Wednesday, November 30, 2011

We Love Our Pets

Americans own 73 million dogs and 90 million cats. They become best friends, soul mates, family members, and even surrogate children. Relationships with cats and dogs are some of the longest and most intimate of our lives.

Why are we so attached?

Animal behavior experts, evolutionary biologists, veterinarians, and pet owners share insights and observations about these animals and their impact on us.

Four-time Emmy Award winner, filmmaker and director Ellen Goosenberg Kent kept the 10-month production of NATURE’s Why We Love Cats and Dogs on the right track. Ellen brings a strong visual sense to the art of storytelling and was able to illuminate the dynamic human-pet relationship, revealing how dogs and cats share our emotions in many significant ways.

Watch here: Video: Full Episode


Etiquette school for your dog!

A new national program called Canine Life and Social Skills uses positive reinforcement techniques to teach good manners, enabling owners to take their dogs with them to more places.

The C.L.A.S.S. program, taught by the association's members, focuses on using positive reinforcement when training to create a harmonious relationship between dog and owner. Through the use of fun games and exercises, some of the real-life skills participants learn include walking "nicely" on a leash, meeting strangers, and table manners. At the end of the six to eight week program, dogs are evaluated for certification.

For more information check out this website or call The Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT), a professional organization of individual trainers who are committed to becoming better trainers through education at 800-PET-DOGS

Monday, November 28, 2011

Adopt A Pet at Macy's

How much is that doggie in the window?

​It is that time again, when Macy's in San Francisco's displays hundreds of extremely cute puppies and kittens in its storefront window, tempting those passing through Union Square.

On November 18th Macy's unveiled their 2011 “Holiday Windows” with elaborately-decorated window displays featuring some adorable (and adoptable) cats and dogs to help benefit the SPCA and find these furry friends a new home.

Over the past six years, the Macy’s Holiday Windows have helped the SF SPCA raise over $320,000 and find homes for over 2,000 animals.

You have until New Year's Day to check out the display and adopt a friend for life or make a donation.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Save Your Fingers!

Does your dog grab treats so that you fear for your fingers?

Here is a way to teach your dog "EASY" when offering a treat:

First, try to work this lesson when your dog is well-fed and somewhat tired.

Start with medium value treats that your dog likes but does not go crazy over. Visibly place a treat in your palm and close your hand.

Ignore when your dog paws and nips your hand trying to get the treat. Once the dog stops to figure out what might work, capture this moment and open you hand as you say, "EASY".

Repeat until your dog understands that that only calm grasps earn the treat.

Extend the behavior by holding the treat between your fingers and reminding your dog, "EASY".

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Ball Game

Is your dog ball crazy?

Loves to retrieve a ball?

Or is happiest with a ball or two in his mouth?

Try a different ball game; "roll a ball"

First use a ball too big to fit in your dog's mouth.

Tell your dog to stay while he watches you place a small treat on the floor by the ball. Then roll the ball forward to almost cover it.

Stand close behind the ball so it rolls toward you and release your dog to get the treat.

As he takes it, the ball will roll. Say, "Yes!" and reward by tossing a treat behind him. He will turn away from the ball to get that treat. Place another treat under the ball.

Repeat this several times, encouraging him to push the ball toward you to get the treat, rewarding with a tossed treat. He will expect a treat under the ball and will quickly return to push it again after collecting the tossed treat.

At this point, quit putting the treat under the ball and just encourage him to push it. Dog s are optimistic - he will look for the treat and the ball will roll. You might use, "Yes, roll the ball," and reward with a tossed reward treat. Soon your dog will understand that pushing the ball earns treats. Gradually stand farther back from the ball, and he will learn to roll it a longer distance.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Turkey Day Treats

You can include your dog in your Turkey Day celebration with this canine-friendly sweet potato recipe.

These dog treats are not hard and crunchy; they are more like cookies in texture. You can keep them in an airtight container for up to three days; to store them longer, put them in a zip-lock bag in the freezer.

If you like, use 1 1/2 cups mashed, cooked sweet potato or pumpkin in place of the canned.

Sweet Potato Dog Treats

1 15 ounce can sweet potatoes, drained
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
blend in.....
2 cups barley flour
2/3 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup nutritional yeast

Turn dough out onto lightly floured counter, and knead two or three times if necessary to completely incorporate the ingredients. Roll out to 1/4 inch thickness, cut into shapes, and transfer to a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Scraps may be rerolled and cut. Score large cookies with a fork, if desired. Brush lightly with olive oil and bake for 20 to 25 minutes at 350 degrees until firm and lightly brown.

Makes about 12 large treats.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Tracking Missing Pets

Kat Albrecht, a former police Bloodhound trainer and crime scene investigator, is teaching animal shelter volunteers how to find lost pets by using some of the same skills and tools employed by law enforcement in tracking down missing people.

The Shelter Pet Detective program at the Regional Animal Services of King County Shelter in Washington was started by Kat.

Helping owners find their lost pets is something most shelters do not aggressively or effectively do. Many pet owners give up hope due to lack of resources and support.

The pilot program was launched in July with about 35 volunteers trained to assist owners in finding their lost pets. Volunteers search the shelter for missing dogs by creating neon "lost pet" posters; use social media to broadcast lost pet information; and do physical searches armed with humane traps, DNA tests, and forensic tools.

Kat is trying to raise money to start the Shelter Pet Detective program in three other Washington state animal shelters and would like to see the program offered nationwide

For more information, visit the organization's website.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Why Adopt A Senior Dog?

Yes, puppies are so cute, but another category of dogs can be just as darling; older dogs. In animal shelters, they often go ignored by potential future owners. Of course a senior dog is not going to live as long as a puppy, but she still has a lot of life to share.

Advantages of senior dog adoption:

1. Most senior dogs are house trained and obedience trained to at least a certain level, and do not need the intense socialization that puppies require.

2. It is obvious how big the dog is going to get.

3. Her temperament is known.

4. Depending on the dog's age, inherited diseases have probably surfaced.

5. Many older dogs are happy to set their pace to match yours.

6. They do not typically chew things.

7. Seniors' shorter expected life spans make sense for people whose kids are getting older and who are looking to a future with more travel in it.

8. Adopted older dogs are eternally grateful for the second chance.

A FEW disadvantages of senior dog adoption:

1. You will not get to live with your dog for the next 10-15 years (depending on breed).

2. A she ages further, she is likely to face senior-related health problems.

3. Mobility problems may arise. But as dogs' life spans have grown, so have available medications, treatments, and other tools to handle their health problems.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Grow Grass For Your Dog

There is much debate about why dogs eat grass. Some dogs seem to act like mini lawnmowers, eating grass at every opportunity. Others dogs eat grass only occasionally, and throwing it up.

There actually appears to be two types of grass eating behavior in dogs. Some dogs take a few nibbles, while others eat quickly, barely chewing the grass. Unchewed grass often translates to near instant vomiting. Dogs that are careful grazers, on the other hand, may not get sick from grass.

The latter case suggests that some dogs eat grass because they enjoy it. Most dogs do not need it to supplement their diets, but because dog diets are primarily made up of herbivores, that grassy taste may be reminiscent of the cattle or lamb product they had for dinner. Some dogs also enjoy green vegetables like broccoli.

Although not all dogs like wheatgrass many will nibble on the stalks or enjoy the clippings in their food bowl. Growing weatgrass is easy, try it to see if your dog likes it. If your dog does like it, you can keep the grass growing or start larger trays. Maybe even juice some of it for yourself!

What you need:

1/4 cup organic hard red wheat berries
fine mesh strainer
glass jar with lid
two plastic trays with holes for drainage, about 6 inch square, and something to put them on, like a saucer or tray
1/2 cup potting mix
paper towels

How to make it:

1. Rinse the wheat berries in the strainer for about one minute, shaking to rinse will.

2. Pour the wheat berries into the jar and cover with about 1 cup of water.

3. Let the wheat berries soak for 8 to 12 hours. During cold weather, they may need to soak a bit longer. When you see tiny white sprouts on the ends of the berries, they are ready to plant. These may look like nothing more than white dots that were not there before.

4. Fill one plastic tray with the potting mix and put it on a saucer or drainage tray.

5. Drain the wheat berries into the strainer again, and gently rinse. Spread them evenly over the potting mix.

6. Put three layers of paper towels over the seeds and water the paper towels. Put the second tray on top, upside down, acting as a lid.

7. Water the paper towels as needed to keep them moist. After 24 hours, check to see if your wheat berries have sprouted and keep watering.

8. When the grass is about one inch tall (this should take about three days, depending on temperature), remove the paper towels and the lid and put the wheatgrass in a sunny window. Water daily.

9. When the wheat grass is 4 to 6 inches tall and bright green, set the tray where your dog can take a nibble. If your dog is not interested, clip off bits of grass with a scissors into his dog food.

Small dogs can eat about a tablespoon of grass clippings. Large dogs might enjoy up to about 1/2 cup with their regular kibble.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Daylight Savings Time and Dogs

Daylight Savings Time officially ended.

For most of us that means we get an extra hour of sleep and relaxation before starting the day. Did you know that pets can be affected by the time change as well?

Dogs do not use watches, but they can tell when there is a change in their owner's behavior.

Much of a dog's behavior is linked to our schedules. Your dog might get up when you do, and learn to ask to go outside at a certain point in the morning routine. They might even learn other behaviors depending on yours.

Dogs thrive on schedules. When those schedules are disrupted it can cause changes in their behavior. An extra hour in bed for you might mean your dog wakes up at the same time needing to go to the bathroom or to eat breakfast. If you are not careful it can seem like you woke up to a dog who has lost all their training.

Keep a close eye on your dog for any changes in their behavior after the time change. If they seem to be more anxious or are having more accidents than normal, try getting up an hour earlier and seeing if the behavior continues. Of course, you might get lucky and have a dog who will appreciate the extra hour of sleep, too.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Dogs and Baseball

Did you know that you can take your dog to the baseball game at several stadiums?

We missed the baseball season for this year, but that gives you time to find out about which stadiums in your area are dog friendly and when.

More than half of all Major League Baseball teams celebrate an annual event that allows fans to bring their dogs to the ballpark. These special events allow fans to sit with their dogs in a special section of the stadium and watch the game. All that is required to attend is a special ticket purchased in advance, and proof that your dog has a current vaccination record.

The fun is not limited to the stands. Many Major League Baseball dog day events include pre-game on-field parades, photo opportunities, contests, auctions, and special activities. Some events include prizes for best costume, best dog trick, and best smile. All these dog day events raise funds for local pet shelters and humane education programs.

Doggie-themed events have become increasingly popular over the years. The San Francisco Giants have held annual dog day events since 1996, longer than any other National League team.

Most teams have one annual dog celebration, but the Pittsburgh Pirates have more dog events than any other Major League Baseball team.

Owners can find events at stadiums across the country. Contact your local Major League Baseball team to find out what dog-friendly events are happening at the ballpark.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Miniature Sculptures of Real-Life Dogs

I once introduced you to Julie Michels of Rock Art Imagery who paints amazing dog portraits on rocks.

Now you must meet Lucy Maloney of Designer Dog Miniatures who creates miniature sculptures of real-life dogs.

Her sculptures are incredible! They are truly hard to believe.

Lucy, although she continues to experiment with different materials for her sculptures, mostly settles on alpaca or cashmere for dog hair. She uses German-made glass eyes and leather for ears. The bone structure is done with wire armature.

These dog sculptures are definitely a one-of-a-kind.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Traveling Together

Do you travel with your dog?

Take vacations together?

Here is one dog and human team that has been traveling together for nearly five years. Talk about bonding!

Ara Gureghian and his dog, Spirit have been traveling across America on a motorbike equipped with a special side car for his canine buddy. For this man and his best friend it is about the spiritual journey for there is no destination.

They like to travel slowing to take in all the sights. Ara has been posting stories and photographs about their travels on the Internet. His photography is awesome! Be sure to visit his website. You can also experience "the ride" as you watch the videos. The SPOT satellite tracker enables you to track their journey.

They seem to favor the big open spaces, the type of spectacular terrain found in Utah, Montana, and Wyoming. The last post was from Texas.

It sounds as if Ara and Spirit have developed a special relationship traveling the highways of America.

Dogs ready to travel:

See Spirit on the website.