Monday, January 31, 2011

If everyone adopted a dog.....

Today, someone I know posted a photo of his new dog, Daisy. The dog was cute, needless to say, and as I viewed the photo, I thought how great it was to know that another life was saved by a caring person.....and how lucky Daisy was to have a good home.

I'd like to go out on a limb here and say that there is a great dog for everyone and anyone who feels that he or she could give the animal a good home. If everyone adopted a dog, or even a cat, this world would be a much better place. Everyone, including the animals, would be happy. Everyone would benefit. A lot of blood pressure would go down. A lot of people would be healthier.

I know. That's wishful thinking. But maybe there is an ongoing increase in adoptions of animals that has perhaps accelerated.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Seeing the world from a dog's view

For many of us, including myself, it's easy to take the human/dog relationship for granted ..... especially a view at ground level. For us humans, this means a birds'eye view of the immediate ground, while for dogs, it means that their noses are just a few inches from the ground, especially for smaller dogs.

I suppose, for that reason, things that we don't readily notice and/or take for granted on the ground are precisely what attracts dogs' attention. Amazing how quickly a dog, by smell, can quickly learn if any dogs walked a similar distance and left any "calling cards" in the way of scent or pee or poo there. Dogs also pick up the scent of grass and other plants, other animals such as cats or squirrels, and people. They are quickly attracted to anything that moves or seems like it's going to move.....whereas we humans miss it all. Maybe it's a good thing that we do, given all of the distracttons that we deal with on a routine basis.

Friday, January 28, 2011

special rewards for dogs who are extra good

At some point, a dog pleases so much, whether in learning a trick or like my sister's now-deceased dog Cooper is just a great dog all around, the dog should get some kind of special reward or positive feedback. Responses such as "Good dog!" and a pat on the head or a treat or a toy are fine, but which item can be considered really special? That is the question.

You see, it's not only that a dog learned a trick or is just being a real sweetie, it's that the bond between it and its owner has becomes stronger. So naturally, you want to do something really special. Speaking of this, I think that my sister has found that special something for her dogs:  it's a product called Frosty Paws that looks like ice cream --- and her dogs just love it. Chloe, for example, loves to chase it before she begins to lick and eat it. And Aries accepts it nicely in his mouth or near his paws.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

grooming your dog?

With all the expenses of having a dog as a pet, like food and vet care, is it really worth while having him or her professionally groomed? Of course, the answer is yes if your dog happens to have lots of hair or hair that must be constantly combed. It'll cost money, but the results are well worth the cost.

On the other hand, basic grooming, such as brushing your dog weekly or daily, is cheaper and yields good results. Grooming your dog at home will save you the aggravation of seeing dog hairs on your sofa and bed and rugs, then picking it up. Grooming's other advantage is that your dog will be healthier, as you will be able to notice changes in the dog's skin, fur and body, such as flea bites, lumps, and other abnormalities. Seeing that, you'll be able to take your dog to the vet and have the problem dealt with efficiently and effectively. Yes, that treatment can be expensive, but your dog's life is priceless.

Monday, January 24, 2011

letting your dog sleep in your bed

Usually, you decide whether you'll allow your dog or dogs to sleep in your bed or just provide them with their own beds. It's up to you. Just know that once this habit or routine is established, you'll have to live with  it, like it or not. And remember that you may toss and turn and have to be careful not to roll on your dog. So be careful with this one.

The biggest challenge and source of a lot of fun is whether your partner or spouse will agree to share the bed with the dog. There could be a real conflict if one partner doesn't mind a dog sleeping in the bed, while the other partner absolutely detests it. Would a compromise be possible? If not, can an alternate arrangement that will suit you both be made, and for how long? At this point, you may decide to be flexible about any decisions and find out what works or doesn't and factor that in. Then decide.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

dog bed/cushion --- to buy or not to buy

So yesterday, my sister and I were at Home Goods at TJ Maxx, looking at various dog beds and cushions that dogs could use to lay on the bed. None of the items were really expensive and a few sported interesting designs and features. Almost something for every dog owner at a reasonable price.

The cushion bed that my sister and I liked had a nice pattern and seemed to be just right for either of her two dogs and maybe even her two cats. For a few seconds, I thought that she was going to buy it and when she didn't, I picked it up and bought it for her. Waiting until the following one or two weeks go by isn't going to cut it. That item would have been sold long ago. Either crap or get off the pot.

Now this is a win-win situation for all. I wouldn't want it any other way.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Muffin steals the show

A little dog named Muffin played a comedic role in the movie, Screwed, starring Norm MacDonald. Some of Muffin's stunts were amazing. For example, when Norm, who played Williard, broke in his wealthy employer's home to kidnap Muffin, he finally grabbed Muffin. But Muffin held on to his hand after biting it and in spite of Williard swinging her around and around, trying to get her to loosen her hold on his now-bloody hand.

The other trick was how Muffin managed to escape from the van that was taking her away. The latch on the backdoors of the van was loose and improperly fashioned. The van was also speeding down the road, yet Muffin managed to jump from the moving van and run back to his home. He ran up the stairs to his owner's bedroom and hopped on his bed on his owner's bed and went to sleep.

Norm MacDonald was funny, but in my opinion, Muffin was funnier.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Walking Aries

While walking my sister's dogs, I always wondered what the dog feels when he wants to walk in one direction and feels the pressure of the collar against his neck. Does it serve as a reminder for him not to venture out too far, especially in the street?  Is the pressure of it painful?  I've never seen or heard him react or bark and naturally assume that he's used to it and doesn't really mind. In other words, he "accepts" it.

Of course, I would prefer the dog to walk alongside me like the previous dog, Roxie, used to do. Roxie rarely ventured on a different path. She liked to stop occasionally to sniff the grass, but that was generally all. On the other hand, the present dog, Aries, would much rather take his sweet time by spending much of it rolling on his back and wriggling himself on the lawn, before finally sitting up and still for what feels like forever. Then when he's good and ready, he'll move along until he finds another distraction.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

"Winterize" your dog!

Hopefully, dog owners walking their dogs in the cold winter weather will want to consider some precautions to help their pets to stay comfortable and enjoy that walk!

- Examine your dog's paws for bits of salt, pebbles and other debris that may be picked up during the walk and gently clean by wiping with wet cloth or towel.

- If you have a small dog, you may indeed want to consider having your dog wear a sweater. Small dogs tend to be more sensitive to the cold, which leaves them more exposed to colds and viruses. Keep them warm when you take them out!

- Beware of extremely low temperatures if you own a dog whose fur is rather short and/or sparse. Shorter walks are recommended, and a sweater wouldn't be such a bad idea.

To you dog's comfort........

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Are there any good substitutes for doggy snacks?

I'm referring to items like doggy snacks, like Frosty Paws, which is a great favorite of my sister's two dogs. Those dogs could probably eat that snack all day long if they were allowed to, but thankfully they aren't. Their diets are basically well-balanced, with an occasional meal that is cooked and served exclusively for them and they know it.

Another thing about doggy snacks is that they are basically expensive and could wipe out a modest budget in practically no time at all. I'm sure that dogs can be trained to eat other stuff that is much better for them. Take my sister's dog, Chloe, for example, who enjoys being fed raw stringbeans one by one. Raw stringbeans aren't only good for her, but they're good for the wallet also, as they are much cheaper to buy and store than expensive doggy treats. And they're far better than anything a dog will randomly find in a trash can. I would think that no self-respecting dog would want to bother poking around in the trash and actually find something to bring home in its mouth, like a part of a roasted chicken. Ugh!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Important for new puppy owners!

Most potential and actual puppy owners know that training involves a lot of work, but in there is a post that offers specific training tips that are intended for owners of bulldog puppies. But its suggestions can probably be applied by all new puppy owners. You can check that post out at the site.

I thought that the most helpful suggestion in this post was the one on creating and implementing a schedule of your puppy's activities, including meals, elimination, and playtimes. That way, the dog becomes accustomed to these routine activities and begins to comply after a little while. It's the whole matter of keeping your puppy focused and  habituated to doing one thing at a time in a given order. Makes it easier to train and follow through. Check it out at the site!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Naming a dog is as much trouble as keeping him or her as a pet

I think that naming a dog deserves careful consideration. To that end, giving a dog any old name is not an option and I'm referring to such so-called "common" names as Rover, Blackie, Spike, Spot and similar cliched names. I admit that it takes imagination and thought in naming a dog.

I've heard dog names such as "Alan" that are cute and unique. My aunt's dog's name was Skippy and that name seemed to fit him. Skippy was assigned his name by another relative and he responded to it, so it stuck. I would definitely get myself a book of baby names for suggestions and start making a list of names that appealed to me. In addition, I would factor in my dog's characteristics and suggestions for names from my family and friends.

Got to confess that I am not good at naming dogs or cats, for that matter. Even the names that I suggested to my sister for naming her dogs didn't quite meet the mark. My sister's dog's names are Chloe and Aries. Her deceased dogs' names were Paco, Roxie, and Cooper. I liked these names and thought that they "fit" each dog appropriately. My sister didn't name her dogs immediately, but took time to ask for suggestions before coming up with good names.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Dog rescue that nearly went wrong

A mom and her children went ice-skating in a nearby pond. At some point, one of the family's dogs got out of the house somehow and ran to the pond and fell in because of thin ice. The dog was rescued and bought back home. In the meantime, the second dog also took off and fell in because of thin ice. By this time, the mom and her two kids were frozen from the low temperatures.

At that point, one of the kids tried to rescue the second dog and failed because now his mom had fallen overboard and had to be rescued. The mom had stripped off just about all of her clothing because she felt that the clothing was heavy, due to ice and water, and was weighing her down.

Happily, the son helped to rescue her and called 911. Rescuers arrived and saved them all, including the second dog that had fallen in.

There might be a few lessons here, such as making sure that any dogs are securely locked in at home and calling 911 as soon as an emergency occurs. I think that the family was very fortunate in a potentially tragic situation.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Dogs can make a lot of people happy

There's nothing like a dog to perk up interest and happiness, especially for people who are in nursing homes. When my aunt was alive and residing in a nursing home, she loved to pet the visiting dog and talk with the dog's owners. At least for a few minutes, my aunt forgot her physical  problems and smiled and laughed. After all, she owned a little terrier dog named Skippy.

Petting a dog or even a cat is a comforting experience as well. The animal responds by encouraging further petting by licking the person's hand or in the case of a cat, purring in contentment. A quick bond is established that is a win-win for all concerned. Love rules. The only downside is that the pleasurable time spent in talking to a pet and petting it goes much too fast. But at least, the next visit won't be that many weeks away!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Owner's biggest (?) challenge - helping his/her dog lose weight

The obvious way to deal with a dog that is perceived to be overweight is by exercising it more and feeding it less. At the very least, doing that should produce results, namely, that the dog in question will indeed have lost a few pounds over a short period.

But suppose that the dog in question doesn't get slimmer, no matter what you do?

Well, as my sister's experience with slimming her dog, Aries, down, a visit to the vet is probably in order. Sometimes a pet has a medical condition that is a part of its weight problem that requires medication. The medication, along with a modified diet, should help.

But the biggest problem for the owner, as I can see, is the prospect of keeping the dog away from goodies intended for another dog. It isn't always possible to catch the overweight dog stealing treats from another dog. And you can't always keep one dog locked up in a room all the time. Usually, sneaking treats to the dog whose weight is normal may do the trick, although any way you look at it, the biggest challenge lies with the owner and his or her creativity.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Ever try walking more than one dog at a time?

Most likely, I will never own more than one dog in the near future. But what about people who own two or more? What I'm really curious about is whether those people actually walk two or more dogs at the same time. I suppose that walking two or three small dogs can't be very stressful, or walking two adult breeds at one time.

But maybe I could be wrong.

My sister, for example, walks one of her dogs at a time, perhaps because one dog is way more active and restless than the other. Or maybe walking one dog at a time isn't so stressful. It takes good coordination, strength and will. If any of those qualities are missing, forget about walking multiple dogs at a time.

Yet people do manage, particularly the professional dog walkers who effectively manage quite an assortment of little and large dogs at the same time, all without getting leashes tangled up or losing any of the dogs!  That, to me, is pretty amazing stuff. I wonder what their secrets are.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Front-door passenger dog

I can sympathize with dog owners who want their pets to have fresh air in a car, van, suv, truck, what-have-you. But I have a hard time sympathizing with those owners who open the passenger window wide enough to allow a dog to stick out his or her head and bark at anyone who happens to be passing by, such as cyclists.

Even one sudden loud bark is enough to startle the dog's owner and has the potential to cause an accident.

For a dog to get fresh air, just open the window about an inch or two. That way, the dog will still get a breeze and may even bark, but won't distract anyone, pedestrian or motorist. And if it's possible to use a seat belt on a dog, then buckle him or her in by all means! Doing all of these things will ensure a more pleasant ride from start to finish and a more relaxed dog and driver.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Suppose a dog prefers the furniture to sit or sleep on

I've read books on dog ownership in which their authors advise against allowing a dog to sit or sleep on a furniture item....not just once in a while .......but always.

This advice seems to be a tad harsh. I feel that so long as a dog isn't destroying that couch or bed or chair, then why not let him or her to use it?  The thing is that while you can forbid a dog from bothering with furniture in the first place, you know deep down in your heart that when you're out to work or on an errand, your dog is just going to do whatever in your absence, including sleeping on your bed or couch. So why fight it? Why cause yourself unnecessary stress? He or she is comfortable there, let him or her go there.

If you're fortunate to have a door in which to close off a room, then close the door before you leave if you don't want your dog to sit or sleep on the furniture. It can be whole lot worse. And you've got enough to worry about anyway. So long as the dog isn't damaging anything, leave it alone. The most you'll have to worry about is removing a couple of hairs from the furniture. But most important, that dog is a family member.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Can a dog train its human owner?

I think so. After all, you give a dog more slack with a longer leash and he or she winds up straining to walk or run past the limit. Or the dog begs at the table or barks to be allowed back in the house. The human, in turn, thinks that is amusing and obliges the dog by throwing out a table scrap. The dog devours the scrap and promptly forgets that he or she can be rewarded as such with repeat performances.

Same thing goes for a dog's insistance on pulling or refusing to move because it came across something very ineresting on the lawn or sidewalk and intends to explore it as soon as possible.

I'm not an animal psychologist by any means. I could have only considered Pavlov's dogs and their activities and rewards.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

I'm frustrated by ASPCA ads

Last night, I saw an ASPCA ad on television, which began with photos of homeless, abused, abandoned dogs and one or two cats. I tried to look away because I was already feeling depressed over the loss of my aunt and the photos of those poor unwanted animals just tore at my heart. Had the continuing photos not stopped, I would have been crying, I just felt so badly.

I can understand the ASPCA's intentions for those animals and need for support were featured in a tv ad. Perhaps a few more viewers were touched by those photos and felt prompted to send in donations or at least adopt one of those animals. This was all to the well and good.

But such an ad frustrated me because my donations would be a pittance compared to the amount of money this organization needed and thoughts of adopting one of those animals would be a very small drop in the bucket. What would happen to the other animals and how would shelter-related expenses be covered?

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Forgotten dogs

I don't own any dogs yet, but adore puppies and certain breeds of dogs for their personalities and looks. You would  think that I would include a group of forgotten dogs, namely, older or elderly dogs. Quite a few of them are the most loyal, loving pets you'll ever hope to find and own. Yet, quite a few of them wind up in shelters or worse, in the street, because they may not be as attractive as they were when they were younger. Such a shame and a waste of a perfect pet's life.

I've had limited experience being around older dogs, as my sister owned a few over time. As I got to know those dogs, I became more fond of them and didn't even mind walking them. One of them, named Cooper, was very sweet and enjoyed going for a walk. He never tugged or pulled at his leash. He even ran when I ran! Toward the end of his life, he slowed down and didn't act like himself anymore. My sister took him to the vet and learned that Cooper had some kind of blood cancer. The dog lived a few more weeks before dying from that disease.

Then there was my father's dog, Princess, who lived to a very old age before succumbing to more than one ailment. And then there was Roxie, a rottweillor, who was very sweet and always tried to please. I will always remember those dogs and their unconditional love.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

your own personal dog calendar ---- how to make one

A quick and easy project is to personalize your large calendar with a photo of your dog involved in an activity, such as sitting up holding a bone. Or sleeping. Or playing with a toy. One activity per month, if you're just interested in featuring your own dog. Each month's dog photo will be slightly different. Each month's dog photo will give you a reason to smile or laugh. The photo doesn't have to be perfect or professional, but should be large enough to be seen from a short distance, as from one room to another.

You can, of course, just buy a calendar featuring other dogs, but that isn't as personal or interesting as your own dog's photo each month. Of course, each month doesn't always have to feature your dog. Maybe it could include a photo of your friend's dog or a family member's dog. You'll have a calendar that you can treasure from now to the last day of December.

Happy New Year!