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!