"The Divinity of Dogs"

Today, a friend sent me a link to a video from CBS News Sunday Morning that was an opinion piece by Ben Stein. It's called "The Divinity of Dogs." I'm not really sure why he titled it that way, because he doesn't say much about divinity per se, but it's a great piece. Mr. Stein talks about how dogs can help us through some of the challenges that life hands us, including financial hardship, betrayal and loneliness, even a terminal illness. He mentions a dear friend who died of Alzheimer's Disease whose last words were, "Where's my dog?" That really touched me, coming from a hospice background. I know for a fact that terminally ill patients with Alzheimer's usually haven't spoken for a while and when they do, they don't make much sense. There are, however, tiny moments of grace, when it's almost like a window opens into their illness for a brief moment and they remember things and people and places...it's truly a blessing for family members when these times occur. If you've seen the movie, "The Notebook" you will see an example of that phenomenon. Mr. Stein says that this man's dog was his best friend, even throughout his illness. He's right about one thing. Dogs hang in there with us no matter what happens. Even Alzheimer's Disease. Here's the link to the segment on You Tube, if you are interested.

The Best Chew Toys for Dogs

By Suzanne Alicie

We have all heard horror stories about dogs who chew. I have lived through this terrible event and after losing several pairs of leather shoes and one really great leather jacket, I learned some hard lessons. The first is that no matter how well behaved your dog is being, you can’t trust them. Don’t leave your valuable chewable items in a dog’s reach, because that is just too much temptation.

The second lesson is that if you provide your dog with good chew toys they may learn to leave your stuff alone. Spending a few bucks on chew toys is preferable to replacing your entire shoe collection. I don’t know why my dogs only chewed on leather and completely ignored my dollar store flip flops. I suppose they have expensive tastes, but the non leather chew toys I found seem to intrigue them just as well.

There are chew toys of all shapes and sizes; some even hold treats which will keep your dog occupied for a long time. Because each dog will have a preference, you may have to try several chew toys before you find the ideal one for your canine friend. When you are choosing a chew toy for your dog, the most important thing to look for is that the chew toy is the right size. If you have a small puppy, a large hard chew toy won’t interest them because they won’t be able to chew on it well, and if you have a large dog a small chew toy can be a choking hazard.

Safety must come first when it comes to entertaining your dog. Chew toys that are flimsy and will get torn into pieces easily are not recommended. You can find chew toys everywhere, from your grocery store pet aisle to pet specialty stores and websites.

Squeaky chew toys are a personal annoyance of mine simply because my dogs can squeak them a hundred times in just a few minutes and drive me crazy. For that reason alone I don’t give my dogs squeaky toys. If the noise doesn't bother you, be sure to select toys that are well made so the 'squeaky' part does not become dislodged and present a choking hazard.

When it comes to choosing a dog chew toy you should follow these suggestions for your dog’s safety and happiness.

• Look for chew toys that are made of durable rubber.

• Avoid strings, buttons and other pieces that can come off and be swallowed by your dog.

• Choose chew toys in an appropriate size for your dog - replace puppy chew toys as the dog grows.

• Purchase more than one shape of chew toy. Dogs prefer having a choice and will use the chew toy that is comfortable for their mouth and teeth.

Keep in mind that chewing is a natural dog activity. By choosing smart chew toys, you can help maintain your dogs dental health and even improve their breath, while preserving your home, furniture and footwear.

Read more articles by Suzanne Alicie

Monday Rufferences and Mews

Welcome to Monday Rufferences and Mews!

It may not be practical--or desirable--to get your kids a puppy or kitten for Christmas. But never fear, the hot new trend this year might appease your kids' desire for a pet, while saving a fortune on dog food. Enter this year's must-have holiday toy, Zhu-zhu pets, little robotic hamsters that have their own tracks, balls and play systems. What do you say, Yay or Nay?

A great idea from the Humane society of the United States is to put together a pet's first aid kit. Why not put one together for a great holiday gift for any animal lover?

Has your cat grown finicky, refusing to eat it's food? Or developed an allergy? Here are some tips for switching your cat's food.

Need some help around the house, or just a good laugh? Check out these videos of cats doing windows, dishes, even vacuuming!

There are so many working dogs for people with disabilities, our seniors, and assisting our police forces. Here's another type of working dog. Meet Bailey, a reading therapy dog.

If the dog or cat hair is becoming a problem, help is on the way. Check out this helpful article on the Furminator and other pet grooming tools.

What do you think? Will you be purchasing a zhu-zhu pet this Christmas? What do you keep in your pet's first aid kit? And, if you use the Furnimator or other similar tool, how do you rate it? I look forward to your comments.

Check back next week for more Monday Rufferences and Mews!

Unknown Dog Steals Frozen Turkey


Funny story about a dog stealing a turkey, and leaving it in someone else's yard....

Who Won the CANIDAE Facebook Pet Photo Contest?

Most people love taking photographs of their beloved pets and showing them off to the world. But when this includes the chance to win a one-year supply of premium pet food from CANIDAE, all the better!

The moment many of our readers have been anxiously waiting for, is finally here. It’s time to announce the winners of our recent Facebook photo contest, and show you the prize-winning pets. We received hundreds of great photos, depicting everything from family vacations, children hugging their dogs, cats sunning in windowsills, dogs walking along the seashore, and beautiful shots of some of the cutest pets on the planet.

After narrowing the field down to the top 50 pictures, the entire CANIDAE staff voted for their favorites. Everyone had a lot of fun looking at, and voting on, all of the wonderful photos. Many pet owners attached touching stories to their pictures as well, relating how they rescued an injured or abandoned pet and brought them back to health. Often, they said that our premium pet food was part of the recovery process. “That always puts a big smile on everyone’s face around the office,” said CANIDAE employee Jason Castillo.

Dog Category Grand Prize Winner

Kristi M. of Broadview, Montana won the dog category with the adorable photo of her Fawn Boxer and Australian Cattle Dog mix jumping in the air to catch snowballs. Kristi wrote, "Our dogs and cats are more than just pets, they are family; and as such their health and nutrition are very important to us. Thank you for making such wonderful foods."

Kristi’s dogs Laila and Viktor both endured hardship before coming to live with the family. Laila had been neglected, left chained to a shed to be a "guard dog" and was underweight. Viktor had been thrown from a car window and suffered from a broken shoulder as well as having other signs of abuse. Both dogs are now happy, well-cared for members of the family.

Cat Category Grand Prize Winner

Amy R. of Farmington, MN won the cat category for her charming picture of best feline friends Attis and Arley snuggled close to one another. Amy wrote, "We've had Attis and Arley for about two years now. We feed them FELIDAE Grain Free because Attis is an Egyptian Mau and I read that grain free is best for his sensitive tummy. He does really well on it. They are such cute cats. They look out for each other and they love to play."

Dog Category Second Place Winner

The votes were so close in the dog category that a second place prize was created and awarded to Diane S. for her photo of Rain, an 8 week old Aussie mix puppy she helped to rescue after it had been discarded by the side of the road. Diane is affiliated with Paw Safe Animal Rescue in Virginia and will receive a 6 month supply of CANIDAE dog food.

We want to thank everyone who submitted their photos for this contest. It was so nice to see all of your cherished pets and read your heartwarming stories – and so very difficult to pick the winners! Even if you didn’t win the contest, your dog or cat could still get a little taste of fame – many of the photos and stories will appear on the CANIDAE website or in a special Facebook Fan Page photo album.

We may even feature the photos here in our Responsible Pet Ownership blog. We created this blog to provide helpful tips and advice for caring pet owners, and strive to offer insightful articles on virtually every aspect of pet care. We hope to see you here in the future, and on the CANIDAE Facebook page too!

Tips for Buying or Building a Dog House

By Ruthie Bently

Here in Minnesota, while the season on the calendar is still fall, it feels more like winter, sans snow. Skye does have a dog house, though she does not have to use it for winter shelter because she is never left outside. In any country that has a winter season, it is best to have a dog house for those very cold days and nights. Dogs that have no shelter of any kind can get frostbite on their feet, tails and ear tips. They can also suffer from hypothermia which can cause more permanent damage if not treated quickly enough.

You can buy a dog house, or you can make one yourself if you are handy. Visit your local library for do-it-yourself books on how to make a dog house, which will usually include plans. You can probably even find free dog house plans on the Internet. Whether you buy a dog house or make it yourself, the things you should look for are the same.

One thing to consider is the height of the interior space of the dog house. Your dog should be able to get in, turn around and lay down. They don’t have to hold their head up, but should be able to walk into the house without bending their knees. Think of it like your dog’s outdoor den, or (if you use a crate in the house) your dog’s outdoor crate without a door. It should be comfortable for them to get into if they need to. For example, Skye fits well into a crate that is 36” long x 24” wide and 26” high; so if I were looking for a dog house I would look for one with those basic measurements. An important thing to remember is that the dog’s body heat keeps the house warm, so if it is too large your dog won’t be able to stay warm.

Another important factor is that you don’t want your dog house to sit right on the ground. Instead, you want a bit of clearance between the floor of the house and the ground. Rain, snow and ice can get into the floor of the dog house if it sits right on the ground, causing it to deteriorate. Clearance will also keep insects from getting into the dog house, and allows air to circulate. Try to find a dog house with an offset door; this will help keep the winter winds from whistling in and keep snow off your dog as well. One with a baffle pattern is good, but again your dog has to be able to maneuver without too much trouble. If the roof is peaked, you may want to get a sheet of insulated wallboard for extra warmth. A dog house with a shingled roof is a plus, and will protect the roof of the house from the weather.

To cover the floor you can get a piece of indoor/outdoor carpeting, which makes it easier to clean. On top of that you can put an old quilt or down comforter. If you use a down comforter, get a good heavy cover for it, as your dog will probably want to make a nest. Several clean, old rugs work well as bedding too. There are even heated pads you can purchase, but if you use one of these, the dog has to be able to get off of it if they want to. You can also use a nest of straw, but make sure it is clean and mold-free. I like to use old comforters, and can buy them for a few dollars at the thrift store. They are nice and thick, and Skye loves to dig in them in her crate.

If you get a dog house and want to put it into a dog run, make sure your dog run has a top on it. Your dog could use the house as a launching place to get over the dog run fence. If your run does not have a top or is too small for the dog house, you can cut an access panel through the dog run fence, butt the dog house up to the fence and anchor it to the fence. This will keep your dog from pushing it out of the way and trying to escape the dog run. You may also want to use tie downs if the dog house is lightweight and you live in a particularly windy area. I am a fan of wooden dog houses and have had good luck with them, but these tips will apply to any dog (or cat) house you get to protect your pets from the elements.

Read more articles by Ruthie Bently

Spot the Fat Dog

Since my book is about dieting with my dog, I'm always interested in other pet owners' struggles with keeping their pets slim and trim. Most often, the pet weight gain is simply a case of a few extra pounds due to a few too many doggie cookies or table scraps. Well-intentioned owners (like myself) may overfeed their pet as a misguided way of showing love. Kelly gained about 8 extra pounds, which was substantial on her then 35 pound cocker-spaniel sized frame.

Sometimes, however, the situation truly gets out of control. An interesting post on the blog Dog-Owned Life by Mark Ramirez alerted me to an obese British Dalmatian which topped the scales at 154 pounds. The owner fed the dog chocolate and crisps (potato chips).

This Dalmatian was so fat he could barely move. So sad. Fortunately, last June the dog was taken from its owner and put on a diet. According to officials, "Pet owners have a legal duty to provide proper care under the Animal Welfare Act." Now the dog is a healthy weight and will be taken into a new home. The owner was banned from having pets for ten years.

What worked for Kelly was no table scraps, smaller size dog biscuits, and lots of daily walks. It takes effort, but she's slimmer and happier now. And so am I!

Giving Thanks for Pets

By Julia Williams

Thanksgiving is a day when people come together for feasting, fellowship and fun. For many, this day also includes the tradition of giving thanks. Very often, this is done by going around the dinner table before the meal, with each person sharing what they are thankful for. Younger children seem to really love this custom, while most teens and some adults think it’s silly and would just rather eat their turkey.

You may be wondering, what does this have to do with giving thanks for pets? Well, it reminds me of a similar “thanks giving” ritual I practice, and not just on Thanksgiving, but every day. I’d like to share it with you, and will explain how it relates to pets.

I got the idea for my “thanks giving” ritual from Jack Canfield’s Key to Living the Law of Attraction. As you may know, Jack Canfield is the co-creator of the bestselling “Chicken Soup for the Soul” series. The basic principle of the Law of Attraction is that “like attracts like.” In this book, Jack explains that “Being truly grateful for what is already present in your life will automatically and effortlessly attract more good into your life.” He says that by making a conscious effort to appreciate and acknowledge all the good things in your life, you attract even more to be thankful for.

Even those who might not believe in the Law of Attraction should be able to see the value in this way of thinking. Having an “attitude of gratitude” just makes you feel better – not only about yourself and your individual situation, but about everything in your world. It’s practically impossible to feel surly or sad when you are in “thanks giving” mode.

I developed my own “thanks giving” ritual that helps me cultivate this attitude of gratitude. Every night when I crawl into bed, no matter how exhausted I may be, I take a few moments to silently think about all that I have to be grateful for. I might give thanks for material things like having a warm home or a comfortable bed, or intangible things like having a peaceful or productive day. It’s not structured, it’s just what comes to mind in the moment– and it’s never the same on any two nights.

But the one thing I always include is a line about my cats. “I give thanks that Mickey, Rocky and Belle are safe, healthy and happy.” That never changes. I want to always remember to feel grateful that I’m able to keep my cherished pets safe, healthy and happy. And when I express that gratitude, albeit silently and only to myself in a dark room, it makes me feel good. It makes me feel blessed to acknowledge that I have good, nutritious food for them, and a warm home for us all to live in.

Every pet deserves a responsible owner who will always do their best to keep them safe, healthy and happy. Sadly, some pets are not as fortunate as mine. I like to include my pets in my “thanks giving” ritual, because I’m so grateful I can give my feline companions a good life. And no matter what else has occurred during my day, I go to sleep every night feeling thankful for their companionship and love.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all. May this holiday find you and your four-legged friends safe, healthy, and happy.

Read more articles by Julia Williams

Were there pets on the Mayflower?

When thinking about the first Thanksgiving, the obvious question on everyone's mind is, "Were there pets on the Mayflower?"

Okay, maybe it's not the first question that comes to everyone's mind, but as I was sitting down to write this column today, I couldn't stop myself from wondering.

I was reading an interesting article in Parade magazine called "Be a Pilgrim for a Day," by A.J. Jacobs, who discussed the probable first Thanksgiving menu: venison, lobster, eel, mussels, fish, radishes, turnips and spinach. And some sort of fowl, maybe duck, swan, pigeon...or the ever popular turkey. And maybe thinking about all those animals--albeit some edible--maybe that's when my mind wandered to the question of pets on the Mayflower.

It turns out, there were pets on the Mayflower! The 1622 book Mourt's Relation, (actually titled A Relation or Journal of the Beginning and Proceedings of the English Plantation Settled at Plimouth in New England) describes two dogs; a Mastiff and a Spaniel.

According to the site The Pilgrims and Plymouth Colony: 1620 "The first indication of Pilgrim dogs being present comes during the second exploration of discovery....During that exploration the group of men stumbled upon two Indian dwellings. In recounting what they found, we were told they found two or three pieces of venison thrust into a tree, which they thought 'fitter for the dogs than for us.'....This passing remark would seem to indicate John Goodman and his two dogs were with that group of men."

I'm very happy to know there were dogs with the Pilgrims, perhaps lying under the table begging for scraps on the first Thanksgiving.

Portland’s New Pet Food Bank Gets “Two Paws Up”

By Julia Williams

Throughout the year but especially at Thanksgiving and Christmas, many compassionate souls step up to help those who have fallen on hard times. Food banks and soup kitchens ensure that the homeless, jobless and low-income families all have a nice holiday meal. But what about the beloved pets of those less fortunate? If they are lucky enough to live in Portland, Oregon, they too will have plenty of good food to eat this Thanksgiving! Thanks to The Pongo Fund Pet Food Bank and CANIDAE All Natural Pet Foods, no companion dog or cat in Portland has to go hungry this holiday season.

This new food bank for pets officially opened on November 8th, and plans to be open on the 2nd and 4th Sunday of every month. Reflecting on their first day, The Pongo Fund Founder Larry Chusid said it was a “perfectly joyful opportunity to help the community. We were able to effortlessly guide each person through the facility, providing them with food and nutritional advice, in only a matter of minutes. Providing a respectful and efficient experience will be critical as we expect to help more and more people as news of the pet food bank spreads.”

Although this past Sunday was only the second day The Pongo Fund Pet Food Bank was open to distribute high quality dog food and cat food to the needy, it’s already clear that it’s going to have a huge positive impact on the lives of many – humans and animals alike. The number of customers on the second day doubled that of opening day, and in November alone The Pongo Fund Pet Food Bank provided more than 10,000 meals to hungry pets who might not otherwise have any food.

Anyone with a genuine need can receive a two week supply of premium pet food for their four-legged friend. What’s more, the warehouse full of kibble and cans generously donated by CANIDAE will allow people to come back to get more food every two weeks, so long as they have a need.

Keeping pets and families together in tough economic times is a challenge. Although many may still have a roof over their heads, the loss of a job can drastically impact a family’s financial stability. Families are torn apart, because there’s just no money to buy pet food. “If people can't afford to feed their pet, they have to give them up. The Pongo Fund fills a unique need… they help keep families together by feeding the pets,” said Lael Concordia, Director of Social Services at William Temple House, another Portland organization that helps individuals and families in crisis.

I read a touching story in the Oregonian that illustrates just how critical it is for cities to have a pet food bank like The Pongo Fund. A social worker told of parents who had explained to their children that they didn’t have enough money to feed their dog and didn’t want it to go hungry, so they were giving it up for adoption. The children had become despondent, not only because they’d lost their cherished pet, but because they feared they would also be “given up” if there wasn’t enough money for food.

Until our economy recovers, this family is probably not the only one whose young children might have that same concern. Children just don’t understand adult worries such as the need to put food on the table or in the dog’s mouth. Nevertheless, when a family is in dire straits financially, kids do feel the anxiety and the anguish of their parents, and having to give up their pet only adds to their fragile emotional state.

Organizations like the Pongo Fund are so important right now, because they help both the pets and the people who love them. By providing quality dog and cat food to families in need, Larry Chusid knows he is saving lives and lifting spirits. He recently received an email from a family who had been loyal CANIDAE customers for years, but were experiencing true financial hardship. They had run out of dog food and were feeding their two dogs oatmeal and rice. Larry knew The Pongo Fund Pet Food Bank would be able to help them, but it wasn’t going to be open for another 12 days. Not wanting the dogs or the family to suffer, he opened the food bank just for them.

This Thanksgiving, many needy families in Portland, Oregon will have a lot more to be thankful for. The Pongo Fund and CANIDAE have not only given them the food they desperately need for their dogs and cats, but renewed hope and joyful hearts too.

Read more articles by Julia Williams

Cats and Companionship

For the first time in many years, I own two cats...or maybe they own me, I'm not really sure. Spike, the 5 year old black long-haired male, was an orphan from the shelter. Lily is a tabby and white female and about 7 months old. We found her abandoned in the dog pen at our new home with a broken leg and she's been with us ever since. Watching them together and separately provides a lot of entertainment for me. Spike is a lap cat, but only when it's his idea, and that's not very often. Lily, on the other hand, is very affectionate and sleeps with me at night. They play together at times or are very happy entertaining themselves. Given the type of work that I do these days, I've found myself thinking about how much company they are. I have a unique opportunity to work at home and telecommute to the office. That's a big change for me. There are no co-workers to catch up with, no one to talk to about the news or compare notes about a new movie. I enjoy solitude and I love being at home, so I don't mind the change so much, but what if I was terminally ill? What if I wasn't able to work anymore? What if I couldn't leave home anymore, or even get out of my bed without assistance? The cats have shown me this week how special and important their companionship can be. They are glad that I'm home to interact with them. Even if one of them only comes by to brush up against my leg or the other one is in the room sleeping as I work, their presence makes a difference. I'm reminded that I'm not alone. If I were terminally ill, the companionship of my cats would be even more important to me than it is now. That's why Pet Peace of Mind is so important. Keeping hospice patients and their pets together matters.

Alcohol Poisoning in Dogs

By Linda Cole

Along with all the heaping dishes of good food and fantastic desserts at family gatherings this holiday season, alcohol will probably be included. There's nothing wrong with humans having a glass or two, but alcohol is dangerous for dogs and cats. Alcohol poisoning in pet is preventable, however, provided we as responsible pet owners take some precautions during our upcoming holiday celebrations.

I've grown up with dogs and cats, and am still amazed at how they try to manipulate us into giving them what we have. My mom had a dog (Heidi) years ago who had a persistent cough, and Mom took her to the vet. Heidi had bronchitis and the vet put her on antibiotics and suggested giving her a teaspoon of Sloe Gin to help ease her coughing. This was many years ago, before much was known about alcohol poisoning in dogs. Following the vet's instructions, Mom gave Heidi a teaspoon of gin when her coughing became excessive. Heidi's coughing subsided as she recovered from the bronchitis, and Mom stopped giving her the gin. However, Heidi liked the gin and wasn't ready to give it up. Her coughing returned a week later – only this time, it was obvious she was faking in order to get some gin!

Dogs don't know if something is bad for them or not. They only know they want what we have. Mom would never have given Heidi the gin for any reason had she known alcohol poisoning was possible, and I'm sure our vet would never have suggested it had he known. Thankfully, continuing research has educated us and our vets as to what is harmful and potentially toxic to our pets.

Alcohol poisoning is more common in dogs than cats, although felines are at risk too. Dogs are more likely to sample someone's unattended drink or be given one on purpose, and the amount of alcohol that is too much depends on the weight of the dog. The alcohol we drink contains a lot of ethanol. A bottle of liquor that is 80 proof is 40% alcohol, so just a taste could be toxic to a small dog or cat. Beer, wine, creamy liqueurs and hard liquor all contain enough alcohol to cause serious health problems in dogs and cats. Beer contains the smallest amount at around 3 to 5%, wine is next with alcohol levels at 9 to 12%, and hard liquor contains the most at 40 to 90%. Even food containing alcohol could potentially poison your pet. Never allow anyone to give a puppy or kitten alcohol for any reason.

Some medications can also cause alcohol poisoning in dogs, since ethanol is often used as a solvent. Bread dough and other fermented products can cause problems, but it's not as common. If the dog eats uncooked bread dough, the yeast will ferment in his gastrointestinal tract and turn into alcohol which can then poison him. Whenever baking or working with yeast dough, it's best to make sure your pets stay out of the kitchen to avoid any innocent snitching while your back is turned.

Ironically, some of the symptoms we associate with people who've had too much to drink are the same for dogs – such as, staggering, behavior changes, being disoriented or slow to respond to you. If your dog needs to go outside more than usual, is overly excited or depressed, and smells like alcohol or you suspect alcohol poisoning, he needs to be seen by a vet as soon as possible. Treatment can vary depending on the amount of alcohol in their system, but in most cases with early treatment, they will recover just fine. Left untreated, the result may not be as positive. Activated charcoal is usually given to help absorb the alcohol and an intravenous drip may be needed to rehydrate the dog.

As responsible pet owners, it's up to us to make sure our dogs are away from celebrations that include alcohol and not allowed in the kitchen when making bread dough. The holidays should be fun for all members of the family and by keeping an eye on your pet when company arrives, you can make sure they stay safe. When it comes to alcohol and pets, it's best to “just say no” and make sure everyone understands that no means no.

Read more articles by Linda Cole

Monday Rufferences and Mews

Welcome to Monday's Rufferences and Mews!

*If you have some pig ears or beefhoof treats for your dog, check this pet treat recall before giving theses snacks to your dog.

* Buy in bulk, look for coupons, even shop online. Consumer Reports shares ways to save on pet care. One surprise? Skip health insurance for pets.

*Can't get a real pet for the holidays? Check out this year's hottest fad toy, Zhu Zhu Pets.

*Need a laugh? Check out the Pet Source USA blog for crazy pet hair!

Volunteering for a Cageless Shelter

By Ruthie Bently

I had a wonderful experience and found many new friends, both two and four-legged, when I volunteered for a cageless shelter. I had a client in Illinois who came into the pet shop I managed looking harried and a bit rattled. I found out she was the founder of a cageless shelter. I had never heard of one before, so I asked her what made a cageless shelter different from a regular animal shelter. She explained that the animals stayed with volunteers in their homes rather than in cages. The reason she was so harried was that she was taking care of three litters of newborn kittens, and was looking for volunteers to place other animals that had come in. I offered to help with the kittens, but she asked if I would consider helping her with a cat instead. The cat needed a safe, quiet place to stay, as it looked like she had been bullied and was a bit timid. I said “yes” and began to learn about cageless shelters, and what wonderful places they can be.

A cageless shelter is much like a regular shelter in that each person coming in to adopt must go through a screening process. There is an adoption fee and all the animals have been to a vet for a full check up, worming (if needed), vaccinations, spaying or neutering, checking for fleas, ticks and ear mites, and a bath and nail clipping (if needed); cats are usually also tested for FIV and Feline Leukemia.

A cageless shelter can be a large facility that houses dogs and cats in large common areas as opposed to separate cages, or it can be a smaller facility with volunteers that keep the adoptable pets with them in their homes until they find a home. As a pet is adopted out from a volunteer’s home, another soon takes it place.

One nice aspect of the second kind of shelter is that each pet gets one-on-one attention from the volunteer they live with. If a dog needs training, the shelter may have the volunteer take it to a class. Depending on the availability of funds, the supplies and food for the pet may be provided for the volunteer. Each cageless shelter has different rules and regulations, but most request that if the pet is no longer wanted by their adoptive family, that they be returned to the shelter. The cageless shelter I worked with even issued each adopted pet a tag with the shelter’s name and phone number, in case it ever got lost.

I liked the idea of interacting with a cat that was in need of tender loving care. I didn’t own a cat at the time and was happy for the companionship. I was responsible for getting Gwen to the vet to be spayed and two weeks later, taking her back to have her stitches out. After that, she came back home with me to await a call which would unite her with a family of her own. It was then that my life took a turn in a different direction.

A young couple wanted to come see Gwen, who had been living with me for about twelve weeks. Although I was happy for Gwen, I was a bit sad that I would lose her companionship. I greeted the two warmly and went to get Gwen, who greeted them as if they were old friends. Gwen was a beautiful calico with a coat of orange, black and white, and the most beautiful green eyes I’d ever seen.

Upon seeing Gwen the young woman said “Oh no, she just won’t do.” I was flabbergasted and tried to hold back my surprise. I asked if it was her age or her gender. The woman replied that Gwen was the wrong color. “The wrong color?” I asked. The woman told me she wanted a white cat because all her furniture was white and Gwen’s hair would get all over the furniture. I thanked her for her candor, and saw them out.

The car had not even left the driveway before I was on the phone with the shelter letting my supervisor know how the interview had gone, what they felt was wrong with Gwen, and that I had decided to adopt her myself. I kept thinking about muddy feet prancing across that white furniture if they ever let a white cat outside.

The time I spent working as a volunteer with a cageless shelter was a very rewarding experience. I would recommend it to anyone wanting to volunteer their time to work with animals for a good cause. The interaction and time you spend with a pet in your care can help the pet become more socialized, and gives them a better chance of finding their own forever home.

Read more articles by Ruthie Bently

How to Keep Cats Off Your Kitchen Counters

By Julia Williams

Cats are notorious counter surfers. Dogs do this too, but cats have an advantage over some dog breeds who would counter surf, if only they could jump that high. Nearly all cats, except very old or obese ones, are agile enough to get up onto the kitchen counters. I don’t believe they counter surf just because they can, though. My cats get onto the counters because that’s where the food is. It doesn’t matter that I never leave any food out; they see me preparing food there, and one can surmise that they keep checking every day on the premise that it could happen.

I don’t really know why they counter surf, but I do know a thing or two about how to keep cats off kitchen counters. I’ve had plenty of practice at that, especially since Rocky joined my household six years ago. For reasons I can’t fathom, this cat has major food issues. Rocky is on a “seafood” diet – i.e., he sees food and he eats it. He has perfected his food-snatching technique as well, and can snag food off the counter in a nanosecond.

All of the different methods I’ve tried to keep Rocky off the kitchen counters don’t work for long, but they do work for my other cats and I think they’d also work for most cats. Rocky is just “special,” and I’ve learned to either watch my food like a hawk while preparing it, or lock Rocky in the bedroom until every morsel is put away. It’s simpler that way and it works for me, unless I have a memory lapse.

Such as, the time I baked some cookies that came with caramel topping. I watched him carefully as they cooled enough so I could drizzle on the gooey caramel. Because the caramel needed to harden before I could put them away, I took Rocky with me into my home office. A short while later I realized I’d forgotten all about the cookies, and Rocky. He sauntered in, licking his chops. Uh-oh! I ran into the kitchen to see how many cookies he’d eaten. To my surprise the cookies were still there – but they were licked clean of all the caramel!

Here are some things you can do to keep cats off the kitchen counters. Try one, and if it doesn’t work, try another, because dirty cat paws that have been digging in a litter box have no business being on the kitchen counters.

Clean up after food preparation, and never leave anything edible on the counter. You might be surprised by what foods a cat will sample, especially if you have a feline like Rocky. Plus, if they find a tasty tidbit on the counter one day, they’re more likely to keep checking it.

The spray bottle is a classic cat training tool that I’ve used successfully (on every cat except Rocky, of course). Spray a fine mist of water into their face when they are on the kitchen counters, and tell them firmly to “get down.” Most cats hate water, but a fine mist won’t hurt them and they quickly learn that the counters are a no-cat zone.

Coins in a can is another method I’ve used to keep my cats off the counters. You just give it a good shake; the noise startles them and they jump down. This worked for Rocky until he got used to the noise. I’ve used a whistle too, but it scared my other two cats too much (and seemed unfair since they’d done nothing wrong).

Sticky tape on the edge of the counter is touted as a good cat deterrent, but I found it very inconvenient.

Booby traps: there’s a hilarious video online of an invention called the Blender Defender. This homemade booby trap features a motion-detecting blender and strobe lights that activate when a cat jumps up on the kitchen counter. In the video, the unsuspecting cat jumped four feet in the air and promptly fell off the counter. Price to make the Blender Defender: $214. Video of ambushed cat: priceless.

The long-handler grabber gizmo was actually designed for getting things down from high shelves; however, I recently discovered it works wonders to deter Rocky from jumping on my counter while I’m preparing food. The pinching motion freaks him out, so now I keep it handy whenever I have food on the counter. If he even glances up at the counter, I “pretend” grab at him and he runs out of the kitchen.

The Tattle Tale is a motion sensor machine that sounds a loud alarm whenever it detects the vibration of a cat jumping onto the counter. I haven’t actually tried this but it sounds promising, and might be worth getting. It sells for $24.99.

Remember, you may have to try several methods to find one that works for you. But with patience and training, you should be able to keep your cat off the kitchen counter.

Read more articles by Julia Williams

Keep your Dog Warm in the Winter Weather!

(Guestblogger post)
Winter is quickly approaching which means temperatures are dropping, rain and snow are falling, and you’re bundling up to stay warm. You may know what to do to keep yourself comfortable, but it is important to remember that your pets can feel the change in the weather as well. There are a few ways that we can protect our dogs from the chilly winter conditions and keep them safe, dry and warm.

- Outdoor dogs will of course be most affected by the winter. Keep them inside as often as possible, especially during rain or snowfall. If you can’t leave them in the house, they should have a sturdy outdoor shelter with walls to protect them from wind, a lifted floor to keep them off the cold ground and a roof to protect them from the rain.
- Be sure to leave your dog with a full coat for the winter and avoid trimming their fur for a few months. This allows them to better generate and insulate their body heat.
- Your pet may need more food during the winter as they will be using extra energy to stay warm. Be sure to watch for changes in eating habits and adjust food portions if necessary. Water bowls that are left outside should also be watched as they can freeze.
- You can always look into clothing or sweaters for your pets to help insulate their body heat, but make sure they are comfortable and it isn’t restricting to their movement.
- Play with them and give them plenty of exercise to keep them active and moving. Attention is important as pets can be prone to “winter blues.”
- Watch for cues of discomfort, such as changes in behavior and energy level. Make sure to have several veterinarian visits over the season to ensure that they are remaining healthy.

If you feel cold, your pet is probably feeling it too, so you can use your own comfort as a gauge for the needs of your dog. Keep in mind that your dog will enjoy curling up near the fireplace with the family as much as you will!

Kathryn Ek is a writer for Pocketchange, a shopping blog from Become.com where you can find more information about smart shopping for your dog. Check out Become.com this season to shop for all of your pet needs.

Tips to Keep Pets Safe During the Holidays

By Anna Lee

Thanksgiving is not far off, and then Christmas followed by New Year’s Eve. As the holiday season draws closer you need to think about what food items and decorations could possibly cause serious harm to your pets. The following items are bad for your pets not only during the holidays, but every other day of the year too.

Turkey is a favorite food during the holidays. Remember, cooked bones of any type are not good for a dog or a cat due to sharp splinters. People assume turkey bones are ok because they are larger than chicken bones. N0, do not give your dog turkey bones. To err on the over-protective side, I have never given Abby any type of bone.

Chocolate can be toxic to dogs and cats. In simple terms, your pet can become very sick, and in rare cases may not pull through. Do not ever give them chocolate, not even one small chocolate chip.

Plants: Most of the plants we think of as Christmas plants are beautiful to look at but can be deadly to animals, including poinsettias, holly and mistletoe. If you want to have a beautiful poinsettia on the mantel, that is far enough out of reach for a dog, but remember how high a cat can climb.

Christmas Trees: Make sure your tree is secure and can’t be tipped over. Big dogs have big tails, and one swish could send a tree flying. You can put a nail in the wall behind the tree and use a piece of string to tie the tree. My parents always tied our live trees like that, except one year. That year the tree fell over; it missed the dog but all my mother’s antique ornaments were destroyed. Use unbreakable ornaments on the lower branches of the tree and put your precious glass ornaments higher up to be safe.

If you have a puppy, keep an eye on it around the tree. A puppy will be attracted to the blinking lights and colorful ornaments. Do not use tinsel as cats and dogs can choke on it. Do not add aspirin to the tree water if you use a real tree. Aspirin can be toxic to pets, and they might get to the water reservoir and drink the water.

Electrical Cords: We always seem to use a lot of electric cords for trees and other decorations. A lose electric cord is a play thing to a puppy or kitten, so make sure they are taped to the floor when possible. When you are not at home, leave your decorations turned off. This is a good rule whether you have pets or not.

Welcoming Guests: When your guests arrive, make sure the dog or cat doesn’t escape without your knowledge. A little pup can easily slip out of the house when no one is watching. A cat may get scared with so much activity happening and try to make his escape.

Candles: Never put a burning candle where a dog or cat can reach it. Better yet, if you have pets or young children, you should get the artificial candles that are very popular now. They run on a battery and the flame actually flickers like a real candle. If you prefer a real candle at least put it high on the mantel out of reach.

By following a few holiday safety tips for pets, the parties and festivities will end on a high note!

Read more articles by Anna Lee

Learning about your pet's personality

I came across an interesting post this week by Dr. Narda Robinson, on one of my favorite blogs, Pet Connection. The article describes ways of better understanding and interacting with our pets.

This brought to mind an interview I did recently with Animal Planet's Joel Silverman, about his book What Color is Your Dog? Joel assigns colors to dog personality traits. The Pet Connection article shares a Chinese system of five "phases."

from Pet Connection:
"The five categories of Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water represented changes these ancient naturalists witnessed over the day, the year, and the life cycle as well as interrelationships between organs, emotions, people, and climate. The model embraces, expects, and accepts metamorphosis.

Much like the personality profiles of modern psychology, Five Phases analysis groups people and animals into constitutional categories based on psychological and physical manifestations. While not yet a scientifically validated means of determining Chinese medical treatments for humans or animals, identifying a predominant phase out of balance in an individual seems to provide clues about what a patient needs to restore homeostasis.

For example, a task-oriented metal-type dog needs a job to do, while the earth-type cat needs a warm lap."

I recommend this article to learn more about your pet--are they Wood, Earth, Fire, Metal, or Water?

By the way, I believe Kelly is Wood.

Facts about Hypoallergenic Pets

By Suzanne Alicie

People all over the world suffer from allergies, to things like dust, pollen, mold, certain plants, certain fabrics and foods. But the worst thing for an animal lover is to find out that they are allergic to pets. Pet allergies are caused by dander, hair, and protein. This means that an allergic reaction can be triggered when the animal isn’t even in the room, since they leave all of these particles behind through shedding, saliva, and by simply having been in the area.

Luckily for animal lovers, there are hypoallergenic pets available. So if you love dogs but are allergic, there are breeds you can choose that won’t trigger your allergies. This includes dogs that don’t shed, dogs with minimal dander, and even dogs that don’t slobber and drool. The same goes for cat lovers; there are certain breeds of kitties that won’t cause your throat to close up, your eyes to water, or hives to appear. Take the time to learn more about each animal that interests you and how it will work in your world of dealing with animal allergies.

Hypoallergenic Dogs

Not all dogs have a layer of fur to shed every season or two. There are quite a few that have fur which grows almost like human hair; it needs to be trimmed and groomed, and doesn’t fall out.

Dog breeds to avoid include Samoyed (although they are a minimal dander dog, they shed terribly); Golden Retriever, and other large long haired breeds. Ideally you want to choose a short haired dog, and preferably a small dog.

For some reason the small dogs don’t seem to cause as much of a problem with protein allergies. This could be due to the lack of saliva and slobbering in small dogs. This group includes Chihuahua, Bichon Frise, and Miniature Pincers.

Large short haired dogs include Boxers and Greyhounds, but in those cases there can be an allergic reaction to the protein from their slobber.

There are a number of hybrid dog breeds available for people with allergies. However, when it comes to choosing a hybrid such as a Poodle/Labrador mix, it is important to make sure that the dog inherited his coat from the poodle parent. The same goes with most hybrids; you will want to ensure that the dog you are getting has inherited the hypoallergenic feature you are looking for.

Hypoallergenic Cats

Cats that don’t shed are rare indeed, and if you enjoy a fluffy cat instead of a hairless variety your options become even more limited. The Sphynx, LaPerm, and Cornish Rex cats are usually a good choice for people who have a mild cat allergy.

Sadly, for cat lovers the allergy is usually to a feline’s saliva and not their hair. Thus, it’s important to visit your doctor to determine the actual cause of your allergy. You don’t want to spend a lot of money on an animal that features a hypoallergenic coat, only to realize that it isn’t the fur which bothers you.

Breeders are hard at work developing a truly hypoallergenic cat, but for many people the cost will deter them from purchasing one.

Non-Traditional Hypoallergenic Pets

Some people’s allergies are too severe to consider a dog or cat in any form. For folks like that, there are the non-traditional pets that don’t trigger allergic reactions. Fish, turtles, and reptiles, while not furry and cuddly, can still provide entertainment and interaction of the pet variety.

Read more articles by Suzanne Alicie

November is “Adopt a Senior Pet Month”

By Ruthie Bently

Petfinder.com is a virtual, searchable database of adoptable animals, shelters and adoption organizations in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Petfinder.com has designated November as “Adopt a Senior Pet Month,” which I think is a wonderful idea. Many senior pets end up in shelters every year, often because their human passes away without making arrangements for them. I have adopted several older pets, so I know firsthand that there are many advantages to choosing a senior citizen pet over a younger one.

The very first cat my ex-husband and I ever adopted came from a shelter, and was an older cat. We walked into the cat room, and as I passed a cage this paw shot out and tapped me on the arm. I turned, looked into eyes green as grass, saw a hair coat that looked black but glistened chocolate brown in the bright sunshine, and was lost. My husband was not smitten; he wanted a kitten.

If you are undecided about getting a pet, an older animal is a good way to go. I knew that older pets in shelters are adopted last; I didn’t know they are also usually the first to be euthanized. By adopting an older pet you are saving a life and should give yourself a pat on the back. You’ll still have food bills and regular vet visits, but because of their age they will not be with you as long as a puppy or kitten would. If you are looking for a certain kind of dog or cat, you would be able to try out the breed without a long-term commitment.

An older pet will already be spayed or neutered; most shelters will not adopt out a pet that isn’t. There will be no puppy or kitten shots to get, no teething or chewing on inappropriate things (such as shoes or electric cords), and no kitten climbing your curtains or unfurling the toilet paper roll. You won’t have to deal with puppy potty breaks at two in the morning in the rain or snow, or clean up after a kitten still learning how to use the litter box. The majority of older pets have already been housebroken, already have their permanent teeth and usually have basic obedience skills. And older dogs will settle into your routine quickly and without much fuss because they’ve been a pack member and understand the hierarchy.

When you adopt a senior pet you get to see their personality when you meet them, and not have to wait for it to develop. You’ll be able to see if they are laid back or highly active. You’ll find that senior citizen dogs will like chilling out more than younger dogs. While older dogs still need some exercise and do enjoy it, you won’t have to walk them five miles every day, as you would a young Labrador or Golden Retriever. You will know pretty quickly what kind of shedding, brushing and grooming you are going to have with senior pets. You won’t get any surprises about their size either, since they are finished growing.

If you have to be away from home for several hours, you don’t have to go rushing home to let them out to go potty or exercise, as you would with a puppy. An older dog or cat will greet you warmly when you get home and not be bouncing off the walls. Because of their age, older pets are calmer. If you wanted to enroll in open obedience classes, or teach your older dog some of those tricks you’ve seen other dogs learn, go for it. Their age and sereneness will give you an edge on training; their attention span is longer than a puppy’s, and they will be able to learn faster.

Remember that green-eyed black cat? His name was Keentya, and he ended up in the shelter because his owner had passed away without making provisions for him in her will. After some begging on my part, and a discussion that outlined many of the points above, we went home with this beautiful older cat. He latched onto our hearts and never let go. Keentya was great in the car and traveled to Pennsylvania with us for holidays for several years before his passing. He became such a member of our family that one relative even made him his own pillow and embroidered pillow case with his name on it.

While none of my older adopted pets’ time with me was long enough, given the chance I would adopt a senior pet again in an instant. The benefits far outweigh the shortness of time they spent with me, and the blessings they gave me were many.

Read more articles by Ruthie Bently

Sympathy Cards for Pets

We love them. We take care of them. They take care of us. And because our pets are a part of our family, we grieve when they are gone. (Left: our pal Hudson, who we still miss.)

Recently my friend Sheryl asked me if I knew of an site with sympathy e-cards to encourage someone who had lost a pet. I looked around and turned up a few wonderful sites:

Blue Mountain Cards



American Greetings

Happyday cards

If someone you know is missing that special furry friend in your life, sending one of these e-cards is a great way to show you care. Another friend, Donna, also shared these two helpful pet grief sites: petloss.com and pet loss support page.

Fear of Dogs: Cynophobia Symptoms, Causes and Cures

By Julia Williams

Do you have a fear of dogs, or know someone who does? The likelihood that you answered yes to one or both of those questions is fairly high, considering that the fear of dogs is quite common in our society today. Having a little fear of dogs is natural and may actually protect you, because some dogs (especially strays or other dogs you don’t know) could be dangerous, and should always be approached with caution. But for people who have Cynophobia, which is not a healthy fear of dogs but an extreme, irrational one, this fear can make their life miserable. Left untreated, Cynophobia can severely interfere with a person’s work, school, and social relationships.

Phobias are classified as a type of anxiety disorder, whereby exposure to the feared object, activity or situation can cause excessive sweating, shaking, heart palpitations, difficulty breathing, inability to think or speak clearly, and even a full blown panic attack. Cynophobia then, is not simply an aversion to dogs; it’s an intense feeling of fear at the sight of one – even if it’s just on television or through a window. Very often, a person with Cynophobia can have an anxiety attack just by thinking about encountering a dog. They may understand intellectually that a dog on TV poses no danger, but this doesn’t prevent them from having a reaction.

Although snakes and spiders are more common animal phobias, Cynophobia is especially debilitating because dogs are such an intrinsic part of everyday life. According to a survey by the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association, there are approximately 74.8 million pet dogs in the United States. Dogs are everywhere we look and thus, practically impossible to avoid. And for someone with Cynophobia, it doesn’t matter if the dog is a tiny puppy, a Chihuahua or a snarling guard dog– all are equally frightening.

What causes Cynophobia?

Like all irrational fears, Cynophobia is a protective mechanism created by the unconscious mind. A Cynophobe is usually terrified of being scratched, bitten or attacked by a dog, but may not have any idea where this fear originated. Sometimes all they know is that they've had a fear of dogs for as long as they can remember. It is possible, though, that they had a frightening experience with a dog at a young age but don’t remember it.

Both children and adults can develop Cynophobia after being attacked or bitten by a dog, or seeing another person have a bad experience with a dog. In addition, parents who have a strong fear of dogs can sometimes transfer this to their children. On the other hand, early exposure to good-tempered dogs seems to lessen the probability of a person developing Cynophobia as an adult.

Treatments for Cynophobia

With professional help, the fear of dogs can usually be overcome; however, many Cynophobics avoid seeking treatment because they’re embarrassed about fearing an animal so many people love. If they get teased by others who don’t understand the debilitating nature of phobias, they may be even more reluctant to seek treatment. For some, the idea of confronting their fear of dogs is just as terrifying as dealing with Cynophobia. Nevertheless, if someone has a desire to conquer their fear of dogs it can be done, and there are several therapeutic options.

Cognitive behavior therapy is a form of psychotherapy based on the belief that the way we think about things affects how we feel emotionally. Rather than focusing on past experiences, cognitive therapy employs problem solving in the present, e.g., helping someone change the way they think about dogs.

Systematic desensitization therapy uses visualization and gradual exposure combined with relaxation and breathing exercises to desensitize a person to their phobia. In a controlled environment, typically a therapist's office, the patient is taught to visualize a frightening situation (such as encountering a dog). When this no longer produces intense anxiety, exposure to dogs is introduced in a systematic, structured way while the person concentrates on staying calm. This exposure could include looking at photos of dogs, watching videos about dogs, seeing a dog through a window, and eventually, being in the same room with a dog.

Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) is the study of how individuals create their reality. NLP views phobias as the result of faulty “programs” or images that a person has created, e.g., seeing all dogs as aggressive and threatening. With NLP, these programs are revealed and “re-programmed” so that the phobia is minimized or eliminated.

Hypnosis helps to reprogram the subconscious thoughts that may be linked to the phobia. People with Cynophobia usually have a strong subconscious belief that any dog they see will attack them. When the subconscious is reprogrammed through hypnotherapy, the phobia symptoms are often minimized.

If you suffer from Cynophobia but feel like you’re all alone, rest assured – there are many others who share your fear of dogs. And you shouldn’t feel that this is just something you “have to live with,” because with proper treatment, effort and time, you can overcome Cynophobia.

Read more articles by Julia Williams

Do Dogs Sense Fear?

By Linda Cole

I have never been afraid of dogs, but I have friends who are terrified of them. Is their fear warranted? Can dogs sense when someone is afraid of them and if so, does it cause them to react differently towards someone who is fearful? Can dogs feel other human emotions too, or is it just a figment of our imagination, or wishful thinking?

Fear is a natural reaction to situations where we feel we have no control. Animals know when to run and when to fight. If dogs sense fear from us, does that mean a dog who is normally submissive can become aggressive towards us? Yes, if he knows you are afraid.

Because dogs are experts at reading body language, they can quickly pick up on someone who is afraid of them. They can actually smell fear. When we are scared, sweat glands are more active which will produce “body odor” a dog can smell. There's even evidence dogs can see fear as well as other emotions on our face. However, our body language sends the strongest and most significant signal to a dog.

Dogs sense fear and can read us like a book. People who are afraid of dogs often stare at them, which the dog interprets as being confrontational. Instead of staying calm, a fearful person will tense up, which also tells the dog this person wants to fight. Someone who is afraid of dogs will likely have no idea what a dog's body language means; therefore, their body language may be telling the dog all the wrong things. A fearful person can put the dog in a defensive state of mind.

If dogs sense fear through body language, the best way to defuse a situation is by understanding both the body language of dogs and your own. Avoid making eye contact, stand still with your arms loosely at your side, remain calm, keep your side toward the dog and never run away. Don't yell or kick at the dog, or try to hit it with a stick or your hands. Slowly back away and keep an eye on the dog without giving it direct eye contact. If you see a dog sitting on the sidewalk ahead of you, walk around him. This tells him you mean him no harm and you're just passing by. A straight on approach signals to the dog you want to meet him.

So if dogs sense fear, do they also know when we are happy or sad? Most scientists who study animals say no, but most pet owners who interact with their pet every day would disagree. I've lived with dogs and cats my entire life, and have always been amazed by their ability to know when I am in a good mood, upset or angry. They react differently depending on my mood. Researchers agree dogs can show primary emotions like anger, fear or anxiety, but other emotions are beyond a dog's range of feelings because they believe dogs don't have a sense of “self.” They theorize that jealousy or empathy could not be felt by dogs. I'm not sure I agree. My dogs do show jealousy and I have the scars to back me up, from breaking up dogfights over who was going to sit next to me.

A video of two dogs was shown on the news last winter. One dog had fallen into a frozen pond when the ice broke under him. The other dog would leave, but kept coming back to check on the one in the water. Did the dog sense fear from his companion? It seemed like he knew the dog in the water was in trouble. He would run up to people standing on the bank as if he was pleading for help. Was he showing empathy for the dog stuck in the freezing water? Both dogs were rescued and returned to their owner. The one in the water had no injuries other than shivering from a dip in a frozen pond.

Those who live with dogs and cats see every day how their pet reacts to them and the world they live in. Dogs who share our homes with other dogs or cats are as individual as humans are. Some dogs are smarter than others and may show more emotions than others. Dogs sense fear as well as anger and anxiety. As for love, empathy, jealousy or other emotions, the jury is still out – but don't be surprised if your dog snuggles up to you the next time you're in a sad mood. It's their way of saying “I love you and I know something is wrong. Can I help?” They may understand us better than we thought.

Read more articles by Linda Cole

Monday Rufferences and Mews

Welcome to Monday Rufferences and Mews!

* Dogster announces their very first Dogster iPhone Application! It’s called Dog Park, and allows you to stroll through the virtual dog park, chat with friends and meet other dog people on the go. Check it out! Sounds like fun!

* Have you heard about this hero dog? Sabi, a black Australian labrador and American army bomb sniffing dog was separated from her unit and lost in the desert for a year. Happily, she was found and is now reunited with her unit. (From the Syney Morning Herald.)

* I just love this dog trainer's look at obedience school drop outs from Rachel Baum's fun blog Bark: confessions of a dog trainer.

* Gina Spadafori reminds pet owners that ferrets are susceptible to the H1N1 virus.

* Are you thinking of giving a dog as a Christmas gift? Edie from Will My Dog Hate Me suggests you might want to think twice.

What do you think? Is your dog an obedience school dropout? Have you ever given a dog or cat as a Christmas gift? I'd love to hear from you.

Join us again next Monday for more Rufferences and Mews!

Breed Profile: Irish Wolfhound, the Gentle Giant

By Ruthie Bently

The Irish Wolfhound breed has an interesting past. One of the earliest records of the Irish Wolfhound comes from the Roman Consul Quintus Aurelius, in 391 A.D. He wrote about seven that he received as a gift, though there is some thought that the breed may have arrived in Ireland as early as 3500 B.C. They were used by the Romans as guards for their stock, castles and families. They were also used as warriors in battle to drag men off horseback or out of chariots, as well as for hunting game like the very large Irish elk and wolves. Irish Wolfhounds were also considered a family pet, and were allowed to play with children.

With the extinction of the Irish elk and wolves, the breed almost became extinct itself. Because there was such a worldwide demand for the Irish Wolfhound, Oliver Cromwell created a law to ban their export from Ireland. Nevertheless, by the nineteenth century there were not many Wolfhounds left in Ireland. Enter Captain George August Graham, who in 1862 began to restore the breed. He gathered the last specimens of the breed, and by using a Borzoi, Tibetan Mastiff, Great Danes and Deerhounds was able to recover the size and style of the original Irish Wolfhound. Under his supervision, in 1885 with the founding of the Irish Wolfhound club, the first breed standard was made. In 1981, the Irish Wolfhound Society was founded by Mrs. Florence Nagle, and every year both the society and the club hold a rally and a championship show and open.

The Irish Wolfhound is the tallest and largest of the hound group, with a rough coat. He has keen sight, is very swift and powerful with a commanding appearance and a strong muscular frame. The size range for height should be between 30 and 34 inches at the shoulder with the minimum for females being 30 inches and a weight of 105 pounds; males should be 32 to 34 inches at the shoulder and weigh about 120 pounds. They should have good symmetry and power while being active and showing courage.

While Irish Wolfhounds are known as “gentle giants,” it should be remembered that they are historically a hunting dog. They are usually friendly and even tempered, but socializing them early is very important. They are generally good with other dogs and people, and most Wolfhounds love children. However, they may not do well around other types of animals because of their natural instincts. One good outlet for this behavior is lure coursing, which also helps with their need for exercise.

Because of their size and exercise requirements, you should carefully consider whether a Wolfhound is the right breed for you. Although they can be kept in a city, it is not the best place for them. The ideal situation for them is a property that is fenced and has sufficient room for them to run and gallop, as their size demands. As an adult, these dogs are a calm, loving family member and do best with daily human companionship.

Read more articles by Ruthie Bently

Fascinating Facts About Dogs and Cats

By Anna Lee

Dogs and cats are the most common pets that people own. There are, however, other pets out there sharing life with loving families. Although a snake would not be my first choice as a pet, there are many folks who own them. A pet is what you consider a pet to be, whether it is a pig, a cow, a horse, a hamster, a frog or a lizard. If you (or your children) take care of it, feed and interact with it, then it is a pet. Following are various pet facts for your reading pleasure.

Dogs bark to give a warning or an alarm. Dogs in the wild will bark as a means to send messages to the pack. Dogs bark when they are anxious, excited or when they are bored. They also bark to attract attention from humans. However, dogs do not bark when they attack. If you want a dog that does not bark, there is such a dog. It is the Basenji dog from the Congo. Although it doesn’t bark, it makes a yodeling sound that could possibly be more annoying than barking!

If your dog bays at the moon don’t let it upset you, it is just the dog’s natural urge to call the pack together. If your dog howls when you leave it home alone, turn on the TV or radio to keep it company.

If you’ve seen a scared dog run, you know that he puts his tail between his legs. A dog’s anal glands carry “personal” scents that can identify him or her. By putting the tail between the legs it is similar to a human covering his or her face in an effort to hide it.

Dogs pant to cool their bodies; they do not sweat like a human. Dogs take anywhere from 10-30 breaths a minute and their hearts beat between 70 and 100 times a minute, much more often than a human heart beats per minute.

The average dog has 42 teeth, which is more than I have! Now I have an urge to count Abby’s teeth. She is 11-1/2 and still has not lost one of her teeth. If you brush your dog’s teeth on a regular schedule the dog will get used to it, or so they say. A dog’s mouth can exert 150-200 pounds of pressure per square inch.

Did you know that two dogs survived the sinking Titanic? Dogs are mentioned 14 times in the Bible. One in three households own at least one dog, and the Labrador Retriever is the number one dog in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.

There are an estimated 5 million cats in the world. The largest cat is called a Ragdoll, with the male weighing up to 20 pounds. The domestic cat is the only feline species that can hold its tail vertical while walking. All wild cats hold their tails horizontal or tucked between their legs.

It is possible for one female cat to have up to 100 kittens in her lifetime. A cat’s normal body temperature is 101.5. Cats prefer their food to be room temperature. Do not feed dog food to your cat, but do change its water bowl at least once a day. Cats have either round, slanted or almond shaped eyes, and can see up to 120 feet away.

The biggest frog in the world is a Goliath from West Africa. It is about a foot long and can weigh as much as a house cat. That is one big frog. A frog can jump 20 times its own length, whereas a flea can jump 150 times its length.

If you want a pet that is small but multiplies fast, a hamster is the answer. A hamster can have 4 to 12 young at one time, and the word hamster is German for “storing food.”

Finally, a puppy will sleep up to 14 hours per day, which reminds me – it’s time for Abby and me to take our naps. Good night! Sleep tight!

Read more articles by Anna Lee

The Best Welcome Home

One of my favorite things about my dog Kelly is how she greets me when I come home. If my husband Mike happens to walk in the door first, she pushes past him to get to me, and jumps and whines as if my return is the happiest moment of her life. It feels good to be so adored.

Recently I was away for a weekend. Kelly did fine at home with the rest of the family, but when I returned she gave me a welcome of epic proportions. She jumped and rubbed her head against me and made noises that can only be described as cries of joy. Then she sniffed me all over, even my hair. I wondered what kind of information she was picking up from the smells. Could she somehow discern where I'd been? When she was done gathering her olfactory data, she snuggled up beside me, and followed me around the rest of the day.

Here is a touching video of a golden retriever greeting her soldier Dad when he came home. Grab the tissues!

You can see more of these touching videos here at mentalfloss.

How does your dog react when you return home? Is it the same if you've been away for 15 minutes as when you've been away for a week, or do you detect degrees of differences? Does she have a funny little routine when you come home? I'd love to hear your stories.

The Michigan Pet Expo is a “Doggone Purrfect” Event!

By Julia Williams

If you love dogs and/or cats, and you live near Detroit, Michigan, then the place to be November 20 to 22 is the 2009 Michigan Family Pet Expo. In fact, this three-day showcase for pet products and services is so big and promises to be so much fun, you might want to attend even if you don’t live in Michigan! Besides being a one-stop shopper’s paradise for all things pet-related, the Michigan Pet Expo is slated to offer a great mix of entertainment, artwork, demonstrations and attractions, including a cat show, a Petting Zoo, and a “Dancing with Dogs” competition.

CANIDAE will be at this exciting event (of course!), handing out free pet food samples and helping to raise funds for cancer research in pets. As part of their ongoing mission to foster Responsible Pet Ownership and aid animals in need, CANIDAE will once again hold a charity raffle, with a fabulous Felt Bicycle as the grand prize. Proceeds from the raffle will directly benefit cancer research projects at the Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine.

One of the highlights of the Michigan Family Pet Expo is sure to be the Dock Diving competition, where CANIDAE-sponsored Team Air Gunner will participate in the Ultimate Air Games. In this sport, dogs run down a 40-foot dock and into a swimming pool to retrieve a toy that’s tossed in by their handler. “Dock Diving” dogs can reach speeds of more than 30 miles per hour and jump over 28 feet.

Also scheduled to appear at the Pet Expo:

Johnny Peers and the Muttville Comix will amuse pet lovers of all ages with their comical canine routine. Johnny Peers performs as a Charlie Chaplin-like clown with a personable pack of mutts that skateboard, walk the tightrope, climb ladders, jump rope, knock Johnny down and walk all over him (in a lovable sort of way).

Rock-N-Roll K-9's Performance Team will enthrall crowds with their amazing athletic dogs and trainers. Cheer on your favorite canine as they race around, over, under and through the custom-made agility course, perform a hilarious musical mat routine or try their paw at flyball and high jump. Combining energetic dogs with rock-and-roll music and incredible tricks, this show is sure to leave audiences begging for more.

Cat Show & Seminars hosted by G.L.A.C.E. (Great Lakes Area Cat Enthusiasts).The club will have a special display of cats, seminars and exhibits, along with cat agility, a parade of cats, cat presentations, cat grooming and care seminars.

Paws With A Cause will demonstrate how this national agency serves people with disabilities through custom-trained Assistance Dogs. PAWS staff and their clients will demonstrate some of the many tasks dogs can be trained to do, which provides invaluable help to those with disabilities.

First Aid 4 Paws will present pet first aid & CPR training demonstrations.

Animal Adoptions: many local rescue groups are planning to participate in the Michigan Family Pet Expo. You can view different breeds of dogs and cats that are available for adoption, and speak with educated volunteers to find out which animal would best suit you and your family.

Now in its second year, the 2009 Michigan Family Pet Expo takes place at the Rock Financial Showplace in Novi, Michigan on November 20 to 22, 2009. Admission is $9 for adults and $5 for children (ages 3-12); parking is $5. Please visit their website for more information, including a complete schedule of entertainment and a list of vendors.

If you're in the area next weekend, you won’t want to miss this family-friendly event – and while you’re there, come by the CANIDAE booth to say hello and buy a raffle ticket to support cancer research in pets.

Read more articles by Julia Williams

Canine Diabetes: Four Symptoms to Watch For

By Linda Cole

Just like people, dogs can suffer from a variety of diseases. Some are more severe than others. Since our pets can't tell us when they don't feel well, it's up to us to be able to see when there's a change in their routine, eating and drinking habits, or behavior. Canine diabetes is a common disease in dogs that can be controlled if caught in the early stages.

Insulin is produced in the pancreas and is a hormone that regulates blood glucose. Canine diabetes results from the destruction of cells called beta pancreatic cells. These cells are responsible for the secretion of insulin. If they are destroyed, the dog is no longer able to produce insulin, which will then create hyperglycemia (elevated blood glucose levels).

There are four main symptoms related to canine diabetes: drinking a lot of water, excessive urination, weight loss, and an increase in appetite even though the dog keeps losing weight. A dog with diabetes may develop cataracts even before other symptoms are noticed, but not always. They may also have problems with infections that keep coming back.

German Shepherds, Poodles, Beagles and Schnauzers are more susceptible to canine diabetes than other breeds. Females, especially obese ones, seem to be affected more than males, and larger dogs have a greater chance than smaller dogs of developing this disease. However, any sex, size or age of dogs can develop diabetes. Canine diabetes doesn't usually begin to show up until the dog becomes older, but younger dogs can develop this hereditary disease. Cats can also develop diabetes, and have the same symptoms as dogs.

There are two types of this autoimmune disease, but the more serious one that requires daily insulin is called Diabetes Mellitus. It's important to catch this form of diabetes in the early stages in order to control the disease and stabilize your dog with insulin shots, proper diet and adequate exercise. Regular monitoring by your vet also helps keep canine diabetes in check.

A simple blood sugar test can determine if your dog has diabetes. A vet can perform this test right in his office. By understanding symptoms associated with canine diabetes and getting the dog to your vet when you begin to notice any of the symptoms, your dog has a good chance of living a full and healthy life.

My mom had two dogs that developed diabetes at different times. Mom's first dog, an American Eskimo named Heidi, enjoyed a long, healthy life even with diabetes. Tony, also an American Eskimo, had a harder time dealing with it. He was a young dog when he developed this disease and had underlying health issues due to under nourishment and poor living conditions as a puppy, before Mom got him. His diabetes brought all his other health problems to the surface. Dogs are like us, and lack of exercise, poor diet and not enough food early in life can make a difference as they grow older. If possible, knowing your dog's family history can give you insight into hereditary diseases like diabetes, that could develop as they grow older.

Helping your dog stay fit and knowing what to look for can help them better handle canine diabetes if they should develop it. Most dogs can live long, healthy lives when it's caught early. If you suspect your pet may have developed diabetes, don't hesitate to talk with your vet. He can quickly determine if your dog has diabetes and can answer any questions you may have. Canine diabetes does require proper diet and exercise, and the dog may need regular insulin shots, but with proper care, your pet can lead a normal life. If you notice even one of the four symptoms, it's a good idea to have your dog checked out by your vet as soon as possible.

Read more articles by Linda Cole