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 http://www.break.com/

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 http://www.become.com/ 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 http://pets.become.com/pet-carriers  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 http://pets.become.com/pet-beds. 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 http://pets.become.com/pet-toys  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 pets.become.com directed me to. I'm sure that if I had questions, I'd get them answered by clicking on to the handy chat link.





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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.