31 October 2007

Safety Tips for a Pet Safe Howl-O-Ween

I know you've all heard this many times before, but considering that today is Halloween, you should be extra attentive to your dog, and you can do so with these safety tips for your pet found on startribune.com. Just because Halloween is filled with tricks and treats, doesn't mean your doggie should be chowing down on those chocolate bars! Keep these tips in mind for your pet this Howl-O-Ween:

1. Chocolate is dangerous for dogs and cats. Tin foil and cellophane candy wrappers can be hazardous if swallowed.

2. Pumpkins and decorative corn can produce gastrointestinal upset or intestinal blockage if ingested.

3. Keep wires and cords from electric lights and other decorations out of reach.

4. Use caution so that pets don't knock over a candlelit pumpkin or get burned.

5. If you decide to put a costume on your pet, please do so with caution.

6. Make sure the pet's costume isn't constricting the animal's movement or hearing, or impede her ability to breathe or bark. Monitor or remove small, dangling, or easily chewed-off pieces on the costume.

7. Make sure your pet's costume does not obstruct her vision. Even the sweetest animals can get snappy when they can't see.

8. All but the most social dogs and cats should be kept in a separate room during peak trick-or-treat visiting hours. Too many strangers can be scary and stressful for pets.

9. When opening the door for trick-or-treaters, take care that your pet doesn't dart outside.

10. Always make sure your pet has proper identification of a collar with tags and/or a microchip.

Angel the Dog Saves Girl from Abduction

Angel, a nine-month-old Jack Russell terrier, showed that she definitely is an angel by being a guardian angel over a nine-year-old girl. Andres Brown, a Florida man, said Angel saved his daughter from being abducted.

Brown’s daughter took Angel outside in the yard to use the bathroom when a man decided to grab the girl. But Angel stepped in to save her. Angel attacked the man and jumped on top of him, and the girl began screaming and was able to escape. The man finally ran away.Way to go Angel!

30 October 2007

Dogs Stop Poachers

Game wardens in Kansas are using the natural hunting abilities in dogs to help catch poachers.

The wardens are training Labrador Retrievers to sniff out evidence against hunters who shoot more than their limit of game birds or illegally kill deer. The dogs complete a 400 hour course before going on the field to find stashed game, such as ducks buried in mud or deer antlers hidden in a vehicle. Dogs in the program are trained to recognize that their shift begins when the wardens buckle the working collars and harnesses on them.

The highly specialized dogs are trained to ignore their instinct to fetch and bark at the find instead, so evidence isn’t damaged. Isn't it amazing what dogs can do?

26 October 2007

James, a Stylin' Dog Clothes Horse

James is one handsome guy who knows how to work his outfits! Tim Gunn would be so proud. Here's a picture of James wearing his royal outfit, complete with a gold crown and a very stately expression.

25 October 2007

Contest Honors Dog's Story of Survival

Life didn’t start out easy for a dog named Rummy. The Siberian Husky was so severely neglected that a Houston SPCA K9 investigator removed him from his owner’s care after he was found blind, emaciated, and missing clumps of hair. He was later diagnosed with mange, heartworms, roundworms, hookworms, and whipworms.

Rummy was taken to Husky Haven, a Siberian Husky rescue organization, where he recovered from the abhorrent conditions he was found in. Today, Rummy is a trusting, lively and fearless dog with a thick coat of hair who loves people and loves to be petted. Although he’s blind, he walks without fear, and an unknowing eye would find if difficult to distinguish Rummy from a dog who can see.

Rummy’s somber, yet heartwarming story gained attention after a Husky Haven volunteer, Angie Claussen, submitted his tale of survival to Purina Pro Plan’s “Doing More for Pets” contest as part of its Rally to Rescue campaign. Contest officials were scouting for survival stories from rescue organizations in an effort to promote awareness as well as the untold stories of rescued pets and the people who help them.

Approximately 100 stories were submitted and 10 finalists were chosen. All of the finalists received a year’s supply of Pro Plan pet food and a trip to Los Angeles for the grand prize winner announcement ceremony, which took place Oct. 12, 2007. “CSI: Miami” actress Emily Proctor joined Purina officials to recognize the finalists and reveal the winner. Proctor has been involved with the contest from the beginning, and helped choose the 10 finalists.

“I’ve known these animals’ stories for the last year and to get to know them is so special,” Proctor said. “I’ve rescued animals my whole life and so they asked if I’d like to be involved. People always say, ‘Oh, is it fun being on a show and traveling around?’ But I have to say it’s the perks of the job like this that make the entire experience. I love animals so much. It’s so nice to be asked to help.”

The grand prize winner was chosen by popular vote via Purina’s Rally to Rescue website. After more than 20,000 votes, Rummy finished on top. Rummy’s win means Purina will donate $5,000 worth of Pro Plan dog food to Husky Haven. Rummy’s new owner is Husky Haven volunteer Lisa Goebel. After Rummy was named the grand prize winner, Goebel humbly expressed her gratitude, but her sunglasses couldn’t disguise the tears of joy that overcame her after the announcement.

“This contest has just done so much for our rescue group,” Goebel expressed. “Our rescue group is all volunteers. We were about to go downhill. And then this contest came about and it has brought us so much publicity. This contest essentially saved Husky Haven.”

The “Doing More for Pets” campaign is an extension of the Purina Pro Plan Rescue campaign, which is dedicated to raising funds and awareness for pet rescue nationwide. The contest kicked off the annual Pro Plan Rally Across America tour. For more info go to rallytorescue.org

24 October 2007

Constant Licking Sign of OCD in Dogs

As found on gazettes.com, dogs may have emotional or behavioral disorders that in many ways are similar to human compulsive disorders. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is characterized by behaviors that are repetitive, constant and seem to have no obvious purpose.

There are many reasons why OCD may occur in dogs. These may include anxiety, boredom, stress, conflict or fear. Often these disorders cause your dog to chew up your shoes (usually your favorite ones) or bark for hours on end. Sometimes dogs will internalize their disorder and have self-destructive behavior. In small dogs, the most common type of OCD is a compulsive chewing of the front paws and nails, while larger dogs tend to develop lick granulomas, or self-trauma resulting from excessive chewing. These lesions often become infected and in some cases may even turn cancerous.

Similar to nail biting in people, it is believed that the pain from licking and chewing releases endorphins. Endorphins are hormones that the body produces and are similar to morphine. Anyone who has ever experienced runner’s high will understand. These hormones are very addictive. Also, there is evidence that some breeds and family lines of dogs may simply be more predisposed to this behavior. Physiological causes such as genetics or localized skin infection may be to blame and should not be confused with OCD. Arthritis and joint pain can attract the dog’s attention to a particular area and allergic skin disorders can mimic OCD.

Treatment should begin with a visit to your veterinarian to rule out any possible medical problems. This usually includes a physical examination and laboratory tests including a complete blood count, urinalysis and biochemistry profile. It is extremely important to understand the difference between allergic skin conditions and OCD skin lesions. While they may look the same to you, your veterinarian should be able to tell the difference and prescribe a proper course of treatment. Chronic licking usually leads to a deep skin infection and long-term antibiotics may be needed to cure the secondary bacterial infection.

There are some things you can do on your own to help your dog that may have OCD. Walk your dog! Some breeds, for example, hunting dogs and guard dogs, were specifically designed to walk all day long. Not giving them this outlet often leads to OCD. Walking your dog reduces its arousal and anxiety level. Dogs like to sniff, hear, and explore new things on their walk. When you keep them in the house or backyard where things are the same, anxiety levels increase. Never punish a dog for exhibiting signs of stress disorder as this may increase the behavior.

With your veterinarian’s help, you can correctly diagnose and treat OCD and help your pet return to its happy normal self.

22 October 2007

London's Dog Walk of Fame

Celebrity canines will be honored with their own walk of fame in south London's Battersea Park. The walk will open on November 5 when the first six inductees will be announced from a shortlist that includes some of the biggest dog stars of the past century. Some of the frontrunners for the initial plaque are Lassie, cartoon superdog Gromit, Tintin's trusty companion Snowy, and Toto from "The Wizard of Oz." Battersea Park was chosen as the location for the walk due to its proximity to London’s best-known dog shelter, the Battersea Dogs Home.

The dog walk of fame announcement comes weeks before canine movie stars are to be recognized at the inaugural Fido Awards, billed as the canine equivalent of the Academy Awards. Among the leading contenders are five corgis who starred alongside Oscar winner Helen Mirren in "The Queen."

18 October 2007

Ellen DeGeneres to Stop Dog Pleas

Controversy has risen regarding the Tuesday airing of the "Ellen DeGeneres Show" in which a tearful DeGeneres pleaded with and begged the organization "Mutts and Moms" a non-profit dog-rescue organization that originally gave DeGeneres the dog, to return the dog back to her hair dresser and her daughters, the family that DeGeneres decided to give the dog to. Yet, all the controversy surrounding this issue has "gotten out of hand" according to DeGeneres herself.

During a Wednesday taping of "The Ellen DeGeneres Show," to be aired Thursday, DeGeneres told viewers she wouldn't speak again until the dog, Iggy, is returned to DeGeneres' hairdresser and the woman's young daughters.

After Mutts and Moms took Iggy away from the family, claiming that the talk show host had violated the adoption agreement by not informing them that she was giving the dog away, a set off of nasty emails and threats directed at the agency has emerged after DeGeneres shared the blow by blow with viewers on her show this week.

"Let me just say this, it's gotten out of hand," DeGeneres said on the segment to air Thursday. "I want nothing, nothing more than that dog returned to that family. But you don't resort to violence. So anybody out there, please stop that. Please don't threaten or do whatever."

The angry calls got so bad that Marina Batkis, co-owner of the dog rescue organization, said she had to close her business and stay home Wednesday, a day after DeGeneres broadcast a tearful, televised plea for the dog to be returned to her hairdresser and the woman's daughters. "My life is being threatened. This is horrible," a tearful Batkis said outside her home.

DeGeneres has acknowledged she erred but said her hairdresser and her family shouldn't be punished. Batkis has refused to back down. "If Ellen wants to place dogs and decide what's a good home, then she should start her own rescue group," she told "Inside Edition." "But I'm the one doing this and I know what I'm doing."

DeGeneres said several agencies had offered to provide the family another dog, even one that looked like Iggy. "And unfortunately, Ruby, the little girl, doesn't want another dog, she wants Iggy," said DeGeneres on the show to air Thursday. "It's not a toy that's broken that you can replace. It's a dog."

17 October 2007

Picture Perfect Dogs

Pictures are instant gratification. It’s no wonder most of us accumulate dozens of photo albums, crammed full of the things – and people – we love. And of course, our pets are always included in these collections of memories and have been for decades.

Photography expert Catherine Johnson has spent years collecting anonymous amateur vintage photographs and has compiled a book featuring old snapshots of man’s canine companion. Published by Phaidon Press, “DOGS” features poignant photographs dating from the turn of the 20th century to the early 1960s. The images capture the ways in which dogs have become a natural part of our lives and range from trips to the beach and candid backyard shots to posed family portraits.

In the book you can also find quotes about dogs from such figures as Robert Louis Stevenson, George Eliot, and Dwight D. Eisenhower. John Steinbeck remarked, “I am convinced that basically dogs think humans are mutts,” and Alexander Pope claimed that “Histories are more full of examples of the fidelity of dogs than of friends.”

“DOGS” is a beautiful look at the enduring love between humans and canines, a reminder that though times may change, our best friend does not. It brings forgotten vintage photographs of people and their dogs to light.

Ellen DeGeneres Apologizes for Dog Rescue Mishap

Ellen DeGeneres is under fire for giving away a dog to her hairstylist in violation of an adoption agreement with Mutts and Moms, the Pasadena, Calif., rescue organization that arranged the Sept. 20 adoption. DeGeneres said she gave away the dog, a Brussels Griffon mix named Iggy, because he didn’t get along with her cats and had too much energy, the talk show host explained during Tuesday’s broadcast of “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.”

“I guess I signed a piece of paper that says if I can’t keep Iggy, it goes back to the rescue organization, which is not someone’s home, which is not a family,” said DeGeneres, who had spent $3,000 to have the dog neutered and trained to be with her cats.

“I thought I did a good thing. I tried to find a loving home for the dog because I couldn’t keep it.”

Mutts and Moms picked up the dog on Sunday when a representative who contacted DeGeneres to check on Iggy found out the dog had been given away. DeGeneres said her hairstylist’s daughters, ages 11 and 12, were heartbroken when the dog was removed from their home.

“Because I did it wrong, those people went and took that dog out of their home, and took it away from those kids,” a teary DeGeneres said. “I feel totally responsible for it and I’m so sorry. I’m begging them to give that dog back to that family. I just want the family to have their dog. It’s not their fault. It’s my fault. I shouldn’t have given the dog away. Just please give the dog back to those little girls.”

Mutts and Moms did not respond to a request for comment.

15 October 2007

Millions Dress Dogs for Halloween

As Halloween approaches, millions of families across the United States will be searching for the perfect costume for their pets. Approximately 7.4 million households plan on dressing up their dogs and cats for Halloween, according to a survey by the National Retail Federation.

“Many consumers who own pets think of them as family members,” said NRF President and CEO Tracy Mullin. “Pet owners will go all out to include dogs, cats and other critters in Halloween festivities, including trick-or-treating, handing out candy, or even celebrating at a friend or family member’s house.”

The survey revealed the top 15 costumes for pets, which include:
1. Devil
2. Pumpkin
3. Witch
4. Princess
5. Angel
6. Pirate
7. Hot Dog
8. Bat
9. Black Cat
10. Clown
11. Athlete
12. Bumble Bee
13. Ghost
14. Bowtie/fancy collar/bandana
15. Superhero

Will you be dressing up your pet for Halloween this year?

12 October 2007

Smart Dog in Pool

Hey check out this smart dog shown on the Ellen DeGeneres show! He'll do anything to ensure that he does not have to swim into the pool to get his ball. Very cool and funny. Must see video, check it out!

11 October 2007

Harry Potter Author Rescues British Greyound Sapphire

The owner of a dog rescue center has revealed she was left spellbound when she realized a mystery woman offering to rehome one of her animals was world-renowned author JK Rowling.

Celia Fernie had no idea the woman who arrived with her family to look at her greyhounds was the multi-millionaire Harry Potter creator. The writer asked to adopt a four-year-old dog named Sapphire - and handed over a signed £1,000 check. Mrs Fernie, 61, said: "I apologized and said 'Oh I'm sorry, I didn't realize who you were'."

Way to go JK Rowling! You're a pet lover for sure!

10 October 2007

Dog Breeds

Ever wanted to know a little something more about your dog's (or maybe another dog's) breed? Well here is some info on different dog breeds, ranging from small dogs to large dogs:
Chihuaha: Chihuahua dogs are perfect for doting adults but not great with kids because of fragility and a tendency to hog the spotlight. That is why they are normally used today as companions. Originally from Mexico, the Chihuahua will ride in your purse or sit on your shoulder but will not, under any circumstances, play second fiddle.
Yorkshire Terrier: The Yorkie may look precious as a porcelain sculpture but these luxuriously satin-coated little dogs can run circles around a squirrel and alert an entire neighborhood when the mail carrier arrives. Originally from England, bright, quick, intelligent and sometimes possessive, Yorkies are easy to spoil and prefer homes without small children.
Boston Terrier: What good manners! The Boston Terrier dog isn’t nicknamed the “American Gentleman” for nothing. Originally from the United States, Boston Terrier's are easy to train, agreeable, happy to play with kids and quiet in the house. Boston Terrier dogs set the standard for ideal house dogs.
Poodle: This diminutive diva of a dog has the uncanny ability to understand human nature, but not just anybody can waltz up and exchange pleasantries. The Toy Poodle dog has standards. Originally from Germany, easily trained and totally devoted to the respectfully worshipful, the Poodle dog breed needs frequent grooming and as much attention as any two-legged family member.
Shih Tzu: If you don’t want to be worshipped, don’t bring home a Shih Tzu dog. This Chinese darling with the luxurious long coat dotes on its family and demands only your total adoration, and a thorough daily combing, in return. Mellow house dogs and loving lap sitters, these portable dogs are among the most adept dog breeds at constant, cuddly companionship.
American Pit Bull Terrier: This canine product of the American melting pot is a true success story, a bulldog-terrier cross that made its way out of the fighting pits and into the hearts of dog lovers.
Beagle: Did you say food? The nosy and scent-obsessed Beagle dog breed with the velvety ears and freckled muzzle won’t hear a thing you say if it catches a whiff of a tantalizing scent. Chewers and diggers known for baying and barking, Beagle dogs make delightful and clownish family companions but must be protected from their own curiosity with sturdy fences and firmly held leashes. They are originally from England with ancestors possibly from France or Greece.
Bulldog: The brawny, burly Bulldog breed may look tough but this snorting, snuffling, big-shouldered breed is one big hunk of love. Originally from Great Britain, bulldog breed dogs don’t tolerate too much exercise or high temperatures well, but just lounge on the couch with this brawny buddy and you’ll have a friend for life. Be prepared for snoring that can rock the house.
Cocker Spaniel: Gaze into the limpid brown pools that are the Cocker Spaniel’s eyes, and you just might lose your heart forever to this merry, loving little dog breed with the flowing, silky coat and joyful spirit. The smallest of the sporting breeds and devoted, active family members, Cocker Spaniel dogs will cavort after birds or romp with children, their long ears a-flutter, their bobbed tails a-wag. They are originally from the United States.
Siberian Husky: What dreams of the snowy tundra lurk behind those ice-blue eyes? The Siberian Husky dog breed has that look of the wild and will pull a sled, or you on the end of a leash, from here to Alaska if you let him. This wild child’s independence and high energy appeal to dog owners, but Siberian Huskies need more exercise than many people can provide and enough challenges to prevent boredom and wanderlust. Secure that fence well or risk losing this skilled escape artist.
Collie: You won’t get away with much if a Collie dog has his eye on you. Possibly from Scotland, Collie's are protective, attentive and always ready to answer your call. Collie dogs may “herd” children and other pets to keep them in line by grabbing a shirt, nipping a heel or physically pushing a wayward child back toward safety. Collies need training and guidance but their natural good judgment makes them reassuring and watchful dogs.
Dalmation: Seeing spots? Don’t worry, it’s just everybody’s favorite spotted dog, the Dalmatian. This large, super-active, friendly and self-confident breed makes a great pal for active families, runners, bicyclists, horseback riders, hikers and of course, fire fighters! Originally from Croatia, Dals love to chase, run, play and run some more. Sedentary pet owners need not apply.
German Shepherd Dog: That eagle eye, dignified posture and formidable intelligence make the German Shepherd Dog among the world’s most trainable and reliable police, military, search-and-rescue and service breeds. Loyal and intuitive, German Shepherd dogs make excellent personal guardians, companions and helpmates, but they aren’t for most beginning dog owners. German Shepherd dogs want respect, and you’ll have to earn theirs.
Golden Retriever: Throw it again! Throw it again! Originally from Scotland, the Golden Retriever dog's joyful enthusiasm keeps it go-go-going all day long. Family friendly, outgoing, super energetic and passionately obedient, this feathery golden beauty with the big smile excels at sports and service work, but specializes in active and devoted companionship.
Rottweiler: The Rottweiler dog's tough-guy image can make a dog owner feel safe, but the self-confident and protective Rottweiler dog breed comes with some pretty major responsibility. Originally from Germany, when well bred, well trained and well socialized, Rottweiler dogs make loyal and friendly family dogs. In the wrong hands, Rottweiler dogs can be overly protective and inappropriately dominant.

Do you want to know more about a particular dog I didn't mention? Go here for more info.

09 October 2007

Does Your Dog Think He Can Dance?

As a fan of "So You Think You Can Dance", I was thrilled to find out that musical freestyle, the combination of dog obedience, tricks and dance, is a competitive sport (there's also musical freestyle for horses). There are two types, musical freestyle and freestyle heeling (also known as heelwork to music), the main difference being that freestyle heeling focuses on a dog's ability to stay in variations of the heel position while the handler moves to music, whereas musical freestyle demands that the dog perform a variety of tricks and other obedience talents, and places a greater focus on the trainer's dance abilities and creativity. Check out this routine by Paws 2 Dance.

05 October 2007

What Determines Your Dog's Size?

Have you ever wondered what makes small dogs small and what makes big dogs big? Well a group of scientists wondered how dogs could have the biggest range of size of any mammal in existence today and their findings are published in this month’s issue of Science.

To find the answer, the scientists ran DNA profiles and took measurements of a group of Portuguese Water Dogs. Why Portuguese Water Dogs? Because the breed has a distinct size range and there are small, medium and large sized Portuguese Water Dogs.

The researchers found a regulatory sequence that appears next to a gene that regulates growth in dogs. In small dogs, mutations in the regulatory sequence suppress the growth gene which causes small dogs to remain small. In large dogs, the mutations are not present and the growth gene is not restricted.

To prove their findings, the scientists expanded their subjects to other breeds of dogs and they found the same mutations of the regulatory sequence in other small breeds.

The mutation in the regulatory gene is what ensures that Chihuahuas don’t grow up to be the size of a Mastiff. Considering that all dogs descended from wolves and wolves do not have the same genetic mutation of the regulatory sequence that small dogs posses, it is very interesting to note the differences between dog breeds. At some point, after dogs became domesticated, the genetic instruction that gives small dogs their size must have been introduced. At this point, there is no concrete research that tells us when this genetic instruction was introduced. If the gene was not introduced to small dogs, the only other possibility is that small dogs are descendants of a smaller wolf.

02 October 2007

Can Dogs Detect Cancer?

Does cancer have a smell? I wouldn't think so but apparently the most sensitive noses in the world -- those belonging to dogs -- can detect the presence of cancer with alarming accuracy, according to thatsfit.com. Dogs were 99% accurate at detecting lung cancer and 88% accurate at detecting breast cancer, regardless of attempts to mask the smell through food or cigarettes.

Apparently, tumors give out small amounts of alkanes and benzene, which have a slight odor, and once a dog is trained to pick up that smell, it has a good chance of detecting it in the future.

Is that amazing or what?

Seniors With Pets Tend to Have Better Health

About 60 percent of U.S. households have at least one dog, cat, bird or other companion animal. Veterinarian Tracy Wight reports that pets, particularly cats and dogs, help her older clients feel less lonely. They tell her it is like they have a special friend.

The data is clear that having a pet reduces blood pressure and even reduces the number of trips to see a physician. A 1999 study in the Journal of American Geriatrics demonstrates that seniors living on their own who have pets tend to have better physical health and mental well-being than those who don't. They are more active, cope better with stress and have better overall health. They also reported shorter hospital stays and less health-care costs than non-pet owners.

One other study found that the daily activities of living, such as eating and grooming, declined less for those with a dog or cat than those who had no pet. First, pets need walking, feeding, grooming, fresh water and fresh kitty litter, and they encourage lots of playing and petting. All of these activities require some action from owners. Even if it's just getting up to let a dog out a few times a day or brushing a cat, any physical activity can benefit the cardiovascular system and help keep joints limber and flexible. Consistently performing this kind of minor exercise can keep pet owners able to carry out the other normal activities of daily living.

Again, Wight reported that many of her clients tell her that taking care of a pet is a reason to get up in the morning and often a reason to get dressed and go for a walk. Second, pets also aid seniors simply by providing some physical contact, affection and companionship.

For more info go here

01 October 2007

National Adopt-a-Shelter Dog Month

October is generally accepted as "National Adopt-a-Shelter-Dog Month", where pet businesses make an extra effort to encourage Americans to adopt a lonely dog instead of buying a puppy (besides, you can find puppies at shelters also).

Most dogs in shelters are happy, healthy pets who were guilty of nothing more than being unloved. Making matters worse, is that they don't have long to live, with most shelters killing dogs that don't get adopted in a matter of days.

If you've been wanting a dog, please visit your local animal shelter and give a four-legged bundle of happiness another chance at life.

For more info on finding a list of shelters in your area go here