Why Cats Paint…and Why Paint Cats?


By Julia Williams

I recently received an email from a friend that had dozens of pictures of elaborately painted cats. The email claimed that many pet owners were partaking in a new fad of having their cats painted by professional artists. Supposedly, people paid as much as $15,000 to have their cats painted, and the paint jobs would need to be repeated every three months as the cat’s fur grew out.

My first thoughts were (in this order): gosh, that can’t be healthy for the cats to lick the paint off their fur; $60 grand a year to paint your cat? Some people have too much disposable income; and finally – this can’t be real…can it? With that last thought, I realized I had to consult my good friend “Mr. Google” to ferret out the truth.

I discovered that this email featuring stunningly painted felines, like so many other emails, is a hoax. It’s an offshoot of two “art” books about cats by Heather Busch and Burton Silver. The first was Why Cats Paint: A Theory of Feline Aesthetics. Following the huge success of this first book, the authors released a second title, Why Paint Cats: the Ethics of Feline Aesthetics. Whereas the first book discussed cats as artists, the follow-up featured cats as canvasses.

These books are widely believed to be well-crafted spoofs, but they’re written so convincingly that many people, including some professional book reviewers, have taken them seriously. The first book purports to be “an unprecedented photographic record of cat creativity that will intrigue cat-lovers and art-lovers alike.” In a style that persuasively mimics art criticism, Why Cats Paint discusses the many different aspects of feline creativity, with representative works from the best known cat artists around the world. The authors allege that cats who paint are aesthetically motivated, and their works should be regarded as genuine art.

That sounds a lot like the stuffy high-brow world of art criticism, doesn’t it? But then the authors come up with this little gem: “While we hope this book will inspire readers to carefully examine paw patterns in litter trays for examples of aesthetic intent…it is not our intention to give instruction on methods of encouraging cats to paint.” In other words, be on the lookout for “art” when you’re cleaning your cat’s litter box. Haha! That image is amusing enough, but this Newsweek quote made me giggle: “Yes, cats can paint. The phenomenon has to do with territorial marking, acrylic paint smelling a little like cat pee, and a lot of pet spare time.”

The second book, Why Paint Cats: the Ethics of Feline Aesthetics, has spawned countless discussions about the propriety and potentially harmful effects of painting designs onto a cat’s fur. Although the authors will not admit that the pictures were achieved through computer imaging (i.e., photoshop magic), it’s pretty hard to imagine that anyone would really think painting their cat is a good idea. For one thing, how are you supposed to keep them still long enough to a) paint them and b) allow the paint to dry?

Then again, we’ve all seen people do incredibly dumb things, so is painting cats as farfetched as it might seem? I don’t know. I do know that, photoshopped or not, I really enjoyed looking at the amazing pictures of the painted cats. Cats are transformed into butterflies, belly dancers, the night sky and American flags. They sport rainbow colors on their faces and flanks, and clowns on their backsides. Which, by the way, was probably the inspiration for this: “By the time you finish flipping through Why Paint Cats…you'll have more questions than answers. Seeing Charlie Chaplin's face painted on a cat’s rump has that effect.”—Heather McKinnon, Seattle Times.

If you are a fan of felines, I think you would really enjoy reading Why Cats Paint and Why Paint Cats. I must offer two caveats about these books though. First, look for the large, coffee table editions and not the miniaturized ones, as the downsizing does significantly reduce their overall amusement. Secondly, please do not attempt to paint your own cat. Besides endangering your beloved feline, you risk great peril to your own limbs, which would surely be scratched and clawed to bits during such a foolish endeavor.

Read more articles by Julia Williams

Hairball Awareness Day

I'm serious. Today is Hairball Awareness Day.
In honor of the day, I've learned one new fact about hairballs: Popular Science tells us that in 11th century Europe hairballs were used to cure poisoning, epilepsy and the plague.

While hairballs are generally a feline condition, some cows and goat also get hairballs. And, while the word may sound funny and be the butt of numerous cartoons and gags (pun intended) it's no laughing matter. Hairballs can be serious if stuck in the throat or lodge in the intestines.

Here are five things you can do to help prevent or treat hairballs:

1. Brush your cat daily.

2. Use a "hairball control" variety of cat food.

3. Ask your veterinarian about mixing 1 tsp mineral oil with your cat's food.

4. Make sure your cat has plenty of water.

5. I've been told that offering cat a small amount of butter or mashed pumpkin twice a week can help lubricate the intestinal tract.

Check for hairballs if your cat has lost interest in food, has trouble in the litter box, or has a hacking cough, or is vomiting.

The Many Benefits of Pets for the Elderly


By Suzanne Alicie

We all know that pets benefit from being adopted and becoming part of a loving home. We also know that when children are exposed to pets they tend to be more responsible and caring, but when it comes to the elderly the benefits of having a pet are much more than those for younger folks. In comparison with other seniors without pets, elderly pet owners show these results:

• Overall lower blood pressure and pulse rate. Animals have a calming effect as well as causing the senior to walk and move more to improve circulation and health.

• Improved mood and less depression. Pets generate good feelings and lift the mood.

• More social interaction. By making visits to the park to walk a dog or taking a cat to the vet, the elderly are exposed to other people more often.

• More physical activity. Walking dogs and playing with pets are good ways for the elderly to get more exercise, which is beneficial for their overall health.

• Unconditional love and affection. These are things that many elderly people are missing in their lives, since younger family members are often busy with their own lives and don’t have time to visit and spend time with seniors.

• Less loneliness. Again, pets take the place of people in the life of the elderly and many of them spend a great deal of time interacting and talking to their pets.

Besides these benefits it has been shown that seniors who have pets tend to take better care of themselves and show improved health after obtaining a pet. The elderly are exceedingly responsible pet owners too. Interestingly, it has been found that when an elderly family member has a pet, more relatives with young children will visit them because the pet provides a distraction for the children while the adults visit. This provides not only more attention for the pet, and interaction with adults for the senior, but also a chance for the senior to interact with the youngsters using the pet as a common ground of interest.

Young dogs and cats that are energetic and need to run and play more are not the best choice for an elderly person. Instead, a mature pet that has been well trained will make a more suitable companion. These are animals that will soak up all the attention that the elderly person will give them, they will nap often and just be a constant presence.

When it comes to the benefits of pets for the elderly, there are many suitable pets. Every sort of animal, from cats and dogs to fish, can provide the companionship and entertainment that improves the quality of life for the elderly. Many physicians and therapists recommend that their elderly patients obtain a pet for companionship, for exercise, and for therapy.

Just as companionship, understanding and devotion are beneficial to teenagers, the same is true for the elderly. The simple act of having a cat to cuddle on their lap, or a dog to curl up at their feet can make a world of difference in the life of an elderly person.

Read more articles by Suzanne Alicie

Cats Are Like Potato Chips....

"Cats are like potato chips - you can never have just one!"

Once you have one adorable kitty, it is very easy to get a second, a third and even a fourth or fifth.

Based on national averages, the American household has 1.4 dogs and 2.1 cats. So most people have 1 dog and 2 cats.

Common Health Issues for Older Dogs


By Ruthie Bently

Do you know how old a senior dog is? Most large dogs are considered seniors at the age of five to six years old, while their smaller counterparts are seniors at the age of eight to nine. As they age, many adult dogs can develop health issues that mirror our own, even down to the symptoms. According to a 2005 MIT study that mapped the canine genome, humans and dogs share 5% of the same genes, so it stands to reason they might have some of the same health problems we do.

One aspect of being a responsible pet owner is taking your dog in for a yearly vet visit, but senior canines may need to visit their vet more often. Older dogs don’t have the health reserves a younger dog has, and getting them to the vet quickly can be a life saver under certain conditions. Getting a base line veterinary checkup can help you with your geriatric canine; you can use it as a gauge for later vet visits.

One of the most common health problems our dogs have as they age is obesity. Obesity can be caused by overfeeding, not enough exercise or a combination of both. Obesity is a cause for concern because it can lead to more serious health issues and can actually make your dog age faster. Obesity can lead to diabetes, heart disease, lack of energy and the early onset of arthritis. Diabetes occurs when a dog’s body cannot assimilate glucose (blood sugars) properly. Signs of diabetes can include increased water consumption and inappropriate urination in the house. Side effects of diabetes are cataracts, glaucoma and blindness. Canine diabetes is managed with insulin injections, as it is with humans.

Senior canines are susceptible to developing heart disease, though it’s more common in dogs that are overweight. Dogs with a good exercise program and a healthy diet are less apt to develop heart problems. Your dog may be moving slower as they age, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t get exercise. You just need to take their age into consideration when exercising. Tone down the exercise to something easier for your senior dog to handle; for example instead of jogging, go for a leisurely walk. Excessive heat and cold will affect your senior dog more, so don’t exercise them during too hot or too cold temperatures. Exercise more frequently, for shorter periods of time, and take along plenty of water for your dog.

Another health issue older dogs can have is dental disease, which is due to incorrect dental hygiene as well as the lack of kibble or baked treats in the dog’s daily diet. Without daily brushing, plaque turns into tartar which needs to be scaled off the teeth, as it cannot be removed by brushing. Tartar buildup can cause periodontal and gum disease and can lead to a bacterial infection in your dog’s system or the need for teeth extractions. Many senior dogs can have bad breath, but it can also be a sign of something more serious. Other things to watch for in your canine senior are a loss of their appetite, rapid weight loss or gain if their diet and exercise levels have not changed (this could be a symptom of cancer), excessive urinating or drinking excessive amounts of water (this could be a symptom of kidney issues).

Canine arthritis is a disease caused by improper lubrication of joints. It causes the joints to become inflamed and your dog will have a hard time or be unable to run, jump or even walk. Signs of arthritis can be difficulty standing after resting or limping after exercise or walking. The pain may make your dog aggressive or highly agitated. You can help your arthritic dog by getting them a canine heating pad, a bed made for an arthritic dog, or by putting a cover over their crate or moving it to a warmer room of the house in colder weather. Cognitive dysfunction syndrome is comparable to human dementia or Alzheimer’s disease and some symptoms are confusion, wandering the house aimlessly, not recognizing humans or other pets, insomnia and inappropriate vocalizations. For more information, see my articles on canine arthritis and cognitive dysfunction syndrome.

Just because our dogs are aging doesn’t mean their quality of life has to be any different than when they were younger. Your dog may be a bit grayer around the muzzle, walk a bit slower and take more time getting up after a nap; but if you look closely I’ll bet that you’ll still see that sparkle in their eye and that wagging tail as they greet you at the door after a hard day at work.

Read more articles by Ruthie Bently

Hero dog Buddy leads troopers to fire

I was working out at the gym the other day, when I saw this clip on the news. Because I didn't have my headphones, I couldn't hear what the story was about. Why was that car chasing that dog?


When I got home and did some research, I discovered that the car wasn't chasing after the dog, but the dog was leading a police car through confusing back country roads in Alaska. Here's the amazing story:

On Sunday April 4th, Buddy the German Shepherd and his owner, 23-year old Ben Heinrichs were in the workshop of their home in Caswell Lakes, Alaska when a heater ignited chemicals in and started a raging fire. The owner, who suffered burns to his face, called 911.

Trouble is, the home was located in a forested area with many forks in the roads, and difficult to locate. Buddy took off, found a trooper responding to the call, and led him back to the house.

Buddy is being lauded as a hero.

Is it Separation Anxiety, or Something Else?


By Linda Cole

We all know what separation anxiety is. A dog just can't stand being away from the people he loves. Left alone, the dog might whine, howl or bark all day which isn't good if you live in an apartment. He may also destroy things in the home or scratch up the doors and windows. He gets all worked up and so do the neighbors. But, there could be something else going on that has nothing to do with a dog missing his owner.

Separation anxiety has become a sort of catch-all for behavioral problems. But it could also be boredom or a disease. No one knows why some dogs seem to miss their owner more than others. Some become anxious even with the owner at home but in a different room. Destructive chewing, howling or constant barking, drooling and doing their business inside are all symptoms of separation anxiety. Some dogs become so worked up they chew on themselves, causing self inflicted injuries. A mild case can be dealt with easily whereas a more severe case may require medication and/or working with an animal behavioral expert to help solve the dog's anxiety.

A bored pet can be as destructive as one who misses his owner, but the two problems are quite different. Boredom can be solved with exercise before you leave the house and chew toys stuffed with dog treats. But before you can solve the mystery of whether your dog is destroying your couch because he's bored or because he's experiencing separation anxiety, you need to determine which problem you are dealing with. Discussing the issue with your vet can help.

There are medical reasons why your dog may be exhibiting what appears to be separation anxiety. Cushing's disease, seizures, diabetes, renal disease, gastrointestinal problems or cystitis could be the problem. A fear of thunderstorms that increases when you are gone can upset some dogs enough that they howl or chew to help relieve their fear. Cognitive dysfunction, needing to go outside, marking their territory, a pup who is teething and not being completely housebroken can all be symptoms that you should have your dog checked out by a vet or an animal behaviorist, or spend extra time working on housebreaking and basic training.

Separation anxiety can begin at any age and for a variety of reasons. If you've moved into a new home, your dog may not feel as comfortable in his new surroundings. Separation anxiety can occur is you adopt a new dog who isn't accustomed to you, their new environment or a new routine. It might manifest if your work schedule changes and you don't have as much time to spend exercising and playing with your dog.

Other causes of separation anxiety include: a new baby in the home; new people living in your home; other changes in your living arrangements; a death in the family which can be a human or another pet. Separation anxiety might occur if your dog had an extended stay in a kennel or at the vet, or if you've adopted a new puppy or kitten. Your dog needs to know he hasn't lost your love, so any time there's a change, it's important to reassure him he's still your buddy. Dogs feel most comfortable and secure when their routine is maintained from day to day. Before making changes that are in your control, talk to your vet for recommendations on how to best implement the change so your dog doesn't feel threatened. Changes you can't control, like a death, may need to be dealt with by an expert if your dog continues to grieve.

Don't assume your dog has separation anxiety just because it's an easy explanation for why your dog is misbehaving. Any of the diseases mentioned above, boredom or lack of proper training could be the culprit. If you're thinking about using a crate to help keep your dog from destroying the house while you're gone, discuss your intentions with your vet before doing so. A dog with separation anxiety should never be put in a crate. It will only cause him more stress to be confined in a small area.

The more we learn about dogs, the more we understand how intertwined our lives are. Separation anxiety can be dealt with as long as that's the problem. It's always a good idea to have your vet give your dog a checkup just to make sure it's separation anxiety and not something else.

Read more articles by Linda Cole

Throwing your dog a bone could be deadly

By Jennifer C. Kerr
Associated Press Writer
The Food and Drug Administration issued a reminder to consumers Wednesday to toss out bones from their meals rather than feed them to their pets.

“Some people think it’s safe to give dogs large bones, like those from a ham or a roast,” said Carmela Stamper, a veterinarian in the Center for Veterinary Medicine at the FDA. “Bones are unsafe no matter what their size.”
The FDA spelled out 10 reasons it’s a bad idea to give doggie a real bone.

Among them: broken teeth, mouth or tongue injuries, bones or fragments of bones getting stuck in a dog’s esophagus or even its stomach, which might require surgery. Bone fragments also can cause constipation.

Worse, it could be deadly. Giving your dog a real bone could cause a bacterial infection of the abdomen, called peritonitis, when fragments poke holes in a dog’s stomach or intestines. “Your dog needs an emergency visit to your veterinarian because peritonitis can kill your dog,” says the caution from the FDA.

Great Careers for Animal Lovers


By Julia Williams

Children who dearly love animals often dream of becoming a veterinarian when they grow up. It’s a logical choice, since it’s likely the one they’re most familiar with. But there are actually thousands of other animal-related occupations to choose from. It’s an interesting field in that it includes animal-related jobs that require no education and very little training, those that call for college degrees and years of experience, and many that fall somewhere in between. Here are just a few careers for animal lovers.

Groomers turn dirty dogs and scruffy cats into clean, well coifed pets, be it for creature comfort in everyday life, or high profile shows where appearance is everything. Pet groomers can learn the tricks of the trade by attending a licensed grooming school or by apprenticing with a professional. Groomers may work for a vet, pet store or specialty pet grooming “salon.”

Pet sitting and dog walking businesses are perfect for independent types who want to be their own boss. Pet sitters care for animals while their owners are away, which may include feeding, walking, playing, petting, giving medication and cleanup. You typically visit the pet a few times a day, but may also be asked to stay in the home. Busy people hire dog walkers to give their canine companions much-needed exercise. Although it is possible to make a decent income as a pet sitter or dog walker, it takes dedication and hard work to build a steady client base, and your schedule needs to be extremely flexible.

Doggie daycare workers supervise canine playtime, feed and clean up after them, and generally just make sure the dogs are kept safe during their stay. Training is often offered on-the-job, and with experience a dedicated worker could even become a manager or open their own doggie daycare center.

Trainers: this field includes a host of different jobs, working with all types of animals, from dogs and horses, to dolphins and sea lions. Jobs include obedience training for private clients, service dog training, working with canine and feline “actors” in show biz, training exotic animals to perform at amusement parks, and training horses for shows and competitions.

Animal control officers (think “Animal Cops”) investigate the mistreatment of dogs, cats, horses, roosters and other animals in their city, rescue strays and deal with wild animals that endanger humans. These jobs can be rewarding for those with a sincere desire to help animals, but can also be demanding, stressful and heartbreaking, and are not right for everyone.

Animal Educators work at wildlife parks, sanctuaries, zoos and aquariums to educate the public. These jobs require a high level of confidence, and you must be comfortable meeting people and speaking to large groups.

Zookeepers feed animals, clean enclosures, and observe animal behavior. Most have a college education and prior experience as an animal caretaker.

Zoologists are biological scientists who study the behavior, diseases, genetics and life processes of animals in their natural habitats as well as in laboratories. Zoologists may work for universities, museums, zoos, government agencies or private companies.

If you’d like to work with animals but have no idea which job you’re best suited for, your local library and/or the bookstore is a good place to start. Books are a valuable resource for information on animal related careers. They contain detailed descriptions of specific careers for animal lovers, along with the education and training needed, typical salaries and job outlook.

Here are some to look for: Careers for Animal Lovers, by Louise Miller; Careers With Animals, by Ellen Shenk; 105 Careers for Animal Lovers, by Paula Fitzsimmons; Careers With Animals (for grades 3 to 8), by Willow Ann Sirch. For the entrepreneur, Joseph Nigro’s 101 Best Businesses for Pet Lovers provides information on starting an animal-related enterprise – from popular choices like pet photographers and doggie daycares, to unusual careers like catnip farmers, doggie fashion designers, pet furniture makers and pet party planners.

If you’re already established in a non-animal-related field you love, you can still work with animals by becoming a volunteer. There are so many worthwhile animal charities and organizations that rely on volunteers in their quest to help pets and the people who love them. Consider volunteering at your local animal shelter, rescue group or wildlife rehabilitation center. Those who live in Oregon could volunteer at the Pongo Fund Pet Food Bank, a wonderful organization CANIDAE supports in its mission to provide meals for every hungry pet in Portland.

I’ve been an animal lover as far back as I can remember. I’ve felt profoundly connected to animals in a way that is often difficult for me to achieve with people. Had I not discovered an affinity for writing at a very young age, I might conceivably have chosen any one of these careers for animals lovers instead. As it is, writing about animals offers me the best of both worlds – I get paid to do something I dearly love, while immersing myself in a topic that I care deeply about.

Read more articles by Julia Williams

Monday Pet Roundup

Hi and welcome to Monday Pet Roundup!

*Did you know this week is Rabbit Awareness Month? The focus of this year's campaign is rabbit obesity. Even too many carrots may not be a good thing. Visit this site to learn more about rabbit obesity.

* Top Ten Pets. Does it surprise you that rats are on the list? Live Science shares the list, including my favorites (dogs, guinea pigs) and my not-so-favorites (tarantulas).

* I hate reading about animal cruelty, but glad to learn that some laws regarding animal cruelty are being strengthened. UPI's spotlight on animal abuse reports that in the United States, dog fighting is illegal in all 50 states, and it's a felony to attend dog fights as a spectator in 20 states. More than 46 states currently have felony laws against certain acts of animal cruelty. In China, a proposed "Anti-Animal Cruelty Act" would pose penalties for starvation of animals, and ban the slaughter of animals in the presence of minors. And in New Brunswick, Canada new laws for the licensing and inspection of pet shops, animal shelter and kennels will be in place starting June 1st.

These laws are important. According to UPI, "Animal welfare experts caution that cruelty to animals often is a precursor to violence against humans..."

* Does your dog like to run, I mean really run? Would your dog benefit from some strenuous exercise? Learn more about Flyball. Behind the Behavior blog posts a really good overview of the sport, the benefits of flyball, and how you can get involved.

Has your dog participated in flyball or other agility sports? What are your views on the cruelty to animal laws? And, if you have a rabbit, do you find that rabbit obesity is a problem?

Why Do Dogs Have Hackles?


By Ruthie Bently

All dogs have hackles and they run from the dog’s neck, down their backbone and to the base of their tail, sometimes even the shoulders. One of my dogs actually had hackles that started at the base of their skull and went all the way down their back and partway down their tail. The first time Smokey saw horses, he sniffed the air in their direction and his hackles rose to their full extent on his back. He didn’t bark or growl at the horses as he approached them and he didn’t race up to them, so why did his hackles rise? Put it down to a simple case of curiosity. Smokey saw these huge creatures who smelled funny to him, and he was trying to assess the situation before taking action. Since I wasn’t worried, neither was he.

When a dog’s hackles rise it is called piloerection. It is similar to the hair going up on your arm, your head or the back of your neck and is an involuntary reaction to a situation. It is theorized that piloerection happens when there is a rush of adrenaline through a dog’s system. Hackles may rise on a dog’s entire body or just in one area, depending on the situation. This should not be confused with a Rhodesian Ridgeback’s ridge. This is a particular feature indicative of the breed and even some Ridgeback crosses.

Piloerection can be caused by excitement, stimulation, arousal, being startled, fear or interest. It is rare that hackles are raised in an aggressive manner, though it does happen. A hunting dog’s hackles may rise when they are pointing a bird or catch a whiff of a pheasant in the brush; they are stimulated and react accordingly. An intact male dog scenting a female in heat in the neighborhood may raise his hackles in his arousal. A dog’s hackles can rise involuntarily due to a loud clap of thunder that startles them. Even the excitement of greeting a family member or canine friend can cause the hackles on a dog’s back to rise.

Small dog or dogs that are fearful may raise their hackles when they meet another dog and it is thought they do this to try and make themselves look taller to the approaching dog. It reminds me of what my cats did when I brought my first puppy home. They puffed themselves up and looked so huge the puppy backed up in terror. While it was funny to watch, I had my hands full trying to calm the poor puppy and soothe the cats. A dog smelling an unfamiliar wild animal in their territory at night may raise their hackles and growl a warning to “stay away.” A puppy raising its hackles may do so because it is unsure how to react to a situation or change in its surroundings.

The best thing for a responsible pet owner to do is to be aware of your own dog’s body language and be in charge of any situation you and your dog are in. The next time you go walking with your dog or to the dog park, watch your dog and how they react to other dogs they meet. Watch both the dogs and their communication with each other. Watch not only their hackles, but their tail, eyes, ears, body posture and facial expressions. For more helpful tips on this topic, read Linda Cole’s Body Language of Dogs. By understanding your own dog and their body language, you are a step ahead of the game.

Read more articles by Ruthie Bently

How Dogs Make a Difference in Our Lives


By Linda Cole

I've had the honor of sharing my home with multiple dogs over the years. Some were ones I picked out, but most had been abandoned. I've never regretted adopting dogs or cats who needed a home. Every now and then, one will touch your heart more than others. Two dogs who found their way to us were special souls that made a difference in our lives.

Rosie had been found with her brother dumped in a ditch in early January. Around here, that's a death sentence for 8 week old puppies trying to survive with no shelter or food. I remember the afternoon I picked Rosie up from the people who had found her. She was smaller than my cats. Pushing her nose inside my jacket, she cuddled against me as I wrapped her inside my coat. She shivered as we walked out into the cold air. As I climbed into the car, she crawled over and snuggled against my leg laying her head on my lap. She didn't make a sound or move from her spot as I drove home.

The little red pup quickly grew, and grew, and grew. In fact, I was beginning to think we had adopted a small horse instead of a dog! Rosie didn't waste any time settling into her new home. She rarely barked, preferring the more melodic tone of a howl, and she expressed her opinion loud and clear. She always had the last word to say about everything on any subject, especially when she didn't want to do something or move out of the chair she'd claimed.

She was as gentle as they come. We were finally able to reassure her when we left the house to go to work, that we would be back. I always wondered if she remembered being abandoned in that freezing ditch. Rosie never liked winters and shivered through the cold months.

About a year after we adopted Rosie, a friend of ours had been visiting a friend and her boyfriend. She watched as the guy yelled at, kicked and hit their dog before throwing it against the wall in a fit of rage. My friend angrily told them they didn't deserve to have a dog. Having no collar, she wrapped her shoelace around the dog's neck and left. No pets were allowed in her apartment and after telling us her story, we agreed to take the dog. She was around 9 months old with no name.

It didn't take us long to discover how loving and special she was, so we named her Angel. She was a beautiful black Border Collie mix with the kindest eyes I've ever seen. Angel loved herding my cats and she was good at it. The cats, however, weren't too fond of it. She loved playing catch with a ball or Frisbee and her favorite thing to do was head out to a nearby lake and retrieve tennis balls thrown into the water. Eager eyes waited for me to throw the ball and she'd watch it soar, timing her splash into the water at the same time the ball hit. She'd grab the ball, race back to drop it in my hand and then streak back to the lake as the ball sailed through the air. I loved taking her to the lake because I knew how much she enjoyed it.

Considering how badly Angel had been abused, we were surprised with how gentle she was with us and the other pets. One day when becoming overly excited during a baseball game, I noticed Angel cowering in the corner of the living room trying to make herself as small as she could. She was wide eyed and shaking like a leaf. Tears came to my eyes when I realized my yelling at an umpire had frightened her. I'll never forget that image because I realized she hadn't forgotten how loud voices affected her and in her mind she associated yelling with pain.

There's a special bond that develops with a pet who was abused or abandoned before they came to you. You want to hold them close and make sure nothing bad ever happens to them again. But you can't do that. The best thing you can do is give them stability by treating them like everyone else. That's all they ask of us. Dogs or cats don't worry about the past. They move on and that's what we have to do in order to help them. Time and love will heal most things, but the actions of cruel people are hard to forget. All living things feel pain and react to violence and negative emotions. I hope to never run across another dog who experienced what Angel did.

Read more articles by Linda Cole

Does Your Cat Eat Strange Things? It Might Be Pica


By Julia Williams

I have a “foodie” cat that likes corn, beans, peas, pasta, Cheetos, popcorn, scrambled eggs – pretty much any food that doesn’t eat him first. As a responsible pet owner I don’t give him these things, except for a small morsel once in a great while; I’m just saying he would eat them if he could. Although Rocky’s obsession with food is not exactly typical for a feline, it’s far less worrisome than the eating disorder known as pica.

Pica (pronounced “PIE-kuh”) is the voluntary ingestion of non-food items. While more common in cats, pica can occur in dogs and people too, especially children. Cats who have pica will eat things like yarn, tape, plastic bags, wool and other fabrics, electrical cords, plants, kitty litter, shoelaces and paper.

Why do cats eat weird things?

Although the exact cause of why some cats have a penchant for eating non-food items is not fully understood, a genetic component is suspected since the disorder is more commonly found in oriental breeds like Siamese and Burmese. According to Dr. Karen Sueda, DVM, pica has also been linked to a variety of diseases, including feline leukemia and feline immunodeficiency virus. Other suspected causes of pica include mineral deficiencies, diabetes, brain tumors and other illnesses. If all medical causes have been ruled out, pica may be a manifestation of behavioral or psychological issues such as boredom, anxiety, attention-seeking, comfort, compulsive urges, and learned behavior.

Cat pica is sometimes associated with wool-sucking, although the two are not really the same thing. Wool sucking is generally believed to be a compulsive, misdirected form of nursing behavior, caused perhaps by abrupt early weaning of kittens. Additionally, cats who engage in wool sucking usually do not progress to the stage of actually eating the blankets, sweaters, stuffed animals and other “objects of their affection.” You can read more about wool sucking in cats here.

Is pica dangerous for your cat?

Beyond the obvious perils of chewing on power cords, ingesting plants that are poisonous for pets, or consuming potentially toxic non-food items, pica is dangerous because the items could become lodged in their stomach or intestine. This blockage can be fatal since it prevents the passage of food and may cut off blood supply to the organs. If your cat regularly eats non-food items and becomes lethargic, vomits or displays erratic behavior, see your veterinarian immediately.

Treatments for cat pica

Because pica may be a sign of an underlying health problem, any cat who shows an interest in consuming unusual non-food items should be examined by a vet. If no medical issues can be found, treatment may include:

● Keeping the targeted items (blankets, tape, cords, plastic bags etc.) out of your cat’s reach.

● Redirecting their impulse to more appropriate and safer items, such as food-dispensing toys or durable cat toys. For felines who like to snack on plants, you could try growing some catnip or cat grass just for them.

● A copious amount of interactive playtime can help if the cause of your cat’s pica is related to boredom.

● Increasing the fiber in your cat’s diet (but please consult your vet before making any changes to their diet).

● Deterring the chewing by applying hot sauce, Bitter Apple or other aversive substances to the objects they favor.

If your cat eats weird things, it might be pica, or it might not be. It’s crucial to have them examined by their vet to determine if there are any underlying medical issues. This quirky behavior might seem cute, but it’s really not. And since it could be harmful to them, it’s something you will certainly want professional help with, so your kitty can live a long and healthy life.

Read more articles by Julia Williams

Did your dog really eat THAT?

One day I came home to find a Diet Coke can, shredded into tiny bits. I expected to see my dog's tongue in bits too. Luckily she was fine. Since then, however, I've been careful about where I store our recyclables.

It's important to keep objects out of reach of dogs once you know they are chewers...and potentially, swallowers. A certain German shorthaired pointer ate my friends wallet; money, credit cards and all. Dogs have been known to eat anything and everything.


PribioticSmart.com lists some of the weirdest items ingested by dogs, with x-rays to prove it!

Above, x-ray of a rubber ducky ingested by Ozzie, a 7 month old Staffordshire Terrier.

Here are a few more:
Nails ingested by a Basset Hound.
Engagement ring, ingested by a Labrador.
Rocks, golf balls, sticks, fork, knife, mobile phone and various toys were also culprits. Check out the complete list of weird objects ingested by dogs. Fortunately, all the dogs cited made full recoveries.

Please, Please read this story!

We are down to the last 8 days of voting for the month of April in the Pepsi Challenge Contest! I wanted to share a story with you from a hospice that is in the funding process. The grant money will help us bring Pet Peace of Mind to 28 more hospices this year, so it really matters. Why? Because over 2,000 hospice patients will die today in our country--how many of them died grieving the loss of their pets needlessly? Time is of the essence!!

This story comes from a hospice RN at a hospice in Iowa:
"I recall vividly a nursing home patient that I cared for named Floyd who wanted to go home to die. He wanted to be with his wife Mary, and his two dogs, Scout and Foxy. Scout, a German Shepherd, was very aggressive toward strangers and protective of the 80 year old couple. Floyd was declining rapidly and only had a matter of hours to live when the doctor gave us permission to move him home. When I arrived at the home with the patient and knocked on the door, Mary told me she did not know if it would be safe to come in because of Scout. The dog had started to bark and growl loudly, pacing back and forth. My heart was beating very fast, but I quietly said the dog's name and told him that I was bringing Floyd home. To my amazement, Scout came over and licked my hand and began to whimper. Both dogs watched as we brought Floyd in and made him comfortable, settling him into the hospital bed. I will never forget what happened next. Floyd looked at his dear wife Mary and said, "Mama, I'm home." Then both dogs jumped up on the bed and snuggled close to him with Floyd gently stroking them and the dogs crying softly. I realized they understood what was going on. I was able to care for Bill with the dogs quietly watching me, never once showing aggression. Bill died peacefully an hour later, surrounded by his loving wife and "children." After Bill died, both dogs whimpered and cried, nudging my hand toward Bill as if to say, "Do Something!" To this day I am still amazed at the power of pets in assisting us through tough times in their lives, including taking that final journey home."

This story is only one of many that can be told about the importance of pets to the terminally ill. Thank you for taking the time to read it---and thank you for supporting our project. Here is the link to vote--please pass it on. 
http://www.refresheverything.com/helphospicepatientskeeptheirpets

Therapy Dogs Live a Life of Community Service


By Suzanne Alicie

CANIDAE sponsors several outstanding animals, and are exceptionally proud to be able to include therapy dogs Stitch and Riley as well as their newly certified partner Sophie. Because of the CANIDAE sponsorship and even the attendance of some company employees at events, these dogs are able to spread their love and comfort in an ever growing way including hospital visits, community events and the Make a Wish foundation.

Johne and Jane Johnson volunteered their time at the VA hospitals before they got involved with the therapy dogs. Johne bought Stitch as a puppy for the express purpose of training him to be a therapy dog in order to expand their outreach program with the VA hospitals in the area. Along the way they adopted Riley whose owner claimed that she was a terrible dog who didn’t like men. Riley became a certified part of the team and loves being around people, men included. This just goes to show that the way an owner thinks and feels about a dog does affect the way they behave.

Jane, a marathon runner, found a Maltipoo in a gutter while out training one day. She brought her home ,and now Sophie is the newest certified therapy dog on the team. Sophie is small enough to claim a lap to cuddle in when she visits, and usually does so. The Johnsons have also rescued another dog, a Bluetick hound named Bella who is in the process of training. These wonderful dogs visit VA hospitals as well as children’s hospitals and many community events to spread love and companionship.

Pets in general have a positive effect on people, and therapy dogs are trained to provide the attention and love that the people in the hospitals need. Mr. Johnson tells of many times when visiting the VA hospital there were patients who were despondent and non- responsive to him and the others who visited with him. However, when the dogs began to visit, these same people opened up and began talking about pets they used to have, and really enjoyed their visits with Stitch and Riley. Eventually those same patients began to look forward to his visits, although if he went without the dogs the main thing he heard was “Where are the dogs? Why didn’t you bring the dogs?” This lets him know that his therapy dogs are truly something special, and that they make a big difference to these patients.

The difference between therapy dogs and service dogs is that the service provided by therapy dogs is purely social. Service dogs are trained to stay with a specific person and assist them with different tasks, while therapy dogs are welcome visitors who provide their services to everyone they encounter. Many times veterans need physical therapy to aid with their recovery from illness and injury; this can lead to a boring and repetitive routine. Therapy dogs introduce something a little different and bring some excitement into the day. Lonely or depressed patients have shown remarkable improvement after a visit from Riley and Stitch. The unconditional love and acceptance of a dog can lift the spirits and distract patients from dark thoughts and loneliness.

Imagine being a bored patient who is in pain and all alone. Suddenly these two gorgeous golden labs and their tiny white partner burst onto the scene, three special dogs who love to be petted and played with, who are happy to just be in contact with you. Interaction with the dogs breaks up a dull routine and makes the patient feel so much better.

The training to become a certified therapy dog involves learning several important things. Besides basic obedience, these dogs learn to deal with loud noises, ignore food when it’s dropped or eaten in front of them, how to handle crowds, and the fact that everyone will reach out towards them. The mentality of a good therapy dog is that any attention is welcome, and that love is the name of the game. Little Sophie recently got to take a trip to Disneyland as part of her training to become certified.

Mr. Johnson says that any dog can be trained to be a therapy dog, but some may have learned behaviors that must be worked through first. Dogs that have been abused in any way may shy away from strangers wanting to pet them. The Johnsons now have three certified therapy dogs and only one of them has been trained for his job since he was a puppy. There is a difference, Mr. Johnson says. All three dogs are good at their jobs and love what they do, but Stitch is the one who has been raised with love from the beginning and simply has no understanding of anyone being mean.

Besides being beneficial to the hospitals and the people they visit, therapy dogs like Stitch, Riley and Sophie are also helping to spread the word of the importance and legal allowances for certified service dogs. Mr. Johnson often takes Stitch to dinner with him and his wife; this is not only a training enforcement for the dog but also a learning opportunity for the people who work in restaurants as to when a dog is allowed in, and the purpose of the dog for the person he is with. There have been several instances where Mr. Johnson has been told he can’t bring the dog in. This leads to educating and informing the employees and management as well as other diners about the legality of service dogs and their purpose. By taking on this challenge, Mr. Johnson is making the world more aware and hopefully making it easier for the people who need to take their service dogs everywhere with them.

The Johnsons, their wonderful dogs, and the Masonic lodge they are a part of have received awards for their community service. They plan to continue with breeding and training therapy dogs in order to make life a little better for all of those they encounter.

Read more articles by Suzanne Alicie

Dog stayed by owner’s side for 7 days

Golden retriever guarded deceased man, who had dementia

Through the last six years of his life, Parley Nichols, 81, never left his Hartville, Ohio, home without his dog Lady. The two were best friends, soul mates and constant companions who took care of each other.

So when Parley, who had developed dementia, went missing on April 8, it was no surprise that Lady, his 6-year-old golden retriever that he bought as a puppy, was also gone.

"Dad had been wandering around, and we kept looking for him for a solid week, sending out flyers, doing whatever we could," Terry Nichols, one of Parley's two sons, tells PEOPLEPets.com. "With his dementia, he would struggle to hear you talk to him, then four hours later he seemed okay. We were very worried."

Finally, a neighbor called saying someone had driven by a field outside of town and heard a dog barking, trying to attract attention. But when Nichols and other family members drove to the area, they found nothing.

"When we went a second time to a different place by a creek, we found Lady and my dad, who was already dead," Nichols tells PEOPLEPets.com. "Lady was standing by his side protecting him. We are sure that she never left my dad for seven days, staying alive by drinking water from the creek."

Lady didn't know what to do when she saw other members of the Nichols family arrive at the scene on April 14. They had to pull her away from her master and place her in the back of their pickup truck.

"I don't know how dogs perceive things but she knew she had to stay with dad no matter what," says Nichols. "And she did."
Lady may not have eaten for a week, but the sturdy dog (who weighed 75 pounds before the incident) was in great condition.

The preliminary autopsy conducted by the Stark County coroner found that Parley Nichols, whose story was first reported by WKYC-TV, passed away from heart failure. He could have been dead for the full week.

With the sad loss of her owner now behind her, Lady has been able to move on. She is living with other Nichols family members in the immediate area, enjoying a similar lifestyle that she had with Parley.

"Lady seems fine now ... she is a friendly, happy dog," Nichols tells PEOPLEPets.com. "I don't know if she misses my dad, but she is responding well to the rest of us. She did the right thing for dad, and we will always be comforted by that."

How to Give Your Dog Medication


By Ruthie Bently

From time to time our dogs have to take medication, whether it is their monthly heartworm pill, a dewormer, or an antibiotic because they are ill. Some dogs are great at taking medication and some are just demons. How do you get your dog used to taking medication when you need to give it to them? One of the determining factors is whether or not it can be taken with food; some medications need to be given without food so they are absorbed into the dog’s system faster. If this is the case, are you giving a pill or a liquid?

If you are giving your dog a pill, find a convenient room to administer it in. I use the kitchen, because this is where my dog gets fed and she associates the room with food and goodies. Get the pill out of the bottle before you call your dog. This way, you are prepared and won’t be trying to fumble with a lid that is hard to open or a dog who may not want to get a pill. Call your dog into the room using an unconcerned, cheerful voice and put your dog on a sit/stay facing you.

Hold the pill between two fingers of one hand; grasp their upper jaw with the other hand using your thumb on one side and the rest of your fingers on the other. Gently squeeze their upper jaw behind their canine teeth while raising their head. With one of the free fingers of your “pill” hand (between their lower canines) pull their lower jaw down and place the pill in the dip of the tongue at the back of their mouth. Hold their mouth closed as you lower their head and begin stroking their lower jaw (front to back) while speaking in a soothing tone.

If you are dispensing a liquid medicine, measure it out in a liquid syringe and slip the syringe behind your dog’s last set of molars and into their mouth near their throat. Again, rubbing your dog’s throat front to back will help them swallow the medication. Whichever medication you are giving, make sure they have actually swallowed it and not spit it out. And be sure to praise your dog and give them a treat; they will remember this and be more willing to take their medicine the next time.

If you have a small dog you can pick them up and set them on a table, since they are less apt to move if they are at a disadvantage. If you have a larger dog that is a wiggler or not as amenable to getting a pill, you can put them on a sit/stay with their back to the corner of the room. This way, you’ll be able to block their exit from the room.

If the medication can be given with food it’s a fairly simple process. If you are giving a pill, pick something your dog loves to eat. I use cream cheese or a piece of cheese, but have also used CANIDAE canned food, peanut butter, liver sausage and hot dogs. The size of the pill determines how much you use to camouflage it with (I use about a quarter of a teaspoon). Wrap the pill in the food and offer it to your dog, making sure not to mask the pill too much or too little. Too much camouflage and your dog may find the pill and spit it out, too little and they’ll be able to taste the pill and spit it out.

Skye is a special needs dog and has been on medication since she was about a year old, both pills and liquid. The liquid medication is very salty and Skye didn’t like taking it, so the breeder would squirt it on a piece of bread and give it to her that way. While it was an efficient way to get the medication into Skye, she would shake her head from side to side after eating the bread to get rid of the taste of the medication. Skye now gets liquid medicine twice a day with her CANIDAE canned food. I put Skye’s food in her dish first, squirt the medicine on top and mix it with the food. I set it down, and Skye makes it disappear.

By using a cheerful, unconcerned voice, praise and treats, anyone can get their pet to take their medicine. To paraphrase Mary Poppins “a spoonful of CANIDAE makes the medicine go down.”

Read more articles by Ruthie Bently

Dog Training only a click away!

I'm embarrassed to admit, but my dog Kelly still only comes when I call her about 50% of the time...when she feels like it. What are your dog's behavioral challenges? Does he jump up on visitors at the door? Does she bark when left alone? Refuse to walk calmly on a leash? One solution for handling these issues is obedience classes. This is a great option, because it gets your dog out and around other dogs and in a new environment. In addition to typical classes, you can supplement with lessons and practice at home.

Dr. Ian Dunbar of Dogstar Daily hosted the British TV show Dogs with Dunbar. Now he's tackling behavioral problems, socialization and obedience exercises on a Web-based companion dog training program, America's Dog Trainer. Photograph above is of Rikke Broggard, one of the featured dog trainers.

According to the website, "America's Dog Trainer or (ADT) is innovative because it features a different trainer each week and because today's technology makes the program available worldwide 24 hours a day. So you can find the dog trainer (or trainers) that best suit your personality and goals and watch wherever or whenever you have the time or need. Solutions and educational entertainment are always just a click away."

In an interview conducted by Dogstar Daily, Dr. Ian Dunbar says, "New technology gives us the opportunity to bring some of the best, most vibrant trainers we know to the public right now, and, on an affordable budget. By hosting the show on our very own website, Dog Star Daily, we're not beholden to the rules and constrictions of traditional television producers, directors and program planners. Each trainer may present their episode exactly as they want it to be. And of course, there's a huge advantage to web-TV. Whereas cable and network shows have a restricted local or national audience, the web-TV audience is worldwide and all the shows are archived and available to watch forever - anytime and anywhere. This makes education and entertainment so accessible. It allows us to bring the best and the brightest of dog trainers to dog lovers, no holds barred. This is the future of dog training - the new generation. It's happening right before our eyes and I'm just so thrilled!"

Check out America's Dog Trainer webisodes for teaching your dog to fetch (not all dogs do this naturally!), special techniques for training big dogs, working with kids and dogs, introducing two dogs to each other, and more!

11 Basic Commands Every Dog Needs to Know


By Linda Cole

We teach our children basic commands they need to know in order to stop them from running out in front of a car or putting something dangerous in their mouth. Puppies should also be taught certain commands for the same reason. Whether you adopt a puppy or prefer an older dog because it fits better with your lifestyle, there are certain basic commands every dog should know. Their safety could depend on it.

“Come” means to stop what he's doing and return to you. It's an easy command to teach, and important in an emergency, if he should break loose from his leash or pen, or rush out the front door when company arrives. The come command helps you control situations much easier, and allows you to keep your dog out of harm's way.

“Sit” is another easy command every dog should know. Dogs get excited when they're getting ready to go outside or go for a walk. Some have a hard time waiting while supper is being prepared and some dogs go bonkers when the doorbell rings. Teaching your dog to sit and wait helps subdue their excitement so you can answer the door, finish their supper or get their leash attached to their collar. The sit command also works well to keep them from jumping up on people.

“Stay” is harder for some dogs to learn, but it's well worth the time and patience it takes to teach it. Dogs don't always understand they could be in danger, and using stay can stop them from running in front of a car or grabbing something they shouldn't have. It gives you time to remove the danger or wait until it's gone. Staying can be hard for a dog to do when he sees something he wants, especially if it's a cat or squirrel in the yard across the street; however, it's an essential command every puppy and dog should know.

“Drop it.” How many times have you tried to wrestle something out of your dog's mouth? They don't know that the chicken bone clamped between their teeth is harmful for them. Instead of you prying their mouth open to retrieve whatever they've picked up, the drop it command makes life much easier for you. Knowing this command also makes playing fetch more fun when your dog returns the ball to you and drops it at your feet or in your hand so you can give it another toss.

“Leave it” is another good command for dogs to know, because it can give you peace of mind knowing they won't grab something they shouldn't have. Dogs can easily swallow whatever they've picked up if they think you want to take it away from them. And dogs have been known to swallow needles, safety pins and other small objects before their owners could retrieve the item. The leave it command tells the dog it's not for him.

“Wait.” This command is sometimes used in conjunction with stay although they are two different commands used for different reasons. A more energetic dog may need to be held in check for a short time. Wait tells him it's not time to go and he must stay where he is until you let him know he can move.

“Okay” is a command every dog should know because this releases them from any other command you've given him. Okay simply means the dog is free to move.

“No” tells your dog he can't have something, or to stop doing what he's doing. No should be used to stop unwanted behavior like chewing, jumping up on you or someone else, or biting.

“Heel” helps you control your dog while on a walk and when you are around other people or dogs. Instead of allowing your dog to pull on his leash, heel puts him by your side where you have better control of him should you meet another dog or person while walking.

“Off.” Not everyone enjoys having a dog jump up on them. This command tells them to stay down and not to jump up on you or someone else. It also keeps your dog off the furniture.

“Stand” is a command every dog should know because it makes it easier when you are trying to give him a bath or groom him. Teaching him to stand is also a big help during vet examinations or when you are trying to examine him yourself.

These eleven basic commands can help you keep your canine companion out of danger, and you will have a well mannered dog who understands and follows your wishes. For information on how to teach your dog some of these commands, read Basic Commands for Dogs: Heel and Stand, and Teaching Come and Stay.

Read more articles by Linda Cole

CANIDAE Helps Take a Bite Out of Crime


By Julia Williams

The handsome Belgian Malinois pictured here is Baco, a hard-working K9 who helps fight crime in the Southern California city of Pomona. CANIDAE graciously donated Baco to the Pomona Police Department a year ago, to replace a patrol dog who died from cancer. Officer Theo Joseph is Baco’s human partner on the force (also called a handler), and Baco is his third police dog.

I spoke with Officer Joseph recently to get an update on how Baco has been doing this past year. As it turns out, Baco just recently caught his first bad guy. This “K9 rite of passage” is an important test, as it tells the handler much about the dog, what he has learned, and how he’s likely to perform in the future. According to Officer Joseph, Baco handled his first apprehension of a bad guy (two of them, actually) really well, and shows great promise as a police dog.

With his first bite behind him, Baco can now attend a six-week training for narcotic detection. This cross-training is valuable because it will make Baco an even more useful member of the force. If Baco’s sensitive canine nose detects drugs in a vehicle, Officer Joseph has probable cause to search without needing to obtain a warrant.

Although Baco knows many English words, he has been trained to respond only to commands in Dutch. This can be useful to the officer, since it prevents criminals from knowing what commands are being given. In fact, it’s not uncommon for them to mistakenly think that a command to apprehend is the dog’s name. Whereupon, instead of calming the menacing dog in front of them by calling his name, the criminal is actually saying “grab me, grab me.” Don’t tell the bad guy this, but no matter what he says it won’t cause the dog to retreat or attack, because K9s are taught to respond only to their handler.

Dog officers develop extremely close bonds with their K9 partners, largely because they are with them 24/7. Their dogs go to work with them every day and spend evenings and weekends at their home. “I spend more time with Baco than I do with my family,” joked Officer Joseph.

On those rare occasions when he works a shift without Baco, Officer Joseph said it feels strange. It’s not just the companionship of a dog that he misses, however. Baco’s mere presence can prevent physical confrontations with criminals and diffuse potentially deadly situations. Officer Joseph described an incident where a stand-off occurred between a suspect and police. The man was willing to fight eight officers, but when he heard the bark of just one police dog, he surrendered immediately. This is a perfect illustration of how tremendously valuable K9s are to law enforcement.

Baco eats premium-quality CANIDAE dog food, of course, alternating between the All Life Stages and Chicken & Rice formulas. Officer Joseph believes that the CANIDAE food helps Baco be a better police dog because it gives him the high level of energy he needs, doesn’t cause digestion issues, and satisfies his ravenous appetite.

Although Baco takes his police work seriously, Officer Joseph said he’s also a laidback, low-key canine. This is in stark contrast to the officer’s last K9 partner, another Belgian Malinois named Zorro described as a “Type A” personality. Zorro is retired from the force and lives at home with the family along with Baco and a third dog, a Husky. When he’s not fighting crime, Baco enjoys playing tug-of-war and keep-away with his favorite toy, a plastic bone. He likes country music, and snores while sleeping.

Talking with Officer Joseph brought back fond memories of my college days as a Journalism student. I was assigned to the “police beat” and went on many Citizen Ride-Alongs, including two with K9 units. All of my rides were interesting and educational, but the K9s provided the most fodder for A+ tales. Officer Kaiser and his German Shepherd Samson, were quite the pair. I’d been forewarned by other officers that “the dog stinks to high heaven,” and “Kaiser is the only guy on the force with a dog smarter than he is.” I’ll not divulge whether they were right, but my four-hour ride with this duo was definitely unforgettable.

Samson spent the entire time breathing down my neck from the back seat of the patrol car. When a call came over the radio about a fight at a liquor store, Officer Kaiser spun the car around and accelerated (largely to impress me, I’m sure), and Samson went wild, barking and pacing like mad. The “fight” turned out to be a mild scrap between three macho dudes and a hippie with a dead squirrel in the basket of his moped. (I swear I’m not making that up!). While Officer Kaiser spoke to the men, Samson leaned out the window and kept a keen eye on them. Later, we headed to Samson’s favorite “potty spot.” When Officer Kaiser told Samson to “Take a break!” he flew out the car window, did his business and jumped back in.

Although my memorable Citizen Ride-Alongs occurred many years ago, Officer Joseph said most cities still do them today, but that he and Baco have only done two of them in their first year together. I’m quite certain they weren’t nearly as entertaining as my rides with Officer Kaiser and Samson. Nevertheless, Baco is an exemplary K9, and CANIDAE is proud to sponsor him.

Read more articles by Julia Williams

Monday Pet Roundup

Hi and Welcome to Monday Pet Roundup!

*This great photo was taken by Caroline Benzing. Thank you Caroline!

*Recently we inquired about an elderly friend and learned that she'd been injured, and pretty well banged up, because she'd tripped over her dog. Turns out this is not that uncommon. Fox News reports that there are more than 80,000 reported incidents of tripping over pets a year. Dogs were involved in nearly 7.5 times as many injuries as cats.

*In Farsley, UK, a cat is creating havoc of another kind. Digital Journal reports that, when the postal worker comes to a particular Farsley house to deliver the mail, the cat jumps through the cat door and attacks him! Mail has been suspended to this address.

*Dog Star Daily reminds us that this month is National Stress Awareness month. Stress can affect our pets too. Some pets are stressed at being left home alone. One solution is to leave the radio or calming music playing while your gone. Dog Star Daily also suggests training classes and learning how to become the benevolent leader to help calm dogs.

*I've asked this question myself: Does my dog's warm, dry nose mean that he's sick? Find out from Dr. Lauren Brickman on Petfinder's blog.

*Enter here to win handmade Benevolent Bakery Dog Biscuits! Contest closes April 30th.

Do you have a technique for calming your pets? And, have you ever tripped over your pet?

Why Do Dogs Chase Cats?


By Ruthie Bently

Asking why dogs chase cats is like asking the age old question “which came first, the chicken or the egg?” Basically, like many things dogs do, chasing cats is instinctual and they’re hard-wired to do it. However, you’ll find anomalies in every purebred and mixed breed dog; some will chase cats, some won’t. If you have a hunting, working or terrier breed or mix, there’s a good chance they will chase cats, because they have a stronger drive to do so. Most terriers and even some hounds were used as ratters not that many years ago. Dachshunds were used for hunting badgers and were sent into holes after the badgers to route them out.

The instinct that our domestic dogs inherited from their wolf ancestors is their prey drive. This drive was necessary in the wild so a wolf pack could survive. A mother wolf hunts to feed her pups, and the pack hunts for survival of the fittest pups in the pack, as they are the future of the pack’s longevity. The prey drive causes a lone wolf to hunt anything smaller than itself.

A dog’s prey drive is motivated by movement; it can also be motivated by smell. Racing Greyhounds are trained to chase a mechanical rabbit. Lure coursers chase a scented bait across a field. Herding dogs chase the flocks they protect, nipping at their heels to get them to move. This is all controlled at their base level by the prey drive instinct. If a dog grows up with cats, while they may chase when playing with their feline roommate, they are not as apt to actively chase cats all the time. They may also defend their joint territory against strange cats that intrude in your yard.

If you want your dog and cat to get along, the first step is introducing them. Admittedly it is easier if one or both of them are young, because they are less apt to have preconceptions of what the other species is capable of. If you’re bringing a new puppy home, a good way to introduce them is to crate your puppy and bring the cat into the room the crate is in. If your cat isn’t disturbed by the appearance of your dog, sit on the floor in front of the crate with the cat in your arms and introduce them.

If the cat is unwilling, scared or too wiggly, you can put them in their carrier and set the carrier door facing the crate door, several feet apart. You still want to be nearby watching the interaction and have treats and praise on hand for both your dog and cat. If your dog barks or the cat growls, admonish them but do not punish them; they are just reacting to a new situation. If they behave well, praise them and offer treats to both. By using this method, your dog and cat can get used to the sight of each other without being able to reach each other.

The next step is to let them interact in a room under your supervision. Make sure the room you choose has an escape route for your cat. Make sure your cat’s toenails are trimmed before the encounter, a friendly swat on the nose is one thing, but sharp claws may make your dog re-think the idea of being friends. Put a collar and leash on your dog and put them on a sit/stay in the room.

Have another family member bring the cat in and put them on the floor near the dog. If your dog is calm, praise them and offer them a treat for their good behavior. If your dog rushes the cat or tugs on the leash, tell them “no” and put them back on their sit/stay. Repeat both stages of training several times a day and for the first several months if needed. If your cat is an indoor/outdoor cat, provide sanctuaries both inside and out where they can be away from the dog, because even friends need a break at times. Make sure to feed your cat away from the dog’s reach. A dog eating their food may irritate the cat and make his acceptance of the dog harder.

You can train an adult dog that has not grown up with cats to respect them as another member of your melded pack. I know, because I’ve done it. By having patience, understanding why your dog chases cats, and using the same method of training consistently, you too can have your own peaceable kingdom at home.

Read more articles by Ruthie Bently

"Restful Sleep"


This is Rocky..the English Bulldog we watched for a week while his parent were away..he's still a puppy and still have plenty of crazy, stubborn, bulldog energy

Great Dog Books for Kids to Read


By Linda Cole

I grew up with a dog by my side and a book constantly in my hand. I loved reading about nature and animals, especially dogs. Some of the books I read as a child were classics then and are still popular today. If your child loves dogs, reading books about dogs is a great way to encourage them to read. There's an excellent assortment of great dog books for kids to read.

Big Red, written by Jim Kjelgaard and published in 1945. Big Red is set in the Canadian wilderness. Seventeen year old Danny Pickett and his father are mountain trappers living in a small shack. Danny does odd jobs for their landlord, Mr. Haggin, who owns a champion Irish Setter show dog named Red. Danny falls in love with Red the moment he sees him and eventually convinces Mr. Haggin to let him train Red and teach him about life in the wilderness. Danny's father has a run-in with a mean bear called Old Majesty who's been killing Mr. Haggin's steers. Danny and Red take on the dangerous task of tracking Old Majesty to stop the bear once and for all. This is a story about poverty, the privilege of wealth, trust, loyalty, determination, courage and love. One of my all time favorites, it's a great dog book for kids that’s filled with adventure, action and the great outdoors.

Where the Red Fern Grows, written by Wilson Rawls in 1961. The story is set in the Ozarks where 12 year old Billy Coleman wants one thing more than anything else. His desire for a pair of Redbone Coonhound puppies is so strong he's willing to do whatever it takes to earn enough money to buy them. After picking berries to sell and doing other odd jobs for neighbors, he finally saves enough money to buy his puppies and Billy wastes no time teaching them the art of coon hunting. This book is a tear jerker, but it's an excellent story about the loyalty and courage of dogs.

The Incredible Journey, written by Sheila Burnford in 1961. Thinking they have been left behind by their family, a Labrador Retriever, Bull Terrier and a Siamese cat set off to find them. Traveling through the rugged Canadian wilderness, the three friends cover 300 miles. With danger around every corner, they are chased by wild animals, survive rushing rivers and hunger as they search for their lost family. This is another great book for kids that stresses the loyalty, courage and determination of two dogs and a cat surviving alone in the wilderness against overwhelming odds.

Barry: The Bravest Saint Bernard, written by Lynn Hall in 1973. This book is based on a true story about Barry, a Saint Bernard who lived from 1800 to 1814 at a monastery in the Swiss Alps. Barry's job was to patrol the mountain pass used by travelers to cross the rugged mountains between Switzerland and Italy. Because of Barry's bravery, he was able to rescue at least 40 people during his lifetime, making him the most famous St. Bernard of all time. To this day, one pup from every litter born at the monastery is named Barry to honor his courage and dedication. It’s a touching book that's even more heartwarming because it is a true story.

Because of Winn-Dixie, written by Kate DiCamillo in 2000. Ten year old Opal and her father are new to town. While Opal is in the Winn-Dixie supermarket, she sees a dirty, ragged looking stray dog and adopts him even though everyone tells her to leave him alone. Winn-Dixie and Opal spend their days getting to know the residents of the small town. Winn-Dixie has a nose for trouble, but through it all, Opal and her dog become fast friends with the town's more colorful residents. Along the way, she begins to understand some life lessons and learns how to let go of what needs to be left in the past. Opal also begins to develop a closer bond with her father.

Marley and Me, written by journalist John Grogan, is an autobiographical book about his life with a Yellow Labrador Retriever that chews on everything he can get his teeth on. Grogan chronicles life with Marley as he grows into an energetic adult. As Grogan's family grows along with Marley, his exploits will make you laugh. This is an excellent book for kids that is funny and very entertaining, but does have a serious side to it.

These are some of my favorite dog books I've read over the years, and there's many more just waiting for kids to discover. I still love a good book about animals and nature. The library is full of great dog books for kids to read, and it's never too late to introduce a child to the joy of reading.

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Getting to Know Your Pet Could Save Its Life


By Julia Williams

In my last article, I talked about the different ways you can help the veterinarian treat your pet. When a vet is trying to determine what ails a sick pet, I really don’t think there is such a thing as having “too much information.” And since our pets can’t tell us – or the vet – how they feel, it’s up to us to be their voice and to ensure that they get the treatment they need to be healthy and happy. A big part of that is keeping detailed records of their health and past treatments along with their dietary issues and environment history. But there is another very important component to helping your vet treat your four-legged friend: you need to know your pet well. Better perhaps, than you even know yourself.

When you know your pet well, you will be more apt to notice right away when something is amiss. And the sooner you can get them in to see their vet, the better. While not every health problem a pet can face is serious, a delay in treatment for some conditions could be life threatening. Getting to know your pet well is not that hard, but it does take time and a conscious effort. It involves spending enough time with your pet that you have a good idea of what is “normal” for them, and what isn’t. It means being observant about everything. When you know your pet well, you know what their typical appetite is; you know how their skin and coat look, how their eyes, nose and mouth look, and whether they have any digestive issues or problems with their bones and joints.

Responsible pet owners know how important regular vet checkups are. However, it’s also a good idea to perform your own brief physical exam on your pet at home on a regular basis. Look at the eyes to see if they’re bright, clear and free of any discharge. Examine their mouth to make sure the gums are a healthy pale pink and teeth aren’t yellowed or covered with tartar, and that there’s no foul odor. The ears should be free of wax buildup, and the nose should feel damp and velvety with no crusting on the surface.

You should pet and massage your dog or cat regularly too, not just because it feels good to them and helps you bond, but because you will notice any lumps or bumps that might be present. Feeling along the abdomen for any masses or swellings associated with the mammary glands can help detect tumors. Taking your pet’s temperature at home, although not particularly pleasant for either of you, can provide valuable health information. The stress of being in a veterinary exam room can sometimes cause a borderline elevated temperature that’s difficult for the vet to interpret. If your pet has a fever in the comfort of their own home, this tells the vet that it’s not likely due to nervousness.

Knowing your pet well also means being able to tell when there are behavioral changes. This is often not as easy as noticing physical differences in your pet, because the changes may be subtle and difficult to interpret. Behavioral changes might not necessarily indicate that your pet is ill; they may just be acting differently for reasons known only to them. For example, if a pet suddenly stops sleeping in a favorite spot that he’s loved for years, it’s possible they just want a change of scenery. In the summer, my cats sometimes sleep under the bed rather than on it. I wondered why they were “hiding” under there, until I realized it was cooler, and probably more comfortable. Some behavioral changes are more serious, however, and may indicate an underlying medical problem. These include lethargy, aggression, growling, restlessness, refusing to eat, and going potty in inappropriate places.

If you know your pet well, you will notice right away when something changes. Being aware of any differences in behavior or appearance is an important part of responsible pet ownership, and may even save their life. When in doubt about any changes in your pet, behavioral or otherwise, it’s always wise to consult your vet.

Read more articles by Julia Williams