Friday, December 31, 2010

How will your dog celebrate New Year's?

If you have a dog and plan to celebrate New Year's with a loud party, will your dog be celebrating too?  Probably not. The reason why I say this is because noisemakers may get him or her excited enough so that he or she barks for much of the time, adding to the commotion. Barking may not be the biggest problem. Some dogs get so excited that they pee wherever or throw up in the darnest places. Now between the pee and puke, you're likely to have a real problem going on at some point over there.

I hate cleaning up any kind of mess that an animal leaves behind, don't you?

I think that I would first try providing a quiet place for my dog to relax and sleep instead of forcing him or her to be the life of the party. God, with all of that barking, and singing and puking and peeing, a migraine is inevitable. Plus, the guests might take the initiative and start doing their own thing too, especially with a few drinks under their belt. If you're not careful, the whole thing becomes a mad cycle, beginning with dog that barks, then pees on something or someone's leg, causing that person to spill some whiskey on him, causing him to get even more excited and....and....

So much for my nightmare.


Thursday, December 30, 2010

My attempt to get Aries to do what I want instead of what he wants

Aries is really a good dog. He reminds me of Ferdinand the Bull who only wanted to enjoy and smell flowers. Aries is laid-back like that. He has the looks of a pit bull, but the heart of a good friend. That's why I don't mind walking him occasionally.

But he does get his moments in which he refuses to budge when he's found something interesting on the ground or just wants to savor his surroundings. This is really nerve-wracking, especially when he refuses to get back up and resume his walk with you. I began to get tired of this and decided to train him a little to do what I want.

The next time Aries didn't move, I didn't try to tug his leash in order to make him move. He got back up, but began to move in the opposite direction. I didn't give in, but stood patiently, waiting for him to see things my way and begin moving in the direction that I wanted him to go. After one or two minutes, he stopped resisting and began walking slowly toward me. Seconds later, we continued walking in the desired direction with no problems whatsoever. My stubbornness outlasted his.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Good-bye to a long-time dog owner

Today, I learned from my sister that my aunt (my mom's sister) passed peacefully in her sleep. I'm a little shook up right now and know that if I had a dog, that dog would probably sense how upset I was. The dog would probably sit near me and perhaps lick my hands or face. I would talk to him or her, saying that I was glad to have him or her nearby as a comfort. I'd also say other things, such as how close I was to my aunt during my whole life and how thankful I was to be able to visit with her about two weeks ago.

I would probably sit with the dog, unable to sleep tonight.

Of course, I would explain how I missed my aunt, but know that she's in a much better place and that she will always be close. She also loved dogs and owned a terrier-mix for a long time named Skippy. The amusing part about Skippy was when my aunt mentioned the word, bath, to Skippy, he would growl and show his teeth. My aunt loved all animals, especially dogs and helped to convey her love of animals to her nieces and nephews. In fact, I will just bet that she is with her sister and brothers who predeceased her AND Skippy!

Perhaps if I was able to sit with psychics John Edward and Sylvia Brown, I would learn that my aunt, mom and Skippy are right behind me, sending their love from the Other Side.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

discussing dog preferences

On Christmas evening, my cousin and her daughter and sister were discussing dogs. My cousin's daughter was holding and kissing her basset hound and saying how much she loved the dog. Eventually, we talked about the kinds of dogs we loved or loathed.

I mentioned that I thought a St. Bernard would be a great dog. I happen to like the way St. Bernards look, but nothing else about them, such as their temperaments. To my surprise, no one laughed and told me that I had to be crazy for considering a St. Bernard. A few other dog preferences were discussed, like someone mentioned a preference for a rottweillor, but not for a pit bull. I like rottwillors, especially the one that my sister owned some years ago. The dog's name was Roxy and she was a real sweetheart. Never pulled on the leash or growled or acted crazy.

But I stuck to the idea of maybe owning a St. Bernard, which would create a stir in my neighborhood and would be a hoot to own. Maybe intimidate a neighbor's forever-barking dog or the neighbor herself. But she probably wouldn't notice because she always looks like she's high on something.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

I don't want to go out vs I WANT to go out now. Do I have to lift up my leg?

So yesterday, my sister and I visited a cousin. My cousin's daughter owns a basset hound, a cute, affectionate dog with brown and white fur. She dressed the dog up in a little Santa outfit, minus Santa's hat. But the dog looked good anyway. As we sat and talked, the dog walked up to each one of us and was patted on the head. It's got brown soul-ful looking eyes that would make anyone's heart melt.

Of course, the dog eventually needed to go for a walk once and some time later, again. Her owner gladly took her out for that walk.

At that point, I had second thoughts about owning a dog. I'd have a real dilemma. I'd be relaxed and mellowed out and comfortably resting on the sofa, reluctant to get up off of it. I'd even say something like, "Awwwwwwwrrrrr, do I HAVE to go for a walk NOW?" And the truth would be, yes you would. Exercise is good for you. Come on, come on, because I've really got to pee."

I just pinpointed why I haven't got a dog yet.

Friday, December 24, 2010

let your dog be Santa for a second

My vote would go to one of those breeds featuring shaggy hair, perhaps a terrier?  And how about a Chihuahua wearing a Santa hat?  I bet that would be the cutest picture of all.

If you were to make a Santa hat for your dog, would you poke two holes in it for the dog's ears to show through?  Or would you kind of squash one part of the hat over one ear and leave the other one open? The important thing to consider is whether your dog will let you place something on any part of his body, including his head. I know that trying to place a hat on a cat's head would not work so well, having tried to do so myself.

This is something to think about doing for today, Christmas eve. You don't have to send the photo to anyone, but place it in a photo album. When you look at it again next year, you will have many happy memories.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Even more cartoon dogs I love and wish that they were real

Marmaduke, that large and awkward-looking, goofy-looking dog is one of them.

Two others are Lady and the Tramp. Can't pick a favorite between these guys no matter how hard I try. Lady looks so sweet and caring, while Tramp seems so brave, reckless and strong. It's hard to choose. I'd take them both.

As much as I like these dogs, I still like Bryan in Family Guy so much better. Bryan can drive a car, fix breakfast, read the paper, converse intelligently. He's an ideal family pet. Long live Bryan!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Adopting a shelter puppy vs a shelter dog

Yesterday, I found and read a book on adopting a puppy from a shelter. Since there is more uncertainty in adopting a shelter puppy, there is naturally more to think and do in that regard than there probably would in adopting an adult dog from a shelter.

Still, I think that some of the suggestions are applicable to would-be dog owners. Those potential owners, including myself, should find out what they can about a given/chosen dog's background. Unfortunately, this information is not always provided to shelters because it is either unavailable or because the shelter is more interested in placing a dog in a regular home.

Another suggestion I liked was that you talk to the dog. Call him or her by name (the name assigned to him by the shelter) and see if the dog responds, and if so, how. You can also observe whether the dog you've chosen is aggressive or not and guess how much training or additional care it is going to need. Of course, you'll get a copy of paperwork regarding shots, age, and information about any physical disabilities. And usually, there's little need to scrutinize (I think) the relationship between you and the dog. However, it would be a good idea to find out if your chosen dog would get along with any other pets, such as cats, that you may have at home.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Do dogs need to wear sweaters outside?

I think that it all depends on how thin or thick a given dog's fur coat seems to be. A dog such as a husky mix just loves cold weather and romping around in the snow. But a greyhound or other dog who doesn't have a shaggy coat would tend to freeze faster, in my opinion.

Of course, I've put myself in the dog's place, imagining myself to step outside for a walk with my human and boom, feel the cold whoosh at me the minute the door opens. To explain this a bit further, I would have to research, but off the top of my head, I think that it is safe to say that such a dog would quickly dodge back inside the house and resist his human's urging him to go out for a walk.

Dogs may think differently, though. I've seen them being walked in the coldest temperatures, and they all seemed to take things, including the cold, in stride. But I'm sure that if any of those dogs were left outside for any length of time, they would feel the cold and shiver in it, pretty much the same as people would.

Monday, December 20, 2010

My favorite cartoon dog

I just love Bryan on Family Guy.. He acts like a human, does human things like read mail and newspapers, and is more practical than Stewie. He's also funny. But most of all, he's a perfect dog!  He's fairly independent and finds his own ways to amuse himself. Of course, when Bryan gets himself in a ridiculous adventure, he sees through it all and winds up being a hero or at least comes close in being one.

I would also love to own a dog like Bryan, if that were ever possible. He'd understand what I was saying and respond back with a comment that would make perfect sense. He'd be calm and logical, while not imagining me as the source of his meals or even A meal, lol.

If I could ever create a dog like Bryan, I'd make sure that my creation would have a lot of Bryan's characteristics, including his personality. He would never be another Bryan though.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Dog toys at Christmas

I was looking at dog toys at PetSmart for Christmas. Basically, I focused on a section of squeaky toys. One toy was a dog wearing a Santa hat and squeaked if his tummy was pushed. There were other toy animals, such as reindeer and turtles. The number and variety of toys for dogs is amazing at Christmas time.

The squeaky toys are populat, I suppose, because their squeaks do attract (real) dogs' attention and sort of motivate dogs to play.

If I ever do get a dog, I've got to experiment to see what kinds of toys he or she prefers AND uses. That way, I can save money and time shopping, or maybe not. I was also thinking that there should be some kind of exchange for dog toys. If my dog didn't like a squeaky toy, for example, I could exchange it for a frisbee or rope toy.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Dry food can actually do this!

My sister was buying dog and cat food today at Petsmart. I was with her and bought some food for my cats. Then we reached a point at which we decided to buy dry food, and asked what food was the best. The sales associate asked the pets' ages and whether they were indoor or outdoor pets.

Then came the amazing part.

We were told that a given brand of dry food, one for dogs and the other for cats, actually helped to reduce the size of poops!  I didn't know that. I had no idea that any given pet food, dry or wet, could do this. But then again, there are so many varieties from which to choose and those varieties cover various issues, such as intestinal health and the like.

So with the discounts and all, my sister saved a few dollars buying dry food for her dogs and I saved a few dollars buying the same brand for my cats.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Why should Mike Vick be trusted with any more dogs?

In a recent interview, Mike Vick repeated his apology for his cruelty to dogs and expressed a wish to own another dog. However, he is forbidden to do so, I think, for good reason. What if he cannot overcome a temptation to abuse the animal and perhaps hits or beats that dog?  He reminds me of a wife beater who keeps apologizing for his misdeed and promises that he will never, ever do it again.

But unfortunately, he does. And just as unfortunately, it will happen again and again until the animal, in Mike Vick's case, winds up dead. Mike Vick has lost his credibility as far as his possible ownership is concerned. He should not be trusted owning any animal. He's better off with a stuffed dog.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

That dog in the (open car) window

A potential dog owner, I would never even consider leaving the passenger window of my car wide open. That is, enough to allow my dog's head to stick out and the dog to suddenly bark and startle passerby and cyclists and whoever.

There's always a chance that a startled pedestrian or cyclist will lose his or her focus and become injured. That is the owner's fault, by the way, not the dog. In a situation like that, the dog doesn't know any better and will hang out, sniffing the air and so on, but bark randomly at strangers on foot or on bikes. Plus, the startled humans are likely to become annoyed and tempted to throw something at the dog. Hey, this hardly happens, but there is always a first time.

At the same time, the dog runs a higher risk of being injured by a fast-moving car. The dog could also try to squeeze himself or herself out the window to pursue another animal or human. If more dog owners realized these potential hazards, maybe they would think twice about leaving their car windows on the passenger side wide open.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Barking dogs

Everytime I walk past a certain house in town, I'm always startled by this rather large dog that runs to the gate, stands on its hind legs and barks up a storm. I'm also sure that the neighbors next door are startled as well. What really gets me is why the dog's owners even think of leaving their pet outside for so long in 19-degree weather, with the wind blowing and all. That sounds inhumane to me, and I suppose that if I were in that dog's place, I'd bark loudly too ---- because I'd be freezing cold.

Aside from this issue, I have found that quite a few dogs bark in the early morning hours. They bark at passerby. They bark at cyclists, of which I am one. And the best part about this is that when one dog starts barking, others begin to bark also. That pandemonium must drive neighbors crazy.

If I owned a dog, I think I'd be more considerate and keep the animal indoors, protecting it from the freezing temperatures outside. And I'd find out as soon as possible why the dog was barking so frequently and then do something about it. Dogs have a reason to bark. There can't be that many people walking or cycling past in a given hour or so.

Monday, December 13, 2010

I like Border Collies, but......

In my search for a dog, I confess that I did consider Border Collies. But now that I've read more about this breed, I regretfully have to keep searching.

Border Collies are active and friendly BUT they get bored easily. Dogs that are bored tend to bark more often, trash items in the house, act aggressively and all of that. These dogs need a variety of active things to participate in and I'm afraid that I could not provide such variety.

But I'm still looking. At this point, I am focusing on getting a dog that is a good companion and is ok with being laid-back and enjoying the comforts of home.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

DON'T give a dog as a gift during the holidays

Imagine that you like puppies and dogs. But one day, one your friends or family members surprises you with a "gift" of a puppy or dog. After all, you like dogs, right?

Yes, you like dogs, but are in the middle of a hectic time, what with shopping and fixing the house, and so on. And now, in addition to all of that activity happening in your life right now, you've got an extra responsibility --- caring for a dog. How fond of puppies and dogs are you now?

So whatever you do, avoid giving animals as gifts for the holidays, especially to people that may not really appreciate them. Instead, make a donation to your local animal charity/shelter instead. Or consider sponsoring a puppy or dog. Believe me when I say that the money will go to good use. And you'll feel good supporting a very worthy cause, especially now in hard times when many pets are given up simply because their owners could no longer afford to support them.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

How about those adoption fees?

A shelter will charge an adoption fee for whatever dog or cat you select, but these fees tend to vary. Basically, the fee covers veterinarian and other related expenses. But a lot depends on the animal you select also. If, for example, a dog has received all required shots and has been fixed, the fees are generally higher than for a dog who needs blood work or other treatment.

Lately, fees tend to be higher, but overall, still within reason. They are effective in deterring pet abusers from adopting.

Most of all, many shelters are righttfully concerned that a potential adopter will treat a pet right at all times. Put yourself in the shelter's place as you view this person. You don't know him or her. Hearing them say that they'll care for a pet doesn't mean anything, really. Same thing if you decide to sell your pet. Who are you going to trust?

Friday, December 10, 2010

Punishment for killing a police dog

So on a recent talk-show a few mornings ago, the issue of how severely a killer of a police dog should be punished was being debated. A lot of callers thought that the guilty party should receive maximum punishment, that the dog should be considered a trained police officer.

I agree, but like a few other callers, still cannot decide how severe that punishment should be. My first reaction was throw the killer in jail and throw away the keys. Let him rot in jail. The poor dog never got a break, but it may turn out that the lowlife who committed the crime will. Where's the justice?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Shelters do it too, ie., take in dogs with negative traumatic experiences

Yesterday, I've bought up the topic of adopting a dog whose background included trauma. Would knowing that a trauma could possibly affect the dog's behavior towards his owner in a negative way? I believed that it wouldn't.

And today, I'd like to bring up an example of a shelter whose experience includes working with animals, dogs and cats who've experienced mental and/or physical trauma in the past. That shelter, North Shore, based in New York, has managed to successfully rehabilitate those animals and then adopt them out to loving owners. Very often, this is a long and expensive process. There are multiple trips to the vet, medicines to buy and administer, and lots of loving care in-between. But it's worthwhile.

For my part, I believe that dogs adopted from shelters prove to be trusting, loving companions. Some dogs, because of their temperaments, may take a little longer to get used to their new home, but they come around eventually.They seem to be far more appreciative.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Adopt a dog whose past involves trauma?

Someone posting in the forum at inquired about the  possibility of adopting a collie/shepherd mix whose puppyhood involved trauma. The poster said that the dog caught his eye and he was strongly considering adopting the pet.. The poster was also a first-time dog owner.

Another poster replied that the dog's puppyhood's traumatic experiences should have no bearing on the collie/shepherd mix and expressed the belief that such dogs make good pets and are easily trainable.

I was happy to see this post, even though I am a potential dog owner, as it brought up an aspect of dog ownership that I had not thought of! Sadly, not all shelter personnel know everything about a given dog. The shelter takes in the dog, brings him to the vet for an examination and shots before putting the pet up for adoption. The staff rarely knows the dog's complete history. What you wind up doing is in effect, buying a pig in a poke.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Latch-key dog

I'm fortunate in that I can work at home and can be there for my pets. So if I owned a dog, I could easily provide quality time for it on a daily basis. I'd feed and play with him or her;  as soon as my work was done, I could take him or her out for a walk. There's a field nearby and during non-rush hours, we could jog over there and back.

I would have a problem if I had to be away from home much of the time. When I had an office job about ten years ago, I left for work about 7:30 in the morning and returned home around 6 or 6:30 pm. My dog would be home during that time (if I owned one). He or she would be considered a latch-key dog. Of course, I could take a day off now and then, but my time would still be limited. I'm only saying this because there may come a time when I may have to work in an office.

Monday, December 6, 2010

(Wet) dog's in the house!

Another concern, although a small one, is having to wipe off a dog whose feet are muddy or wet. If this chore isn't done immediately, and the dog runs through the house, the floor is virtually covered with dirty or wet pawprints throughout. No fun at all to clean up or even think about cleaning up. A real downer.

Then I've noticed that the minute a dog steps back into the house, he or she shakes himself or herself, splattering water or mud or both all over the place. If you're standing too close, you get a bonus shower to boot. Where is the justice?

I suppose I could manage this if my dog's fur was relatively short, as I could wipe him off with an old towel and check to see that his feet are dry. Hey, you gotta do what you gotta do. But it's worth it. Your dog loves you no matter what, so why let a little thing like a few pawprints stand between you and your dog?

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Two concerns of a would-bel dog owner

Although  I feel very positive about the possibility of one day owning a dog, I still have two misgivings. The first one concrns barking. I know that dogs bark for a reason. Maybe they are frightened or bored or angry. That might be okay, but I've also read somewhere that dogs stop barking on their own, usually. So what happens if a given dog keeps barking?  How do you get him to stop before the neighbors start complaining? And trust me, some neighbors won't hesitate to complain. They have nothing better to do and crave some excitement in the neighborhood. So for them, a barking dog is a perfect excuse for complaining.

The other misgiving concerns training. How much training does an adult dog really need?  Is it better to train him yourself?  I've never had experience training dogs, so what do I know?  Does a dog's breed dictate the way training is done or not done?

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Everyone knows Chloe....

My sister has had her dog, Chloe, for a long time now. Everytime they go for a walk, Chloe just seems to know exactly which neighbor will give her a lot of attention and a treat. And somehow, the neighbors seem to know when she's likely to be around for a visit.

There are several houses that Chloe knows where to visit --- and be rewarded. Aries, the other dog, will follow, though much of the time, he has his own little agenda and will just mosey along.

Now my neighbors are different. They, for the most part, are not really friendly and could care less about any dog that I might own walking past their homes. And even if they are out, the neighbors focus on whatever they happen to be doing at the time. I wonder if they would change if I had Chloe with me for awhile and begin to be friendlier. Somehow I doubt it. But maybe a sociable, nonbarking dog like Chloe would know and be able to motivate those humans. On the other hand, maybe not.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Life is dangerous for police dogs too

There was a story in the news today about a thief robbing a Chinese diner and running away. The police were called and dispatched one of their dogs to catch up with the thief and the dog did. However, it and the thief struggled. The thief grabbed the dog, a German Shepherd, and threw him in the middle of traffic on a busy highway. Needless to say, the dog was killed.

In another equally tragic story, a policewoman left her dog in a car, windows closed, on a hot July day. She assumed that her husband would arrive shortly and pick up the dog. As things turned out, the husband had to deal with an emergency immediately and could not reach the dog in time. The dog died in the car. This tragedy was so unnecessary because the husband could have used his cell phone to call his wife and let her know that he couldn't make it.

I think that more attention should be devoted to the safety and welfare of these highly-trained, loyal dogs instead of using them as cannon fodder. They shouldn't be exposed to situations that could prove fatal to them. They need a break too.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

things to think about before you adopt a shelter dog

A few days ago, I wrote a post on adopting a shelter dog. This has got to be the ultimate way to save an animal's life and making a friend whose love for you is unconditional.

Before even visiting one or more shelters, you should know in general what kind of dog you'd like to bring home. That is, do you want a large or small dog, a dog that will coexist well with another dog or cat, a dog that will protect your home when you're away, a dog that's good around kids, a dog who is rather young or a senior dog?

To get some answers, consider your present situation. For example, is there just you at home or do you have a spouse?  If you have a spouse or live-in companion, would that person likely enjoy having a dog around?  Too, there is a question of being able to support your chosen dog and providing it with love, companionship, food, shelter and other things.

These considerations need to be all taken into account completely and honestly, and will help you narrow your search even before you visit a shelter. Here's to a successful match!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

"Cat fleas" on dogs?

Dogs have fleas, as you probably know. But did you know that those fleas are often referred to as "cat fleas?"  Suppose the very first flea was found on and taken from a dog?  Then it would have been known as a "dog flea." This distinction probably doesn't bother a lot of pet owners, as a flea is a flea is a flea. As a rule, fleas need to be destroyed, whether they are found on cats or dogs.

But the thing about dogs is that they suffer more from fleas than cats do, for some reason. I'll have to try to remember to ask my vet why this is so next time I visit. Anyway, I always felt that fleas bothered cats more than dogs, but I've now learned that the opposite is true. Interesting.


Monday, November 29, 2010

The "inner dog" matters more than a dog's looks

One of my sister's dogs, Aries, is very laid-back and would rather sleep on her bed than going out to do his business or take a walk. When he is called, he takes his sweet time responding. He is probably regarded as threatening to people who see him for the first time. In fact, before my sister agreed to give him a home, Aries was going to be euthanized, simply because a home could not be found for him.

Anyway, he has a very sweet personality. He enjoys treats and good food. My sister sometimes cooks especially for her dogs and they look good.

I like Aries too, and think that his looks are rather endearing. I also think that with a dog of his temperament, looks really don't matter. It's the inner dog that counts the most. A dog who looks beautiful may have a rotten temper and scare the bej---- out of anyone who dares to approach him or her. On the other hand, a dog who appears downright homely or even ugly can be the most friendly, loyal, sweet pet if given the chanee by a loving owner.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

when a dog or cat has cancer

I read an article by an owner whose schnauzer, Ruby, died of stomach cancer recently. The owner's attention was drawn to Ruby's vomiting. At first, he and the vet thought that the dog was experiencing an upset stomach. However, Ruby began losing weight at a rapid pace. She was diagnosed with a large tumor in her stomach. The owners spent well over a thousand dollars in vet bills until they figured that since Ruby was terminal, she should  be put to sleep. What else could they do?

Indeed, what could any owner do for a pet with a terminal disease?

There is, after all, a time in which spending even more money on a pet's treatment stops providing the desired results. Ulltimately, the pet is going to die. You hope and pray for the best. I did that when one of my cats, Leo, was diagnosed with stomach cancer. Leo not only lost weight, but lost control of his bladder, as did another cat, Columbus, who lost weight and yowled pitifully when he was picked up.

To be honest, there's nothing an owner can do, except to keep the pet comfortable for as long as possible and then consider euthanizing a pet who is too ill and experiencing too much pain.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Adopting a shelter dog

Adopting a shelter dog is important. You not only save a life, but find a friend for life. When I get a dog, I plan to adopt one from a shelter.

Just as I would do before adopting a cat, I would visit the shelter and look at each of the dogs housed there. Then I'd gradually narrow my search to two or three possible dogs and remember to ask the shelter assistants important questions, such as how well a given dog might adapt to a multi-cat household or if the dog could even live and thrive in such a household. I'd also would want to find out something about the dog's history and health. Plus, I'd want to pet and maybe even walk the dog to see how he or she responds to me.

Sometimes in adopting any pet, but particularly a cat or a dog, you just know that this is the right pet for you. The animal responds to you in a positive manner and seems to be friendly. Of course, if the animal seemed hyper, I'd reconsider.

I would also appreciate suggestions regarding feeding and veterinary care for my new dog. If I had any further doubts or questions, I'd let the shelter people know that I have some things to think about, but would definitely visit the dog or dogs I've chosen.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Cooperative dogs, uncooperative kids

I sometimes fantasize about my future dog starring in one of those pet-food commercials, like the cute dog featured on Beneful (?) commercials. That dog looks so eager for whatever his master is about to offer him, although he can't really understand or tell which meals he prefers. I don't think that any dog can, or cats for that matter.

This is so unlike a young child who is hungry, but rather fussy when it comes to meals. Its lofty highchair seat with its little table becomes a platform for a child who isn't hungry or doesn't like the food he's served and is not going to eat, period. The food gets thrown or spilled out, one way or the other. In a dog's case, the dog will usually eat a little at a time before sauntering off. It doesn't show its displeasure by dumping the food out all over the floor. But a child who's determined to spite or become uncooperative has to bife his time. 

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Day with all kinds of dogs

For much of this past week, dogs figured into much of what I saw. For instance, photos and pictures of cartoon and real dogs appeared on pet greeting cards as much as they did on Christmas and Thanksgiving Day cards. These cards were cute and sometimes very funny. I know that a lot of dog owners got a big kick out of seeing and sending them to friends and relatives.

But today especially went to the dogs. I saw the dog show on tv that featured the creme de la creme of prize-winning breeds, even a few breeds that were fairly new and ones that I had never heard of. Same went for the dogs themselves, who behaved beautifully. None of them barked or seemed to mind having someone expose their clean, gleaming white teeth. Larger dogs as boxers, dalmatians were featured, along with poodles, collies, and terriers. It was hard to choose the winning dog from all of the fine specimens, and I didn't envy the judge.

And during dinner, my sister's dogs begged for samples of turkey and other good stuff and got it eventually. Who could blame them?  Even though the weather was rather dank and crappy, we all had a good time eating.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Dogs smarter than cats?

Well, scientists are now saying that dogs are smarter than cats, simply for the fact that dogs are more sociable than cats. Ok, I'll give them that. Dogs are smart, as are other animals. But saying that one species is smarter? What other evidence shows this?

For my part, I feel that all species is intelligent. It has to be in order to survive. Each species has its own way of communicating and managing in the world. We humans still have a lot to learn about the way animals think and act. So to say that one is "smarter" than the other is not really fair.

Ok, time for me to get off my soapbox.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Lost and hopefully, found

I saw another poster advertising a lost dog and a reward for its return. I hope that the dog's owners get their pet back. If I were one of those owners, I would always wonder what happened to my dog and where it was. Truth be told, I doubt that I would be able to get the dog out of my mind.

At the same time, I think that it's very sad to be missing a dog, especially around the holidays. You look at dogs you see, wondering if it's your dog, as it looks so much like your lost pet. You check shelters and lost-and-found items just in case. .....

Going directly to various shelters, however, is the most effective way to find a lost dog, or cat, for that matter. That's how I found my two last cats. Posting signs didn't help one bit. Asking neighbors didn't help either.But visiting shelters just may help to find that lost dog. You don't know until you try.


Sunday, November 21, 2010

dogs doing tricks

In one small part of the movie, Momma's House 2, one of the characters pours some liquor, either wine or whiskey into a chihuahua's water dish. So the dog drank practically all of it and did this crazy dance that amused the audience. That dog hopped around on its hind feet, spun a few times before resuming its little jig. That scene cracked me up, as did another scene showing the dog humping a larger dog.

In real life, though, I doubt that anyone in his or her right mind would actually give a dog liquor or somehow train it to hump another dog. Training a dog so that it seems to do certain things naturally is much harder than it looks. The trainer has to be patient and keep trying over and over and over again. And bribing the dog with little treats. A little dog such as a chihuahua probably doesn't eat a lot in the first place, but still and all. After spending so much time and putting so much effort into a stunt like that, surely the dog in its mind, has to be thinking, just do the trick already!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

on Mike Vick's mistreatment of pit bulls

A question about Mike Vick's completion of his jail sentence for killing pit bulls came up during a radio talk show. Callers to the show said that they would have a hard time forgiving Vick for what he did.

As a matter of fact, I would not be able to forgive him at all. The dogs he mistreated and ultimately killed could have lived a better life with a loving owner or owners. Vick is lucky that I wasn't there to witness what was happening to those dogs. I would have probably killed himself without feeling one bit of remorse.

Now, Vick probably only has his conscience bothering him, if at all, for what he's done. Even worse, he's denied a number of loving dog owners pets that would have been appreciative in good homes.

Don't know how else to express my outrage. Abandoning a dog or any pet for that matter is wrong, to be sure, but to do what Vick did is even worse on so many levels.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Adorable dogs

Today, I took one of my cats for her yearly checkup and on the way out, I saw a young woman holding two small gray poodles in her lap. Both dogs wore little sweaters and sat patiently as the receptionist got out the paperwork and talked to their owner. Neither dog barked either. The funniest part was that the owner could not tell one dog from the other (apparently, her mom owned the dogs and the girl was not around them often enough to tell them apart).

I glanced at the dogs and couldn't tell which dog was which either. They looked like twins. Quiet twins. Maybe the dogs were frightened, though they and their owner were the only other people in the waiting room. Wished I had a camera and an opportunity to take their pictures.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Choosing a dog at last

The other day, I found a book on the various dog breeds and paged through it. I imagined that I could have just about any dog I wanted with no hassle. I looked again at the smaller dogs such as the chihuahua before moving on. That dog was cute enough, but not quite what I was looking for. And dalmatians and huskies were out of the question.  Ditto for collies and German Shepherds.

I did like the rottweillors, though. Their photos reminded me of Roxie, my sister's rottweillor, who died of natural causes about ten years ago. Roxie was the sweetest, best behaved dog I ever had the pleasure to know and walk. She never pulled at her leash, but walked nicely. Then one week, Roxie became ill and my sister took her to the vet. A few days went by, with Roxie's condition worsening. Visiting my sister one day, I expected to see Roxie and called her. Roxie never came. Little did I know that the poor dog was already dead. My sister had wrapped her body and hid it in the car for burial.

So ultimately, I think I would now consider adopting an adult rottweillor. I love puppies too and think that they are cute, but they take too long to train.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

those barking dogs

I love to ride my bike early on Sunday mornings, as the roads are quiet except for an occasional car. Very few other cyclists are around and even fewer people are on the street.

A few times, I've heard dogs bark as I ride by. Usually, one dog starts barking, followed by another dog and so on. To be honest, I don't know how my riding past could start dogs barking, as I'm quick and quiet. But hearing that makes me smile. I also hope that those barking dogs do eventually get quiet, if not for their owners, then for their neighbors. Also makes me wonder what I would do if I owned a dog and that dog awakened me so early in the morning with its barking. I'd probably wake up and find out what the problem was and if it was nothing, I would ignore the dog and go back to sleep.

Monday, November 15, 2010

How much does a dog eat anyway?

There's a lady who lives on the next corner on the opposite block who owns a rather fat black dog. Every time I see her walking her dog, I see a well-behaved animal walking next to its master and dutifully stopping briefly to relieve itself. It has never, to my knowledge, pulled the lady so hard, forcing her to run. She probably couldn't or wouldn't run, as she is quite heavy also.

Both the lady and her dog appear to be well fed and comfortable, which is all good.

But sometimes I wonder how much food a dog of that size eats. Does that lady only feed it at certain times or does she feed her dog during meal times?  Does she give her dog extra treats like Frosty Paws? 

This aspect brings up a few more questions, such as does a dog eat in proportion to its size?  For example, would a smaller dog such as a chihauhau eat less than a boxer?  I'm only addressing these matters because I know that pet food is rather expensive. I would want to treat my dog well, of course, but feed it sensibly.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Window scene

Waiting at the bus stop today, I saw a little gray and white terrier peek out from between the curtains of a nearby apartment and stare at the waiting bus passengers. He wore a fire-engine red sweater and a fancy black collar.

I tried to guess what the dog's name would be and thought of a few possibilities, including Reginald, Reggie, Oscar, Prince, Curly, Dexter, Roscoe, Frankie, George, Harry and Duke. I would hope that the dog's name would be as funny as he looked, but I'll never find out. I don't know the dog's owner, although maybe someday I'll meet him or her stepping outside of the apartment with the dog.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Dogs in movies and on tv

I/ve seen another movie today that featured three dogs. One was rather small and all white, another looked like a regular mutt and was brown, and another that was probably a German Shepherd. I'm afraid that I haven't yet learned about all the breeds and can identify only a few of them, although poodles, collies, dachounds, terriers, and German Shepherds.

I think that featuring three dogs where appropriate in a movie plot adds interest. I, for one, am always amazed at the dogs' fine acting and can appreciate the effort and time taken to train them. The tv series featuring Lassie was a classic, as far as I'm concerned and watching it, I gained a real appreciation for dogs. How nice it would be to have a trained dog like Lassie!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Adult dogs or puppies

I would consider adopting an adult dog, as opposed to a puppy. Puppies  are cute, but can be a lot of work. They have to be trained not to chew items as shoes and not to pee anywhere they feel like it. And then their crying has to be dealt with in a positive manner.

Usually, all of that extra work isn't involved with adult dogs. Their personalities are established. They may have preferences in food and other matters. But usually, there aren't big problems unless the animal is ill and that all brings up a whole new set of problems and veterinary expenses. At the same time, there is the age of the dog to consider, because older dogs have a different set of problems and health issues.

I'll admire puppies and smile at their cute faces and playful ways. But I'll opt for an adult dog any day and will likely adopt one from a  shelter.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Dogs living in apartments

A lot of apartment owners still don't allow pets. An apartment that I lived in about ten years ago had a similar policy, but its landlord had at least one cat in his apartment. And when my sister lived in her apartment, she owned owned a cat, while two of her friends owned cats also.

Personally, I feel that there is nothing wrong with pets living in apartments. When my dad was a landlord, he allowed his tenants to have pets. One of those tenants was a woman who lived alone and owned a big police dog named Rusty. Rusty was a well-behaved dog who never left his master's side. He would sit next to his master at the window and watch what was going on outside. At no time was there any problem with Rusty or his owner.

Most important, I feel that pets such as dogs provide needed companionship for their owners. That comparnionship could be lifesaving for the dog and its owner. Of course, every so often, there would be an irresponsible owner. But I'm sure that he or she would be dealt with. The only question I'd have is what would become of the dog, or cat, for that matter?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Adopt another dog?

I know that caring for one dog is quite a job. Right now, I'm thinking that one dog for an inexperienced owner such as myself would be plenty!  I'm limiting myself to one dog for now.

But I have to realize that there is always a possibility of taking another dog in for whatever reason and caring for it. My sister, for example, had one dog and found herself taking in another dog, Aries, that was going to be put to sleep. I'm glad that she decided to take Aries in. He's entirely black and he looks fierce, but he is the sweetest dog ever!  He reminds me of Ferdinand the bull, who preferred to sit under a tree smelling flowers to making a rush at matadors in a bull ring. That's how laid-back Aries is.

So I guess that the question comes down to whether circumstances would force my hand and have me consider taking in another dog. I guess that would depend, but I'm such a softy that I would wind up taking in another dog ---- and saving another life in the bargain.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

dogs that bark and those that don't

In choosing a dog, I don't think that I'd consider getting a small dog, such as a chihuahua. Dogs that size tend to be frequent barkers. Mind, I have nothing against dogs that bark frequently, it's that once they start, they tend not to stop right away.

I read somewhere that this nonstop barking may be due to the fact that such dogs like to hear themselves bark. That may be true, but I think that the jury is still out on that one. Usually, dogs have a reason to bark, such as they're being ill or bored or lonesome.

I know, for example, that my sister's two dogs almost never bark, which may be a good thing for her. But when I asked her about the possibility of my taking one of them home with me to mind the house, she nixed that idea. The reason was that her dogs don't bark. Back to the drawing board.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Dogs and furniture

From what I've seen, there is no way to keep dogs off furniture such as sofas and beds. Of course, you might be one of those lucky owners whose dog or dogs sleep on a regular dog bed. Then you get to relax more on your sofa or bed without worrying about your dog jumping on and curling himself or herself next to you.

I think that is so because a dog probably feels secure and comforted by blankets and other items that have his owner's scent on them. The other thing is that dogs, like cats, tend to keep returning to the same comfortable place to relax and sleep as cats do. And just try to change their mind and ways, lol!

As to the question of whether allowing dogs (or cats) to sit or sleep on your furniture, I can only answer by saying that I don't know. Somehow, it feels cruel to shoo the animal off, so you let him or her remain sitting or sleeping. On the other hand, a few experts would argue that allowing a pet to sit or sleep on your furniture is just a bad idea. It isn't very healthy and so on. I don't know about that either, as my sister allows her dogs on her furniture. Nothing bad has happened and her health is just fine, thank you. She doesn't mind her dogs jumping on the furniture either.

I think that whether you allow your dog on your furniture (or not) has everything to do with preference. Either you mind it or you don't.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Dog owners' most annoying habit

A lot of drivers don't realize that allowing their dog to hang its head out the window is the biggest mistake. Instead, those drivers travel blithely on, ignoring the potential for problems along the way. The problems that disgust me the most involve dogs who bark loudly at cyclists and other drivers. These dogs' owners probably find that amusing, but it can be deadly.. A distracted driver or cyclist suddenly loses his or her focus on the road and unwittingly cause an accident --- all because of a dog's sudden barking.

On the other hand, there is nothing wrong with a dog sitting in the front passenger seat next to a closed window. Actually, it's kind of cute!  My dad, for example, always allowed his dog, Princess, to sit next to him in the minivan when he traveled. And that dog rarely barked. Instead, she sat quietly watching the traffic ahead. As the years passed by and Princess became old and sick, she preferred to lie down on the back seat.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Would you risk your life to save your dog?

I think that a lot would depend on the situation. Say that my dog fell into the ocean and couldn't swim because of the enormous waves, I would be inclined to call for help, quick. Had I jumped in the water to get the dog, I would have been the first one to drown, as I can't swim.

Basically, I would try desperately, most definitely. But if I thought that I would die in the process of making a rescue attempt, I wouldn't go out of my way. But this is me sitting in the comfort of my home hemming and hawing. Perhaps my being involved in the actual situation, things would be different. I'd work up so much adrenaline that I would wind up saving the dog as Superman would and think nothing of it.

Kids begging for a dog - should you give in?

Every time I hear a child beg for a dog, I have to laugh --- not because I think that a child's plea for a dog is funny. Not by any means! The part of the plea that tickles me is the promise that the child makes. You've probably heard these before:  "I'll walk the dog every day, I promise!"
                                             "I'll take care of the dog. Ple-ase!"
                                             "I'll do the dishes every day if I get a dog."
                                             "All of my friends have dogs. I want one too."

Hearing this, you almost feel tempted until you remember the last time your child had a pet and you wound up taking care of the animal. No amount of begging or bribing the child to keep his or her promise of taking care of the pet helped. The child lost interest, period, and you were stuck caring for the pet.

But this time is different and you've put your foot down. NO! You say, only to hear something like "That's not fair!" There are other excuses, but you get the idea.

I know one thing:  I wouldn't think of putting the idea of getting a dog in a child's head. I think that if my child wanted a dog, I'd tell him that he will be able to get one as soon as he earns some money to afford the dog. I'm talking about items as food, brushes, treats and toys.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

What will a dog do next? Sometimes you just never know.

Sometimes, dogs act in a way that we do not expect. Things seem to be fine, and then, all of a sudden, something happens and you have no choice but to act right away.

Here's what happened to me.

About four years ago, on a hot, humid June afternoon, I had to change my sister's husky-mix, Chloe, from one leash to another, a simple task. Chloe was outside on an outdoor leash. Once at her side, I unhooked the first leash and was getting ready to hook it on Chloe's collar and bring her in the house. I've changed leashes before and felt comfortable doing that now.

I was nearly done unhooking one leash and about to hook it on the dog's collar when she suddently took off. Afraid that the dog would race across the street and get hit by a car, I raced after her. Long story short, I ran after her across five or six lawns. Everytime Chloe saw me get a little closer to her, she took off again in the opposite direction. Then I happened to see a neighbor and called out to him to stop Chloe in her tracks and thankfully, he did. He caught and held on to her until I arrived. My sister had driven over there and was getting ready to get Chloe in her car.

Anything could have happened during the chase. And it's true that Chloe was "playing." But all turned out well. I calmed down, washed my face and hands and changed my sweaty top.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Dogs at the vet's office

On occasions when I had to bring one of my cats to the vet's office, I've had a chance to observe dog owners and their dogs. Many of those dogs seemed to be obedient and loving toward their owners. Even the boxer-type dogs tended to sit quietly with their owners.

It couldn't have been an easy task to bring a dog to the vet. Somehow, dogs have an uncanny way of sensing that something different is about to happen and the time to escape is now. Cats are especially prone to that and will try to hide or stand their ground, ears down, claws out. But with dogs, things just seem to be different. For the most part, they're usually too ill to worry about getting away or resisting their owners' attempts to get them in a car or van. At least, the owners do not have to worry about coaxing a dog into a carrier. I've not seen this happen at all. Maybe dogs trusting their owners matters the most.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Got to love those pit bulls!

A reader sent a letter to the editor regarding pit bulls. He said that one day, he went to his son's frat house to pick him up. As he approached the frat house, and his son's roommate opened the door, two pitbulls ran toward her. The dogs ran past him, circled him twice, then rolled on their backs and barked until he scratched them both.

And that same night, the guy said that he couldn't get away from the pit bulls because they sat on the couch next to him and begged for him to play with them.

The man also said that it's humans who raise such dogs to be killers --- and he's right. And I agree. It's really too bad that there are so many stupid, cruel people who abuse their dogs this way. What is wrong with the abusers anyway?

Looks like that guy found two new friends!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Dogs love desserts too

No, I don't mean cake, cookies and ice cream and other treats that are meant for humans.

I mean items like Frosty Paws, which looks like ice cream, only it's for dogs --- and quite pricey when it's on sale. And even then, that's rare. But my sister's dogs love it. What she does is open two cups of the stuff and throw one cup to one dog and the other cup to the other dogs. Each dog runs to the cup, secures it with its paws and licks the cup's contents clean.

Of course, dogs shouldn't be given treats all of the time. I don't see how that is possible, since those treats are often expensive. But every so often, why not? And the dog really loves it!  He or she needs a break from the same-old, same-old.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Dogs as "passengers" in cars

I'm ok with dogs sitting in the front seat of a car, buckled in maybe?  It's the cutest sight. My dad once owned a rather large dog named "Princess." Princess would sit in the front seat of his minivan and was extremely well-behaved. For one thing, she didn't hang out her head out the window. She lived to a ripe old age too.

If I had such a well-behaved dog, I would probably allow it to sit next to me in the car. I would also make sure that the passenger window was closed or open just a little. And yeah, I would find a way to strap the dog in the seat.

Yet I see a lot of dog owners who do the opposite thing by allowing their dogs to sit next to a passenger window that is wide open. Naturally, the dog is going to want to look out and extend its paws on the door and even bark at unsuspecting pedestrians or cyclists. Everytime I see this, I keep wondering what is wrong with the dog owner?  That person needs to wake up and protect his or her dog by leaving the window closed or just open wide enough so that the dog can't shove its head to look out of the window.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

What has your dog bought home lately?

From what I have seen, dogs are fairly ingenious animals in that they manage to pick up the darnest things during their travels. For example, one dog bought home a partially-eaten roast chicken. Probably snatched the beat-up chicken from the local dumpster or someone's garbage can. Then rushed home with the item in its mouth.

Look what I found!

Possible items include frisbees, bones, small toys, rags, rats newspapers, and sticks.

Example of an irresponsible dog owner

A woman who lives across the street from me owns three big dogs that she hardly walks. Recently, she got another dog, this time, a puppy. I have no idea if one of her own dogs had puppies or whether the woman went out and adopted another dog. In my opinion, she shouldn't be allowed to own any animal. She leaves her dogs home alone much of the time. Naturally, they get bored and restless and start to bark, especially at anyone who happens to walk past her house.

So this afternoon, all of a sudden, she's at my driveway, facing the intersection ahead and calling the puppy in a high squeaky voice like Minnie Mouse or maybe Miss Piggy. Of course, the puppy was still untrained and instead of running back to its owner, the dog ran in the opposite direction, down a busy street. Naturally, the woman raced to catch up with the puppy, but she couldn't run fast enough. Luckily for her, her partner managed to catch the puppy and bought it back to her house. That puppy probably just missed getting hit by a car.

This woman has no business owning four dogs in the first place. She keeps them cooped up in the house nearly all of the time and/or leaves them alone for a long time. No wonder those dogs go ape-s--t when she finally brings her butt home. And when she walks her dogs, she is almost forced to run with them because they keep pulling.

I really feel sorry for those dogs.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Should I choose a Shih Tzu?

Yesterday, I was looking at pictures of various breeds of dogs. Somehow, the dogs whose faces looked like those of babies appealed the most to me. I want to hold and cuddle them, pretty much what I would do with a human baby. They are so cute!

I found Shih Tzu especially appealing. They not only look cute, but are rather small and cuddly looking. However, their longish hair has to be groomed or trimmed. If I owned such a dog, I would definitely get its hair trimmed. I have no patience to groom it or even tie some of it in a little pink bow. For me, that would be a little much.

The other thing about Shih Tzu is that it loves attention and wants to do pretty much what you do, like watching tv or laying asleep in bed nearly all of the time. In other words, it should be pampered. And pampering takes more time out of a busy day. Ok, so I do stay home much of the time, but I also work at home. I probably wouldn't much done if I had to hold a Shih Tzu and try to focus on what I was doing. And the poor dog would probably bark much of the time, demanding attention.

I don't know. I'd have to think about all of this first.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Amazing accessories for dogs

Not having owned a dog, I was only familiar with basic items such as food dishes, leashes, beds and collars. However, the range of items available for dogs is just amazing. I've listed the items that caught my attention below:

Booster Bath:  Ok, this is basically a bathtub for dogs. The only difference between that and its counterpart for people is that it features four legs and nearly resembles a small table. I can understand why. Back in the day, anyone who wanted to wash a dog usually chose a large barrel to hold some water and the dog. My girlfriend's dad did this when he tried to wash their shaggy-haired dog, Mitzi. The minute Mitzi was lathered up, she sprung up out of the tub dripping suds and water and ran out of the front door. And naturally, father and daughter rushed out after Mitzi and bought her home. Just saying.

Pet Dryer:  This device looks like and is used like a regular blowdryer. The only difference is that it is made for use on dogs. But I bet that using that it does a more thorough job than a plain towel.

Waste Carrier:  You've probably seen dog owners carrying and using supermarket plastic bags for picking up dog poo. Well, this product does look very much like a plastic bag. The only thing is that it is attached to a leash somehow. I don't know. My sister ties a supermarket bag loosely on the leash, which seems to work for her.

Puppy bumpers: Now this is something that I wished I had invented. The bumpers are padded collars that are placed around a puppy's neck, preventing him or her from escapting through fence slats and balcony rails. The width of these  bumpers makes it impossible for the puppy or small dog to sneak through the slats.

Powdered goat milk:  This product is touted to be really good for dogs and maybe it is. I've never seen it used, so there's not much I can say about it at this point.

Pet caskets:  Instead of stuffing a deceased doggy in a cardboard box and burying that in your backyard, you can buy a pet casket that is shaped like a reclining dog. The casket looks good and probably serves its purpose well, but it might be very pricey. But some people might feel otherwise and would pay the cost of this item. Jury is still out on this one.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Walking More Than One Dog at One Time

What never ceases to amaze me are professional and even amateur dog walkers who can aptly handle three to seven or eight dogs at one time. The dogs tend to vary in size and inclination. Some dogs like to stop and sniff at interesting things (to them) while others like huskies, for example, would just as soon move at a quick pace.

In the meantime, the dog walker has to maintain control, finding a reasonable balance between the dog who is inclined toward a more leisurely stroll as opposed to the dog who is more interested in moving fast, period. And then there are pedestrians and other kinds of traffic to watch out for. A few pedestrians like me would just opt for walking unobtrusively past the dog group at a quicker pace and look far ahead until I pass all of them by.

At the same time, I can't but help wonder how much dog walkers earn per hour, per day, per month and still cover their expenses. Or maybe those dog walkers work part-time. Whatever the case, I would hope that they are paid adequately for a stressful, energetic time. Of course, those walkers would have to love dogs and even own a dog themselves to do a really good job, I would think.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Two great toys for dogs

I'm always interested and fascinated by dog toys, especially those that attract a dog's attention and keep it for awhile. There are, for example, different types of squeaky toys that motivate a dog to chase them and paw them around. These toys, for the most part, remind me of a live bird or other creature that has fallen and is sounding an alarm of pain or need for help. In fact, my sister used to have one of these toys for her two dogs and they worked like a charm!

Another favorite toy is a ball. A neighbor walks his dog, places a green tennis ball on the grass for the dog to retrieve. Once the dog retrieves the ball, he (or she) continues walking before dropping it on another stretch of grass and picking it up again. The ball is used in such a way that it doesn't roll across the street or down the sidewalk. And during the walk back home, the dog carries the ball in his mouth like it's all part of a game.

Well, it is in a way. But it's a useful way to keep a dog occuppied and interested during a walk. There is no tugging or barking or pulling.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

A wig for a dog?

To be honest, I never heard of any dog owner buying a wig for his or her dog, no less. My first question is "Why?" (Aside from buying a wig for fun or for Halloween.)

I'm trying to brainstorm reasons why dogs need wigs:

- They are bald or perhaps have a bald spot or two anywhere on their heads.

- They need a ready disguise, just in case or "just because."

- They look cute.

- A wig enhances their looks. (I don't think so either and I don't even own a dog yet.)

Oh well, truth is stranger than fiction.

Friday, October 22, 2010

You wouldn't believe where a new service has dogs sniffing out drugs

During a radio talk show today, the host reported that a new service that uses dogs to sniff out drugs in children's rooms is available to parents. The police are not notified, but parents are. Basically German Shepherds, aka "police dogs" are used to sniff out those drugs.

Overall, this seems like a good idea. The parents get to deal with this matter privately without getting themselves or their kids involved with the police. And for what it's worth, the service is probably worth its 2 hundred-dollar fee.

Even though I don't have any children, I'd still have some concerns and questions. For example, what happens to the drugs --- does the service take them away or must  parents deal with that?  Also, suppose the kids are really devious and hide drugs in their parents' underwear and or sock drawers instead? Wouldn't all of this backfire on the parents at some point? Just wondering.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

A bill that I have no problem with: a donation to PAWS

Today, I  received a reminder about a bazaar that is being run by PAWS (Pound Animal Welfare Society) located in Montclair, NJ and a request for a donation. At this point, I don't know if I will be able to volunteer at this event next month. The only thing that I do know is that I will most definitely send that organization a donation, hopefully, a few hundred dollars.

They've rescued dogs and cats for a long time and continue to do so, even though the organization was evicted from its really nice quarters about two  years ago. Its staff knows and cares about all of its animals deeply. Before they allow an animal to be adopted, they make sure that it is in good health, has been "fixed," and had its shots. Over the years, I have adopted cats from PAWS and will never forget those animals, namely Rodney, Leo, Columbus, Adolfo and Waffles. Today, I only have Adolfo and Waffles.

I also care about the animals in PAWS' care and will never have a problem in donating money to them. My vet is also associated with them and loves animals deeply.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Dogs on the bed, yes?

Today, I watched an older movie that featured six dogs, ranging from a mastiff to a scottie. The dogs acted well together and seemed to enjoy laying with their owner on the bed and didn't seem to mind being shooed off. The lady's husband couldn't stand the dogs laying on the bed and objected to their hair laying all around. He probably knew that all animals, dogs included, do shed hair, some dogs more than others.

But other people, like my sister, don't mind dogs sleeping on her bed at all. Both of her dogs are rather large and love to lay on the bed. It isn't unusual to see her pit-bull mix, Aries, just lounging lazily against the pillows. In fact, the bed is Aries' favorite place. Chloe, who is part husky, is way more active than Aries, but prefers sleeping on the bed to the floor at night. And even her cat Moochie has a favorite spot on the bed.

As for my allowing a dog to sleep on the bed, I would prefer that he or she didn't and would hope that a pet bed would be way more comfortable for my dog. A lot of the dog beds I've seen and considered purchasing are rather fancy and super-comfortable. At the same time, I realize that many pets prefer to sleep with their owners at night. So if my dog really seemed like he or she wanted to sleep on the bed with me at night, I'd likely move over and go back to sleep.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

How I learned to fear (large) dogs

Every time I walk past a certain house, I'm almost always startled by a large German Shepherd that suddenly appears and barks loudly and threateningly at me. I've never made any threatening motions to him, though I freely admit telling him to shut it. Now I understand that the dog is protecting his territory and of course will bark at anyone or anything moving past his territory.

In seconds, I lose my fear and become calm.

It wasn't always that way though. I used to have a love/hate relationship with dogs. The love part came easily for me. I loved animals to begin with and dogs were no exception. One of my uncles used to own a large Dalmatian that I longed to pet, but never got the chance. Then there was a black mutt named Petey that my grandpa owned. Petey barked fiercely at just about anyone, except maybe for my grandpa. When I used to approach Petey, the dog clearly went nuts and barked loudly as he moved towards me.

Years later, I took a shortcut through a block-wide city park and saw a guy walking his dog. That was fine. Then the guy noticed how scared I looked and said confidently, don't worry, he won't bother you.

Yeah right.

The dog somehow got away from the guy, ran to me and nipped the calf of my leg. Fortunately, I was wearing jeans and the bite turned out to be far less serious than I thought. Of course, I was taken to the clinic, received treatment and was allowed to go home. The bite subsequently healed and that was that, pretty much.

But somehow, I never forgot. Even now, I tend to shy away from large dogs out of fear. Though I know better, I have a hard time losing fear of larger dogs.

Monday, October 18, 2010

How far would you go to save your dog's life?

In finding a dog that is right for me, I know that I would have to take it to a vet for regular examinations and shots, which is fine. But what would happen if during the examination, the vet found other health issues that were serious enough to warrant expensive acupuncture or even tumors?

This matter was brought to my attention during a related topic discussed on the radio this afternoon. One of the questions to listeners was whether a pet, especially a dog with a serious health issue, was worth spending thousands and thousands of dollars for expensive treatments for? The listeners who called in basically said that it was there business to make such decisions and that yes, it was worth it. One caller, for example, mentioned that she found and eventually kept a dog whose teeth were badly decayed and required three dental surgeries amounting to 3000-plus dollars in veterinary bills. For her, most likely, it all came out to how far was she willing to go to save that dog's life? Fortunately, the dog survived.

Nowadays, there are items such as wheelchairs available for dogs requiring them.....and the nightmare of related bills that could possibly bankrupt their owners. But at what point do you draw the line and stop spending thousands of dollars?

I asked my sister about that a few months ago and for her, the answer was a no-brainer. She would spend the money, hands down. And she did, when her dog Aries needed hip surgery. The bill for that was more than 1500 dollars, which my sister paid in full. She didn't dare tell dad, knowing that even though he liked dogs, he would not opt for spending all of that money on a mutt.

Listening and thinking about all of this, I would remember what someone on that radio topic said, which is that you spend the equivalent on what you spent to buy the dog. I don't know. What about a poor mutt? Should a specific breed be provided with expensive treatments?

Dogs' "knowing:

I believe that dogs and other animals are intelligent and respect that. In the case of dogs, for example, I find that their ability to know when their owners are returning home and which way to go during a walk are nothing short of amazing. When I walk my sister's dog, Aries, I'll find that Aries will often tug me in the direction that he wants to walk. And when my sister walks Chloe at the same time, Aries will follow their direction and seem to want to follow them, for the most part.

I know, I know, a lot of dogs' abilities to do these things are purely instinctual.

With other things, I'm not so sure. Like the time I've seen one or even both of my sister's dogs staring in one direction. But there's nothing there! Or sometimes, hear one or both of them bark or growl. Alarmed, I'll look out the window and see nothing. It's scary.

And it would be scarier to think of that same thing happening in a house whose interior rooms are spooky. I probably would have put a leash on the dog, run to my car and get out as soon as possible. And I bet the dog wouldn't have any idea of what was going on. Or maybe he would and keep up with me as we ran out of the house. But surely, the dog would have sensed something and reacted way ahead of me.

Dogs just know.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Man trains dog to do this....

There was a recent story about a guy training his golden retriever to go to the fridge and get him a beer. And the dog does it! Just makes you wonder what else dogs can be trained to do. Wow, talking about having the life of Reilly.

You can see the video on

Dogs and Halloween

My sister once had a dog that she named Cooper, who resembled the cartoon dog Marmaduke. The thing about Cooper was that he thought that he was a person and enjoyed things like dancing and giving five. But one thing that Cooper especially enjoyed was Halloween.

My sister had no problem one Halloween dressing up Cooper in a Superman costume. Unlike Superman, the human, Cooper's cape was short so as not to interfere with his tail that wagged often. My sister even entered Cooper in a Halloween costume contest. Unfortunately, the contest was won by a guinea pig wrapped in a piece of flannel as a "pig in a blanket." But Cooper had fun and seemed to enjoy all of the attention from other people and animals.

I thought about Cooper this morning as I read an article about three smaller-sized dogs being entered in a Halloween costume contest. Of course, their costumes were fancier. They wore little hats and dresses!

Anyway, if I ever had a dog whose termperament was similar to Cooper's, I would not hesitate to dress him or her up for Halloween. I'd also think ahead and buy a simple costume that would be easy to put on and remove. I can almost see that dog wagging his tail excitedly and actually letting me dress him up for Halloween.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

A few shelters are rescuing pet owners as well

Life can be challenging and difficult for dogs and the people who love them in these hard economic times. The biggest challenge, in my opinion, is when a pet owner is forced to give up his/her dog or cat because there's no more money to support the pet. The pet's food alone costs plenty and takes up a chunk of the owner's finances.

Fortunately, a lot of pet owners find a way to cope and still keep their dogs and cats.

And guess what, many shelters understand and are now trying to help pet owners by offering an opportunity to buy pet food at a lower cost. My guess is that this cost would be lower than that of prices in places such as PetSmart, though I could be wrong. I'd still have to research this matter and find out. After all, my finances aren't in such good shape as it is, given the high cost of living in terms of higher property taxes, utility bills and whatnot. I can use all of the help I can get!

But what's encouraging is that since shelters are not in good shape either with all of the animals they take in, the shelters still found a way to prevent a greater inflow of animals to take in by helping pet owners in dire financial straits.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Caring for a dog when it matters most

Even when a dog's overall health seems to be fine, it still pays to notice the smaller things, such as a drooping ear, a suspicious-looking spot on the dog's coat, limping, and changes in overall body weight and coat. If those changes are dealt with shortly, then it is likely that the expense of bringing a dog to the vet shouldn't amount to hundreds upon hundreds of dollars.

Case in point was when my sister noticed one of the ears on her dog, Chloe, was drooping. There didn't seem to be an obvious reason such as redness or swelling or the like. So my sister took Chloe to the vet for a more thorough observation. She didn't mention what the problem was, but did manage to save money by having her dog checked out sooner rather than later. And yes, it was a pain to take the dog to the vet. Hut it all paid off, as the dog received medicine and the vet's directions had to be followed. And my sister likely saved money on the ensuing bills.

The moral of this is that paying attention to a dog's physical health will ultimately save his or her life. A seemingly innocent change in hearing, seeing, or walking needs to be checked out because it could worsen over time and become very expensive to deal with it in the near future.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Are cats really smarter than dogs, or vice versa?

Some time ago, I had a brief conversation with an ex-dog owner. According to that lady, cats are smarter than dogs. She's got about five cats and nearly ten years ago, gave me a young cat named Tabitha. I loved cats and Tabitha was the light of my life. She was sweet and playful, but never destructive. When I lost her four years ago, I wanted to die, really. She died from natural causes having to do with kidney failure.

But back to dogs.

Although I don't doubt for a minute that dogs are smart animals, I have mixed feelings about them. From what I have seen and experienced, I think that dogs, for the most part, are very dependent on their owners for everything. And maybe that's the way it should be. Also, dogs can be very affectionate and loyal. When my dad was dying of Stage IV lung cancer, my sister's dog, Chloe, never left his side. When he rested in bed, Chloe rested right next to him. She always sat near him and seemed to be a big comfort.

So I think that whether dogs are smarter than cats or vice-versa is a subjective thing, especially if you feel very biased toward dogs or cats. It shouldn't matter though, because cats AND dogs are in this physical life for a reason and that reason is to teach us about unconditional love. That's probably the biggest lesson of all.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Dogs and cats coexisting?

Before adopting any dog, I would want to make sure that it would be able to coexist peacefully with my four adult cats. My cats have their own places to sit and sleep, but would probably take issue with a dog....any dog.

However, I know that having cats and dogs coexisting under the same roof is possible. My sister and her two dogs and two cats is a case in point. She had her dogs, Aries and Chloe first. Then sometime after that, she began feeding a stray cat who managed to show up regularly for food. Quite a few months passed before my sister was able to finally get the cat in. When she did, my sister discovered that the cat whom she named Moochie, was already spayed. And recently, she visited PetSmart and adopted another adult cat.

So when my sister only had Moochie, she allowed Moochie some refuge in a spare room. While the dogs roamed about in the house, Moochie would hide in the spare room. This went on for awhile until very gradually, Moochie and the dogs got used to each other and basically left each other alone. In other words, they peacefully coexist. Now how the new cat, who was originally named Douglas, will get along remains to be seen. But I have every confidence that he will.

Monday, October 11, 2010

What I learned about walking dogs

I learned that I prefer a regular leash instead of an adjustable one. I understand that adjustable leashes allow more flexibility for a dog, but in my opinion, those leashes tend to allow too much flexibility. The dog like Aries, for example, takes advantage and has no problem in exploring a neighbor's lawn through and through. On the other hand, a regular leash allows flexibility for me as well. If I think that the dog will wander off too far, I can wind some of the leash around my wrist and maintain good control.

I also learned that it is an excellent idea to bring a plastic bag to scoop up any poo the dog does along the way and discard it in the nearest trash can at home. From my experience, I have found that a lot of dogs would just as soon as poo on someone's lawn than not. To get around this problem, I try to walk the dog to a nearby wooded area, away from homes, and let him relieve himself there. I'm more comfortable doing this, not having to worry about neighbors watching.

I learned that dogs get a lot of information by sniffing grass and even eating some of it. They find out, for example, if any dogs or other animals have been in the area recently. So to that end, it is fine to allow dogs to sniff grass.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Does a dog really need to be dressed?

Now that the weather is getting cooler, I've seen a few dogs dressed in dog-sweaters. True, those dogs look cute. At the same time, I can't help but wonder how much trouble each of those dog owners went through. They must have first looked for that perfect sweater for a long time. Once those owners found it, they looked more closely at things like price, style, color, and size.

And the fun only just began as each owner tried to put the sweater on his or her dog. I mean, does the owner first call his or her dog, pet the dog, and begin to slip the sweater on, paw by paw?  And what happens when the dog first realizes what is going on? Does the dog bark, growl, back away, whine, struggle? I guess that you can't really blame the dog for resisting. After all, the dog's own fur and size should be enough for basic survival.

Finally, I would not want to have my dog wear a sweater. I'm sure that my dog would not feel comfortable wearing one outdoors and would resist my efforts to make him or her wear one. Two of the reasons are that I have enough bills to pay and secondly, enough junk at home. Most important, I think that the whole idea of dressing a dog is really dumb. Even stupid.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Dogs' "knowing" things

So last night during a long bus ride from Pennsylvania, I happened to strike up a conversation with a lady who was sitting next to me. And we wound up spending a lot of time talking about her dog, a chihauhau. The lady told me that she wasn't bothered by her dog's barking --- actually, he didn't bark a lot ---- it was the way he acted when she visited her son's house.

The upshot was that the dog did not care for that house for some reason. He'd run upstairs and remain there until it was time to leave.

Hearing that got me wondering about extrasensory abilities of dogs and other living creatures. How do they instinctively sense that something isn't right?  A few experts, including Alexandra Horowitz, the author of a book called, Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell and Know would disagree, arguing that dogs simply know us from carefully observing us and our activities. Dogs also think about us and our smells. Extrasensory perception has nothing to do with it.

And while this "knowing" is certainly true in the physical world, it is just a small aspect of a much larger picture. I believe that the lady's chichauhau did indeed "read" his owners and other familiar people and their possessions. But there is more to it than the physical aspect. .

More about this aspect in a future post.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Finding Pet Supplies That You Really Want and Need Practically Hassle-Free

Once I selected my dog, I'd shop for basic items as a carrier and bed first. At the same time, I wanted to avoid the hassles of spending a lot of time visiting stores carrying pet products. I'd also avoid the risk of not finding what I wanted at the price I could afford to pay. I'd heard about the wide variety of pet supplies available at and was pleasantly surprised when I visited that site..

Knowing that one of the first things I needed was a carrier for my dog, I'd just go directly to  and voila, find a selection of 1802 carriers from which to choose ---- practically every size, color, and style that I could imagine. But the best part is that all of those carriers are featured on one website. For each carrier, there is a colored photo, name, brief description and price. To learn more about it, I'd simply move to the right and click a little red box entitled "See It" Another page showing a larger photo of the carrier would appear, accompanied by helpful information as a detailed description, list of features, and best of all, four smaller photos, each of which shows top, side and bottom views of a given carrier. It's almost like looking at a given carrier in person! Moreover, in the same site, there are convenient ways to compare prices, find out where a certain carrier is available or take advantage of the option to buy now. For a few carriers, customer ratings and reviews are posted also. This is one more opportunity to learn more about a given carrier before deciding to buy or continue shopping.

With the task of finding a suitable carrier for my dog completed, I'd wait to find and buy a bed for my dog  for now, and would probably opt for a bed basically resembling a small mattress at a reasonable price.Dogs can be quite fussy and if an item such as a bed isn't to their liking, they;ll find an alternative place such as a handy sofa or human's bed. But my dog wouldn't be like that, I hope, and would sleep on the bed that I selected for him. To that end, I'd want a good selection of beds from which to choose and head directly for This site is user-friendly, featuring 8744 beds in all, with 21 beds per page. Sizes of beds from those similar to throw cushions all the way to larger, deluxe beds that serve as recliners as well. The prices vary accordingly, but the number of dog beds is like no other. And best yet, it's easy to find and see them all in one place. Very often, color choices are included, along with available reviews and ratings and discounts.But for each bed, there is a colored photograph, brief description, price and a little red box to click on for more information. Clicking on that box, you're taken to another page featuring a larger photo of the bed, description, price and four other similar beds to choose from.

At the same time, I'd want my dog to have something to play with. From my experience taking care of my sister's two dogs, I've found that squeak and rope toys were very popular. Toys that motivate dogs to run, such as frisbees and balls, are other favorites. As I got to know my dog better, I'd look for toys that would likely appeal to him  Pretty soon, a variety of toys would be available at home. I could switch toys so that my dog would not become bored when I left the house. And for finding a lot of toys from which to choose, I'd visit  Once there, I'd narrow my choices by typing in "dog toys" on the site's handy search box, knowing that there would be quite a selection of 3244 dog toys. Each toy would be shown in a color photo, short description, price and a little red box entitled "See it." If I had more time, I'd spend more time shopping for toys on that site. For example, I found the Kong Material Dog Platy Duck, a plush toy with a replaceable squeaker, selling for $2.99 at a related site that directed me to. I'm sure that if I had questions, I'd get them answered by clicking on to the handy chat link.


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Dogs can be so funny!

I can understand why people love their dogs so much. Each dog has his or her unique personality, of course, and the way in which it manifests itself can be quite amusing. A few examples:

- My aunt inherited her little terrier, Skippy, from her mother and took good care of him. For example, she'd wash him occasionally and feed him good food. However, bath time was always a hassle. My aunt would begin by calling Skippy and when the dog arrived, my aunt would say, "Bath!" Skippy must have sensed that whatever was going to happen was not going to be good and he responded by showing his teeth. He would then do that everytime anyone said the word, "bath" to him.

- My sister's dog, Aries, doesn't walk forward through a doorway. Rather, he turns around and heads for the doorway butt-first. In other words, he walks backward without missing a beat.

- My sister's other dog, the husky-mix named Chloe, loves to be hand-fed raw stringbeans, one at a time. She would also accept each stringbean gracefully, without biting or being rude. My dad couldn't get over that. Once, he tried placing a stringbean on the floor, but Chloe refused to go near it. But when he held out a stringbean to her, she opened her mouth and accepted it gracefully.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Rewarding a dog

When walking Aries, my sister's dog, I talk to him as we move along, letting him know what a nice doggie he is and how much I enjoy his company. He doesn't understand my words, but I'm sure he understands my tone, which is conversational. Sometimes he tries my patience, like sitting or laying on the grass for a long time. He'll flop on the lawn and just roll around on his back. Doing that is easier for him now because he's lost some weight.

Sometimes, my sister rewards Aries and Chloe with Frosty Paws, a dog treat that looks very much like ice cream. And the dogs love it. You should see how they eagerly lick the container clean!  But as any good dog owner realizes, one has to be careful in dispensing treats, as they can cause dogs to gain too much weight. Aries especially. His body looked like a barrel and he hardly wanted to move. But he loved to eat and discouraging him from eating so much turned out to be quite a battle.

With her dogs, toys are sort of a reward. For example, a toy that squeaked loudly when a dog played with it attracted both dogs, and they did play for a minute or two but that was all. I, for one, think that food, aka treats, is the dogs' favorite reward.

At last, a way to save more pet lives in the event of a fire

At least in Boston, there will be oxygen masks designed for pets as well.  Now hopefully, at least in that area, the chances of dogs and other pets not dying from smoke inhalation in a fire will have improved. This is a great idea that I wished that I had thought of.

While I applaud this effort to save pet lives, I also wondered if pet owners would remember to put the oxygen masks on their pets' snouts during a fire. It just seems that in that stressful, dangerous time, there are a lot of things that have to be done ---- simultaneously. Of course, saving all lives is first and foremost. Once that's taken care of, finding time to put on oxygen masks and grabbing money and possessions is at a premium. Sadly, in many cases, there is only enough time to leave the premises and be thankful that lives were saved.

Another aspect of this problem is being able to locate and put on these masks in the shortest possible time.

Hopefully, more efforts will be devoted to making oxygen masks more effective for our precious dogs, cats and other small pets.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Some things to look out for when choosing a dog?

I know that for the most part, a would-be dog owner's choice of a dog is mostly subjective. Maybe that prospective owner is biased to certain breeds or types of dogs, the dogs' appearance, temperaments, size and so on.

Besides all of that, I would look for some indication that the dog I choose to adopt will be friendly and not overly shy. That is, a dog would respond to hearing its name and walk toward the prospective owner and accept a friendly pat on the head. If you are already a dog owner reading this, however, would you agree?

I ask this question because all of my experience has been in adopting cats. If a cat walks to the cage door and purrs or rubs itself against it when you're there, you can almost be sure that this indeed is the cat to adopt. After all, that cat has "adopted" you and will be a fine and loving companion in your household. Two or three cats adopted me that way, I bought them home and they all turned out fine. They were Rodney, an orange tabby, Columbus, who had a fluffy tail and became the official "greeter" in my household, and Waffles, a somewhat overweight calico who turned out to be quite friendly.

So I'd be very interested in hearing what you think. Am I on the right track?  Is there something else I should know? Thanks in advance.

One way to save a dog's life

What really saddens me are occasional posters on telephone poles featuring a lost dog. A photo of the lost dog is shown, along with the name it answers to, along with a telephone number and reward (if any) offered. The lost dog often looks like a loveable, cute pooch that may have run away, or was stolen or just managed to get out of its house and/or backyard.

From what I've seen, those posters don't seem to be effective at all. Sure, people see them and probably hope that the lost dog gets found. But that doesn't happen many times. What happens is that the dog in question has been killed or taken in by a stranger or taken in by animal control. I'm willing to bet that if those owners of lost dogs would visit their local shelter, they may just luck out and find their lost pet. It doesn't take long, just a minute.Same thing goes for owners of lost cats. It is silly to wait for a phone call about a pet being found.

 Even better, those owners should have just kept their pets indoors. At least, the owners would know where their pets are at any given time and avoid undue stress. And from what I've seen, the dogs don't mind. If anything, they simply adapt and go with the flow. They're right there for extra attention and a more occasional treat. Such "home" dogs do not tend to become ill often. It's a win-win situation all around.

For the most part, many owners do leave their dogs home, then take the dogs for a walk at the end of the day.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Adopt a shelter dog --- or not?

Until recently, I never paid much attention at all to dogs at a shelter. Every time I visited a shelter, I heard a lot of barking dogs and ignored them. My goal was to adopt an adult cat. As much as I love kittens, I know that they need to be trained and that they have their own little personalities. So do puppies and dogs.

So as much as I like puppies and think that they are cute, I wouldn't adopt one. Too much work.

What I'd focus on is finding an adult dog that didn't bark a lot for nothing. That leaves out the smaller dogs whose barking can be quite shrill.

And to adopt any dog, I'd certainly visit a shelter. For one thing, the dogs have received veterinary care, food and attention and are basically healthy. They've had all of the necessary shots, for the most part. All you have to worry about is finding a dog that appeals to you for whatever reason. And thanks to the variety of dogs at a shelter, you may just luck out. It's a win-win situation. The dog gets a home and you get a nice companion who will love you unconditionally. But ultimately, the choice is yours.

As a side note, you can just forget puppy mills, which should be banned in the first place.

the barking factor

One time, I researched some information on barking dogs. A lot of what I read wasn't new. For example, dogs have a reason for barking, such as being lonely and wanting attention. Nor is it possible to scream shut up at a barking dog and expect it to stop the noise.

A few of the more positive suggestions included providing toys for the dog, feeding it,  giving it more attention, and even ignoring its barking. Personally, I'd find ignoring a barking dog very distracting. I'd wonder why he or she was making such a commotion because really, you never know. Maybe there's a stranger lurking somewhere and casing your house.

Positive suggestions like that do help, I suppose. But everytime I hear a dog bark, my first reaction is to find out why it is barking in the first place and second of all, to tell it to quiet down. That's why one of my criteria for finding the perfect dog is how much it barks or not.

Motivating yourself to walk the dog

I don't mind walking a dog if the weather is nice and the dog is clearly ready to go out. A lot of times, I just have trouble getting going. It doesn't come easy, but I've done a few things to help ease the stress and reluctance of having to walk a dog.

So here is stuff that worked for me.

. Have items like leashes and plastic bags (for poo collection) handy. Having to look for and/or find misplaced items is a needless chore that only increases stress and aggravation. It puts you in a bad mood and increases your reluctance to walk the dog. And the last thing you want to do is take everything out on your dog. Just get in the habit of putting those leashes in a regular place all of the time.

. Bring a treat or toy for the dog and one for yourself. You may need to distract your dog from doing something that he or she tends to do outside, such as chasing small animals, rooting in garbage, barking at people, tugging on the leash, etc. My sister brings a cup of coffee sometimes. Mostly, she brings nonfood items such as her cellphone. Somehow, talking on a cellphone helps to pass time more easily when your dog lays on the lawn, examines an interesting blade of grass or smells its poo.

. Focus on using a longer or shorter route that you and your dog routinely take. Trust me, time will go faster. Sure, the dog will dawdle or have to poo along the way, but it will already be familiar with a given route. Why bring on additional stress by experimenting with a new route?

. Avoid using adjustable leashes. There's always a chance of malfunctioning. What happens when the leash is extended and you can't rein it in easily enough?  What happens when your dog wises up and winds up preferring to be on an permanently extended leash and resists a shorter one? Just thinking about that makes me tired and feel stressed out. Plus, leashes like that always have to be adjusted, so you have to worry about having your attention diverted for no good reason. Use a leather single-length leash. It's stronger and can be handled with more ease.

. Try to time the walk when you are not stressed out or aggravated or emotionally upset.  If you force the issue, you're more likely to take your stress or emotions out on the dog, which isn't fair to the animal. Choose another time or briefly allow your dog out in a protected backyard.

Diet? Did you say diet?

Dogs like my sister's dog, Chloe, eats raw stringbeans, for example. And Chloe enjoys those stringbeans more when you hand-feed them, one by one to her. My dad used to do that all of the time. In the beginning, he couldn't believe that Chloe would eat stringbeans like that, so he tried feeding them to her himself.

Gotta admit that stringbeans are healthy. As long as an animal will eat something like that in addition to regular dog food, there's no harm in it.

Of course, Chloe and Aries enjoy an occasional treat every now and then, such as Frosty Paws. The stuff looks like ice cream and God only knows what it tastes like. But hey, the dogs like to eat that, so why not?

And the dogs typically don't beg at the table, unless we humans are eating roasted chicken or turkey. My sister will happily oblige by selecting a piece of meat and tossing it out to the dogs. One thing she doesn't do is ever toss bones. There's danger in doing that, as sometimes smaller bones can get lodged in a dog's throat, for example, and become a serious problem.

Other times, my sister will cook for her dogs, using meat AND certain vegetables. Her dogs are healthy and happy with that combination. Not sure if I would go through all of that trouble because half the time, I don't even cook for myself.

Can dogs and cats really get along?

I, for one, think that they can. My sister owns two big dogs, Chloe and Aries, AND a cat, Moochie, that used to be a stray. The dogs basically leave the cat alone and the cat does her own thing. They all seem to get along.

Of course, getting them to get along had to be done gradually. At first, my sister kept putting food and water out for Moochie until the cat became friendlier and began to venture close to the house. A few weeks went by and Moochie was soon eating food in the breezeway and soon after that, she was in the house. She had her own little perch by the window in a spare room and there was no way for the dogs, especially Chloe, to reach her. Gradually, all of the animals reached a point where they coexisted peacefully and still do.

The whole key to getting all of this to happen is having patience and not try to rush anything. It's tempting to grab the cat and push it into the house that has two big dogs. After all, progress does take time and it does happen, even if it isn't obvious right away.

My situation is different in that I have four cats who totally rule the roost. Whether or not they would tolerate a dog, even a small dog, remains to be seen.