Thursday, March 31, 2011

Thanks to volunteers who help dogs

The dogs featured on hard-cover book jackets are the type of dogs I'd love to own. Their sad brown eyes, well-groomed fur, and overall appearance seemed to beckon me, making me want to reach out and pet them and sympathize. I feel most sorry for dogs serving the military in places in war zones around the globe. It would be nicer if dogs didn't have to be put in harm's way and suffer as much or even more so than their human handlers and companions. My sympathy and heart go out to dogs who are left to cope by themselves in natural and man-made disasters. It's tough out there dealing with floods, mudslides and hurricanes alone, with no familiar human or available food and water.

At the same time, I read accounts of people saving dogs and other household pets, taking them in, caring for them, or volunteering in shelters for those animals despite conditions outside. Thanks to those human saviors, dogs' lives are improved and small comforts become available once more.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

claiming a dog as a dependent on tax forms--- shouldn't that be allowed in certain cases?

Ok, I know that dogs and other pets can't be claimed as dependents on tax forms, other than perhaps seeing-eye dogs. But wouldn't it be nice if senior citizens could claim their dogs as dependents?

If that person should become ill, he or she could get the dog to bring something or run to a neighbor's house for help. At the very least, the dog would probably have raised a racket by barking. At the same time, the dog would be a constant companion, easing that person's loneliness. It would be a win-win situation, especially if no relatives lived nearby or that person had no family left, period. Being able to claim his or her dog would be nice.

The government would probably argue that the dog is not a human, and it is therefore ineligible to be claimed.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

"Selling" dogs to prospective dog owners

Sometimes the dedicated volunteers that oversee individual dogs (mostly) remind me of used-car salespeople. The volunteers express their love and fondness for dogs, for example, and compare their dogs to the dog entrusted in their care for a short time at a pet store. But in discussing the dog in their care, volunteers are more prone to emphasizing their dog's positive qualities, aka, selling that dog to prospective owners.

I'm not complaining, by any means. It's just an observation based on a number of visits to PetSmart. One person's opinion. Many customers stop by, pet the dogs and exchange information about their dogs. Other customers linger a little longer, deciding whether to commit to adopting a given dog --- or not.

I think that the biggest challenge for these volunteers is persuading a potential dog owner that a given dog is very desirable and the perfect pet for that person. But what ultimately matters is that homeless dogs get loving homes.

Monday, March 28, 2011

the difficulty (or ease) in training a dog actor

So I watched "Due Date," a movie I got from Netflix today. In addition to human actors, the movie featured what appeared to be a very obedient chihuahua. This dog seemed to enjoy being fed by hand, sitting quietly in the back seat of a car, on the sidewalk, and even masturbating with its master. When its master told it to stop doing that, the dog stopped. Amazing!

The dog's facial expressions were also interesting and funny to watch. Its expressions revealed amusement and shock very well.

Since I've not had dog training experience, I can only imagine that training that chihuahua must have taken a fair amount of time to accomplish and wondered what the criteria was for dog actors anyway. Did the dog, for example, have to possess a certain personality?  What mistakes or bloops did it make in rehearsals and when? Overall, I would imagine that regardless, training a dog to act is probably a lot easier than training a child to obey. I could be wrong though.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

I Fell in Love Again at Petsmart

It's true. I bought a few cans of cat food, then walked in an area that was lined with pet handlers and dogs. I came across this American bulldog who reminded me of the Target dog. Only this dog's circles were brown instead of black. That dog, and I forgot his name, had to be one of the most affectionate dogs EVER. He never seemed to get tired of licking ---- and the more he licked, the pinker his face and ears got. Unbelievable.

I've never seen such a friendly, affectionate dog who was found wandering homeless in the streets of Newark, NJ. I would have adopted him in a New York minute. I gotta admit, though, he wasn't very handsome, but still couldn't be beat for a pet having so much love and affection to give. First time I said or thought all of that. I, who have four cats who probably would not appreciate a dog in their midst.

I'll never forget that dog. I hope that my sister adopts him secretly and offers me a chance to bring him home.

As I stated earlier, I fell in love again at Petsmart.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Spring pamper your dog by brushing him or her

Now's the time to pay closer attention to your dog's general health, particularly its skin. Dogs are also susceptible to allergies, fleas and skin disorders. Seemingly minor issues can soon become major ones if you aren't careful. As you pet or brush your dog, you may likely discover those problems and deal with them before they become serious health issues.

But brushing your dog benefits him or her in other ways. It establishes a better connection between you and makes your dog feel better. As you brush, you're also removing excess fur from your dog, yourself, your floor and furniture. All of that leads to a cleaner home and furnishings AND dog! It's a win-win situation. You should know that there are special brushes that practically clean themselves. They might cost a little more, but the convenience of using one is priceless if your dog sheds a lot during the year. You and your furniture will wind up with less fur to clean up.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

What if your watch dog doesn't really watch?

Believe me, there are dogs like this. They don't bark when they should and alert the owner. They merely sit and stare at the window. And even if a burglar did break in, that type of dog would wag its tail. Ok, so I might exaggerate a bit, but you know what I mean.

Personally, I believe that there are better ways of protecting a home besides bringing in a dog specifically for that purpose. A dog is a living being that requires food and other comforts of home, and most of all, costs a lot of money over its lifetime. It can be a loyal pet and loving friend, so its purpose of serving as a watch dog may be a total waste. I think that I would prefer a dog as a pet instead of just a watch dog. I'm sure that it would bark if it sensed danger such as a burglar breaking in.

Still, I find the question intriguing. After all, wasn't one of the reasons for owning a dog knowing that it would also serve as a good watch dog?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

licks from a dog

I like dogs. I really do. But there is one thing about dogs that I find hard to take --- and that is a dog licking my hand and/or face. I know. This is probably equivalent to a sloppy wet kiss from a pet and I'm fine with that. I just have a problem coping with a lot of dog saliva. Yuck!

Actually, this should not be an issue at all. I kiss my cats and let them nuzzle my face and hands in a show of affection. So why should I be any different when it comes to dogs?

Maybe I'm not used to getting hit with a lot of saliva all up at one time. It's wet, it's on my face or hands, and it came from a dog. Then maybe I've not had as much experience in getting used to being licked by a dog. Don't get me wrong --- I'm not blaming the dog by any means! I think that getting used to being licked is a matter of getting used to it.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

dogs surviving a disaster

I am always amazed at dogs who are involved in rescue efforts in natural and manmade-related disasters. They nimbly walk over piles of rubble, water and other debris to locate victims in horrible conditions. These dogs are loyal and smart and are owed a great deal of gratitude.

At the same time, there are other dogs, peoples' pets, that are caught and must struggle in unreal conditions just to survive. Last Friday, for example, a few dogs were shown on television wandering around in water that looked fairly deep in god-only-knows- what conditions. Many of those dogs deal with hunger, disease and thirst. My heart went out to those animals. I hoped that those dogs and other pets would soon be found and reunited with their owners, or at least receive comfort and good care until the owners could be found.

In either scenario, locating disaster victims or struggling for survival in a disaster, dogs deserve sympathy and efforts to help them. They were and are victims of circumstances as well.

Friday, March 18, 2011

the main attraction of dogs

I think that I know why many people prefer dogs over cats.

Dogs tend to be more responsive. You call them and they respond. Of course, not all dogs respond quickly;  a few dogs like my sister's Aries takes his sweet time, but he does show up. On the other hand, cats are different. For the most part, they don't respond, especially if they're napping or are otherwise engaged. Their ears may perk up, but that doesn't mean much. It often takes a LOT before a cat comes to you, usually because it is hungrry.

A lot of people consider cats aloof and less friendly. A few dogs happen to be the same way and must be trained, which brings me to the next point. Dogs are probably easier to train than cats. They seem closer to their human owners than cats do. Dogs seem to enjoy being babied, but cats tend to become annoyed and react negatively to excessive attention.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

minding the dog that's home alone

My sister makes sure that she provides for her dogs when she has to be out of the house. If she's only going to be out for awhile, she keeps them in the house. I would do the same thing. Unsupervised dogs wandering the streets could come to harm and/or harm others. As a pedestrian, I try to avoid any dog that is wandering around without its owner nearby, and even if that owner is nearby and says, "He won't hurt ya!" bothers me. I keep thinking, well, suppose the dog does do something, such as bite me?

The story is a little different if my sister knows that she's going to be out even longer. She knows that her dogs tend to sleep on her bed or sofa during the day. But what happens when they're up and about and ready to go? In that case, she arranges for a trusted friend to stop by and keep the dogs company for a little while. Cats too. That friend likes dogs and cats, so sitting with them for awhile isn't a big problem. It is easier for the owner to know that her dogs are being taken care of and even walked as necessary.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Why a standard leash is better than an adjustable leash

For some reason, standard leashes are ideal. They allow you more control as you walk your dog. You avoid having to adjust the leash for a dog who would rather run across the street dragging you along than walking calmly with you. As you might have guessed, I'm referring to adjustable leashes.

To be sure, those leashes seem to be very popular. I've seen dog owners walk their dogs, casually adjusting the leash as necessary and no one is worse for wear. However, for people who are unaccustomed to using such leashes on their dogs, adjustable leashes can be quite annoying. You can unwittingly give your dog way too much slack, which leads to the dog doing other things, like chasing squirrels or cats or birds or relieving himself/herself on a lawn two houses down the block. Plus, there is always the possibility of malfunctioning. While you try to find and fix the problem, your dog is trying to cross the street or chasing people or other animals.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Getting the best dog food for the money

Shopping for pet food is usually a hassle if you are at a supermarket. There are a few brands, including the supermarket brand featured on shelves. One or more of those brands may be on sale, and if it's a brand you normally buy, take advantage of the sale. Otherwise, consider not buying, unless your supply is nearly depleted.

You may be thinking about buying a cheaper dog food, but that may be a false saving. For one thing, you may not be sure if your dog will eat that food. Sure, the food is cheaper, but not so if your dog won't eat it. The other option is just buying your dog's favorite food anyway, regardless of cost.

Another option is going to a pet-supply store and buying your dog's food at a discount. For example, a can of food costing 50 cents at the supermarket may only cost some 40 cents there. While you're at it, take a look at dry foods. You may find a good sale on a brand that your dog will eat, and to discover that the brand is on sale is gravy. Buy it! You should even consider buying in larger quantities if possible. It's a win-win situation for you, your dog and your wallet.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Evidence that more dog owners are being responsible

Not that long ago, very few people bothered to clean up after their dog outside. As a dog soiled an area of sidewalk or lawn, his or her owner tended to look the other way, then walk along with the dog as if nothing ever happened. The annoying part was that an unwitting child or adult would sometimes step on the stuff, then have a devil of a time cleaning up his or her shoe(s).

Nowadays, it seems like nearly every dog owner I've seen in the neighborhood carries a plastic bag or a pooper-scooper as he or she walks the dog----and uses it! Fortunately, carrying either item as you walk the dog seems to be fairly routine. More dog owners are finally becoming more responsible, always a good thing.

I was thinking that perhaps fines on irresponsible owners might have done the trick. The fines aren't posted on street signs, but that's okay. There are signs posted, though, warning dog owners to clean up after their dog --- or else. How much simpler does it have to get? All I can say that it's about time!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

what if you still don't know what kind of dog to own?

The next best option to actually owning a dog is caring for someone else's. You can "dog sit" or walk dogs or even work in a kennel. You get to know various dogs and their behavior and needs. You wind up having a good idea of the kind of dog you'd like to own someday.

All of this can be used to supplement research on dogs and may even beat research in the long run. Of course, it may involve a lot more time than you think, but will at the same time increase your own knowledge about the type of dog you'd love to own.

This is not to say that personalities for any given breed of dog will always be clear-cut and should be accepted as a given. For example, consider pit bulls. A lot depends on their owner(s) and it's possible to find a pit bull that is loving and well-behaved. Picking a dog to own is just like everything else. Investing time to learn more is well worth the effort.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Get a St. Bernard? Why not?

The other night, I was talking to my sister over the phone and thought that I would shock her a little. I mentioned that if I could get a dog right away, it just might be a St. Bernard!  She wasn't shocked, much to my surprise. She said that St. Bernard puppies are cute, and I believed her. They are!

Needless to say, my cats would not appreciate any dogs. But that's ok. All my cats need is a little time to get used to a lovable mutt like a St. Bernard. Now I don't know if those dogs would eventually coexist peacefully with the cats, though I'll be able to know more after researching the matter.

I should be able to bring things off in due time. I love animals and have had experience being around dogs, such as my dad's dog, Princess, and my sister's two dogs, Aries and Chloe.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Neighbor's little dog knows just what to do

So this morning, my neighbor, who owns a little white terrier, opened her front door and let the dog outside. The dog ran down the steps and relieved himself or herself on the little strip of lawn in front of the neighbor's house. It looked back at the neighbor, who seemed to call it back to her, ran the opposite way a few steps, then ran back to her.

Then the neighbor walked to her car and opened its door. I thought that she was going to go out and take the dog out with her for a ride. But that didn't happen. The amazing part was that her dog didn't run across the street or in the car. The little companion simply stayed on the sidewalk, waiting for the neighbor to finish what she had to do. That dog was well trained. It never barked or gave the neighbor a hard time.

That was all such a cute sight to see. The bond between my neighbor and her dog was clearly in place!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

After a short time, your dog just gets to know you

It's true. Your dog can practically tell when you're returning home, when you're planning to feed him or her, and going out for a walk or a drive. When I still lived at home, my dad put on his hat after supper, saying he'd be back in an hour or two. Instantly, his dog, Princess, would appear and start sniffing at his hands. She anticipated that he'd be picking up the leash and taking her out for a walk. And usually, she was right.

Dogs, after living with you for awhile, can practically understand what you're saying, such as the word, "walk." That word holds special significance for a dog that "knows" he or she will be going out for one shortly. I don't know how dogs do it. Do they go by the sounds of words? Gestures of their owners? Who knows? But it's an amazing thing to witness as well as be a part of.

The point here is that your dog just knows.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

what to do about a neighbor's dog that just can't stop barking

I spoke about a particular dog that barked at everyone who walked past. And even long after a pedestrian walked past that barking dog, the dog kept right on barking loudly. Today, I got a better look at the dog as it barked at me. It's some kind of German Shepherd mix, a huge vicious-looking beast out of a nightmare scenario.

I feel for the beast's neighbors who lived right next door and how the windows of their house face the dog's owners' backyard and how difficult it must be to tolerate all of that noise at various times during the day.

In that case, complaining to the dog's owners probably won't help, if anything, it will make a bad situation worse. Neighbors can be pretty spiteful, especially if they happen to be stupid. You would think that those owners would be uncomfortable about having their dog barking all of the time and try doing something about it----like taking their dog to the vet and getting it checked out for possible health issues.

Not about to happen. Maybe the dog owners are waiting for the dog's life to run its course and the dog dtopping dead at some point. That's the way it looks.

And I feel for the neighbors, who probably stay home over the weekend, and are captive listeners to that dog barking loudly all of the time. Had I been in their place, I would have seriously considered moving out and already have been out of there a long time ago. Never mind selling the house because no one is about to buy it anyway, given the high ridiculous property taxes. Nah, I would have simple given the house away to a charity and reap the tax benefits, anything to get away from a dog that never seems to stop barking.

Friday, March 4, 2011

when a dog is hyper or spirited

I'm referring to puppies and adult dogs who either have the potential to get hyper or are hyper (should I say "spirited?"). Hitting them should never be an option. Same thing goes for yelling at them. When my dad used to walk my sister's dog, Chloe, a husky mix, Chloe was and is rather spirited and often had other ideas as to which direction she ought to walk. Naturally, she pulled at her leash and nearly succeeded in dragging my dad along.

But my dad wasn't having any of it. He swore loudly at her to just walk, damn it. Chloe probably understood, but also thought that it might be more fun to be contrary and she took her sweet time in complying. And my dad calmed down seconds later. The bond between him and Chloe was already in place and the dog really did like him, no matter how much he yelled at her.

Much to his credit, my dad still exercised a lot of patience with Chloe and it all paid off in the end. The dog became his closest companion and never left his side when my dad suffered, and eventually passed away, from lung cancer.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Is there such a thing as spoiling a dog?

I know that dogs' behavior varies for many reasons, but that all seems to change when those dogs find out that their owner says a certain word or does a certain thing like opening the fridge that means only one thing: TREATS!

Yep, then all hell breaks lose, as the dog or dogs come running to the kitchen or wherever they converge to get their treats. The dogs look up expectantly waiting for their treats and even whine a bit until that treat is forthcoming. Then once the treats are distributed and eaten, the dogs settle down and all is quiet on the western front. They sleep or sit and relax until it is time for that walk or eat dinner.

At first glance,  it seems that these dogs are trained. But I think that it is more like they are spoiled. Not acclimated. Not programmed. Spoiled, lol!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Riding with a dog in the car

For some reason, a lot of dogs love to go for a ride in a car. I've seen this happen time and again when my sister's dog, Aries, heads for my car as I'm opening the door on the driver's side. Now I'm not saying that I've had the experience or pleasure of having a dog accompanying me as I drive. If I ever did that, I'd worry about the dog remaining securely in his or her seat as I drove. There are quite enough distractions on the road as it is, lol!

Which by the way brings me to the issue of being a new dog owner and needing to transport my dog in my car. Of course, I would first assure myself that the dog would enjoy this experience and not likely running around while the car was in motion.

I think that I would be inclined to place my dog, if he or she was small, in a carrier first and then secure that carrier to the car's back seat with a seat belt. After a few minutes, the dog would hopefully settle down quietly. But I think for that to happen, I would train my dog to become used to riding in a car for longer periods of time.

Certainly, my dad never used to have a problem having Princess, a large dog, riding in the passenger seat next to him as he drove. Princess was very well-mannered. She would jump on the passenger seat and remain seated. Mostly, she would stare straight ahead, but occasionally look through the window quietly. She never barked or caused a ruckus of any kind.