By Bear, canine guest blogger
Hi all, it’s me Bear. I’m taking over the post today so Mommy can work on getting ready for the holidays. She discovered that she is the only person in town who doesn’t decorate on the weekend after Thanksgiving, so today she’s crawling around in the attic pulling out decorations and cleaning the house.
I love the flashing lights and the yummy smells of the holidays, but there are some things that responsible pet owners need to know about the dangers of Christmas for their dogs. So I’m here to give y’all a little rundown and some warnings that will help all you doggy Mommies and Daddies keep my canine pals happy and healthy this Christmas.
Those really pretty flowers that appear around the holidays and make your holiday décor really pop are also really bad for dogs (and cats). We dogs don’t usually go around chewing house plants like those silly cats do, but sometimes we do like to check things out. The sap from poinsettias is very irritating to our mouths and stomachs and can make us really sick. You don’t want to have to clean up doggie vomit under your Christmas tree, do you? Keep poinsettias up high and make sure that you pick up the little seeds and leaves that fall off of them.
There are actually a lot of flowers and plants that are poisonous to dogs and cats; you may as well check out the list and make sure that no matter what time of year it is, you aren’t unintentionally exposing your furry friends to danger.
By Linda Cole
The deeper researchers dig into the animal kingdom, the more we learn about the different personalities and intelligence of animals. For instance, did you know crows can recognize our faces – and remember if they were treated in a positive or negative way by a human? Our personality is one aspect of our character that defines who we are. Understanding who your dog is, based on his personality type, helps you figure out why he acts in a certain way and defines his behavior characteristics as an individual.
Like us, dogs fall into different personality types, and can show more than one type. We all know someone who’s the life of the party, someone who is quiet and reserved, or one who will do whatever is necessary to get ahead. Our canine friends fit into five types of personalities. Knowing your dog helps you ward off potential behavior issues before they get out of control when you understand how he might act in a certain situation. His development and personality is based on his upbringing, environment, breed and self esteem.
The Confident Dog is a natural born leader of the pack. He’s a team player and more than ready to take charge of a situation. A confident dog can also be dominant. Harsh discipline or training methods with this personality type could cause him to show aggressive tendencies or become more willful. This dog feels secure in his surroundings, and has a self-assuredness that shows in his body language.
The Independent Dog is more standoffish, and may not form a strong bond with an owner he doesn’t see as his leader. Some breeds are independent by nature and capable of developing a very close bond with the family member who takes control as a fair, patient and strong leader. The independent personality is perfectly happy being away from the crowd. He needs to be given space, and trying to force him to do something he doesn’t want to do will backfire. You can easily lose this dog’s trust and respect if you expose him to heavy handed treatment.
By Langley Cornwell
I am a big fan of Hallie, the blind dog that paints, and so delighted she agreed to an interview. I am certain you’ll enjoy getting to know this very special (and talented!) little dog.
How did you meet your mom?
One night when I was about 10 months old, my people took me and my sister and brother to an animal shelter and locked us in the night drop-off kennel. We were scared in there. One of the shelter employees called my soon-to-be Mom because she had lost her other longhaired dachshund girl four years earlier and was still so broken hearted she didn’t have another dog-child. They asked her if she would foster the three of us so we wouldn’t have to stay in the shelter while we waited for new homes. So she did and she found homes for us (because she was still vowing to not get a dog again herself) but after she took my brother and sister to their new homes, she just couldn’t let me go, so she kept me. And the funny thing is, I knew from the second we laid eyes on each other that I would be staying with her. And on some level, I think she knew it too. I promised her I’d take good care of her, and I have ever since.
What got you interested in painting?
My Mom and I always did fun things and we trained all the time. To me it was a big game and I loved it. I won obedience titles and learned a lot of tricks. When I was 10 years old, I had earned most of my titles so we didn’t go to shows as often. Mom taught me more tricks so I would still have something fun to learn. She is an artist also (I think she gets it from me) so one winter day when it was cold out and I was bored, she got the idea to see if I wanted to learn how to paint too. I surprised her by learning very fast and doing my first painting within a few weeks. I really got into it! And the better the treat involved…the faster I painted!
Do you have a favorite painting?
I am most proud of my first painting. My Mom has it framed on the wall. She has a video of me painting it. My style was different then, when I could still see. You can watch the video here.
By Linda Cole
Cats need to play, and they enjoy it just as much as dogs do. Outside cats have nature provided “toys” like dried leaves blowing around on the ground and bugs crawling through the grass. Inside kitties depend on their owners to find interesting and exciting toys to play with – when they aren’t napping in a sun puddle, that is. However, not any old toy will do, from a cat’s point of view, and there are specific toys cats really like to play with.
Because felines are true carnivores and hunters, every aspect of the hunt is important to all kitties whether they live inside or outside. If you’ve ever observed a cat watching a bird sitting on a tree limb, you can see her excitement level grow as she sizes up her prey. The tail twitches back and forth, her intense eyes are focused, the whiskers are pulled forward, and her body is taut with anticipation. The intricate process of stalking prey is a cat’s ultimate toy.
The best toys for cats are those that allow them to use their predatory skills. It’s the act of hunting that entertains them. Toys that allow them to stalk, pounce on, bite, claw, grab and hug against their body, and simulate a bite to the neck of their pretend prey is a good toy. When you watch a cat play, everything about how they entertain themselves is connected to hunting. This is true even in cats that have never been taught to hunt.
When cats play, it’s how they practice and hone their skills as the perfect hunter. Once she detects movement, her instincts take over as she watches her “opponent” and waits for the right time to pounce, which is usually spot on. Toys that mimic the movements of natural prey, even if they don’t look like a mouse or bird, are ones cats find intriguing. A piece of string wiggling along the floor or held up and dangled in front of a cat will get her attention – as long as it keeps moving. Once it stops, however, a cat will quickly grow tired of it. Their brain is hardwired to detect the slightest movement of a mouse, and movement is what draws their interest to a toy.
By Julia Williams
Statistically, about 90% of humans are right-handed and 10% are left-handed. Very few people are naturally ambidextrous, i.e., adept at using both hands. Last year, I was not able to use my right hand for a few weeks and discovered just how difficult it can be to use your non-dominant hand. Simple everyday tasks like brushing my teeth and cutting up vegetables became almost an exercise in futility. They could be done, but not easily.
So when I read recently that studies suggest dogs and cats also have a “dominant paw” (or paw preference) for certain tasks, I was intrigued. The research indicated that the left paw/right paw division is more evenly distributed than with humans – a dog’s paw preference was split fifty-fifty while cats were 50% right-pawed, 40% left-pawed and 10% ambidextrous.
Moreover, there’s even a DIY test developed by Dr. Stefanie Schwartz of the Veterinary Neurology Center in California, which you can do yourself to determine if your pet is right or left pawed! The catch is that you have to repeat the test 100 times. For me personally, this means that although I am curious about the paw preferences of my three cats, I’ve not taken the time to test any of them. Maybe someday when I don’t have to do things like work, eat and sleep, I will. Oh, and I’d also need to have a great deal more patience, which I’d surely need to test three willful felines who typically won’t do anything I ask them to. However, if you really want to figure out the paw preference of your own dog or cat, read on.
By Laurie Darroch
The festivities and decor of the holidays often include beautiful lit candle displays set on tables, counters, window sills, buffets and mantles. The soft ambience of lit candles is appealing, but they can be dangerous around pets and children. There is, however, an option that allows you the flickering lights and romantic lighting without the dangerous flames.
An excited or curious dog or a cat climbing on a mantle or counter, or bumping into a table while running by or curiously sniffing, can knock over a lit candle in a split second and start a fire or burn a paw or nose. No matter how careful or attentive you are, like a human child, your dog or cat is a curious and playful being. They get into things they are not supposed to. A dog or cat does not realize the dangers of a lit flame and you can’t explain it to your pet the way you can to a human child. Pets are not always aware of surrounding hazards either. Sometimes the draw of something new in the house is too much to resist.
Pets trust their human family members to keep them safe, especially when they do not understand what the dangers are. It is up to you as a responsible pet owner to show your pet that their trust is warranted. Even a well-trained pet can inadvertently knock over a burning candle with an excited wagging tail or a misplaced step on a table or shelf. You cannot possibly keep an eye on your pets every second, and it only takes a few seconds to bump a lit candle over and start a fire.