The Wolf of Kindness

Saturday Pet Blog Hop
Paws for Thought:

A Native American grandfather talking to his young grandson tells the boy he has two wolves inside of him struggling with each other. The first is the wolf of peace, love and kindness. The other wolf is fear, greed and hatred. "Which wolf will win, grandfather?" asks the young boy. "Whichever one I feed," is the reply.

I've got a new slideshow up - showing Dan de Lion's recent pics

And he is toooooo cute for words!  Formerly known as Dandy-Lion, he's now Dan de Lion and getting so big.  He's totally a terror and just too much fun.  His cage and play area is our locker area where I work and, when we punch in and out of our shifts, we'll feel something banging on our butts - it's Dan jumping up and whacking us!

Today, I went in there and he attached himself to my leg, like a little kid does, and I was able to walk around a bit with him like that.  As I said...toooooo cute!  And such a terror!

Here's a page I just posted over on ScrapbookFlair, showing the latest pics of Dan:

And here's a quick slideshow I created that sort of shows the construction of the page (but not really, as anyone who digi-scraps knows, it's not quite this easy sometimes!).

It has music, so turn your speakers down if you're looking while you're at work, LOL!

The kit used is a freebie (!) called I Meowww You by Honey Designs, and it's available at

Of Mice and Cats (an American Classic)

By Rocky Williams

I'm currently serving time at the Fleabag Prison with two other feline felons, so I thought it might be fun to tell you a story from my ‘Verminator’ days. They’re just a memory for me now, because I'm under house arrest for ankle biting, toe nibbling, counter surfing and other unmentionable crimes. Hence, I have nothing but time to tell a little cat-and-mouse tale. Steinbeck, eat your heart out!

Once upon a time, I had a job as Chief Verminator of Rodent Valley, California. It was a wonderful place for felines, but not so much for humans since the mice, rats and gophers outnumbered them by the thousands. Catching a rodent was a daily event for me, but not because I took my job seriously. I mean really…what else did I have to do all day?

So one day I caught a rat and promptly took him inside so the Warden could see what a good job I was doing as Chief Verminator. I hoped she would reward me with some of that yummy FELIDAE kibble I’m crazy for, but when I dropped him at her feet she screamed “Rocky, get that THING out of here!” Her lack of appreciation for my wonderful gift was appalling. I proceeded to play two-paw soccer with my rat, which I'd named Ben, but after awhile I lost interest in this little game and looked away.

Unfortunately, Ben seized the opportunity to make a run for it, and he got away from me! The Warden saw Ben scamper behind the stove. I pretended that I didn't see anything. Rat? What rat? Hmmm…I didn’t see a rat, did you?  I nonchalantly licked my paws and sauntered away.

The warden, mouth agape, stared at my backside as I ambled out of the room. I think I heard her calling after me. She might have said something like, “Rocky, come back here and get that THING out from behind the stove.” But if she had said that, what did she expect me to do? The space Ben crawled under is one inch at best, and I'm a big lad. I couldn't fit under there even I'd wanted to go after him, which I didn't.

I casually looked over my shoulder. The Warden was still staring at the stove and then back to me. I plopped myself on the couch, because I was overdue for a nap. The Warden was beside herself; she didn’t know what to do. I heard her talking on the phone, and she mentioned she had a mouse living behind the stove. Hahaha! Evidently, she didn’t notice that this ‘mouse’ had an 8” tale!

As if her mistaking a rat for a mouse wasn't funny enough, the next day the Warden found out Ben had taken up residence under the kitchen sink. He was building a little nest out of rags and making himself right at home. The Warden is such a softy when it comes to animals, and I suppose she thought Ben was hungry because she left him some peanut butter on a cracker. The next day, it was gone so apparently Ben liked his snack.

Days went by. The Warden was trying to figure out what to do about the mouse. A friend said they had a humane trap she could borrow. Hooray – Ben is saved! Oops, false alarm; they couldn't find it. The Warden looked for a humane trap at every town within flying distance on her broom, but she couldn't find one.

After a few weeks of Ben gorging himself on PB & C and leaving little droppings behind (his way of saying thanks, I'm sure), the Warden finally broke down and bought a regular mouse trap. She baited it with Ben's usual snack and waited. For three days, she checked the trap and breathed a sigh of relief that the cracker sat untouched. She really didn’t want to hurt Ben, but didn’t know what else to do.

On the fourth day, the Warden’s friend found her humane trap after all. Oh joy! The Warden skipped happily into the house and told me that Ben was finally saved. She opened the cupboard door and there lay Ben, stiffer than a board, cracker crumbs still on his little mouth. The Warden was very sad, even when she discovered that her ‘pet mouse’ was actually a rat. Me? Not so much. I’m a cat after all, and I took my job as Chief Verminator very seriously. Well, not really. I worked solely for the great benefits, aka, the endless bowl of FELIDAE cat food and the nightly Tidnips™ treats. Now THAT is what matters most to a cat!

~ The End ~

Photo by Denis Defreyne

Read more articles by Rocky Williams

Friday Funnies

Kelly has been consorting with the cartoonists, and here she is, featured in two different, fantastic cartoons!

From the great website, Life with Dogs, cartoonist Jason Dodge created this cartoon, based on input from me and Kelly:

And, here is a cartoon by the talented duo, Jim and Bruce, at Draw the Dog, inspired by Kelly's own unique snuggling location!

Happy Friday!
Peggy and Kelly

Are monkey experiments justified?

The current president of the Zoological Society of London,Professor Sir Patrick Bateson, was commissioned by the main bodies that fund medical research in Britain to assess whether the studies on non-human primates (NHPs) were necessary, high-quality and yielded significant advances in medical science.

Animal welfare groups opposed to experimentation on monkeys called again for the practice to be banned outright.

Bateson's report stated that the practice should continue and finds the current work to be generally of good quality. But also voiced concern that no clear scientific, medical or social benefits had emerged from nearly one in 10 projects.

It also said that in a minority of experiments, the justification for using monkeys was "not compelling".


Dog Health: Preventing and Treating Calluses

By Linda Cole

If your dog is anything like mine, he probably prefers snoozing on the couch or on a comfy chair rather than on the floor. I don't mind sharing the couch with my dogs, because the softer padding helps protect them from developing calluses. Dogs can get calluses on their elbows and other areas of the body, just like we get them on our feet or hands. They aren't life threatening and usually don't bother the dog, but they can become a problem if they turn into sores. If you see gray, bare spots on your dog's elbow, those are calluses. These can be prevented and treated.

Calluses form on a dog's elbows, hips, and other areas of the body when the dog sleeps on hard surfaces – basically any place on their body where they are resting on a bony area. Calluses are sometimes called pressure sores and can turn into an abscess or an ulcer. Larger dogs are more susceptible to developing calluses, but any dog that spends too much time sleeping or laying on a hard surface can get them.

Summer is a prime time for dogs to develop calluses because they seek out the coolest area they can find to take a snooze. Cement located under a shade tree is a favorite resting spot because the cool surface feels good to them. Shaded decks and tile blocks are also great places to lie on during the summer. Dogs that pick hard surfaces to sleep on should have their elbows, hips and legs inspected regularly.

Calluses can easily be prevented by providing your dog with soft bedding to sleep on. However, dogs aren't always cooperative and most have a mind of their own when it comes to snoozing where they want to, especially when it's hot. Dogs that spend a lot of time outside may find a cooling bed to their liking, and even inside dogs can benefit from this type of bed instead of sleeping on a hard surface all the time. Cooling beds are filled with water and as long as you keep it out of the sun, it will help keep your dog cooler and help prevent the development of calluses. Any type of raised bed will work as long as your dog finds it comfortable and cool. I set up some old beach lounge chairs my dogs like to sleep on when they're outside for an extended time during the summer.

Some dogs will flop down on the floor or on any surface, even cement, and the pressure on the skin over a bony area can be damaged with repeated bumps to these areas. As long as the calluses don't turn into pressure sores or more serious problems, like an ulcer or an abscess, calluses aren't a problem. But you should always keep an eye on any skin condition to make sure it doesn't get worse.

Older dogs or dogs with medical problems that lay in one spot for long periods of time can develop bedsores. Lying down for too long in one spot can cause the skin to lose normal circulation and the skin cells die. These types of sores can be really hard to treat; they are painful for the dog and can easily become infected. Older and sick dogs should definitely have a soft surface to sleep on, and they should be encouraged to move every 30 minutes or so to help prevent bedsores from developing.

Calluses can be treated with liquid vitamin E to help soften the skin. The vitamin E will also help heal the skin and allow the hair to grow back. A word of warning about vitamin E – it's greasy and you won't want your dog on your good furniture because it will leave a stain. Try not to let him lick the area where you applied the vitamin E. It won't hurt him if he does lick it, but the licking isn't good for his skin. However, when in doubt it’s always wise to discuss your dog's health with your vet before using any kind of over-the- counter medications or supplements.

If your dog has developed calluses, keep an eye on them to make sure they don't turn into sores. If your dog appears to be in pain when lying down, standing up or when walking, you should make an appointment with your vet for professional advice. Most of the time a callus is nothing to be concerned about and with a watchful eye and soft bedding to sleep on, your dog can be comfy and free of bare spots on his elbows.

Photo by Meredith Harris

Read more articles by Linda Cole

The importance of calm assertiveness

A guest post from

When you welcome a dog into your home, you're not simply gaining a pet, but a new state of mind.

This fact quickly became clear to me when my husband and I got two lab mix puppies. The oldest, Shammy, is about 5 months old, while Dozer is 10 weeks. In hindsight it probably wasn't the best idea to get puppies so close in age simply because of the time requirement, but since I'm a housewife, I have the time to make it work.

When you bring a dog in, you go from an individual, or a house full of individuals, to a pack. To understand how a pack works, think about a time when you were around someone who was feeling a certain way -- whether sad, angry or even happy -- and how it started to affect your mood. Multiply that by the number of animals and people in your household and you get an idea of how a pack works. When you bring a dog into your house, you are bringing an animal who is literally hardwired to be your lifelong companion. Dogs are empathetic to their humans in a way no other animal, including other people, can be. Because of this, owning a dog means you have to be more in touch with your feelings, and through that, the feelings of your household.

My pack consists of myself, my husband, two cats and our two aforementioned puppies. We act as one symbiotic entity. If one of us is sad, angry or frustrated, it carries through to the rest of the household. If I wake up in a bad mood, the dogs are unmanageable and hyper, the cats are racing around the house and even my husband is grousing. But I find that if I can find that center, the calm assertiveness that is the foundation of a good working relationship with animals, then it's like night and day. By taking a few moments in the morning to breathe, to relax, to envision the day that I want to happen, I find that it helps stop a majority of the craziness. Add in exercise, training and a set routine and the battle for a peaceful, animal-loving household is already won.

As dog owners, we cannot allow ourselves the luxury of giving in to our anger and frustration. Will we feel these things at times? Yes. But much like a conscientious parent, we have to have the wherewithal to rein it in quick before it disrupts the pack.

So what is calm assertiveness? Simple. Think of someone in your past, whether it's a relative, teacher or other influential person in your life. Was this person someone you obeyed out of fear, obligation or respect? If the answer is respect, then that's the assertiveness. Next, picture how you felt around them. What kind of "aura" surrounded them? Hectic and worried or peaceful and tranquil? It's pretty obvious where the calm is there.

For some people, simply imagining how that person would react in a given situation is enough, but for me it isn't. Instead, I try to think of times before where I myself felt calm assertiveness. I think of writing, editing and publishing, which are all areas in which I feel very confident. I call forth that same strength in hectic times to ground myself.

Calm assertiveness is a must for dog training, but it is also useful in life in general. The next time you find yourself getting annoyed at a situation, find that center and try facing it with calm assertiveness. You will be amazed at how much easier even the toughest obstacles can become.

The cutest thing you'll see today

This baby colobus monkey, named Mosi, was born May 20 to Roberta, 23, at the St. Louis Zoo.


Photo by Stephanie S. Cordle of the Post-Dispatch.

Ten Important Phone Numbers for Pet Parents

By Julia Williams

When it comes to responsible pet ownership, there’s no such thing as being too prepared, or having too much information. We all know how important it is to keep the telephone number for our pet's veterinarian close at hand. We also need to have the number and location of the nearest emergency vet hospital in case our pet gets sick or injured on weekends or after hours. In addition to those two essential telephone numbers, there are many others a pet owner might need at one time or another.

In an emergency, it’s much better to be prepared and know who to call than to be frantically searching for a phone number. The one thing you do NOT want to do in an emergency is search the internet for phone numbers. This is likely a waste of time because, as I discovered while doing research for this article, much of the information is outdated and the numbers are disconnected. I’ve only included numbers here that I could verify. Some are toll free numbers, but others may incur long distance charges depending upon your phone service. Also note that some may only be staffed Monday through Friday during regular business.

ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center: 1 888 426 4435
If you think your pet may have ingested a potentially poisonous substance, you can call this poison control center 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The cost for a poison-related emergency consultation with a veterinarian or toxicologist is $65, which can be billed to your credit card.

Pet Poison Helpline: 1 800 213 6680
This 24-hour animal poison control service for the U.S., Canada, and the Caribbean charges a $35 per incident fee, payable by credit card. This fee covers the initial consultation as well as all follow-up calls associated with the management of the case.

Spay/USA Helpline: 1 800 248 7729
This national spay/neuter referral service can help you find a low cost clinic in your area. Their mission is to reduce pet overpopulation by making spay/neuter services affordable to everyone who has a cat or a dog. Phone counselors are available M-F from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. EST.

 ● CANIDAE Pet Food Customer Service: 800 398-1600
Call this number if you have questions about what food to feed your pet, or other food related questions. Such as: Is a grain free diet right for my dog or cat? Should I switch my senior pet to a formula designed specifically for older animals? What protein sources are good for a pet with allergies? How much food should I feed my pet every day?

The Animal Legal Defense Fund: 707 795 2533
The nonprofit ALDF was founded in 1979 by attorneys active in shaping the emerging field of animal law. Contact them if you have questions about animal neglect or abuse, pet related landlord-tenant issues, pet custody concerns during a divorce, or if you need information on how to include animals in your will.

ASPCA Pet Loss Hotline: 877 474 3310
This program was created to help pet owners who are dealing with the loss of a pet. You can also call them for assistance with the decision to euthanize, advice on how to help children, disabled individuals and other family pets who are grieving the loss of their companion, and help establishing a relationship with a new pet.

Pet Travel Information: 877 241 0184
If you’re planning to travel with your pet by plane, train or cruise ship, call for information on regulations and restrictions, pet container requirements, vet certificates, and clearing security.

Pet Airways: 1 888 738 2479
The world’s first pet-only airline currently transports four-legged passengers between nine major U.S. cities, with several more in the works.

Animal Behavior Hotline: 312 644 8338, ext. 343
Behavior specialists are available to answer questions and provide solutions on everything from separation anxiety to aggression.

Lyme Disease Foundation: 860 870 0070
The LDF is a nonprofit organization dedicated to finding solutions for tick-borne disorders. Call them if you need information on tick-borne diseases such as Lyme Disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Colorado Tick Fever.

Part of being a responsible pet owner is being as prepared as possible for any situation that might arise. I hope you find the above phone numbers to be a useful resource, and if you know of any other important phone numbers for pet owners, please leave a comment so I can add it to the article.

Photo by Alessio Michelini

Read more articles by Julia Williams

Wednesday Pet Roundup

Hi and welcome to Wednesday Pet Roundup. Another wet and wild roundup today!

* Tips for taking your dog to the beach: The Washington Post says beware of seagulls, starfish and sand crabs.

* From PetMD, if you haven't seen this already, check out the Australian lab who not only love swimming, but this dog chased off sharks!

* Swimming's not just for the dog. From Today.msnbc, this cat likes to swim...and it's helping him walk again, too!

* I'm still laughing at this one! The wonderful Life with Dogs did it again, and alerted me to this hysterical video! Gus gets an indoor pool!

Video: Can we have an indoor pool, please?


World Record Pets

By Suzanne Alicie

Do you believe your pet has what it takes to break a world record? Oh sure, we all think our pets are award winners, because we love them. But people and their pets have set world records for many years, and these records aren’t easily broken. Take a gander at these incredible animals and how they found their way into the books.

Got a big dog or cat on your hands? To break the record, your dog needs to outsize Hercules, a friendly English Mastiff, weighing in at 282 pounds. A gentle dog with a 38-inch neck, Hercules barreled into the record books after the passing of yet another English Mastiff who weighed 296 pounds. The distinction for the tallest dog goes to Giant George, a blue Great Dane standing at 43 inches.

There have been some pretty big kitties too! The longest cat award is currently held by Stewie of Nevada, a 48.5 inch long Maine Coon. The largest cat on record weighed in at over 46 pounds: dearly departed Himmey, with a 15 inch neck, a 33 inch waist, and 38 inches from nose to tail.

If you have a tiny pet, they have big shoes to fill to break a world record too. Lengthwise, the tiniest dog on record is a Chihuahua named Heaven Sent Brandy who measures a staggering 6 inches from the tip of her nose to the tip of her tail tip. The lightest dog record is yet another Chihuahua named Ducky, weighing in at 1.4 pounds.

The smallest cat on record is Mr. Peebles from Illinois, weighing in at about 3 pounds, while Tinker Toy, a Himalayan-Persian stands the shortest at 2.75 inches tall and 7.5 inches long. Amusingly, the smallest cat is larger than the smallest dog! Those poor tiny dogs probably suffer from small dog syndrome even if they are record holders!
Brett Lee

There are also records to chase for athletic dog owners—the fastest runner was Australian “wonder dog” Brett Lee, who covered a race distance of 563 yards in 28.88 seconds. The Guinness World Record Holder for the highest jump by a dog is held by Cinderella May, who cleared 68 inches in 2006. Not surprisingly, these record holders are both Greyhounds, a breed generally known as the fastest dog, with recorded sprint speeds of up to 45 miles per hour.

The most proficient swimmer is a Labrador mix named Umbra, who has dog-paddled over 600 miles of swim-time. Cats may not be big on athletic displays, but record seeking felines have sure found ways to make up for it. 28,899 ways in fact, which is the number of mice caught by Scotland’s prolific mouser Towser over her 24 year lifetime. (The figure was extrapolated by watching Towser do her thing for a number of days and computed mathematically.)

The oldest cat ever according to Guinness is Creme Puff, who lived an astounding 38 years and 3 days! Old timers in the dog world defer to the Australian Cattle Dog Bluey, who passed away at 29 years and 5 months. We love our pets so much, I’m sure we all wish they could live to such ripe old ages.

World record pets may wow the world by being the longest, fastest, tallest or oldest, but every pet is special in its own right. Love them dearly, treat them right, and give them lots of yummy CANIDAE TidNips treatsthen your pet will know what it feels like to be an award winning animal. They’ll have the award of being YOUR beloved pet!

Read more articles by Suzanne Alicie

A Hospice Patient Talks About Pet Peace of Mind

Most of my blog posts are written from my own perspective or that of a hospice staff member or volunteer. This month, we feature a quote by a hospice patient impacted directly by Pet Peace of Mind. The story comes from our PPOM hospice partner in Eugene, Oregon--Sacred Heart Hospice. The story is shared by PPOM Coordinator Victoria Spear.
"A 77 year old hospice patient, Barbara, lives alone with her aging cat, Franz Kafka. Since February, PPOM has provided cat food, kitty litter and cat treats for Franz. In addition, Franz has been taken to the vet three times for blood tests and a skin condition. PPOM has paid for the necessary visits and medication. This patient is extremely grateful to the program for the care and support provided for her 'family.'  We discussed the possibility of using our working relationship with the local humane society to find a home for Franz, but the patient was able to find a home for him with a friend.  Recently, Barbara consented to be interviewed by one of our PPOM Volunteers. Here's what she had to say about PPOM. 'If you are at home and in hospice, you want to keep your pet with you as long as possible. Eventually he will go with a friend of mine who lives in California, but until that time, I want Franz to be happy. I am very appreciative that this program allows me to get him to the vet when he is ill, to get his ears cleaned or his nails clipped. The vet service is expensive and a lot of people can't afford care for their pet. This program allows me to do the best for him and respects the fact that my pet is very important to me, especially when I am ill.'"
Not long after Barbara gave this interview, Franz left to go to his new home in California. In order to support her through the separation, our PPOM volunteer brought the patient framed pictures that he took of her and her cat during his visit. Barbara was deeply touched by this gift.

Do you sleep with your pet?

BuzzFeed has a collection of 20 people who DO sleep with their pets.

How to Turn an Empty Dog Food Bag into a Tote

By Karen P., CANIDAE Customer

Editor's Note: CANIDAE recently posted the photo for these cool repurposed dog food bags on their Facebook page. Many people asked for instructions on how to make them, so we asked Karen to share that here on the blog.


  • CANIDAE dog food bag (dimensions are from a 30 lb bag)
  • Duct tape
  • Clear packing tape
  • Scissors
  • Tissue or newspaper (for making a template)
  • Permanent marker


1. Cut dog food bag open, lay it flat, and wipe the inside with a damp cloth. See the image at left to know where to cut. (Click here for a larger version.)

2. Using tissue or newspaper, measure and cut out a template, much like making a pattern for a dress. You're basically making a rectangle, but with notched-out corners. Your rectangle should be 19 1/2" wide, by 17 1/2" tall. Then, notch out a 3" by 3" corner on the bottom left and bottom right, like in the drawing.

3. Place your new template over the clean food bag. You need to make two identical cut-outs with your template. One will become the front of your repurposed bag, the other the back. Draw lines at edge of template with your marker. Then move the template and trace the second cut-out.

4. Use your scissors to cut the bag to match the templates you traced. You should have identically sized pieces after cutting.

5. Lay out both front and back pieces label side down.

6. Overlap the two 3 inch sections that will make up the bottom of the bag.

7. Duct tape the inside seam together, turn over, then use the clear tape over the seam on the outside.

8. Start folding the bag up using the same overlapping idea, using the duct tape on the inside seams and the clear tape on the outside seams.

9. Once the bag is basically together, make a 2 inch cut at the top of each of the 4 corners, fold the edges in and secure down with the duct tape (the duct tape will cover the unevenness of the inside edge).

10. With the remaining “scraps” cut  two strips 20 inches long and 1/2 inch wide.

11. Lay out a piece of clear tape, sticky side up and center the 1/2 inch strip.  Fold the tape over the strip in a tri-fold fashion (I used several short pieces of the clear tape). Repeat with the second strip.  These will become your handles.

12. Attach the handles approximately 3 inches in from each side as shown. That's it. Now you have a great bag to take to the dog park!

Reducing Pet Allergens in the Home

Guest post by Abby Snyder ~

Pet dander is a common culprit for many allergy symptoms, but for those of us with allergies; it's certainly not always the cause. I blamed my constant stuffiness on my dog's dander for years - only to realize it was actually my apartment that was setting off my sneezes. Looking back I realize the allergens were everywhere - floating in the air, stuck the carpet, or hiding behind every bookshelf - and I wasn't doing a thing about it

After moving to a new place and following some simple cleaning tips, both my dog and I are enjoying cleaner, allergen-free air. Some good recommendations include taking as many of the following steps as possible to eliminate allergens to your home:

Establish a weekly cleaning routine. This includes a complete clean of floors, doors, sheets, furniture, windowsills and window frames. If it can collect dust or potentially grow mold, it should be cleaned. Changing or cleaning your heating and cooling filters is also recommended to improve your indoor air quality.

Watch your temperature and humidity. Keeping the temperature of your home at 70 F (21 C) and a relative humidity of no higher than 50% will prevent dust mites and mold from growing. Dehumidifiers and air purification systems can also help ensure clean, dry circulating air.
Eliminate mold. Keeping warm air out and dehumidifiers and air conditioners on helps keep your air fresh and also prevents mold from growing. To rid your home of mold, any non-washable materials, such as carpeting, need to be disposed of. Washable materials can be washed with a 5% chlorine bleach solution.
Exterminate pests. Not only are pests kind of creepy and unwelcome in our homes, they can also leave behind an allergy triggering residue. These residues can be removed by thoroughly vacuuming your carpets and washing hard surfaces. Infestation problems can be controlled with inexpensive traps, home bug sprays, or calling an exterminator for severe cases.

Don't smoke inside. Polluted air doesn't necessarily cause allergies, but it does irritate the nose and lungs. This can increase the likely-hood of suffering from allergy symptoms.

These may seem like a lot of work if you've never done them before, but I can assure you that the relief my dog has experienced from my beginning this regimen has been stunning. Remember, our pets usually depend on us to figure out what's ailing them, and I'm happiest when I know my dog is happy and not suffering. Oh, and my own relief from allergies is the extra bonus!

Abby Snyder has loved dogs ever since received her first pooch kiss as a baby. She writes for on how homeowners can save money on their heating and cooling bills. provides comprehensive, unbiased data and consumer product information on air conditioners, boilers, furnaces and heat pumps.

How to Make Your Own Dog Toys

I've spent a lot of money on dog toys Kelly's shown no interest in. Kind of like that expensive toy you buy your toddler, and then he only wants to play with the box. Sometimes, the simple things are better.

A great website, Wisebread "living large on a small budget" posted 10 DIY dog toys you can make for pennies! These ideas, from Paul Michael, are fantastic!
Here are a few of his great ideas:

1. Place a tennis ball inside an old sock.
2. Tie a knot in the sock above the ball

Kitchen Towel Braids
1. Cut a ratty old kitchen towel with two slits, leaving about an inch at the top, so that you have three equal sections.
2. Braid the three sections.
3. Knot the loose ends.

Milk Bottle Madness
1. Take the cap off a plastic milk jug and throw it away.
2. Put about a dozen or so treats inside.
3. Watch your dog try to get them out!

(**Note: I tried this with Kelly and she chewed apart the milk jug, and got off big hunks of plastic. So if you try this, please watch your dog to make sure they don't get pieces of plastic and swallow them.)

To see all 10 great ideas for inexpensive dog toys you can make with items found around the house, see the complete Wisebread article, 10 DIY Dog Toys you can Make for Pennies.

Dandy-Lion has become Dan!

So our little squirty-boy is growing up.  He's no longer "Dandy" but "Dan" and has gone through a number of growth spurts until he's a (still-little) lean, mean, jumping machine!  One of these days, he's going to (a) jump over the open Dutch door that leads from the room he's kept in into the kitchen and/or (b) jump into the garbage (oh wait, he's done that already, LOL!) and/or (c) jump into the litter scoop bucket (oh wait, he's done THAT already) and/or (d) start chewing on the blinds (oh yeah, wait, done that too) and/or (e) finally jump up my leg high enough to do damage to me (he gets to mid-thigh now, ouch!).

Here's a page I just made for a challenge over at ScrapbookFlair - Small But Perfectly Formed:

The idea of the challenge is to create a scrap that covers only about a quarter to one-third of the page, but with intricate details.  I don't often scrap this way, so I was glad to do this and stretch myself a touch.

(why is that?  Why do we always feel the need to always *fill* our pages with "stuff"?  Sometimes I think we put too much "stuff" on a page, or make the original image so artistic, to the point that one can't recognize the original image.  And I find myself falling into that trap too, though I try not to.  Usually, though, my style is pretty traditional, making the photo the focus, and put it prominently on the page)

Anyway, I'm very pleased with how this came out.  I got some great shots of Dan yesterday at work (look at those soulful eyes of his!), and this was fun to do, to do the extraction, make the frame, and make it all small, LOL!  The kit I used is Angel Baby's Scraps' Sweet Fantasy, and that's just how he looks, like he's having a fantasy about that fairy.  Hey, who knows what cats really see, that we can't????

#1 Surgically Removed Item From Dogs & Cats

Dogs and cats commonly eat things that they shouldn't. The problem is that many items can't be digested or passed through the intestine causing a "Foreign Body Obstruction".

An indigestible object can become lodged in the stomach or intestines and may require surgery to remove it. Untreated, ingestion of these types of items can be fatal.

According to Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI), they compiled a list of most common items surgically removed from pets.

Do you know what is #1?

It is the sock!

Here is the list:

Top 10 Surgically Removed Items

1. Socks

2. Underwear

3. Panty Hose

4. Rocks

5. Balls

6. Chew Toys

7. Corn Cobs

8. Bones

9. Hair Ties/Ribbons

10. Sticks

A Very Wet Dog

Saturday Paws for thought:
Bath Time?!
The most affectionate creature in the world is a wet dog." - Ambrose Bierce

"Anybody who doesn't know what soap tastes like never washed a dog." - Franklin P. Jones

Handicapped Kitty “Willow” Gets a Miracle

By Julia Williams

Facebook has done it again. I’m all teary-eyed because of an incredibly heartwarming story I happened upon. I won’t say “by accident” because I believe there are no such things. I’m convinced that everything and everyone has a purpose, and that every pet was put here on earth for a reason. Sometimes we don’t know what that reason is; other times, it’s crystal clear. In the case of a special kitten named Willow, I think her purpose is to help people see that every pet is precious – even those who some might call “imperfect.” Willow’s motto could be summed up as, “Play the hand that life dealt you, but never stop hoping for a miracle.”

Willow’s touching story began with her birth last December. Her back legs were badly deformed, and her people said she was born that way. They didn’t even bother to name her – they just called her “Cripple.” Although her siblings all found homes, no one wanted the tiny kitten with a deformity.

That is, until fate intervened and a kindhearted woman named Wendy answered an ad for a free crippled kitten. Wendy felt an immediate bond with the little kitty. She didn’t see a kitten whose deformed legs made it extremely difficult for her to walk. She saw a sweet, cute and loving soul who deserved a chance to have a wonderful life despite her handicap. Wendy took her home and named her Willow, because “a beautiful girl deserves a beautiful name.” As the days turned to months, Wendy’s love for Willow grew, and she came to see her as “the most perfect angel in all the earth.”

Wendy built steps so Willow could get up on the furniture and look out the window. She helped Willow as best as she could, but unless something was done, Willow’s legs could develop ulcerations that might lead to infection. Not wanting her baby to be in pain, Wendy prayed for a miracle – she hoped that a doctor could fix Willow’s legs.

Wendy created a Facebook page for Willow, so she could share her story and make friends with other kitties and cat-loving humans. And the friends came…hundreds and hundreds of them! Willow’s new friends were so touched by her story that they sent her lots of great gifts, and medical supplies to help with her care. They raised money so Willow could see an orthopedic vet, and were heartbroken when the doctor said he couldn’t fix Willow’s legs. But that only spurred them on, and these new friends raised more money so Willow could get a specially made wheelchair.

Willow started learning a new way to walk and a new way of life. It was then that Wendy realized they had received the miracle she’d been praying for – but it wasn’t the wheelchair, and it wasn’t even about Willow’s legs. It was about all the love that came to Willow from people all around the world. It was about the support of thousands of compassionate pet lovers rallying to help one little kitty have a better life.

One should never underestimate the power of social networking sites like Facebook. I’ve witnessed time and again the miraculous things that happen when pet lovers come together for a cause they believe in. Thanks to her wonderful “mom” and the kindness of strangers, a once nameless kitten now has a joyful life. Willow says she is “a very happy little girl who enjoys her life. It is better to have love than legs.”

Willow has also embraced Facebook, and uses her newfound celebricat status to help other kitties. She posts about kitties that need adopting, or kitties whose human guardians need help with medical bills. There’s even a kitty in Egypt that needs a wheelchair, just like Willow did not so long ago. I’ve no doubt that in the years to come, Willow will pay it forward. She will continue to help those less fortunate pets who need their own miracle, and she’ll inspire other humans to help too.

When I contacted Willow’s Mom for permission to use her photos, I found out she just recently switched to FELIDAE and is very happy with it. “Willow eats the FELIDAE Cat and Kitten Formula, and she loves it,” said Wendy. “I personally think FELIDAE is the best cat food out there, and I want only the best for my Willow! We absolutely love FELIDAE...the ingredient list says it all.”

To learn more about Willow, you can watch her YouTube video, and join her on Facebook.

Read more articles by Julia Williams

Bedtime Book for Dogs

I'm going to be really honest here. I don't know if it's strange to feel guilty about this or not but...I've never read a book to my dog.

I love to read. I read a lot. I even read about dogs a lot. But never to my dog. YET!

You might say this omission in my interactions with Kelly is possibly due to lack of appropriate reading material. But now, I can use that excuse no more! Bruce Littlefield has written what I believe is the first book written just for dogs: The Bedtime Book for Dogs.

The story follows the adventures of a pup who decides he'd rather take a walk to the park by himself than wait for his human companion--and discovers that all of his usual activities aren't as much fun without a good friend to share them with. And, in case you think it's simply a cute story about a little dog, there's more to it than that. The book is told with the 20 most common words that dogs can recognize, such as "treat" "squirrel" and "Good dog!"

Check out the book trailer!

I think Kelly would like this book. And I'd love reading it to her, too.
Sweet Dreams!

Pet Health Facts: Omega Fatty Acids

By the Drs4pets Team

Fat is the primary source of energy for your pet. The fats in food are made up of omega fatty acids, important nutrients in your pet’s diet. Not only are certain fatty acids essential for life, they also play critical roles in optimal health and vitality.

All foods contain omega-6 fatty acids. Linoleic acid is one of the omega-6 fatty acids, and is considered an essential nutrient. One of the key roles this fatty acid plays is to maintain the proper moisture balance in the skin’s surface. This is critical for maintaining a barrier between the outside world and the inner workings of the body.

Omega-3 fatty acids come from ingredients such as marine sources (fish oil or fish meal) and also from vegetable or plant sources (flaxseed or algae). While alpha-linolenic acid is the only omega-3 fatty acid that is truly considered to be an essential nutrient, it is likely that others in this important group will make the list soon. Omega-3 fatty acids, such as DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), have been found to be critical for good health. DHA is important for the proper development of cognitive function and vision in young animals, and EPA has powerful anti-inflammatory effects. Omega-3 fatty acids can diminish inflammation in the joints, skin and digestive system and may even help fight or prevent cancer.

It is important to feed a pet food that contains a blend of omega fatty acids to support optimal skin and coat condition, proper immune function and to control inflammation throughout the body. Looking at the label for sources of these critical nutrients, as well as checking the Guaranteed Analysis for the guaranteed levels, will help ensure that your pet’s diet contains omega fatty acids for optimal health.

 Question: How can I tell if my pet’s food has omega fatty acids?

Answer: Reputable brands will guarantee the levels of omega fatty acids in the guaranteed analysis. Look for words such as omega-6 fatty acids, linoleic acid, omega-3 fatty acids or alpha-linolenic acid in the list of nutrient guarantees. This will prove that not only is it in the food, it is guaranteed to be there at a specific amount.

Question: Should I give my dog a fish oil supplement for his dry skin?

Answer: It would be a good idea to check with your veterinarian first. If the food that you are feeding has a balance of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, a supplement may not be beneficial. There may be another explanation for the dry skin. Sometimes, additional supplements can lead to loose stools.

Question: My cat loves tuna fish. Can I feed this to her for the fatty acids?

Answer: It is important to feed a balanced diet to your cat. An occasional treat is ok, but be cautious. Cats can be finicky and may choose treats over their regular food, leading to dietary imbalances and deficiencies.

Photo by Tony

Visit to learn more about pet health, nutrition and safety.

Mini is Better!

I confess. I'm a Frequent Treater.
Kelly gets a reward for sitting and staying. For coming in from outside. For having her picture taken. Yup, in addition to praise and love, she gets a lot of treats.

Recently, as we've been dieting together, I've been concerned about the effects of all these goodies. Then I discovered mini treats!
Different brands of dog biscuits come in a variety of sizes. I read somewhere that it doesn't matter what you give them, most dogs are going to chew and swallow in one bite anyway. That's Kelly! So now, I buy her the smallest size treats I can find, many are only 5 to 10 calories a piece. Just check the list of ingredients to make sure they meet the standards you want.

Do you reward with commercial dog cookies, or something else?
Have you found mini treats beneficial for your dog?
Do you demand the same quality ingredients for your dog's treats as you do for his food, or do you allow some wiggle room there? (Like for myself, somehow I will allow myself a less-healthy dessert once in a while, but never eat deep fat fried foods or fatty meats for dinners.)

Cat Versus Dog: Which One Makes the Best Pet?

By Julia Williams

Pet owners often engage in friendly – and sometimes not-so-friendly – discussions on whether cats make better pets than dogs, or vice versa. While there are quite a few pet owners who love both cats and dogs equally, others are adamant in their stance that one species is better than the other. Where we stand in the great ‘cat versus dog debate’ is often a result of which pet we had growing up, or a particular experience we had with one, either positive or negative. Sometimes a preference emerges for no apparent reason; it just is, and it’s how we’ve always felt.

Over the years I’ve been a pet mom to a dozen cats. I like dogs too but have only shared my home with one, so my experience with them is more limited. However, just because my BFF’s have always been cats doesn’t automatically mean I think cats make better pets than dogs. The relationships are different, not necessarily better. Nonetheless, for the sake of the debate I’ve come up with a few reasons why one might want a cat instead of a dog. Don’t think I’m bashing dogs though, because I’m really not. Rather, this is just my attempt at humor.

The Cleanliness Factor

Dogs need to be bathed regularly and even then, many breeds have a distinct ‘eau de dog’ shortly after getting squeaky clean. Cats win this category paws down because they are remarkably self cleaning. My cats wash themselves after every FELIDAE feeding frenzy, in between mealtimes, and pretty much every waking hour. Bathing a cat is rarely necessary, which is a good thing because it’s not exactly easy to do without getting shredded.

Physical Activity

All dogs need regular exercise. Some breeds can get by with a short daily walk or play session in the backyard, but others need more physical activity than this, which can be challenging if you’re more ‘couch potato’ than marathon runner. Cats need regular exercise too, but you don’t need to brave the chill of winter to help them burn off their kibble calories. A drawer-full of cheap cat toys is all you need!


Big dogs eat mountains of food, and even some small dog breeds put away more kibble than most cats do. Dogs need bigger pet beds than kitties do, and most felines prefer a cardboard box over a cushy pet bed anyway, so you might as well not buy one. There are typically more supplies to buy for dogs too, such as crates, leashes, harnesses, rain booties, and sweaters for those short-haired or hairless breeds. Cats don’t need to wear sweaters and most will claw you into itty bitty pieces if you’re foolish enough to even think about putting one on them. Same for the harness and leash…just don’t go there!


There’s a big difference in the time and effort required to train dogs versus cats.  For cats, training generally consists of showing them where their litter box is kept, and keeping a spray bottle of water handy to discourage counter surfing. Dogs need rules and guidance to become canine good citizens who will follow your basic commands at home, at the dog park and on walks.

Barking Versus Meowing

A bored dog left alone all day tends to engage in excessive barking, which can really get annoying when you live next door. It’s certainly not the dog’s fault, but that doesn’t make the barking any less irritating. Conversely, have you ever heard someone complain because the neighbor’s cat meowed all day while they were away? Nope, me neither! If you’re gone a lot, a cat is definitely the better pet because they sleep all day anyway.

The Palate

It’s no secret that dogs view the things they find in garbage cans, the cat’s litter box and their backyard as tasty tidbits. Yep, dogs eat rotten food and poop, and they like to roll in the stinky stuff too. When have you ever seen a cat do that? Enough said.

I’m sure I could come up with just as many reasons why dogs make better pets than cats… but I won’t because that would mean I’d have to relinquish my lifetime membership in the Crazy Cat Lady club, and the tacky cat plaque that came with it. And you know, I’ve actually grown quite fond of that ugly thing. 

Photo by Dixie Wells

Read more articles by Julia Williams

Wednesday Pet Roundup

Hi and Welcome to Wednesday Pet Roundup! I'm not sure what got into me this week, but kind of a strange roundup of animal stories. I guess the heat is getting to me! Speaking of heat, here is Kelly sitting out in the road on a very hot day. I don't think her tongue could have hung out any longer!

* Mashable shares that, in the UK, 1 in 10 pets have a social networking profile. Judging by how many dogs and cats I have as friends, I'd say that figure is the same or more here in the U.S.

* A hawk snatched a cat from a NYC backyard, but dropped him 50 feet away. What saved the cat? His extra pounds. According to the Daily News, his owner says "The moral of the story is, your flaws can be an asset. In Eddie's case, his chubbiness saved him."

* From Life with Dogs, here's a bulldog who took an SUV on a joyride!

* From CBS News, a Florida couple is found guilty in the case of the pet python that killed 2 yr old daughter. They were charged with third degree murder, manslaughter and child neglect. Defense argues that they are only guilty of "stupidity." I'd go with both.

Summer Vacation Tips for Traveling with Dogs

By Suzanne Alicie

The warm weather of summer often has us humans making vacation plans and heading out of town. For those of us who want our canine pals to have a summer vacation with the rest of the family, we have some choices and preparations to make to ensure that it’ll be a safe and fun trip for everyone.

Road Trips

Taking your dog with you on a long road trip can be enjoyable or traumatic, depending upon the dog. For dogs who like to ride and don’t get carsick, it’s a fun thing to go on a road trip. For dogs who don’t like to ride or get carsick, it can be a miserable experience for everyone involved. Be sure to take along a bowl for food and water, a fresh bottle of water and some dry dog food. Also pack paper towels and check with your vet for an anti-nausea remedy. Don’t forget the leash for rest stops and a comfy place for Fido to curl up when he’s tired of looking out the window. Read “What to Pack for a Road Trip with Your Dog” for more tips.

Vacation Rentals

Nearly all places that offer vacation rentals have at least a few properties that are dog friendly. You may have to pay an extra deposit and ensure that your dog has a crate for when you have to leave him at the strange house all alone if you and the family go out. Be sure to bring along his favorite CANIDAE treats to reward him for being such a good dog, and his favorite blankie or bed so that he feels safe and comfy in the vacation home.

Pet Friendly Motels

Along the way toward your destination, you may need to plan an overnight stop at a roadside hotel or motel. Try to plan ahead and follow the handy instructions in our article “How to Find Pet Friendly Motels.” A portable crate is a good idea, as well as making sure you have a leash on hand. Pet friendly hotels may retain the smells of other pets that have visited – and dogs have such wonderful noses! – which means you may spend a lot of time trying to keep him from marking the territory as his own. You may want to take an odor neutralizing spray with you, and spray any areas that are of particular interest to your dog.

Regardless of where you plan to travel to, there are a few things you’ll need to pack for your four legged traveling companion. A pet first aid kit, food, water and containers are the basics. Collar and leash and any medications your dog may take regularly also need to be kept close at hand, not buried beneath suitcases. You should also make it a point to locate the nearest vet to your vacation destination, just in case.

Traveling with dogs can be done, and it can be an enjoyable experience as long as you are a responsible pet owner and plan ahead. As you travel, keep in mind that not everyone loves pets and some people are very allergic to dogs. This is why many places that offer lodging are strict about their “no pets” rule. Take the time to find vacation lodging that welcomes your dog, and always follow leash rules and keep your dog under your control.

If you aren’t able to take your dog on vacation with you, there are a few options. You could hire a friend or relative to come and stay in your house to take care of your dog while you are gone, or you can check with your vet to find a trusted and safe boarding kennel.

Photo by Elisha Marshall

Read more articles by Suzanne Alicie

Rescued Dogs Become Search and Rescue Heroes

By Linda Cole

Sometimes you have to look deeper inside a pet to see the real spirit lurking below the surface, waiting for the right person to set it free. Some people think shelter animals aren't worthy of their attention and don't consider adopting them. However, many great shelter dogs and cats turn out to be a pet that saves the life of their owner. National Disaster Search Dog Foundation is a nonprofit and non-government organization that provides firefighters, who are first responders, with rescued shelter dogs that have been trained for Search and Rescue (SAR) work. Even a scruffy shelter dog has the potential of becoming a hero who might one day save your life or someone you love.

Dogs end up in shelters for a number of reasons: their owner didn't understand how to handle behavioral problems, picked the wrong dog for their lifestyle or grew tired of the dog, or the dog became lost or was dumped. Hollywood dog trainers have known for decades that animal shelters are a great place to find pets that are smart, loyal and eager to work. The pet just needed a person who saw their potential and was willing to make a commitment to work with the dog to develop his hidden abilities.

Organizations looking for Search and Rescue dogs have also discovered that animal shelters are full of untrained dogs that only need a steady and compassionate hand to teach them the art of locating people who become lost or buried under rubble after a natural disaster. Not every canine is up to the task of being a SAR dog, but many are and you only have to go as far as the local shelter to find them.

National Disaster Search Dog Foundation matches firefighters with shelter dogs, and trains both the handler and dog in Search and Rescue and how to work as a team. Currently, handlers and dogs are trained at Sundowners Kennel in Gilroy, California, but a permanent training facility in southern California is in the works and is very much needed.

SAR dogs have proven their true worth and dedication in doing their job better than we can do ourselves. Even with modern day technology, there is nothing more effective than a dog's nose for locating someone buried under rubble. Without the unique ability of dogs aiding in a search, many more lives would be lost. Rescuing and training shelter dogs for this important job is a win-win for everyone.

Those who search shelters for just the right dog know exactly what they are looking for. Armed only with a toy, they want to find a dog who responds with curiosity to the toy. They're looking for specific characteristics in the dog and how he/she acts, especially when it comes to playing tug of war. The qualities of a good Search and Rescue dog are easy to find when you know what to look for.

National Disaster Search Dog Foundation was founded in 1996 by a retired Physical Education teacher named Wilma Melville. Wilma and her black lab Murphy went through the Federal Emergency Management Agency training to become certified as an Advanced Disaster Search Dog team. Wilma and Murphy were deployed to Oklahoma City after the 1995 bombing of the Federal Building. Because there were only 15 search teams in the entire country who were certified to work a disaster site, Wilma knew more teams needed to be trained. She was determined to find a way to ensure there would be enough teams ready to go for the next large scale disaster. Today, there are around 100 SAR teams who are ready to go wherever they are needed.

Twenty teams are based in locations in Tornado Alley. Nine teams are in Oklahoma, four in Nebraska and Dallas, and three teams are stationed in Florida. Midwest states without teams are working with the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation to get more teams into these critical areas.

No one expects to be touched by a natural disaster, but they can and do happen in our own backyards. We can't stop Mother Nature, but we need to be as prepared as we can to help deal with the aftermath in a quick and organized way to save as many lives as possible. Without Search and Rescue dogs, it would be impossible for humans to locate people buried in rubble, and any shelter dog could potentially be rescued and trained for this very important job.

Read more articles by Linda Cole

Horse Whisperer

I was excited recently to be introduced to horse trainer and horse whisperer, Melanie Brown, of Columbia Missouri. I know you'll love meeting her too! She kindly agreed to answer a few questions.

Q: What does it mean to be a "horse whisperer"?

MB: Horse whispering is a term given to ones who know horses well, with an understanding of horse psychology and the universal body language. When mastered, such communication between horse and human is almost imperceptible to a viewer, thus the term ‘horse whisperer’.

Q: Your job description says that you rehabilitate horses. What are some of the problems you see?

MB: Oh, my, I see many problems! Because traditional methods rely on dominance, intimidation or mechanical means to obtain compliance, many horse owners do not realize what true rapport with a horse can be like. Most folks just catch the horse any way they can, kick to go, pull to stop and if the horse complies they are happy.

Some of the most common problems I see are safety issues, the horse running into and over people, not responding appropriately to pres
sure (such as pulling back when tied and flipping over), not standing still when being mounted (many people get injured this way), or not loading in a trailer without duress (many horses and people have been injured or killed just trying to load the horse). All of these problems are correctable and the horse can become safe to be around.

Q: How do you help?

MB: I help by first teaching the horse some basic rules of respect and communication with humans, using the universal language: body language. Then I teach the owner about body language and the prin
ciples that are important to the horse. First teaching the horse speeds the process, for it is difficult for the owner to teach something one doesn’t yet know! The principles include horse psychology and what is important to each individual horse based upon its own unique Horsenality ™, a term coined by Linda Parelli. I have learned most of what I know from studying Pat and Linda Parelli’s Natural Horsemanship system.

Q: What have you learned from horses?

MB: I have learned a tremendous amount from horses...but if I were to sum it up in a short would be “about spirit”. The spirit in all living creatures, including humans, is actually very similar. We all want to su
rvive and seek comfort. We all have feelings, emotions and fears. Learning what is important to horses, how to build a rapport with each one based on Horsenality ™ is very similar to dealing with dogs, cats, or even humans. Spirit is the common thread among all living things.

Q: How did you come up with the name Snortin' Horse Farm?

MB: The name Snortin’ Horse Farm came to me because I wanted a name that would be memorable and capture the spirit of the horse. My Haflingers like to play, and they become very animated with head and knees high and blow out a big snort. Horses are so beautiful, especially when their play drive is up and their adrenaline flows! The snortin’ horse represents the equine spirit at its peak.

Q: What type of horses do you keep, personally?

MB: I have a Haflinger (Brandy), who is a small Austrian draft horse and 2 American Quarter Horses (Austin and Phia). Brandy is very special to me. I got her after I spent 10 years with a very excitable, under-trained thoroughbred (TB) before I knew about natural methods. I lost confidence with this TB, having been thrown from him more times than all other horses combined! Brandy returned my confidence. She and I learned natural methods together. She is a very smart and endearing horse with enough “go” to keep me interested, but not athletic enough to scare me. Now I can ride my very athletic Appendix QH with confidence, though he came to me with several challenging problems including bucking.

Thank you Melanie for sharing so many wonderful thoughts about horses, and your talented work with these amazing animals.
You can connect with Melanie at her websites, Natural Horse Training at Snortin' Horse Farm
Snortin' Horse Studio (Horse paintings, prints, and drawings)

Bio: Horses and art both came into Melanie’s life at an early age. She started riding neighbors’ ponies. Then convinced her parents to buy her a horse. As a child, she learned to ride by the school of ‘hard knocks’ and was a very natural rider. As a young adult she started taking dressage and jumping lessons though and over time she became less and less natural. It seemed like the more lessons she took the more horse problems started showing up. Then one day she heard Linda Parelli talking at a Horse Exposition. Linda’s story sounded so similar to her own that Melanie decided she would try the Parelli method to see if it would return her to a more natural state with the horses. She is now an advocate of this method and helps others with their horses using the knowledge and expertise she has developed using Parelli Natural Horse•Man•Ship which combines love, language, leadership, and lightness in equal doses.

How Pets See the World

By Julia Williams

I can’t tell you how often I’ve looked at one of my cats lounging around without a care in the world and thought longingly, “Oh Cat, if only I could trade places with you. How awesome that would be!” Our pets are so blissfully unaware of all the struggles we face just being human, not to mention making sure we are responsible pet owners. Pets don’t know a lick about mortgages, utility bills or credit card debt. They don’t ever have to shop for groceries, do the laundry, clean the house or cook a meal. For the lucky ones with doting owners, their whole life is about joy, love and contentment. They only really worry about two things: “Where should I take my next nap?” and “Is it time for me to eat yet?”

I admit, I’m quite jealous of my cats. I want to be the one who gets to sleep all day and have food magically appear in a bowl (although I don’t really want that bowl to be on the floor, thank you very much!). Life is infinitely simpler for our pets, and it just doesn’t seem fair. Why should my kitties get the cushy life while I slave over a hot computer, slinging words together just so I can buy them the meowvelous FELIDAE cat food they love? That settles it – in my next life, I want to be a feline!

So, while contemplating what it would be like to be a cat, I started to think about how our pets see the world around them. I tried to imagine what they might think or feel when they see us doing things that are commonplace to us, but oh-so-alien to them. I began to wonder…Is the life of a cat or dog as carefree as I imagine it to be? In actuality, there are some things that scare the bejeebies out of my cats. Such as:

1.  The vacuum, aka the “Suck Monster.” I don’t even have to turn this noisy thing on to give my cats a fright. The second they hear me getting it out, they run for their safe spot under the bed. Their little cat brains can’t comprehend the Suck Monster’s purpose, and I wonder if they think I turn it on just to terrorize them? Gosh, I hope not!

2. The lawnmower must be the Suck Monster’s evil cousin, because the mere sight of it also sends my fearful felines runnin’ for dear life. They’re probably thinking “Look out! That thing takes perfectly good, edible grass and shreds it into tiny pieces!” 

3. Thunder and fireworks are loud to human ears – just imagine how deafening they must be to our pets since their hearing is so much more acute. Add in that these noises come seemingly from nowhere, and pets must be thinking something akin to Chicken Little’s famous line, “The sky is falling!”

4. Loud noises from the TV or computer send my kitties scurrying for cover. Hearing bombs exploding or the rat-a-tat-tat of gunfire must also make them think the world is coming to an end; I’m pretty sure they’re hoping it doesn’t happen before dinnertime, though.

5. Car rides turn my cats into howling creatures capable of waking the dead. They must be thinking, “Oh no, this thing is moving! Where is she taking me? Please don’t let it be to that lady who pokes me there!”

5. The camera, aka the “flashy beast,” doesn’t really scare pets as much as annoy them. They can’t fathom its purpose, but I think they do understand it results in a tangible thing that makes otherwise sane people go all goo-goo-ga-ga when they do something cute, like curl up for a nap in the turkey roasting pan.

Let’s face it. Life seen through the eyes of our pets is not even remotely like what we see through ours. I’m just not sure who has the better deal. I mean, I know the vacuum isn’t going to suddenly suck me up and that the sky isn’t falling. Then again, relaxing 24/7 and having food appear twice a day without lifting a paw isn’t too shabby!

Photo by Domenico Salvagnin

Read more articles by Julia Williams

Took a little break . . .

Cute, but BAD, postcard from Bad Postcards

32 Simple Things You Do that Matter to Dogs

I was trying to think of my favorite cause for Blog the Change, and one of the things I care about most is how pets are treated. It turns my stomach and breaks my heart to read about careless, cruel and stupid some people who neglect and abuse animals. It doesn't seem like too much to expect every dog (every living thing) to be treated kindly, humanely. I was going to write about animal abuse laws, anti-tethering laws, regulations on anti bark collars and other laws. Or, on the flip side, I was going to write about some of the many wonderful groups who help animals.

While all these are worthy, I thought instead, I really wanted to write about pet parents who help animals simply by treating them right. They don't neglect or abuse them in any way. They don't let their dogs run loose in the road. They don't keep them outside all day in all types of weather. They don't leave them in hot cars. In short, they are doing the right thing, not because there is a law ordering so, but because they care. Sometimes Being the Change starts right in your own home.

This is a tribute to the common pet parent, who loves their pet. And that is making the world a better place for animals.

32 Simple Things You Do that Matter to Dogs:

You adopt them.
Hug them.
Walk them.
Feed them,
But not too much.
You give them a comfortable bed.
Talk to them.
Listen to them.
Train them.
Teach them good manners.
You understand why they whine.
Understand why they bark.
Keep them warm in the winter.
Keep them cool in summer.
Dry their muddy feet.
You play with them.
Throw them a ball,
Or a Frisbee.
Try a play group.
You do your best to keep them safe
And healthy.
Cuddle with them.
Give them opportunities to explore.
Keep their minds active.
Visit the veterinarian.
You bathe them.
Trim their toenails.
Share your ice cream with them, once in a while.
Comfort them during a thunder storm.
Realize they need you.
Realize you need them.
You Love Them.
Love Them.

Lizards - smarter than we thought

A vibrant green tree-dwelling lizard has surprised scientists with its mental prowess by succeeding in a problem-solving test.

The tropical lizard Anolis evermanni was able to associate the colour of a disc with a food reward - flipping over the correct disc to reveal a worm secreted underneath.

Read More - BBC Nature

Beauty from the Past

Hair ornament, ca. 1904
Louis Comfort Tiffany (American, 1848–1933)
Silver, enamel, black and pink opals, demantoid garnets

Source: Louis Comfort Tiffany: Hair ornament (2002.620) | Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History | The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Garden State Cat Club's Cat Expo is this weekend!

And I'm so excited, I can't stand it! You see, I took the plunge and bought vendor space in the Exhibition Hall to sell the "Frame Your Pet for Rescue" frames I've created! (and I'll be debuting my newest frames, created from the 2nd Chance kit, the charity collab scrapbooking kit put together by the talented ladies over at Angel Baby Scraps - check back Friday night to see them live here on my blog!)

I'll have a Show Special running for a while - details to be revealed Friday night!

This is a HUGE show - it was the largest in the country in 2010! - and should generate a LOT of sales which, in turn, should generate nice donations to Angel PAWS and Hope For Animals.

If you'll be in the Somerset, NJ area over the weekend, stop by and see me! Print out this coupon and get either $1 off your admission or take advantage of the family special.

It's a great day out and loads of fun!  Hope to see you there!!

Does Your Dog Bark to Get Attention?

By Linda Cole

One reason a dog might end up in a shelter is because their owner didn't understand why they did certain things, such as bark excessively. Dogs bark when they're playing, bored, alerting us to danger or because they want attention. Separation anxiety and barking for attention are two different things, but both need to be dealt with before the barking gets out of hand.

There are a variety of reasons why a dog might develop separation anxiety, which I explained in my article “Is it Separation Anxiety, or Something Else?” Barking to get attention is more like the child who keeps tugging on his mom's arm while she's talking to someone else. If Mom stops talking and pays attention to the child, an onlooker might say the child is spoiled. Dogs that bark to get attention are also classified as being spoiled. I agree that you can't allow your dog to try and manipulate your attention by constantly barking. However, referring to a dog or child as being spoiled links behavioral problems to a word that can be offensive to some and often is not true about either the child or the dog.

Dogs learn what we teach them, and we teach them a lot even when we don't know it. Small dogs can easily become attention-getting barkers because they are small and it's easy to pick up your small dog when he's standing with his paws on your leg or lap and barks to get your attention. He learns the way to get your attention is to jump up and bark and you will pick him up. Some dogs bark when they are outside and can't see their owner. The difference between barking for attention and separation anxiety can be seen in their body language and in the sound of their bark.

Puppies learn quickly that barking or whining gets us to pick them up and give them attention, and some adult dogs will continue the behavior. When Keikei was a pup, she never barked for attention. However, as she matured into a young adult, she did start barking to get our attention. Keikei is not a spoiled dog. She's loved and she knows it, but she also knows she won't get what she wants by barking.

If your dog barks constantly or whines and you’re certain it's not caused by separation anxiety or medical problems, barking for attention can be corrected by ignoring their barking and with consistent training. You need to ignore the barking because if you yell at them or show them any kind of attention, you're rewarding them for barking or whining. Even negative attention is attention as far as a dog is concerned. So begin your training by completely ignoring your barking dog. Then, get out the CANIDAE TidNips™ treats and do some dog training.

Start by teaching your dog to sit. When he's barking or whining nonstop and insisting that you pay attention to him, show him a treat and have him sit. Don't give him the treat or attention until he's sitting quietly. You need him to learn that if he wants your attention, he has to behave and work for it. Have him sit whenever you're giving him attention. It doesn't matter if you're sitting down or standing. If he starts to paw at your arm or leg, whining or barking, have him sit first and then give him the attention he's asking for. He will learn to sit politely to ask for attention instead of barking and demanding attention. Read “How to Train a Dog to Sit” if you need some pointers.

You want your dog to learn he will get the attention he wants when he is quiet and calm. Think of an attention seeking dog as a work in progress that just needs some refining to become a well mannered pet. Training your dog is fun for both of you, as long as you do it with lots of praise, patience and consistency. Most dogs learn how to sit quickly and when you teach him to sit before you feed him or give him attention, he learns he doesn't have to bark or whine to get your attention. Plus, he's learning an important basic command all dogs should know.

Photo by Marj Kibby

Read more articles by Linda Cole