Monday, February 15, 2010

Pet Product Review: Sill Shield Window Sill Protector

"Ooooh, there a car! Ooooh, there goes another car! OMG HERE COMES MOM AND DAD!!!"

While we can only guess what's going through our dogs' minds, we do know that they love looking out windows -- and in the process, can slowly destroy the window ledge with dirty paw prints and scratches.

Enter the Sill Shield. As its Web site notes, Sill Shield is a PVC slat similar in texture to outdoor siding, designed to protect your window sills. Fastened with stickers -- specifically 3M Dual Lock Velcro Coins, which are included -- it supposedly won't show wear and tear.

That's all fine and good, but would they be able to withstand Pippi, my friend's highly-energetic dalmatian/German shorthaired pointer mix?

The manufacturer offers Sill Shields in a variety of widths and depths, as well as custom trimming or notching. (All of the windows in Pippi's apartment were covered by the standard sizing.) Pippi's mom ordered a white one -- they also come in clear -- and placed it beneath the front window. It took only a couple of minutes to attach and blended in perfectly with the sill, which is also white. Most importantly, it easily withstood Pippi's assault. After about ten days of use it looks pretty much like it did on day one.

Is it worth it? Serious do-it-yourself types might be able to create something similar from parts at their local hardware store, saving themselves $12.95 per sill plus shipping prices that can cost up to $15 per order if you live on the west coast. But to the rest of us, the Sill Shield is a quick and effective solution to a perennial problem. The company also offers a "Door Shield," to keep dogs from scratching up doors.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Washing Your Dog

There comes a time in every dog's life when you can't escape the inevitable conclusion: he smells. In fact, he smells really bad. When you know the dog is entering the room before you see his furry body amble through the doorway, action must be taken. Yes, Rover, it's bath time!

As doggie caretaker, keeping your canine clean is your responsibility. Unfortunately, you may dread bath time almost as much as Rover does. The good news is that not all dogs need to be bathed particularly often. In fact, bathing a dog too often can be bad for his skin because it strips off the protective oils. The frequency of bathing depends a lot on your dog. Some dogs just get stinky faster. For example, retrievers and other water dogs generally have oily coats (to repel water), so they get a case of doggie odor more quickly than some other breeds. Short-haired dogs and dogs that spend a lot of time inside also generally need fewer baths than long-haired breeds or dogs that love to go outside and roll in disgusting things. Your nose will tell you how often you need to bathe your dog.

Before you wash your dog, brush him. Removing all the loose hair and mats makes the bath easier on everyone. Obviously, you have to wash less hair, but also on a long-haired dog, you are less likely to have matting problems if the dog has been thoroughly brushed out first. Water tends to turn small tangles into mats and small mats into big mats. If your dog has twigs, straw, or other pieces of crud in his fur, remove them. Clip out anything sticky like pitch or tar using clippers.

Once you have decided that yes, today is THE day, you need to get your bathing supplies together. Get everything you need in the bathroom before you go find Rover. The most important thing you need is dog shampoo. Dogs' skin is a different pH than peoples' so it's not a good idea to use human shampoo on a dog. You'll also need a lot of old towels. The bigger and hairier your dog, the more towels you need. Ideally, it helps to have a hand sprayer and a bathtub tether to hold Rover in place.

Once you have Rover in the bathroom, close the door. After you have him in the bathtub or shower, begin by thoroughly wetting down his fur. Follow the instructions on the bottle of shampoo, especially if you are doing a flea bath. Generally it's easiest to work in the shampoo if you water it down with some water in your hand first. When you are done soaping up the dog, move to the rinse cycle. Rinsing is extremely important and generally takes at least twice as long as the soaping up process (that's why a hand sprayer is very helpful). You don't want any soap residue left because it can irritate your dog's skin.

When the bath is done, the dog will inevitably shake. Probably all over you. If you can, it's nice to have the dog do one really big shake while he's still in the shower or tub (but if not, be ready to wipe down your bathroom later -- remember you did close the door, so he shouldn't be running all over the house). Then towel dry the dog. Most dogs love this part and forget all about the indignity of the bath. (Okay, maybe not.) Keep Rover out of drafts until he's completely dry, and then revel in the joy of a clean hound.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

West Hollywood Close to Ban on Sale of Dogs and Cats

How much is that puppy in the window? It's not for sale.

Those worried about the number of designer dogs ending up at California shelters will be heartened by the news that the West Hollywood City Council is moving closer to approving a ban on certain kinds of pet sales. According to DVM Newsmagazine, the city council members approved upon "first reading" an ordinance proposed by council member Jeffrey Prang that prohibits the sale of dogs and cats within pet stores. The ordinance must undergo a second reading next week and, if approved, will take effect in March.

The discussion was ignited after an investigation of a West Hollywood pet store, Elite Animals, uncovered evidence that the owner was not only allegedly selling puppy mill dogs, but also illegally importing animals for resale.

The ordinance, which can be downloaded from the West Hollywood City Council agenda is full of troubling facts and statistics related to the sales of dogs and cats. One startling detail: "A review of state and USDA inspection reports from more than 100 breeders who sold animals to the nation's largest retail pet store chain revealed that more than 60 percent of the inspections found serious violations of basic animal care standards, including sick or dead animals in their cages, lack of proper veterinary care, inadequate shelter from weather conditions, and dirty, unkempt cages that were too small."

Carole Davis of the Companion Animal Protection Society (CAPS) told WeHo News that the "Companion Animal Protection Society assisted the Animal Legal Defense Fund and the City of West Hollywood in drafting the ordinance, as well as providing evidence." The ordinance rules that pet stores who currently sell cats and dogs have until Sep. 17, 2010 to "sell, offer for adoption, barter, auction, giveaway or otherwise transfer cats and dogs". The ordinance doesn't affect shelters or rescue organizations that often ask for an adoption fee when finding homes for their animals. It also doesn't affect actual breeders who sell or adopt out their litters on their own.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

NYC Dog Gets Mugged for a Jacket

Here's yet another sign that the economy has gone to the dogs: A thief in New York City held up a West Highland white terrier this week and made off with the pooch's parka.

With a snowstorm set to wallop the New York metro area, the New York Post reports 10-year-old Lexie was tied outside the Ace Supermarket in Park Slope, Brooklyn while Lexie's owner Donna McPherson ran in to quickly buy some milk. When McPherson came out from the store, she found her white Westie shivering in the cold without his wool jacket. She canvassed the neighborhood looking for clues to who could have done this, but so far no luck.

Despite their double coat, Westies are used to spending much of their time inside near their owners, making it harder for them to tolerate the cold. The American Kennel Club recommends dogs with coarse coats -- including Westies -- wear a sweater when they're out and about in the winter. With temperatures in the 30s in New York City this week, the missing sweater meant Lexie was one cold canine.

McPherson is still hoping to catch the criminal, but she's happy it was a $25 coat that went missing and not her priceless best friend.

McPherson gave two new coats to Lexie to make up for the mugging. By the looks of the forecast for the Northeast this week, he's going to need them.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Dog Rescued from Los Angeles River Is Home At Last

Spikey, the dog who captured national headlines when he was airlifted from a Los Angeles river in a daring helicopter rescue is finally home. The 4-year-old German-shepherd mix was in quarantine for several days before being released and reunited with his owners, the Los Angeles Times reported.

On Friday, Jan. 22, viewers were glued to their television screens when news stations broadcast live coverage of a dog being rescued by the Los Angeles Fire Department from a surging river. The video from Fox 11 News shows firefighter Joe St. Georges, 50, dropping from a helicopter into the river, grabbing the struggling dog and airlifting him to safety -- but not before dangling high above the river for several long, nail-biting moments.

"We got reports of a dog in the Los Angeles River, which is really a concrete-walled flood control channel," said Los Angeles Fire Captain Steve Ruda. The dog couldn't climb out of the river, which was extra-high due to heavy rains that had been flooding Los Angeles all week.

"The incident commander made a decision to rescue the dog," explains Capt. Ruda. "It was wearing a collar and appeared to belong to somebody. If we did nothing, we were concerned that humans trying to rescue the dog would be harmed." A helicopter swift water rescue team swooped in under high tension wires and lowered firefighter St. Georges into the river. "Joe [St. Georges] was able to capture the dog, put a capture strap around it, and get the dog to safety," Capt. Ruda says.

The rescued dog remained in quarantine at the Southeast Area Animal Control Authority (SEAACA) for a week. Staff fielded dozens of requests for adoption, but chose to wait for a rightful owner to come forward. On Jan. 25, says Capt. Reyes, a man called the animal shelter saying, "I think you have a dog that belongs to a family friend." Wary of false claims, an investigator at SEAACA began checking out the man's story, which turned out to be valid. When the man came to the shelter to identify the dog on behalf of the family friend, "the dog just went nuts," recalls Capt. Reyes. "His ears went back and his tail went crazy. I wish we would have videotaped it."

Spikey lived in nearby Maywood with his owner, Maria Medina, 70, who is described as "elderly and Spanish-speaking." Spikey had escaped -- along with Medina's other dog, a yellow Labrador retriever named Polo -- after visiting grandchildren left her gate open, Capt. Reyes explained.

Polo, the yellow Labrador, was picked up by animal-control officers the day after Spikey's helicopter rescue. "Polo may have been following Spikey's scent because he was picked up in the same area where Spikey had been rescued," says Capt. Reyes.

Medina had been looking for her missing dogs, but had been unaware of the much-publicized drama surrounding Spikey until a family friend told her about a YouTube video showing the rescue. "My mother had seen something in the Spanish media about a dog, but she didn't hear all of the story," said Medina's son, Ramon Medina.

After interviewing Medina and her neighbors, performing a property inspection and checking Spikey's and Polo's dog licenses and vaccinations, SEAACA determined that Medina could have her dogs back. "Spikey's a good dog who watches the house," Ramon Medina said. "My mother is very happy he's coming home and wants to thank the firefighters for risking their lives to save her dog's life."

Monday, February 8, 2010

Amanda Seyfried Is In Love -- With Her New Puppy

The star of "Dear John" has a new guy in her life -- and its serious. "He's the love of my life," Seyfried says.

The lucky fella is an Australian shepherd puppy named Finn, Seyfried revealed on Unscripted. "He's a little guy with a big heart," the actress told her "Dear John" co-star Channing Tatum during a chat about the film and their personal lives.

He won't stay little for long. Male Aussie shepherds traditionally grow to about 20 to 23 inches tall, according to the AKC. Seyfried is expecting him to be at least 50 pounds, at which points she admits she won't be able to pick him up.

The highly intelligent dogs are known for being especially attached to their owners, so maybe it's good that Seyfried is slated to have time opening up in her schedule for some one-on-one with her favorite pup? The "Big Love" star is confirmed to be leaving the HBO series sometime this season.

Read more about Amanda Seyfried and see pictures of her dog at

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Deaf Dog Returns Home Nine Days After Escaping Hospital

Luna, a deaf American bulldog mix, was found and returned to her owners in good health after she escaped her boarding pen at Shaker Veterinary Hospital in Latham, N.Y. on January 2, reports

When the rescue dog ran away, Ralph and Shelley Rataul feared the worst for the family pet. Shelley posted an $800 reward, which consisted of their money, donations and a contribution from the Veterinary hospital, reports Albany's Times Union.

The 4-year-old dog was found when a couple discovered her in their backyard and recognized her from a story that appeared in the Times Union the previous week. They called the hospital after the frightened dog refused to go into their house.

The couple who found Luna refused both the money and recognition for their good deed. They said they'd like the reward to go to charity instead.

Rataul told the Times Union that half of the money will be donated to the ASPCA and the other half to the Mohawk Hudson Humane Society in the name of the couple who found Luna.

While it took a while for Luna to recognize Rataul when he came to the couple's backyard, once she realized it was him, the pooch leaped into the arms of her joyful owner.

"She's not an outdoors dog, not a hunting dog, but some instinctual stuff must have kicked in," Rataul told the Times Union about his dog's survival. Vets said Luna lost about 12 pounds during her nine-day flee.

Luna's escape didn't just affect her worried family. When word got around town that Luna disappeared from the hospital, 200 volunteers devoted their lunch breaks and after work hours to searching for her in woods, parks and even via Facebook.

Dee Deen's Tavern, a nearby eatery, left prime rib outside when they heard about the missing dog, reports the Times Union.

Security footage in the hospital revealed that Luna pushed open her crate and made it past three doors. Ken Wolfe, assistant director of the hospital told the Times Union it was the first time a dog has ever walked out the hospital door before. Wolfe says the hospital has now changed their locks.

As for Luna, the wandering dog will now sport her very own dog GPS.