 10 fire in Franklin, about 30 miles north of Cincinnati.

Then 26 days later, a demolition company moved in to tear down what was left of the building. As they started to clear away rubble, they found Smoka's head sticking out from under 16 feet of debris! Amazing!

Smoka is alive and well. LaPierre says Smoka lost a lot of weight and has been gobbling down food to make up for it. Smoka has some difficulty walking, but otherwise seems OK.

After 26 days of being trapped without food or water she is still alive. That is one lucky cat.

The Best Food and Water Bowls for Dogs

By Anna Lee

You are probably wondering what the big deal is, right? Grab an old plastic container you don’t need anymore and put some dog food or water in it. Actually, there is a little more to it than that. There are things you need to consider when choosing a food or water bowl for your dog.

You need a bowl that is easy to clean, dishwasher safe, tip and spill proof, durable, and the right size for the job. If you have a 120 pound female Mastiff you can’t put her CANIDAE dry dog food in an old butter container, because it isn’t big enough. She would probably destroy the bowl in a week! On the flip side, you don’t want to use a mixing bowl as a water bowl for a Yorkie!

You need to determine the bowl size by the dog’s size and needs. Narrow and deep feeders are ideal if you have a long-eared dog such as a Bassett Hound or Blood Hound. This design allows your dog to drink or eat without getting his ears in the water or the food. A lab needs a rather large water bowl so you won’t have to fill it quite as often during the day.

There are also automatic feeder bowls on the market. They run on battery and you set the time and amount of food or water that is dispensed. They are not recommended for puppies, but they are fine for the established dog.

At the top of the list for an appropriate bowl, heavy weight stainless steel is the best choice. Get one with a rubber bottom which will stop your dog from pushing the bowl all around the room. It is almost impossible for a dog to break a stainless steel bowl.

If you do happen to have a kitchen cabinet full of old butter containers, throw them in the trash. You don’t need them and your dog doesn’t either. Once you invest a few dollars in a quality bowl you won’t have to buy another one.

Abby is an older dog, and an item I am thinking of buying her is a set of elevated bowls. They come on a stand and there are two bowls fitted into the top. Since it is elevated the dog does not have to bend over so far to eat, which makes it more comfortable for the dog overall and supposedly aids in digestion. You can also clean around elevated bowls very easily.

Where should you feed your dog? That decision is totally up to you. Our last house had vinyl flooring in the kitchen and that is where Abby’s food and water bowls were. This house has hardwood floors in the kitchen. Water and hardwood floors are a bad combination! I keep her bowls just beyond the kitchen in the hall to the laundry room. It has vinyl flooring but I also use a rubber backed runner under the bowls to help contain some of the water spills.

You can find a variety of bowls in all sizes and shapes at your local pet store, online pet stores, Tractor Supply, and almost every discount store including WalMart and Sam’s Club. Check out www.dogsupplies.com for examples of stainless steel bowls and the raised dog bowl systems. They have a very large selection and you don’t have to leave the comfort of your easy chair.

You need the right size food and water bowls for your dog. You dog may not know the difference, but you will!

Read more articles by Anna Lee

Simple Ways to Keep Your Dog Healthy

By Ruthie Bently

I own a dog and several cats, and I am always looking for ways to keep them as healthy as possible. When I adopted Skye, because of her special health issues I began looking at things I could do, that I may not have already been doing. We all know that we should provide fresh water every day for our dogs, but did you know your tap water could contain chemicals even if you live in the country and have a well? Cities regularly use chlorine to clean their water systems and some cities add fluoride to the water. Other chemicals that may be in your water are nitrates, arsenic and lead. By using bottled water or putting a filter on your kitchen faucet you can get cleaner water without the chemical additives.

You can use natural cleaners that have baking soda or vinegar in them. Vinegar cuts through grease and is great as a glass cleaner. Baking soda is a safe abrasive that can be used on dog dishes and water bowls, and you don’t end up with soap residue on your pet dishes.

By keeping an eye on your dog’s weight you reduce their chance of getting cancer or other health issues related to weight, like diabetes or heart disease. They can even have problems with their joints like hip dysplasia, and difficulty breathing. If you aren’t sure how much your dog should weigh, ask your veterinarian to help you decide the proper weight.

When walking, keep your dog away from puddles in the street, which could be contaminated by lawn chemicals like herbicides, insecticides or fertilizers. Don’t walk them across lawns that have been treated with chemicals; they can get chemical burns on their feet or get sick from licking the chemical residue from their feet. When working on your car in the driveway, make sure to sop up any spills of oil, brake fluid or toxic anti-freeze with pine shavings or clay kitty litter, and discard it in a tightly sealed, dog-proof garbage can.

Another great way to help not only your pet but yourself, is to get several houseplants that have the capability to filter the air in your home. Some good examples are Aloe Vera, spider plants, Gerber daisies, Mums and Philodendrons. However, a few of these are toxic to pets if eaten, so always keep them out of reach with a plant hanger attached to a wall or the ceiling. If you are a smoker, try not to smoke in your dog’s presence. Secondhand smoke can make them ill, and the more you smoke around your pet the more dangerous it is for them.

Try to use natural products to resolve issues with ants, ticks or fleas. There are many non-toxic organic products on the market today that will not harm your animals, but will take care of the bugs. Using diatomaceous earth or borax on the carpet or cracks between the carpet and the walls can help with the bugs as well. By vacuuming regularly and emptying your vacuum bag often, you can get rid of fleas in your household. There is even a flea trap that attracts the fleas with a light. The fleas jump toward the light and get stuck on a sticky sheet in the trap. And sprinkling powdered cinnamon around door and window sills will keep ants from coming in the house. If you have ant hills in your yard, I’ve been told that putting fish heads on top of the hills will drive the ants further into the ground, but that sounds a bit nasty to me and the cinnamon works fine for us.

Exercise your pet every day for at least 20 minutes at a time. Vigorous playing stimulates the tissues of the body and raises your dog’s blood pressure, which in turn sends more oxygen throughout your dog’s body and aids in removing toxins from the blood and body. Regular exercise has also been shown to strengthen a dog’s immune system.

Last but not least, try to keep your dog from getting overly stressed. Stress for your dog can be caused by a divorce in the family, guests visiting, other pets in the household, or getting ready to travel. You can help keep your dog stress free by sticking to a daily routine. Feed your dog at the same time every day. If you have a set time for playing, exercise or training, stick to it. Dogs need routine and the more regular the better. If you crate your dog when you leave the house, put a radio in the room that plays soothing music and set the volume to low. By trying any of these suggestions you can help keep your dog healthy for the long haul, and they will love you for it.

Read more articles by Ruthie Bently

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 www.bil-jac.com or http://www.companionsforlife.net/. Share stories and pics of you and your best friend at Facebook.com/BilJacDogFood.

Benefits of Hiking With Your Dog

By Linda Cole

To me, spring and fall are the best times of the year to go hiking with your dog. Spring breathes new, fresh life into trees and wildlife. The land is once again colored with green grasses and spring flowers. Autumn gives us beautiful colors in different shades of orange, golden yellows and reds that enhance a hike through the woods or along trails. A change is in the air. Gone are the sticky, hot temperatures of summer! Fall is a great time to head out to your favorite trail and enjoy the benefits of hiking with your dog.

Even the most hardened four legged couch potato loves to get outside for much needed exercise. The problem with taking your dog on the same walk around the same neighborhood is that it's the same old routine morning, noon and night. Your dog needs some variety – new scents to smell and investigate; hills and valleys to race up and down; and grass, dirt or mulch to walk on instead of cement. Just like us, dogs need stimulation and a little excitement now and then. Hiking with your dog gives him a mini vacation from his daily routine.

Hiking is a great way to get rid of boredom. This is one reason why dogs dig in the yard and chew on furniture or rugs. If your dog is sleeping all day, a hike is just the activity he needs to perk him up and run off pent up energy. You can see a spark light up in his eyes when he sees your backpack, hiking boots, water bottles and his leash because he knows he gets to go with you to a place with lots of interesting sights, smells and things to do.

One of my favorite places to hike is a trail that winds up and down gentle hills and goes through a small grove of trees, a clover filled meadow and ends at a small, fast moving brook. Not a long trail, but long enough to give my boots a good workout as well as my dogs. Along the trail, we see mainly rabbits shooting out from their hiding places, birds, lots of butterflies and a hawk every now and then floating in the sky above. Occasionally, we'll run across other hikers and their dogs. Hiking with your dog gives you an opportunity to meet other people, and your dog gets a chance to meet other dogs. Plus it's one of the best ways to bond with your pet.

Hiking also provides you with benefits. It's a great way to reduce stress, get rid of your own boredom and get away from the noise of the world. A solitary trail with trees dressed in their best fall coats of color and fresh air all around make it hard to carry the day's burdens in your backpack. Hiking with your dog is just a fun thing to do anytime of the year. It's healthy and adds stimulation to your dog's life as well as your own with a good work out that doesn't feel like exercise. It also helps you and your dog maintain a healthy weight and keeps muscles toned and strong.

There are a few things to remember, however. Know your trail and the animals or snakes you may encounter while hiking. It's also important to know your dog. How well does he respond to you when you call his name if he's excited? If he takes off into the wild spaces and you have to run him down or you spend hours frantically listening for his bark, don't take him off leash. He can still benefit from a hike at your side safely on his leash. Don't forget water for both you and your dog, and it's good to carry a small first aid kit in your pack. Other useful items include a wind up flashlight (no batteries needed), emergency blanket, ace bandage, wooden matches, hunting knife, a compass, a good length of rope, sweatshirt or jacket, a pair of jeans or sweat pants, hat, some food and extra water. I seldom have to use any of the items I carry in my pack when I'm hiking, but it's always best to be prepared and not need them, than wish you had taken the time to plan in advance.

Don't forget your camera for capturing those unique moments you can only find on a beautiful day along a trail. Fall colors will soon begin replacing the greens of summer with signs of the coming winter approaching just around the corner. Go for a hike! It's fun, exhilarating, healthy and time well spent that will benefit you and your dog in more ways than one.

Read more articles by Linda Cole

Should People Treat Their Pets Like Children?

By Julia Williams

Several years ago I was actively blogging on another site when a heated debate erupted concerning people who thought of their pets “like children.” A man who evidently did not have pets, had gotten his knickers in a twist over the idea that some people consider their pets a member of their family and – gasp!— akin to children on many levels. He stated that anyone who felt this way was off their rocker and further, that it was an insult to all “real” children. He also said that anyone who referred to their pets as “fur kids” or “fur babies” owed all children an apology.

It made me laugh then, and it makes me laugh now. My cats are “like children” to me, and the idea that it insults human children to feel this way is really quite funny. He’s certainly entitled to think of his own pets however he chooses. But no one has the right to tell anybody how they should feel about their pets, or about anything else for that matter! Moreover, no one has the right to tell a person they are being inappropriate for thinking or feeling in a way that is contrary to their own beliefs or emotions.

I don’t personally see the need to put little bows on dogs or dress them up in cute outfits (except on Halloween which is a whole different story), but I’d never tell a dog owner who did that they were in the wrong. Simply put, I have no right. My moral compass guides me and me alone; it guides only my choices for my pet, and no one else’s.

I firmly believe that if it floats your boat to think of your pets like children and treat them like cherished members of your family, then you should. If it doesn’t, then don’t. As long as there is no cruelty, neglect or harm being done to your pet, it’s nobody’s business.

If celebrating your pet’s birthday with a cake (made from dog food or cat food, of course) and buying them some presents is fun for you, by all means do it. If you want to include your pet in your family portrait or on your holiday card, it’s your prerogative. And why should anyone care if you choose to call yourself their “Mommy” or their “Daddy.” (Incidentally, according to a survey for the American Animal Hospital Association, a whopping 83 percent of pet owners do!).

I was watching a comedy show on TV the other night, when I heard a joke that really made me chuckle. The comedian said: “You can get everything from a dog that you can get from a child, but the dog doesn’t grow up to resent you.” Okay, technically that’s not true, but I still found it funny.

Well, I must go for now, my three children are meowing for some attention from their Mom.

Read more articles by Julia Williams

Teaching Your Dog Basic Commands: Come and Stay

By Ruthie Bently

“Come” and “stay” are important commands to teach your dog. They could save your dog’s life. I also teach the command “wait,” which is a variation on the sit/stay command or a long down, though your dog does not have to be in the down position.

I was lucky because Skye was already taught her basic commands when I got her, and was very well behaved. Teaching your dog to come is an easy command. Whether you are teaching a puppy or an adult dog, remember to have patience and only train your dog for fifteen minute intervals. This way they don’t get distracted or bored. As I mentioned in a previous article there are no time limits for training your dog. Each dog learns at their own pace, and you should never rush them or compare their progress to another dog’s progress.

The training tools needed are a collar (regular or choke collar), and a long lead line (cotton or nylon). I do not suggest using a retractable lead for training of any kind, though you could use one in a pinch. I use a twenty foot cotton lead, which is lightweight and easier for me to control, especially when I have a sixty pound dog on the other end. I also have plenty of CANIDAE Snap-Bits treats available, which I love because of their small size.

The “come” command is easier to teach if you have already taught your dog to sit, although it can be taught if your dog has not yet learned to sit. Attach the long lead to your dog’s collar and have them sit. Next, while facing your dog, walk backwards to the end of the lead so it is fully extended between you and your dog. Then call them in a happy voice and say “come” repeatedly until they come. If they don’t immediately get the idea, begin drawing the lead (with dog attached) toward you while you are repeating the word come. After they come to you, whether they do it on their own or with your help, praise them, give them a treat, or a hug and a pat on the head. Keep practicing and training until your dog has this one down.

You can also use the long lead to teach the “stay” command. Put your dog in a “sit” facing you and back away from your dog to the end of the line again, repeating the word stay as you back away. After you get to the end of the leash length, keep repeating the word stay for fifteen to thirty seconds. You want the dog to stay where they are until you give them your release word, which can be as simple as OK. I teach in increments of time beginning with about fifteen seconds and work my way up to one minute. If you go into open obedience classes with your dog, they will need to “stay” for longer than thirty seconds, but remember that your dog’s attention span when teaching a new command may be distracted by something else, so you want to make it easy and fun for them, without them getting bored.

I also teach the command “wait” to my dogs. This is a great command if you are getting your dog ready to go outside, to go for a ride in the car, or if you need to put something on the dog, like a different collar or a coat, sweater or boots. When I was teaching this command to Skye, I began by putting her in a “sit/stay,” which is basically getting your dog to sit, and then giving the stay command. Then you add the “wait” command. As Skye was already trained, I didn’t need to use a long lead; but you can teach it very easily that way. Put your dog in a “sit” and as before back away to the end of the lead’s length. Tell your dog to stay, then add the “wait” command. After your dog learns “wait,” you will not have to use the “stay” command; just put them on a sit and then say “wait” in place of the “stay” command you would use.

It is really a long “sitting stay” the way I use it, but it has come in handy. Most recently I took her with me to her favorite pet store to get her CANIDAE dog food and the cats’ FELIDAE. I have a small truck and while I have her leashed it is a short lead, which is designed to keep her close so she can’t climb out the window. While loading my purchases, Skye decided to get out of the truck. She was still leashed to the truck, but I was worried that she might hurt herself if she pulled on the leash too much. So I told her to wait, which she did. After I got the truck loaded, I unattached her leash while holding her collar, put her back in the truck, re-leashed her and off we went.

I learned this command from a man I used to work with who taught his Labrador Retrievers to sit and “wait” at any street corner or curbside they came up to. This may sound over-simplified, but if you live on a busy street and teach your dog the “wait” command when you get to the curb, this could be all it takes to save your dog’s life if they get out of the house unattended and go shooting for the street. I have come to the conclusion that you can never over-train a dog. They love to learn, and training will always keep them safer than not training them.

Read more articles by Ruthie Bently

Are Cats Smart? Smarter Than Dogs Even?

By Julia Williams

I can hear the dog owners scoffing and the cat owners saying, “Heck yeah!” I’m not really going to get into this age-old debate. For starters, I don’t believe there has ever been a scientific study which clearly proves either species is more intelligent than the other. Dogs and cats are both smart, in different ways. Furthermore, any study done is negated in my eyes by the fact that they are measuring intelligence in terms of what “humans” would do or are capable of. As I see it, you simply can’t measure the intellect of a dog or cat through human means.

Animal behaviorist, cat owner and cat expert Randall Lockwood said it best: “A cat is very smart at being a cat. Does it better than anybody.” If you asked a cat to write an 80-page thesis on nuclear fusion or the synthesis of carbon nanotubes, he would seem pretty dim-witted, wouldn’t he? But if your cat asked you to go out and catch a gopher with your bare hands, without getting so much as a scratch on you, you wouldn’t seem so bright either.

Dog owners often claim that because their canine companion learns commands and tricks much quicker than cats do, this translates to a higher degree of intelligence. However, what they fail to take into account is that dogs are pack animals with a strong desire to please the “top dog,” which coincidentally happens to be the human doing the teaching.

Cats, on the other hand, are inherently solitary creatures that are motivated more by the need to survive than to please. Moreover, felines have survived thousands of years in radically different environments and living conditions, which demonstrates just how crafty and adaptable they are. If we measured an animal’s intelligence solely by the ability to be self-reliant and resourceful, then cats would clearly be smarter than dogs.

Cats are smarter than dogs at cleaning themselves and covering their own waste. But dogs are smarter than cats at understanding “cause and effect” and memorizing commands. Then too, dogs will “protect and serve” but cats rarely work for anyone other than themselves. Cats almost never eat garbage or rotten food, but most dogs will wolf it down and suffer the gastric consequences. But perhaps the most compelling argument in the “cats are smarter than dogs” debate is that dogs are trained by humans, whereas cats train humans to do their bidding. Or, as the saying goes: “Dogs have masters, cats have staff.”

I hope you know that all of this is meant in fun. I’m not championing the intelligence of cats over dogs or vice versa. In the end, I think what it comes down to is this: some cats are smarter than dogs, some dogs are smarter than cats, and all of them are far more intelligent than any human can possibly comprehend. Further, cats and dogs all have the ability to make us laugh with their antics, and to make us want to be close to them every day. That means far more to me than any measure of intelligence.

Read more articles by Julia Williams

Fish Tank Update

I recently wrote about my trials and frustrations with buying a new fish tank. The tank is up and running and doing well. I'll have to put up some pictures soon, once my home projects are done and things calm down a bit. I only lost one fish in the process. The minimal loss is because I used filter media from a current tank to help cycle the new aquarium while mixing in the water from the old tank, to keep from getting what is known as new tank syndrome. I'll be posting some other great articles soon!

Is a Goldfish a Pet?

By Anna Lee

There are many people who do not want the responsibility of a dog or a cat, no matter how many times their children beg for one. When you bring a dog or cat into your home it is a huge commitment. Cats are a little easier to deal with, but they still require time, energy and love. A dog takes even more time, and typically, more money. If you’re not ready to add a dog or cat to your family, maybe you can slide by with a goldfish, or perhaps a hamster?

If you lead the type of life that would not allow you to take care of a dog in the proper way, then please do not get a dog because the kids want one. No matter how much they plead and cry it is a bad idea. I think it is very sad when the family gets a puppy and the poor dog is home alone in a crate all day with little to no attention. Then the pup spends most of the evening in a crate while the family is off running errands and attending sporting events.

So if you’ve told your children that there’s no way right now a dog or cat would fit in with your lifestyle, but they keep asking, maybe it’s time for a different approach. You need to instill in them that dogs and cats have many needs. They need to be fed, they need water, they need you to play with them, they need you to make sure they are healthy and have checkups at the vet. The list goes on and on.

Now is the time to say that perhaps in a year or so the family might be in a better position to get a dog. Try to explain what their responsibilities will be when that time comes. Suggest that they work their way up to a dog in stages. If they can prove to be a responsible pet owner with a smaller animal such as a fish or hamster, then you will consider getting a dog.

Suggest that each child can pick out one or two goldfish at the local pet store. Take the kids with you for the purchase, and let them help you pick out a nice size bowl and the accessories. Then approach the large fish tanks and let them each choose the fish. The movement and color will fascinate the kids and hopefully get them interested in having a goldfish as a pet.

Make a big deal out of picking out the fish. The more you play it up the easier it will be for them to accept. Have the salesperson at the store explain to all of you how to care for the fish, and emphasize that they should not overfeed the fish, that the water needs to changed and that they need to pick out names for their fish.

Fish not your thing? Maybe a furry little hamster would do. You can buy a nice big cage and all the accessories and watch the critter run around and play for hours. Hamsters love exercise wheels and can stay inside a wheel for hours on end. You just need to make sure you (or your children) clean the cage weekly and feed it the appropriate food. Pet stores sell hamster food and all the supplies you need. Again, let the store employee give the kids the run down on what is required to take care of a hamster.

A goldfish or a hamster will probably not put an end to your child’s desire to have a dog or a cat. However, these low maintenance pets can be a stepping stone in the learning curve of responsible pet ownership.

Read more articles by Anna Lee

Breed Profile: Airedale Terrier

By Ruthie Bently

I have met many of the AKC recognized breeds in my long and varied career, and one of the most interesting is the Airedale Terrier. The Airedale should not be confused with the Welsh Terrier, which is also black and tan, but quite a bit smaller and looks like a version of its larger cousin.

The Airedale Terrier is the largest of the recognized terrier breeds. Males stand between 22 and 24 inches at the shoulder and weigh between 50 to 65 pounds. Females are 22 and 23 inches at the shoulder and should tip the scales between 40 and 45 pounds. Airedales have a life span of about twelve years of age. They can be prone to hip dysplasia, bloat, skin infections and degenerative eye conditions.

The Airedale’s coat is medium length and consists of a harsh, wiry top coat with a soft shorter undercoat. They should be tan in color with a black saddle, or have a saddle of black mixed with gray and white, which is called a dark grizzle saddle. Grooming is done with a stripping comb, which is used to remove loose hair and can be very time consuming. When regularly groomed the Airedale may shed very little, but they are not a shed-less breed and do blow their coat with the seasonal weather changes.

The Airedale Terrier has boundless energy and is very alert. Because it was bred as a working dog, it needs plenty of daily exercise. They are good swimmers and love to retrieve objects thrown for them. They are a good breed for agility training, competitive obedience and Schutzhund, and work well as hunters. Before German Shepherds became commonly used as police dogs, many police departments in England and Germany used Airedale Terriers. They have also been used for hunting and rodent control. They can be used for herding livestock, but need proper training, as they have a propensity for chasing things. They need to be kept busy lest they become bored and restless. Like most of the larger breeds, they don’t become adults until the age of about two, so you could have your hands full until then.

Airedales are independent, strong-willed, intelligent, loyal and tenacious. They are loving, and like to be in the middle of any activity. They can be stubborn like many other terrier breeds, so obedience training is a must. While doing research for this article, I learned that they also have a sense of humor. This breed needs a mix of play along with their training regimen, or you will not get the results you desire.

Albert Payson Terhune wrote this about the Airedale: “He is swift, formidable, graceful, big of brain, and ideal chum and guard. To his master he is an adoring pal, to marauders he is a destructive lightning bolt.” Among their other fans are three presidents: Woodrow Wilson, Warren G. Harding and Calvin Coolidge, all of whom owned Airedales. Two Airedales were among the casualties of the Titanic’s sinking. The author John Steinbeck also owned an Airedale. Perhaps the most famous Airedale owner was movie star John Wayne who reportedly had one named “Little Duke.” Since he didn’t like his own first name (Marion), the story goes that he became “Big Duke” and eventually just “Duke” when making movies.

The Airedale breed came to North America in the 1880’s. The first Airedale to win the Terrier class in New York was named Bruce, and that was around 1881. They were accepted into the Canadian stud book and were recorded in the year of 1888-1889. The Airedale Terrier was developed by working class people in the West Riding of Yorkshire in an area called Aire, which was a valley between the Wharfe and Aire Rivers during the mid-nineteenth century. They were also used by British miners in the area of the Aire River for working in the mines. They crossed the Otterhound with a dog called the English rough-coated Black and Tan Terrier, which we know today as the Welsh Terrier. The Kennel Club of England formally recognized the Airedale Terrier name in 1886. The breed was shown at a dog show sponsored by the Airedale Agricultural Society for the first time in 1864, and were known by many different names including the Waterside Terrier, Bingley and Rough Coated.

During World War I, Airedales were used for mail delivery and carrying messages to soldiers behind enemy lines. They were also used as wartime guard dogs and by the Red Cross for finding soldiers wounded on the battlefields. One story tells of an Airedale named Jack with a message attached to his collar that traversed half a mile of enemy fire to reach headquarters. Even with one leg severely injured and a broken jaw, he got through and delivered his message. There are many such stories of heroism for those four-legged warriors, which protect our troops in times of war. There was even a War Dog Training School established by Lieutenant Colonel Edwin Hautenville Richardson for use with the British Army.

Read more articles by Ruthie Bently

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?

Interviews with patients

For the past couple of weeks, I have been visiting patients and their pets that have been served recently by the Pet Peace of Mind program. We try to take photos of our patients and their pets for a scrapbook we are putting together. Some time back, I developed a brief interview form for volunteers to use for this type of visit and I wanted to test it by visiting patients I didn't know personally. So far, it has been a wonderful experience. I've found that patients are eager to talk about their pets, even with someone they have never met before. I was surprised to find that several of our patients have rescue animals or animals that were abandoned by another owner. You can imagine these patients' anxiety about making sure those pets have a loving home after they are gone. When asked why their pets were important to them at this time in their life, several people told me that their pets provided not only constant companionship for them, but a feeling of safety and security when they were home alone. This particular dog, Daisy, is a delight. She stays close to her owner when he is not feeling well and refuses to leave his side. On his good days, however, she is so popular in the neighborhood that the mailman leaves treats for her along with the mail!

The Best Lap Dogs

By Anna Lee

When I was a little girl I wanted a dog that would sit on my lap while I watched TV or read a book. We didn’t get a small dog; we got a Chesapeake Bay Retriever instead. As an adult I wound up with an 80 pound lab that ‘thinks’ she is a lap dog. I have the room for a large dog, both inside and outside, and am a fan of large dogs. Many people, however, would prefer a small dog, and in particular a lap dog.

According to Wikipedia, “A lapdog is a dog that is small enough to be held in the arms or lay comfortably on a person's lap. Lapdogs are not a specific breed, but a generic term for a type of dog of small size and friendly disposition.”

Following are some suggestions for the best lap dogs. If you want your pooch to curl up with you and relax, to keep you company, these dogs will do the trick.

The Pug is affectionate, loving, and has a happy disposition with a wonderful personality. They are sensitive to the tone of your voice. Pugs are very devoted dogs. You do need to let them know that you are the boss as they have a mind of their own. They weigh anywhere from 13 to 20 pounds.

The American Cocker Spaniel is a great choice and a versatile dog that fares well as a gun dog or a house dog. They do need discipline and daily exercise. They respect their master. They are a little difficult to housebreak, but they get along well with other dogs. The Cocker Spaniel can weigh anywhere from 15 to 30 pounds, which is a good weight for lap sitting!

The Toy Poodle is said to be the breed that is the easiest to train. They like to be with people and are perky and lively. Toy Poodles love to run around outside, but once inside they are very calm. They weigh about 6-9 pounds. They need frequent baths, and they need to be clipped every 6 weeks. All that cuteness requires more grooming!

The Whippet looks similar to the Greyhound and is slender but hardy. This breed is intelligent, lively, affectionate, sweet, and docile. This devoted companion is quiet and calm in the home and willing to sit with you. Whippes should never be roughly trained, for they are extremely sensitive both physically and mentally. They are good with children, odor free and extremely clean dogs. At 25-40 pounds, the Whippet is a little bigger than the other lap dogs.

The Lhasa Apso is another adorable little lap dog who is very affectionate with its owners. They have excellent hearing and make wonderful guard dogs for their size! Lhasa Apsos are generally suspicious of strangers and not very well suited to kids, and tend to fight with other dogs. They weigh about 13-15 pounds.

If you are more of a non-exercise type person who enjoys relaxing, then get yourself a cute little lap-lover, curl up while reading a book or watching TV, and while away the time!

Read more articles by Anna Lee

World's Most Expensive Dog

It would have been much cheaper to adopt....

What does a $582,000 dog look like? A Tibetan Mastiff has apparently broken the record for the world's most expensive dog. It was sold to a young Chinese millionare.

You can read the complete article as found on MSN.com.

Are All Dogs Descendants of Wolves?

By Linda Cole

Through responsible breeding and centuries of domestication, dogs are certainly man's best friend. But how much of their ancestral instincts have dogs maintained even with continued breeding that has calmed ancient instincts? I sometimes wonder as my dogs lay sleeping if there is a quiet and secret wolf at my side. Are wolves and dogs close relatives?

Scientists have discovered that the DNA of wolves and dogs are identical. They share certain traits as well as a knowledge of pack hierarchy which provides each animal with a place in the pack along with protection and defense of the pack and their territory. Although scientists are uncertain whether man domesticated the dog or they tamed themselves, we do have evidence that dogs have been living with humans for centuries. What is known is that dogs have an instinctive knowledge of their wild counterpart, the wolf.

Wolves and dogs belong to the same family, Canidae, and come from the same species, Canis lupus. All dogs from the tiniest Chihuahua to the massive English Mastiff are related to wolves. Although most dogs look nothing like their wild ancestors, they do share a few qualities that have not been completely lost through responsible breeding.

Like wolves, dogs are loyal, protective of their pack and home, and they want to be near their pack leader. Both dogs and wolves are social animals who want to please the one in charge. But that is where similarities end. Shy and recluse, a wolf's instincts tell him to avoid humans. They would not make a good or safe pet, especially if children are involved. Wolf sightings are rare in the wild and if you are ever blessed with an encounter, you will be among a privileged group.

A pack of wild dogs, on the other hand, are more dangerous than a wolf pack as far as humans are concerned. Wolves prefer the secluded safety of the forests, but wild dogs have no fear of man and are more likely to invade our space as they search for food. Where a wolf pack is stable and more predictable, the wild dogs roaming in packs usually have no clear leader and can be erratic in temperament and reaction to situations they encounter -- including encounters with people.

I've always admired the resilience of wolves, their intensity and intellect to function together as one for the common good of the pack. However, a wolf is not a pet and belongs in the shadow of the mountains and forests. My dogs are pets and in reality, no longer share much of their ancient past. Breeding has removed most wolf tendencies and my sweet dogs have the ability to protect those who make up their pack and give us their loyalty and trust, but have very little in common with today's wolf.

Wolves also differ from dogs in that our pets would not be successful on a hunt. They have lost the concept of working together for the take down. Like wolves, dogs are scavengers if necessity dictates, but most dogs would have a difficult time trying to survive on their own. A dog is described by some animal behaviorists as being similar to an adolescent wolf because our dogs exhibit the same maturity as a young wolf by playing and licking our faces.

In the long run, it doesn't really matter. Even though wolves and dogs belong to the same family, the few traits dogs have retained from their early ancestor is what makes dogs unique in their own right. As I watch my dogs sleeping at my feet with one beside me resting her head on my leg, I know they share the DNA of a wolf, but if there is a wolf hiding inside, they aren't aware of it, and only their dreams hold secrets to an ancestor they no longer know.

Read more articles by Linda Cole

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!

Is Your Cat a Tuna Junkie?

By Ruthie Bently

My boyfriend Steven loves to go fishing. We usually eat fish several times a week when the fishing is good. I sometimes give our cats the cooked leftovers of fish, like the skins or heads when we have baked trout, as they love them so much. But did you know tuna fish is dangerous to feed to your cat? Have you ever heard of a “tuna junkie?” That is what a cat that gets addicted to tuna fish is called. Yes, your cat can become addicted to tuna fish, and this addiction can lead to more serious health issues.

The first time I ever heard that a cat could get addicted to tuna fish, I thought it was a joke. Then one of my customers came in with a cat that was a tuna junkie and had to go to the vet hospital because of it. I had to help her get her cat off the tuna fish. This was about twenty years ago, and FELIDAE® Grain Free Salmon cat food hadn’t been invented yet, which would have made my customer’s life a lot easier.

A cat addicted to tuna fish usually will turn down any other food offered. You should never feed any undercooked or raw fish to your cat, as they contain an enzyme called thiaminase. This enzyme can destroy the thiamin in your cat’s body, which can lead to a thiamin deficiency. This can cause neurological problems if left unchecked. Their addiction to tuna fish can also make them nervous or aggressive to their owners or other pets in the household.

Tuna fish is high in mineral salts, which can lead to bladder stones in your cat. If you are only feeding your cat canned tuna fish, it can also lead to a Vitamin E deficiency, which in turn can lead to a health issue known as steatitis – also known as Yellow Fat Disease. This inflammatory disease causes the fat in a cat’s body to harden, and can be extremely painful.

A little tuna treat once in a great while will not harm your cat. Just make sure that canned tuna is not a staple of their diet. You can help your cat stay healthy and address their craving for fish at the same time by feeding them the new formula of FELIDAE Grain Free Salmon cat food. They’ll get to enjoy the taste of fish that most cats seem to really love, but in a premium cat food that is good for them. You can buy this cat food at your local independent pet shop, and I’m certain that you and your cat will be glad you did!

Read more articles by Ruthie Bently