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.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Kibble for a Cause

Mimi Ausland, the junior-high-schooler who invented, is personally responsible for feeding thousands of dogs and cats in shelters across America.

When she was a toddler, Mimi Ausland loved animals so much her parents called her Dr. Doolittle. At her home in Bend, Oregon, Mimi rescued injured birds and fish, even spiders. At the age of seven, told she was too young to work at the local Humane Society, Mimi started mailing spare change to the shelter. "She just has this huge heart and it plays out with animals," says her father, Kelly, 48. "She's always been protective and passionate about animals."

In 2008, Mimi, now thirteen, shared her passion with the world in a big way, developing an online trivia game called and with the help of her mom and dad. Players answer one question about dogs, another about cats, and whether right or wrong, 10 pieces of kibble per question are donated to a shelter by a holistic pet food maker.

How much pet food could actually be raised 10 bits at a time, you ask?

Since its start on April 1, 2008, has donated more than 400,000 pounds of dog and cat food. The organization is the sole supplier of food for 14 shelters across the country. Another 60 rescues have received tens of thousands of pounds of huge one-time donations. An average of 45,000 people visit the site daily. "It's so cool, it's really exciting," says Mimi, a seventh grader. "I knew it was important that I did something for others."

Scores of financially-strapped animal welfare organizations are grateful. The day after hurricane Fay hit South Florida in August 2008 and destroyed most of the food at Sanctuary Animal Refuge in Clewiston, Mimi contacted the rescue and asked if they needed food. "When I got her email, all I could do was cry," says sanctuary founder Palena Dorsey. "It was like heaven had opened and the hand of God touched my heart."

For Mimi, success has increased her awareness of a dire need: hundreds of shelters have now contacted her. "I just got another email from a shelter asking for food," she says. "I would love to feed all of them."

The idea for was serendipitous. Mimi and some relatives had been playing an Internet game called, where for every correct vocabulary word answered, several grains of rice are donated by sponsors to feed the poor. "I thought we could do this for animals," says Mimi, "with kibble pieces for animals instead of rice."

With help from her father, Kelly, a product designer, and mother Brooke Smith, 47, a fine artist, Mimi designed a website and approached local pet businesses for food donations. She researched trivia using Google and the books "Planet Dog" and "Planet Cat" to create a mix of funny and highly informative questions. "Her initial goal," says Kelly, "was to feed our local shelter."

Mimi quickly outgrew her local pet food sponsors and is now working with holistic pet food makers Castor & Pollux, and Halo, Purely for Pets. Eager to motivate other kids, Mimi asked the site's younger players to write an essay on why their local shelter deserved $1000 worth of food. Mimi received over 400 submissions, and she picked five winners. "We're so exceptionally proud of her," says Kelly. "We're thrilled she's having the impact she wanted to have."

Mimi quickly admits she could not have accomplished all she has without her parents. "It's impossible for a kid to do it all by yourself," she says. "It definitely takes hard work." For readers who have an idea but have difficulty in the execution, Mimi shares some tips. "Just go after it," she says, "even if it seems impossible." Take your time finding sponsors and building your website. Be patient and work hard. "It's like a homework assignment," she says, "but more fun than that."

Mimi — an only child — was finally able to start volunteering at her local shelter, the Humane Society of Central Oregon, when she was 9. At least once a week, she continues to walk the homeless dogs and helps with the cats. An avid equestrian, Mimi is also mom to a golden retriever, Aspen, a cat named Dot and several fish. She envisions one day training horses and founding an animal sanctuary similar to Best Friends in Utah, the country's largest animal refuge.

"I can't imagine where this little girl will go when she's an adult," says Lynne Ouchida of the local shelter where Mimi first sent the coins she collected for strays. "Whatever she sets her heart to, she will accomplish it."

Help raise five times the amount of kibble today! Go to

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Puppy Bowl

Forget about the Colts and Saints. This Sunday, I'm cheering for the puppies!

For the sixth consecutive year, the "Puppy Bowl" on Animal Planet will provide a fluffy and adorable alternative to the Super Bowl. Viewers will watch 43 puppies play on a scaled-down gridiron. And don't worry; a referee will be there to watch out for "unnecessary ruffness." The halftime entertainment will consist of 20 kittens, while bunny cheerleaders will grace the sidelines throughout the game and a blimp will be flown by some very talented hamsters.

In case that doesn't give you enough of the warm fuzzies, chew on this: All of the puppies, kittens, bunnies and hamsters came from shelters and rescue groups that can be found on, and almost all of the animals are of mixed breed. Plus, "Puppy Bowl VI" has earned the American Humane Association's "No Animals Were Harmed"® end-credit disclaimer!

Itching to get in on the action? "Puppy Bowl VI" will run on Animal Planet this Sunday, Feb 7 from 3 to 5 p.m. (EST/PST), and you can bone up on the starting lineup before the opening kickoff. (I think Coco looks like she's got real chops, but I have a feeling Jersey Boy might have some serious moves.) If you can't get the rest of your Super Bowl party to change channels, you're still covered. Animal Planet has five consecutive repeats scheduled.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Interesting Dog Facts

The average American dog will cost its owner approximately $14,600 over its lifetime.

Three percent of Americans shower with their dogs.

Sixty-three percent of pet owners sleep with their pets.

In their first year of life, puppies grow 10 times faster than human infants do.

Sixty percent of pets in Great Britain have some form of health insurance.

One in three dog owners say they've talked to their pets on the phone.

A dog can't hear the lowest key on a piano.

Houdini trained his dog to escape from a pair of miniature handcuffs.

Even bloodhounds can't smell the difference between two identical twins.

The tallest dog on record: Gibson, a Harlequin Great Dane who stands 42.6 inches tall.

In 2003, U.S. postal workers were bitten by dogs 3,423 times.

The basenji is the only dog breed that doesn't bark.

Top four biting dogs: German shepherd, chow chow, collie, and Akita.

Least likely biters: Chihuahua, golden retriever, poodle, Scottish terrier, and Shetland sheepdog.

Border collies are the most intelligent breed. Afghan hounds are the dumbest.

Ten percent of all dalmatians are born deaf.

Bloodhounds are the only animals whose evidence is admissible in U.S. courts.

Dog with the best eyesight: the greyhound.

Dogs are mentioned 14 times in the Bible. Cats aren't mentioned even once.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

5 Tips to Stop Your Dog From Digging

How on earth do you stop your dog from digging holes in your garden, lawn and flower bed? The good news is that you don't have to live on a gopher hill. Use these tips to level the playing field!

Pay attention to the obvious. A bored dog will dig for the mere pleasure of expending energy. Exercise your dog, supply him with chew toys, and provide regular activities to deter him from digging. During warm weather, dogs dig for comfort. The earth is cool and they lie on it to reduce body heat. Make sure that your dog has fresh water and shaded rest area. By instinct, dogs will bury bones and treats. When you distribute these goodies, control the food supply and make sure that excess food items are not smuggled into the backyard.

Research the breed before you buy a dog. If you're looking to adopt a dog and you're worried about digger damage, the solution is simple: Do some research and steer clear of breeds that are predisposed to digging. To some degree, all dogs dig, but some breeds are designed for the task, such as Border collies, terriers, dachshunds and basenjis. As a general rule, smart dogs dig out of boredom, rodent hunters dig out of instinct, and bird dogs dig to bury food.

Catch him in the act. If you already own a dog and he's removing dirt from your backyard with the speed of a rototiller, catch him in the act and reprimand him by immediately going to the hole and firmly saying "No." Point to the hole and remove him, gently but firmly, from the area where he is digging. By repeatedly and consistently rebuking his digging activities, you will curtail such behavior. The important thing to remember is that dogs do not understand cause and effect in the context of time. If you don't catch him in the actual act of digging, your reprimand will mean nothing.

Create a designated digging area. Let's assume that your dog is a compulsive digger who disregards all commands to cease and desist. One solution is to restrict his digging activity to a particular section of the yard. Create a sandbox where digging will be permitted. If you catch your dog digging in another section of the yard, reprimand him on the spot and walk him to the sandbox. Encourage him to dig in the designated area and praise him for doing so.

Make it difficult and unrewarding to dig. If your dog repeatedly digs in a certain area of the yard, introduce some natural deterrents that will inhibit his efforts. For example, plant ground pepper or seed the soil with gravel. If you make it unpleasant and difficult to dig, your dog will usually lose interest. Some dog owners claim that chicken wire, laid horizontally just below the surface of the digging area, is a good deterrent. A proven, but less aesthetic solution, is to drop fresh dog feces in the current hole that your dog is digging. Dogs have no problem marking their territory with urine and feces but they definitely don't want to dig in it.

Remember, most of these solutions are effective but they require persistence and repetition. Be patient and be consistent!

Monday, February 1, 2010

How to Clean Your Dog's Teeth

Humans aren't the only mammals that need to brush their teeth to maintain their oral health. Dogs are at risk for developing many of the same oral diseases, such as plaque and tartar, that can develop in the human mouth as a result of neglected dental hygiene. Tartar causes gingivitis, an inflammation that hurts your dog's gums and eventually progresses to irreversible periodontal disease. At this stage, bacteria growth may be so rampant that it spreads beyond your dog's mouth and into his vital organs via the bloodstream, causing critical -- and often irreparable -- damage.

However, the good news is that with a little home oral care provided by you, plaque build-up can be controlled and reduced before it ever has a chance to cause severe health problems in your pooch. Just follow these simple steps to cleaning your dog's pearly whites:

1. Only use toothpaste sold specifically for dogs. Dogs can't spit and will happily swallow any gunk squirted into their mouths, so never use human toothpaste; it isn't edible for dogs or humans (as many have figured out the hard way).

2. Depending on which tool is the easiest for you to work with, brush your dog's teeth with either a regular human toothbrush, fingerbrush, or a piece of gauze wrapped around your finger. This may take a few sessions of experimenting.

3. Get situated in a position where you can comfortably grasp your dog's muzzle and lift his lips away from the teeth. You'll probably find this step to be tricky on your first attempt, but after several sessions of cleaning your dog's teeth, he'll become more accustomed to how this feels. If you've never done this before, a second human helper can help by either separating your dog's teeth or by soothing him with gentle petting.

4. If you've been to the dentist recently, this one should sound familiar: brush in a circular motion. Be sure that you brush each tooth with several circular revolutions.

5. Thoroughly brush along the gumline; this is the area where the dog's teeth appear to "meet" the gums. This step is necessary to dislodge bacteria that can collect in this region and lead to periodontal disease.

6. Finally, don't forget to brush your dog's back teeth, as these are the teeth and gums on which veterinarians tend to spot the most serious oral health problems.

Other tips:

- Remember to brush your dog's teeth on a regular basis -- at least twice per week -- and to have his teeth evaluated by a veterinarian once every year.

- If unmistakable tartar is already deposited on your dog's teeth, it may need to be removed by a veterinarian through a procedure called scaling.

- Feed your dog a brand of dry dog food and toss him the occasional hard dog biscuit or bone. This will help dislodge stubborn plaque anytime he engages in one of his favorite activities: eating!

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Alyssa Milano Is 'Godmother' to Rescued Dog

A two-legged dog named Scooby-Roo has gone from rags to riches. The stray mutt, who was found under an abandoned car in a gang-ridden neighborhood, has captured the interest of celebrities including Michael Jackson's children, Demi Moore, Shannon Elizabeth, and Alyssa Milano. According to People Pets, the celebs tweeted his photos, asking fans to donate money to fund Roo's rehabilitation at Fuzzy Rescue, the Los Angeles organization responsible for the 11-month-old dog's care.

Actress Alyssa Milano has taken a particular shine to the pup, even inviting him over to her home to hang out with her and her 10 horses. Posh playdate, right? Milano tweets, "I fell in love w/ Scooby Roo. I helped him get wheels. How could I not? He's coming to see me today."

"Milano said he had the most perfect nose, the most beautiful eyes, beautiful coloring," Fuzzy Rescue CEO Sheila Choi said. "We decided she would be his godmother."

Scooby-Roo spends three hours a day in his cart, but is still adjusting to the wheeled life. The wheels help him to strengthen his back legs and get around more easily. He will need life-long therapy including massage, hydro-therapy, and acupuncture.

While the bipedaled pooch is enjoying love from his movie-star patron, he still is in need of a permanent home. For more information and updates, visit Fuzzy Rescue's Web site.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Paige the Border Collie Can Do Your Laundry

Border collies are smart -- this is not news. But not every border collie has the kind of talent (or the star quality) that Paige, the dog in the video above, has. Paige's owner, Lauren Girard of Washington D.C., works with the two-year-old border collie every day for 20 to 30 minutes, using positive reinforcement, to keep the dog's skills sharp.

"First, I started with basic obedience classes, then went into more serious classes," Girard says. "Now we're doing competitive obedience and agility, which is more serious, so the tricks are just something I do on the side. She's so smart that she generally picks them up in just one session. You know the laundry trick? I showed her, she figured it out, and then I filmed it."

Now, if we could only get Girard to work with our dogs!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Pets Welcome at Stetson University

Ah, college. All those tough classes, the crazy parties, the dog walking, the flea-collar-purchasing...

That's right. Florida's Stetson University has tapped one of its dormitories to provide the first pet-friendly housing on campus starting next fall, reports WESH News in Orlando, Fla. School administrators say they believe that students bringing along pets will help relieve the stress of living away from home for the first time. According to Dean of Students Rina Tovar, "If they can bring Fido, or one of the Fidos, the family pet with them to school, it's going to help with that transition and really help with them feeling comfortable."

Stetson's Director of Housing and Residential Life, Justin Williams, says that the pet-friendly housing will be found in Nemec Hall. 36 of Nemec Hall's rooms will be included as part of the program, allowing residents to share space with hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs, mice, rats, cats, and dogs under 30 pounds. The building will even feature a dog park just outside its walls. A pet council will deal with any problems that may arise -- the animal residents fighting like cats and dogs, maybe? No word yet on whether the rooms will be connected by hamster tunnels or plain old human hallways.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Overcoming Grooming Fears: The Hairbrush and the Blowdryer

The condition of your pet's fur may be less than flattering due to their affinity for romping in mud and sifting through garbage cans, but what can you do if your mangy-looking friend is terrified of the grooming tools needed to clean up their act? The razor-toothed hairbrush and loud, scary blowdryer may send many pets bolting to the nearest hiding place, but there are ways to help your pet become accustomed to, and possibly even comfortable with, these grooming necessities.

The Hairbrush
Once you're ready to combat your pet's tangles, put them into proper grooming stance. "While you are brushing your pet, it is often best if it's in a standing position," says Jen Quick, Director of the Fur Institute, a grooming school located in Alberta, Canada. "You can keep them standing by placing one hand between their back legs and resting it on their belly."

Another crucial step in maintaining your pet's patience with grooming is to give them frequent breathers. "You may want to give your pet a little bit of a break if it is taking more than a half hour to remove all tangles from their fur," suggested Quick.

Some animals may become agitated while you're brushing their tangles out, and could wiggle or even try to snap at you. In this situation, "place your hand around the animal's muzzle to keep their mouth closed, and in a stern voice, tell them 'no,'" advised Quick. If your pet continues to bite or growl, you must regain control over the situation. "You can flip them on their back, make eye contact, and tell them 'no,'" said Quick. "Do not break eye contact until they look away first." If all else fails, you may need to muzzle your pet to avoid getting hurt.

It may seem easier to forgo brushing between visits to the groomer, but the benefits outweigh the difficulty of struggling for your furry friend's compliance. If you neglect your pet's fur, it may become matted which "can restrict blood flow and air reaching that area of the skin, and there can be serious health issues," according to Quick.

The Blowdryer
"If your pet is afraid of the blowdryer, they may need to be reintroduced," said Quick. The first step is getting your pet comfortable with being in the vicinity of the blowdryer. This can be done by leaving the blowdryer in an area where the pet spends a lot of time, and it cannot be accidentally turned on. Once the presence of the blowdryer is no longer frightening to your pet, leave it running for a while so they can become accustomed to the noise. "Make sure to have a safe place for your pet to go (like a kennel) if [the noise] scares them," said Quick.

Quick cautions that it may take several attempts, but once your pet is comfortable with the noise of the blowdryer, you can start blowing air onto them. "You always want to start at the back end of the pet and slowly work towards the front, leaving the head last."

When all else fails, treats can often save the day. Acting as a positive distraction, treats will often convince your pet that sticking around to get dried off may not be all bad. "Pets often respond in a positive manner when they are rewarded for doing a good thing," said Quick.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

AKC's Top 10 Most Popular Dogs in the U.S. in 2009

Today, the American Kennel Club released their 2009 registration statistics revealing the top 10 most popular dog breeds in the country. What's the secret to being popular? For dogs in the United States, it's all about safety.

Several of the dog breeds on the list are known for their hard work in keeping the country safe through border patrol, bomb and narcotics detection and searching for missing persons.

Put your paws together for the Labrador retriever who took the title as the #1 most popular purebred in America for the 19th year in a row.

Bumping the Yorkshire terrier out of the number two spot, the bold German shepherd is now the second most popular dog in the nation for the first time in over 30 years.

"Labs have been America's top dog for nearly two decades due to their loyal and gentle nature," said AKC Spokesperson Lisa Peterson. "But the German Shepherd Dog has gained ground recently, quite possibly due to the increased attention they receive for their security efforts at home and abroad."

Did your pooch make the list?

Top 10 Most Popular Dogs in the U.S.
1. Labrador Retriever
2. German Shepherd Dog
3. Yorkshire Terrier
4. Golden Retriever
5. Beagle
6. Boxer
7. Bulldog
8. Dachshund
9. Poodle
10. Shih Tzu

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Homemade Dog Treat Recipe

Peanut Butter Puppy Poppers

2 cups whole-wheat flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 cup peanut butter (chunky or smooth)
1 cup milk

Preheat oven to 375'F. In a bowl, combine flour and baking powder. In another bowl, mix peanut butter and milk, then add to dry ingredients and mix well. Place dough on a lightly floured surface and knead. Roll dough to 1/4 inch thickness and use a cookie cutter to cut out shapes. Bake for 20 minutes on a greased baking sheet until lightly brown. Cool on a rack, then store in an airtight container. --- This is the original recipe, but I have found the cookies burn easily.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Indestructible Dog Toys

Most dogs outgrow the need to chew as puppies, but some have an oral fixation that Freud would find noteworthy. If Fido has jaws of steel and has started eyeing your shoes, here are five of the most indestructible dog toys on the market.

1. Nylabones. Nylabones are dog bones made of durable plastic that is made to smell like bacon or chicken. They come in several different sizes and strengths. Be sure to check the rating on the package to ensure the Nylabone is made for heavy chewing. Nylabones can last for a year or more, although be warned that small pieces can flake off during use. Cost ranges from $5 for puppy bones, up to $16 for heavy-duty Nylabones.

2. Buster Cubes. Buster Cubes are hard plastic cubes that trap dog treats inside. Dogs extract the treats by rolling the cube around the room with their noses and paws, or by picking it up with their teeth and tossing it down. Buster Cubes are often recommended by animal behaviorists because they are ideal for destructive dogs who may be bored in addition to having a strong need to chew. This is also a great toy to break out when company comes over. Fido will be so absorbed with the buster cube, he'll forget to jump on the guests. Cost ranges from $15 up to $20 depending on size purchased.

3. Kong. Kong brand name products are used by police K-9 units and are available in an assortment of indestructible dog toys. From heavy duty rubber bones to hollow cones that can be stuffed with treats, Kong dog toys are built to last. The cones are particularly useful because they not only exercise the jaws, but also provide intellectual stimulation since the dog has to work to get the treats out. For extra fun, stuff the Kong cone with a mixture of dog food and peanut butter. Kong products are rated for specific weight ranges, so know your dog's weight and check the package for the weight range before buying. A large Kong cone costs $9 and will last forever.

4. Everlasting Treat Ball. This product is the winner of the 2007 New York Tails readers' choice award, and is a ball that can be stuffed with treats. The manufacturer sells treats specifically made for the Everlasting Treat Ball, but dog owners can also use their own treats. The bonus with this product is that it can be used not just as a chew toy, but for games of fetch as well. The ball costs $25 and the treat refills are $8.

5. Pig ears and rawhide bones. If all else fails, go with a chew toy that is meant to be destroyed. Pig ears can be purchased in bulk at warehouse stores or pet retailers, and are good for about 15 minutes of entertainment. Rawhide bones will last longer. When purchasing rawhide bones, look for the ones made in the U.S., as imported rawhides are sometimes cured with arsenic which is poisonous for dogs. Supervise the use of rawhide bones, and ensure water is available to prevent choking. Pig ears are sold in packages of 24 or 40 and prices range from $18 up to $30. Rawhide bones can be purchased individually or in bulk and cost from $5 up to $30.

For safety, always supervise dogs while chewing and inspect chew toys regularly for signs of wear and tear.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Lowdown on Doggie Shedding

Most dogs shed. Even the ones that the breeder or pet store call "no shed dogs" are still bound to leave some fur behind. It's a nuisance, but it is the small price we pay for our pet's love and companionship.

Still, shedding raises many questions: Why do dogs seem to shed more in winter? Does heavy shedding indicate a health problem? Is it possible to prevent or reduce shedding? Dr. Donna Spector, a board-certified veterinary Internal Medicine specialist from VCA Animal Hospital gives us the lowdown on the shed.

Do dogs shed more in the winter?
Dogs appear to shed more in the winter, however, this is most often an illusion! Most dogs shed year-round. In the winter these dogs spend more time indoors and therefore owners tend to see more hair, giving the impression that they are shedding more. Some breeds do indeed have a seasonal shedding pattern and they tend to lose their heavier winter undercoat in the spring.

Can brushing your dog reduce shedding?
Shedding is an expected part of dog ownership and the hair is going to fall out one way or another. It is best to remove it and throw it away, rather than to let the hair fall out all over your house! I recommend brushing your dog once daily. Brushing cleans the coat, removes loose hair and stimulates the oil glands of the skin to keep skin soft and supple, which is especially important during the dry winter months.

It is also important to not bathe your dog too frequently as this can be very drying to the skin. Do not bathe more than once weekly and choose a natural and fragrance-free shampoo that doesn't strip the coat of natural oils.

Does dog diet affect shedding?
It is important that your dog is eating a complete and well-balanced diet to insure no nutrient deficiencies are contributing to hair loss or dry skin. Supplemental fatty acids (commonly provided as fish oils) can often improve the quality of the skin and hair coat.

Which brushes work best?
There are three basic brush types and your veterinarian can help you choose the brush that is right for your dog. Bristle brushes can be used on all coat types, and in general, the longer the hair coat, the more widely spaced and longer the bristles should be. Wire-pin brushes (with or without rubber ends) are the best choice for dogs with medium to long hair and those dogs with curly or very thick coats. Slicker brushes have very fine wire bristles and are useful for removing tangles.

Combs can also be used and are often helpful for removing mats. Curry-type combs are great for massaging the skin and removing loose hair from short-haired dogs.

Can shedding be a sign of disease?
Medical conditions such as skin infections, cancer, mange, ringworm, and even hormonal problems can cause increased shedding. If your dog has abnormal amounts of shedding and hair loss, leading to thin hair and bald spots, be sure to see your veterinarian.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Cute Pet of the Day

Once I saw these dog BFFs, I couldn't resist; I had to pick two Cute Pets of the Day! Olive (basset hound) and Tootsie (miniature dachshund) simply warm my heart!

Thanks for the picture Monica.

Friday, January 22, 2010

How to Calm a Noise-Wary Dog

Some dogs, like some people, are more nervous or neurotic than others. Depending on his personality, your dog might be sent into a panic by thunderstorms, fireworks, or even just commotion in your home. Here are some tips and tricks to help owners of anxious dogs soothe their pet's worries away.

Don't play along
One of the worst things you can do for your panicked dog is agree with him. If he is shaking, panting, and trying to climb into your lap, do not commiserate with him, and do not use your "poor baby" voice. The dog will be convinced he really is in danger; otherwise, you wouldn't be so concerned. To calm your dog, you must be calm. In your normal speaking voice, say "Hey, Pooch, where's your ball?" Or, "Hey, fella, want a treat?" Your calm demeanor will show your dog that everything's fine.

Make more noise
White noise, that is. White noise may have a calming effect on your dog. During a storm, turn on the TV, the fan, the dryer, any or all of the everyday noises your dog is used to. Close the curtains and shut the door to the room he is in, and he can pretend he's safe in his den.

Pressure your dog to remove stress
It may sound unusual, but many dog owners swear by putting a tight t-shirt on their dog to calm it. You could use an old t-shirt that you already have, or if you feel like spending some extra dollars, you can buy your pooch a special shirt of his very own: the Thundershirt is specifically designed to hug your dog and apply all-over pressure to help him calm down, stop shaking, and even stop barking maniacally.

Sing your dog's troubles away
Dogs have been proven to calm down within 15 seconds of hearing the same music that lulls fussy babies to sleep. This video shows how lullabies recorded to the beat of a human heart work to soothe dogs just as well as human babies. It's called "music heartbeat therapy." You can even try a demo at

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Got Milk Bone?

Sour or not, milk can be a total downer when your enjoyment of the delicious dairy beverage is tainted by the site of a missing child on the back of the carton. You were just like, Man, I love this milk! Then all of a sudden the world becomes a sad, sad place as you push the glass away, thinking about social injustice and wronged parents.

Good news, though: The same doesn't have to be the case for your prized pup! In fact, if your pooch likes his Milk Bones straight from the box, now you can get his adorable mug printed right on the packaging! For $23.99 (plus shipping and handling), a personalized Milk Bone box will feature your little canine guy or gal's proud grin every time you reach for a treat.

In other words: Who needs milk after all? Just tack on "bone," and you'll have yourself the cutest pet-food packaging you could ever imagine. Hasta la vista, depressing dairy products!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

How to Help Animals for Free

When the economy suffers, people suffer, and unfortunately, so do pets. Many folks would like to help animals, but think they can't because they don't have the means or the money-yet that couldn't be further from the truth. There are various ways to help animals that are free and easy-right in your own community-or right from your own computer. Here are some ways.

Step 1 - Click daily on these websites: The Animal Rescue Site, Care2's Race for Pets in Need, Freekibble and Freekibblekat. Each click is completely free. On Freekibble and Freekibblekat you get to answer a trivia question-and the cool part is-even if you miss it-you'll still help feed homeless pets just by clicking-plus you'll learn some interesting facts about doggies and kitties.

Step 2 - Use the search engine, and every time you do, you will help generate funds for the ASPCA and other organizations that help homeless pets. You can also make dogpile your home page if you like. The more you search, the more they rescue-and it won't cost you a penny.
Step 3 - Post pictures and information about homeless pets that are up for adoption in your community on your website, MySpace, Facebook,, Adopt a and on Craigslist. Craigslist prohibits selling pets, but allows you to list pets that are up for adoption if you charge a small fee ("free to a good home" ads are discouraged to prevent animals from falling into the wrong hands). The Internet has proven to be a valuable (and free) tool for getting homeless pets adopted.

Step 4 - Link your grocery club card to an animal organization. Most supermarkets have savings cards with a percentage of whatever you spend going to the community organization you designate. Many of them have animal organizations on the list.

Step 5 - Donate blankets and towels to your local animal shelter (especially during winter), so the pets won't have to sleep on a cold, cement floor. There is an organization in Southern California called Operation Blankets of Love that is dedicated to this and they hope to branch out nationwide, or you might start a similar drive in your area.

Step 6 - Find out what's on your local shelter's wish list and donate some items. Needs may include: paper towels, newspaper, dog and cat toys, pet food, cleaning products, rubber tubs and collars/leashes.

Step 7 - Clean out your closets for animals. Many cities and towns have thrift stores that benefit animal organizations and rescues. Find out which ones do in your area and take over that stuff that's just been sitting there accumulating dust. Many organizations will pick up your items.

Step 8 - Donate your time and love to a local animal shelter or rescue. The lonely animals will sure appreciate you until they hopefully find homes. You can help walk dogs or socialize cats, and some shelters need help cleaning cages and with computer work. If you are a dog trainer you might also offer your services to help get the dogs more adoptable. Then there are many organizations that hold mobile adoptions and need volunteers to help transport animals to the events, as well as people to work the events.

Step 9 - Visit the website of an organization such as Best Friends Animal Society or North Shore Animal League to find out about volunteer opportunities. You can also periodically check the websites of the major animal organizations to find out about the latest campaigns and sign up to receive action alerts.

Step 10 - Lobby your local elected officials concerning animal issues, participate in boycotts and demonstrations and educate people you know. There are different ways to do it. For example, you can boycott pet stores that sell dogs and cats and tell everyone you know to do the same. With the millions that are destroyed each year, there is no need to sell animals. Aside from the fact that the overwhelming majority of dogs (almost all) sold in pet stores are from puppy mills, factory-like breeding operations that keep their breeding dogs in cramped cages for most of their lives and discard them when they're done. You can also organize a pet store protest, which isn't hard to do, or join one in your area.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


You can easily learn how to make dog toys out of sticks and rags! They'll cost you nothing except a little time to gather materials and put them together.

Comet enjoys these because they move in unpredictable ways. They can be good temporary chomp toys but do not leave your dog alone with them. Watch carefully to make sure your dog doesn't swallow the material.


•15 to 30 minutes per toy
•Colored tape
•A large old T-shirt or equivalent
•Sticks, 1 /2 to 1 inch (15 to 25mm) in diameter, about a foot long
Note: Green sticks that bend rather than break, are preferable, and crooked sticks rather than totally straight add a little extra fun. If the ends are really pointed, saw them off to blunt them.


Comet's got a tight grip on his Crossie!


Take two sticks and for each stick do the following:

•Cut/tear strips about 2 inches (5 cm) wide and as long as possible from the T-shirt ([If you tear horizontally you'll get the longest pieces]
•Take a strip of rag and lay the stick on it
•Wrap lengthwise a couple of times, covering the ends of the stick
•Tightly wind the rest of your strip around the stick and wrapping
•When that strip ends, start with another, overlapping the ends
•Keep on with another strip or two, remembering to wrap tightly
•Tuck the last end under previous wraps, using a knife to help
•For a decorative touch, apply plastic tape around the ends
•When you have both sticks firmly wrapped, lay them crosswise and use another strip of rag to bind them firmly together in the middle
We hope this one showed you it's not difficult to learn how to make homemade dog toys. Are you ready for the next one?
The following Triangle toy is similar, only you'll need three sticks. Comet really enjoys chewing on this one because he can hold onto it so well with his paws.



•Take three sticks and wrap each of them per the Crossie above
•Lay the sticks in a triangle, leaving about 2 inches (5 cm) sticking out at the ends
•Wrap each corner firmly, going around and between each stick
•To finish off, tie a knot and tuck the ends under a wrap
•When you have all three angles done, add tape as desired
Uses: Play fetch by throwing or rolling along the ground or give to your puppy to chew on (under supervision only)

Thanks for being willing to learn how to make dog toys! (The first time I typed that it came out as "hog" toys - maybe they'll work for a pet pig too!)

Monday, January 18, 2010

Can Dogs See in Color?

Ever wonder whether dogs see in color like humans do, or only in black and white? Does it matter to your dog if you humiliate him by making him wear a blue sweater, or will a yellow one be just as humiliating? Modern science has the answer:

Dogs see in color, but not very well.

Eyes have two cells that receive light: rods and cones. Rods tell us how bright or dim a light is, i.e. how "white" or "black" it is. Cones tell us what color the light is. Humans have three kinds of cones that each detect color at different wavelengths, which are basically yellow, violet, and green. Just like old television sets have little squares of blue, green, and red to make up the full picture, every color we see is a combination of cones working at different intensities.

Color blind humans are missing one type of cone. Dogs only have two types of cones, the yellow and the violet, so technically, all dogs are color blind by human standards. For dogs, orange, yellow, and green are seen as yellow, blue-green is seen as white, red is seen as close to black, and there is little distinction between the blues as they get darker.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

It's Bacon

How cute is this little guy?! And what a cute name for a dog! In honor of Bacon's name, I though it'd only be appropriate for a dog treat recipe involving bacon! Behold the Bacon Flavored Dog Biscuit Treats:


5 cups Whole wheat flour
1 cup Milk
2 Eggs
10 tablespoon Vegetable oil or bacon fat
1 pinch Onion or garlic powder
1 teaspoon Salt
1/2 cup Cold water
1 tablespoon Vegetable oil to grease pan

Mix all ingredients well. Pinch off pieces of the dough and roll them into two-inch balls. Bake biscuits at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes. Let them cool, then store in an airtight container.

Originally from the Humane Society of Santa Clare Co., Santa Clara, CA.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Rescued Dog Surprises Rescuer With Puppies

Atlanta's Gary DeNicola was a perfectly normal single-dog-owning man before he found a small dog in the middle of an intersection back in September. While everyone else ignored Ruby (named by DeNicola later for the color of her coat), DeNicola did what we all would like to do: He put her in his car and took her home, as reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. But little did DeNicola know that he could have taken the carpool lane that day. Ruby was preggers.

After coming home, DeNicola put Ruby in the backyard to avoid confrontation with his other dog, Tiger. But DeNicola had his own confrontation to make. "At that point, I actually felt a kick and put two and two together and realized [Ruby] was pregnant," he told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. More likely, he felt a chorus line of kicks. Ruby soon gave birth to nine puppies.

Drowning in a sea of fur and cuteness, DeNicola called local shelters in Atlanta, but was unable to find one willing to take the puppies; all of the area shelters were already overcrowded. The best he could find was a place that would take them only if they were already vaccinated. Instead, he made a pen in his basement to house the pups, and has been caring for them ever since.

For now, DeNicola has no plans to keep Ruby or her puppies. He is taking them to get their shots this week, and he intends to find each one of them healthy, happy homes. If you are interested in adopting one of DeNicola's puppies, he gives his e-mail address in the original article. For now, we at Paw Nation commend this modest hero for helping an animal in need.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Hilary Swank Helps Homeless Pets

The Oscar winner supports the program that has found homes for over three million animals. Ever since second grade, when she persuaded her mother to let her adopt gerbils named Joe and Moe, Swank has been obsessed with animals. She discovered her dog Rumi at L.A.'s East Valley Animal Care Center in 2008, and she rescued her other dog, Karoo, from the streets of South Africa six hears ago. "They've brought me love and so much happiness," she says. Last year she helped spread that joy by becoming the ambassador for the Iams Home 4 the Holidays program, which finds families to take in pets. "When you hear that so many people want to bring an animal into their lives and a staggering eight million need to be adopted, you think, How can we bring them together?" Swank says. the connection can be magical: "You go to the animal shelter, and in the end, the animals choose you more than you choose them".

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Help animals in Haiti

At the risk of being accused of putting animals before humans, here are some resources for helping animals affected by the earthquake in Haiti:

Brad Shear, executive director of the Mohawk and Huson River Human Society, recommends donating to the World Society for the Protection of Animals, which he says has been helping animals for a long time and needs assistance now.

The Humane Society of the United States is also assessing how it can help and is accepting donations.

The Christian Veterinary Mission, whose mission is to improve the care of livestock and other animals, has set up a dedicated fund for earthquake relief.

Heifer International has put on an emergency appeal for funds.

The American Veterinary Medical Foundation has an ongoing disaster relief fund.

Know of any other ways to help? Share them here.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Tillman the Skateboarding Dog Plays Video Games Too

By now, the antics of Tillman the skateboarding bulldog is the stuff of Internet yore. It is history, never to be rewritten, but rather to remain in the annals of online ephemera until the World Wide Web's last dying day--

Whoops, my bad. Here's Tillman playing a skateboarding video game (really well, obviously).

Skateboarding Dog Plays Video Game - The best video clips are here

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Sweaters for Shelter Dogs: You Can Help!

I love stories about people finding new ways to help needy pets, so when I heard about the Save the Dogs From the Chill Project, my tail got to wagging.

The Save the Dogs From the Chill Project takes donations of old sweaters and re-purposes them for dogs in shelters, something that's particularly important this winter when temperatures all across the country are reaching record lows. Even the southern states are seeing below-freezing temperatures, and not all shelters have indoor areas for all their dogs.

You can keep tabs on the project's progress on their blog . And, of course, you can send your own used sweaters (or check your local Goodwill to scoop some up on the cheap) to the address in this post. Come on, you're never going to wear that ugly Christmas sweater again, are you? Lend a paw to a dog in need!

Monday, January 11, 2010

10 Reasons Older People Need Pets

As the new year unfolds, one of the best resolutions you can make—and keep—is to call your local animal shelter and make arrangements to see if there is a stray dog or cat that you can take into your home. Having a pet helps seniors stay invested in life. Particularly if you live alone, pets counter loneliness and help you continue to focus on what's going on around you.

There is no one pet perfect for everyone. Maybe you've always had a thing for songbirds and want to be awakened with a melody each morning (but not one that comes from an alarm clock). Or perhaps it's exotic fish or some other creature you can care for. My son has taken a powerful liking to chinchillas, and he says that if you can locate a social chinchilla, you will have found the perfect pet. The point is to find a pet that is right for you.

Although there is no perfect pet, I will promptly alienate millions of pet lovers by saying that a dog is the best choice for many people. Dogs and people develop deep emotional ties, and dogs are great companions. They will literally lay down their lives to protect you. Most ask for little in return except to be where you are and to get an occasional pat or scratch behind the ear.

Most people advise older pet owners to consider a smaller dog. Big dogs can be more than a handful. Maybe you can't get out to walk the dog as often as you should. Smaller dogs don't require as much exercise. And when you take the dog for a walk, it's nice to walk it and not be taken for a walk, which can easily happen with a larger dog. Maybe you live in a small home or apartment and don't want a big dog taking over your living space. You may prefer a dog that's not high strung and is calmer around the house. Here's a list of small dogs selected to meet these requirements, drawn from similar lists provided at and Pet Connect:

•Cocker spaniel
•Shih tzu
•Toy poodle
•Yorkshire terrier

If you haven't already set out for the pet store or shelter, here are 10 reasons to do so:

Companionship. Loneliness can become an unwelcome companion as we age and can lead to depression as well as physical problems. Dogs mold their schedule and personality to you. They are never unavailable or off duty. Smaller dogs, in particular, can easily travel.

Having a routine. The routine of caring for a pet can bring structure and purpose to daily life. Maybe you don't always want to get out of bed, but your pet wants you to. Isn't that a good thing?

Exercise. People benefit from regular physical exercise regardless of their age. But it is hard to get into a regular exercise routine, and it's so very easy to skip it. Having a dog can be a great way to make walking a part of your daily plan.

Less stress. Older people with pets tend to exhibit less stress than those without. Maybe it's those regular walks or the sense that you've got a friend to share life's challenges. Or maybe it's that tail wagging you see very day when you wake up.

Getting out. Having a pet, particularly one that requires regular outdoor activity, helps you stay connected to life. You go for veterinary checkups, and perhaps you visit a dog groomer. You need to be involved in social activities.

Making new friends. There are lots of shared activities for pet owners, ranging from communal walks to charitable events and other organizations that cater to animals and protecting the environment. It can be hard to meet new people, but pets are great icebreakers.

New interests. A pet can expose you to new interests and activities. Maybe it's cleaning up the neighborhood park where you walk your dog. Some hospitals seek pet owners who will volunteer to bring in their pets to spend time with patients.

Protection. A dog can provide significant security. Potential thieves will stay away from a home with a barking dog. Your watchdog may weigh only 8 pounds soaking wet, but the person on the other side of the door doesn't know that.

Taking care of something. Sure, you need your pet. Your pet needs you, too. The need to be useful and of value doesn't magically disappear when your career ends or your kids grow up and build their own independent lives. It is very satisfying to take care of another living creature.

Investing in life. At the end of the day, having a pet means that you have made a promise to continue being involved in another life. This commitment is one of the most positive decisions you can make as you get older.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

How to Meet a Dog Lover

If you love dogs, it would be nice to meet someone who loves dogs too. Especially if your dog is a significant part of your life--you'll want your significant other to appreciate him as much as you do. Love me, love my dog...right? Here are some ways to go about catching a dog lover.

Step 1 - Visit the Mecca for dog lovers--of course, we're talking about the dog park. Chances are, people who make the effort to load their dogs into the car and are willing to travel just so their pooches can have leash-free activity and socialization are lovers of dogs. There have been many instances of people unleashing their dog only to find themselves leashing a mate.

Step 2 - Go over and compliment the dog of someone who strikes your fancy. If he says, "Thanks, we found him as a stray" and then his boyfriend comes over to join him, move on to your next target.

Step 3 - Find someone who has the same type of dog you have or a breed of dog you're familiar with. This could indicate someone with similar tastes and a compatible personality. It will be a great icebreaker, plus, he (she) will be impressed that you know so much about their dog. If you have a mixed breed dog that you rescued and the object of your affections (lust) has a mixed breed rescue dog, you will have that in common and can discuss why people continue to breed or buy dogs from pet stores when there are so many animals that need homes. Then you'll look into each other's eyes--and the rest will just fall into place.

Step 4 - Enroll your dog in doggie daycare. If you see a cute Boxer with an equally cute owner, make sure you pick up your dog at the same time each day. Eventually you can ask him (her) where they're headed (chances are it's home, since they have their dog). That should be their cue to invite you to a cafe with a dog friendly patio or to a place that has "yappy hour" (a dog friendly happy hour).

Step 5 - Join an online dating service and make sure to specify you're a dog lover. If possible, mention your dog in your bio. There are online dating services specifically for pet lovers (, DateMyPet, PetPeopleMeet). There is also Craigslist for meeting local dog lovers.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Angels Gate Hospice

A few days ago I wrote about Rachel Ray's Mutt Madness contest. The $50,000 winner was Angels Gate Hospice.

Angel's Gate is a home for special needs animals. Their website states that "animals, many of whom are terminally and/or critically ill or physically challenged, come to live out their days in peace, dignity and love. Our focus is on wellness and quality of life. We provide for the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of each animal. We take a holistic approach in animal care, giving all needed supportive services including hospice care.

If you come to visit our home you're likely to be impressed with the vitality of our family members even though they are "special needs" animals. Many require physical therapy, medical attention and nursing care. They may have cancer, liver or kidney disease, paralyses, blindness, deafness, diabetes, neurological or seizure disorders, orthopedic or geriatric problems. Still the overall impression is one of vibrant life and peaceful living. Most dogs and cats are active and relate in socially positive ways.

Currently, at our home we care for nearly 400 individuals of many species. These include dogs, cats, parrots, ponies, ducks, swan, pigeons, geese, chickens and rabbits. Dogs and cats receive a raw food natural diet (B.A.R.F. diet) specially prepared by a local butcher.

Our animals are a part of the Angel's Gate household. Most are free to roam their home and/or the spacious back yard. Dogs and cats are not crated. Only the parrots are caged. The water fowl, chickens and pigeons are penned at night for their protection.

There is never a fee when we adopt an animal with special needs. We depend solely on supporter contributions which come to us from all over the United States. We even have supporters from as far away as Canada, France, Germany ,The Netherlands, Africa and many from Japan.

Angel's Gate has relocated from Long Island to our 100 acre farm in the town of Delhi, which is located in beautiful Delaware County NY."

To see the Rachel Ray clip, Click here.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Burned Pupppy Has a New Home and New Purpose

For months, concerned North Carolina citizens and animal lovers across the nation have been following the saga of Susie, a puppy found in a Greensboro park with burns on 60 percent of her body. An employee at the shelter where animal control brought the dog said she had severe burns over her back, belly, and head, plus some broken bones, and wounds that were infected with maggots, reports the WFMY News in Greensboro.

At first no one knew who had set the 3-month-old pup on fire, but a Crimestoppers tip led to the arrest of Lashawn Demaro Whitehead, 20.

Over the course of Susie's recovery, volunteers at the Guilford Animal Shelter used Twitter to keep her growing community of fans up to date on her progress. Hundreds of people came forward to try to adopt her, but the shelter wanted to make absolutely sure that the dog, who has obviously already been through a lot, would go to just the right home.

Now, finally, Susie has a new family. According to WFMY News, she has been adopted by Donna Lawrence, owner of Greensboro's Kutting Edge Hair Salon. Lawrence, who was attacked by a pit bull last year, said, "I think my story compared to her story, being attacked by a human. We both had to overcome our fears so that kind of attracted me to her."

"She's doing good, she is happy, she's energetic, she loves being in my back yard, she plays with my other dog, my cat -- so she's doing great," Lawrence said. She brings Susie to work with her at the salon, in part to socialize the dog with people. As she explained, "I want to use her for a therapy dog eventually to help with burn victims or cancer."

Marsha Williams, the owner of Guilford Animal Shelter, told Paw Nation that many people had volunteered to take Susie after reading about her story, but that their goal was to find someone who really wanted her for who she was. She went on to say, "We talk to Donna [Susie's new owner] almost every day. We had to send over a trainer to teach Donna how to interact with Susie so that she would respect Donna as leader in the house. When Susie decided it was her house she wanted to be dominant. You can't feel sorry for her and baby her. You have to treat her like any other dog."

Susie's new owner and the shelter plan to work together to use Susie as an advocate for animal cruelty prevention and education programs, and as a therapy dog.

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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Breath Bustin' Biscuits

Because everyone needs minty fresh breath!

• 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
• 1 1/2 cups Bisquick® baking mix
• 1/2 cup mint leaves -- loosely packed
• 1/4 cup milk
• 4 tablespoons margarine
• 1 egg
• 1 1/2 tablespoons maple syrup -- or corn syrup

Combine all ingredients in food processor, process until well mixed, mint is chopped, and a large ball forms. Press or roll on non-stick surface (floured board or ceramic) to a thickness of 1/4-1/2". Cut into 1x2" strips or with bone-shaped cookie cutter and place on non-stick cookie pan. Bake at 375° for 20 minutes or until lightly browned.
Cool and store in air-tight container.
Makes about 30 medium biscuits.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Golden Retriever Saves Boy from Cougar

The 11-year-old boy didn’t have time to react — and barely enough time to realize that a cougar was flying toward him with dinner on its mind. Luckily for Austin Forman, his dog, Angel, threw herself between her best friend and a lethal predator.

Never was a dog more appropriately named than the 18-month-old golden retriever who nearly gave her life to save Austin Sunday in Bar Boston, a small Canadian town some 150 miles north of Vancouver, British Columbia.

“She was my best friend, but now she’s even greater to me. She’s more than a best friend now,” Austin told TODAY’s Matt Lauer Tuesday morning from his home, where he was joined by his mother, Sherri Forman, and Royal Canadian Mounted Police Constable Chad Gravelle, who shot the cougar and saved Angel.

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“We’re really lucky that he was saved by an angel. That’s exactly what it was. There’s no other word for it,” Jay Forman, Austin’s father, told NBC News.

Around 5:30 Sunday evening, Austin went out with a wheelbarrow to bring in wood to feed the family’s wood-burning furnace. At that hour at that northern latitude, it was already dark.

Angel went along with Austin, and the boy found it curious that instead of playfully galumphing around the yard as she normally did, the dog stayed close by his side. He would shortly learn that there was a reason for her actions.

Austin was a few feet from the woodshed when he saw the cougar, which he first assumed was another dog. Although cougars inhabit the surrounding forests, they usually stay away from towns.

There was a light in the backyard, and when the animal got under it, Austin saw it was a cougar getting ready to pounce from less than 10 feet away. But just as the animal leaped, Angel came to the rescue.

“The dog knew something was up, because she ran toward me just at the right time, and the cougar ended up getting her instead,” Austin said. “I was just lucky my dog was there, because it happened so fast I wouldn’t have known what hit me.”

The cougar clamped its jaws around Angel’s head. Frantic, Austin screamed for his mother and ran inside the house, yelling, “There’s a cougar eating Angel!”

Sherri Forman looked out the window and saw the cougar on the patio with Angel’s head in its mouth. It didn’t look good for the heroic pet. Angel, Sherri said, was “whining and making noises like we’ve never heard before. We knew that cougar was killing our dog.”

She called her father-in-law, Lloyd Forman, and he told her to call 911.

Boston Bar is a small town of fewer than 1,000 people about 150 miles outside of Vancouver in British Columbia. It’s the kind of place where everybody knows everybody else, and that applies to Constable Chad Gravelle, who was finishing up the day’s paperwork when he got the call at his office less than a block away from the Forman home.

The 911 dispatcher told Gravelle that a cougar was attacking a young boy. When the constable took down the address and family name, he knew immediately that the boy could only be Austin Forman.

He rushed to the home, thinking that Austin’s life was in danger. When he arrived, “One of their daughters ran out on the porch and said, ‘Hurry up, Chad, the cougar’s got our dog,’ ” Gravelle said. “At that point, I was a little bit more relieved that Austin was OK because I know he’s the only young boy in this house. Now we only had to deal with the dog.”

Gravelle drew his sidearm and went out the back door. He saw the cougar’s tail extending out from underneath the porch. Although he had a flashlight, it was dark and hard to see, and Gravelle was dealing with a deadly animal in a confined space.

“The dog and the cougar were all kind of tangled up as one unit,” he said. But he was able to see the big cat’s hindquarters and fired one shot, hoping to sever the animal’s spine.

When the cougar kept up its attack on Angel, Gravelle moved around to get in front of the cougar, which was less than 6 feet away.

“It was really dark out, and I was just trying to line up my shot as best I could. I could just see about two or three inches of the cougar’s head sticking out from behind Angel, and luckily I was able to get a good shot off,” Gravelle said.

“Without him, there’s no way Angel would have survived,” Sherri said. “The sounds had all stopped, and it was just a matter of seconds. The timing was perfect.”

The shot killed the cougar and missed Angel, but the cat still had its jaws around the dog’s head.

“The cougar had its mouth over the top of the dog’s mouth, trying to suffocate it, blood all over the animal,” Comkin told NBC News. “And out of nowhere, the dog breathed a gasp of air, just like it comes back from being dead, and just spits up blood. And I’m looking at her, and I’m holding her, and I’m like, she’s going to be all right.”

From being all but dead, Angel went back to romping around the backyard, her head covered in blood. The Formans took her to a veterinarian, where she was treated for extensive — but not life-threatening — injuries.

“She had surgery yesterday afternoon,” Sherri told Lauer. “She was in for about an hour in surgery: extensive injuries to her head. Her skull was fractured, and they had to piece it together along with numerous other wounds. We’re hopeful for a full recovery.”

Angel was expected to return home as early as Tuesday to a hero’s welcome and a thank-you present purchased especially for her by her best friend.

“I bought her a big, nice juicy steak,” Austin told Lauer.