Valentine’s Day Safety Tips for Pet Owners

valentine safetyBy Laurie Darroch

Valentine gifts and tokens of love may be wonderful for the humans in your life, but many of the traditional presents we give each other may be dangerous for your dogs and cats. Those seemingly innocuous gifts can injure or even kill your pet if they ingest them.

Chocolates and Other Foods

A heart-shaped box full of delectable chocolates may be just the ticket to please your Valentine, but those sweet treats can make your pets very sick. Chocolate contains theobromine which is similar to caffeine. The darker and richer the chocolate, the more dangerous it is for dogs and cats.

Many dogs and cats do like the smell and taste of chocolate. If they happen to grab one small piece of milk chocolate, part of a chocolate chip cookie or a dropped M & M, it is not likely to make them extremely ill. Leaving an unattended box of chocolates sitting where your pets can reach them, however, is a siren call many can’t resist.
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Is Your Dog Always Excited to See You?

dog excited kizzzbethBy Linda Cole

One of the simple pleasures in life is the enthusiastic greeting I get from my dogs every time I walk through the door, even if it’s only been a few minutes. My dogs act like it’s been months since they last saw me, and each one has their own way of showing how much they missed me. According to a new study, science can explain why your dog greets you with excitement when he see you – no matter how long you’ve been gone.

There are two components that explain why your dog is always so happy to see you. The first one originated in the early years of domestication when the common wolf-like ancestors of dogs and wolves made a choice to begin interacting with our early ancestors. Friendlier and more social wolves sought out humans, evolving into dogs. The more antisocial wolves wanted nothing to do with us and stayed away. That decision is what makes dogs different from wolves, even though the two species share some common behaviors. The wolf we know today is essentially much different from their ancient ancestors.

Gregory Berns, a neuroscientist at Emory University, trained dogs to lie still inside an MRI machine. His research team wanted to see how the dog brain works to better understand our canine friends. From previous studies, he discovered their brain works in a similar way as ours. Berns found that dogs can recognize faces of humans and other dogs, and the region of the brain that lights up is the same area in our brains when we see someone familiar. He learned that canines recognize familiar scents and can distinguish between the smell of a human, another dog and familiar objects.
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What Would You Do for Your Pet?

Mickey what would you doBy Julia Williams

I’ve long held the belief that “pet people” are a special breed. I don’t get on that well with people who don’t love animals, don’t want a pet, or have a pet but see it as “just a dog” or “just a cat.” To me, there is no such thing as “just a pet.” My animals are family. And my pets have always been there for me. They don’t place conditions on their love, and they don’t shun me when they think I haven’t lived up to their expectations.

My pets deserve my all…and they get it. I would do anything for my sweet, special furry feline friends. I know, too, that I am not the only one; not by a long shot. At least once a month, I come across a heartwarming story that perfectly illustrates the depths of a person’s love for their animal companion.

People do extraordinary things for their pets. Several years ago, I read about a man who floated in warm water with his 20 year old dog, every day for up to an hour, to ease the dog’s arthritic pain. The emotionally moving photo of him gently cradling his dog went viral; the love between dog and man was obvious.
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Fun Games to Play with Your Dog Indoors

indoor games jamieBy Laurie Darroch

Whether impeded by rain or snow, or by location, sometimes it’s just not possible to take your dog outside for their much needed exercise. However, there are lots of fun games you can play with your dog indoors to help keep her mentally challenged and physically fit. It is also a great way to bond with your dog and spend quality time together. The restrictions of indoor space are a perfect place to work on behavior and obedience too.

Mental Challenges

Like people, dogs can get restless and bored being indoors. Dogs love physical games that burn off energy, but they also enjoy mental challenges that keep them alert and focused.

Hiding games encourage dogs to use all their senses and give them something to strive for. If your dog is learning the “stay” command or has already mastered it, a simple game of hide-and-seek will be fun for her. If she has not mastered the “stay” command and there is another human in the house, have that person hold the dog and repeat the word “stay” while you hide in another part of the house. Then have them say the release word and “Find Mommy,” “Find Daddy” or your name if that is how they know you. For dogs that will stay on command, give them the command, go hide and then call them with your release word and tell them to find you. To challenge your dog, repeat the game and change your hiding places.
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Do You Have What it Takes to be a Humane Law Enforcement Officer?

HLE HugoBy Linda Cole

There is a wide variety of career choices for someone who is passionate about animals, and some don’t require a college degree. Working with animals has its rewards and challenges, but if you have what it takes to be a humane law enforcement officer, you will be on the front lines helping to protect and save the lives of dogs, cats, other pets and wild animals.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) is a non-profit national organization based in New York City. The goal of ASPCA agents is to ensure the safety and overall welfare of animals. People who work in this field have a love for animals and a passion for humane treatment of all critters. It’s a rewarding career, but it’s not all fun and roses. ASPCA officers have to deal with a variety of situations, good and bad.

In December of 2013, ASPCA officers in New York City were laid off and the NYPD took over their duties, but there are still plenty of opportunities for people wanting to get into this line of work. ASPCA officers are also known as humane law enforcement officers and many have similar powers as police, which aids them in investigating and reporting on issues related to animals. Only agents employed by the state of New York hold the title of ASPCA officer.
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How to Teach Your Dog to Speak

By Langley Cornwell

Call me a sucker, but I love cheesy dog tricks. When someone teaches their dog to drop and roll over when they point a finger at him, I’m hooked. Or when someone says “hello, Spot,” and their dog gives a quick bark in response. Come on, that’s gold. It makes me think of all the time the dog and human spent together teaching and learning these silly games. I also think about all the bonding and love they shared during that time. In fact, when I see other people’s cute dog tricks, it makes me want to teach my dogs some cool new things. With that in mind, I recently learned how to teach my dogs to speak. Turns out, teaching your dog to bark on command (or “speak”) is one of the easiest tricks you can teach him. It keeps your dog mentally sharp, it’s a great opportunity to bond, and it’s a fun party trick. Here’s how to do it.

Get Your Dog Jacked Up

Granted, this is not advice I would usually give. Those of you with dogs that are already overly-enthusiastic are probably giving me the stink eye right now, but just stay with me here. You probably already know that when you get happy and excited, your dog does too. So lay on the hijinks. If your dog likes to wrestle around, do that. If he prefers to play tug or fetch, do that. The idea here is to get your dog’s undivided attention, make him happy and raise his energy level.
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