John and George: The Dog Who Changed My Life

By Langley Cornwell

I take a ridiculous number of pet photographs. Every time one of our pets strikes a new pose or just looks extra adorable, I snap a picture. Most of my animal-loving friends do the same thing, and have a ton of pet photos on their camera phone. When I look at the photos of my pets or photos other people have taken of their pets, it’s a treat to see the strong connection between photographer and pet. Without trying to sound too cheesy, it’s like I see the animal through a lens of love.

That’s probably the first thing that grabbed me when I stumbled upon artist John Dolan’s sketches of George the Dog. Long before I learned about their incredible life together, I responded to the connection that was so evident in the simple black and white portraits John drew of his beloved George. And, like me, it seems that John picks up pen and paper as often as I pick up my camera; he’s created hundreds of pen and ink drawings of George the Dog in a variety of positions and circumstances. It’s heartwarming.

To discover Dolan’s art is one thing, but when you learn more about the back story, it’s quite another. The first time his art and story came to my attention was via an article in the UK publication, the Hackney Citizen. Apparently this exceptionally talented guy has a rocky past that includes multiple jail stays. He eventually ended up living on the streets of London before he was “discovered,” and he attributes all of his success to George the Dog.

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Tips for Treating Dry Itchy Skin in Dogs

By Laurie Darroch

If you notice your dog incessantly scratching various parts of his body with no signs of invasive skin parasites such as fleas, he may simply have dry or itchy skin that needs basic attention to help ward off the irritation. If you have ever experienced dry itchiness on your own skin, you know how annoying it can be. The constant rubbing and scratching can make a dog start to lose patches of hair or develop sores or open wounds.

Diet

Just like you, your dog can have food allergies. Not all dog food is the same. Cheap dog food might include products that keep the price low, but that keeps the quality low as well. Your dog may suffer from poor nutrition, or their system may not be tolerating all the added fillers used in cheap dog food. Buy a good quality, healthy dog food like CANIDAE to insure they are getting the nutrients they need to maintain optimum health on the inside, as well as the ingredients necessary for a healthy skin and coat. A consistent, healthy diet helps maintain healthy skin.

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How to Keep Your Pet Out of the Trash

By Linda Cole

One challenge many dog owners have is trying to keep their inquisitive canine out of the trash can. Cats will also poke around in a wastebasket searching for something fun to play with or eat – and then blame it on the dog. Finding trash scattered all over the floor is not something you want to see as soon as you get home. However, there’s a right and wrong way to deal with the issue and prevent your pet from digging through the trash.

Perfecting the art of dumpster diving is most likely how both dogs and cats became domesticated. Of course, back then the dumpster was nothing more than piles of trash outside a village where canines and felines had no problem scavenging for food. The aroma of trash isn’t pleasant to us, but all of the intriguing smells can certainly capture the attention of animals searching for a meal.

Trash cans contain a wide variety of smells our pets find enticing. Chicken bones, meat scraps, meat wrappers and soiled paper towels provide a mixture of scents few pets can resist. If you have a separate bin for recyclables, it too has smells that draw pets to it. However, when a dog or cat digs through the trash to find something fun to play with or eat, it can put them at risk of developing serious health issues. Pets that find tin cans or lids to lick can end up with a cut tongue or gums and worse if they manage to ingest part of the can or eat plastic they found in recyclables. Garbage cans may also contain bits of string, dental floss, people food that’s toxic to pets and old or unused medications.

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How to Know When Your Cat is Sick

By Julia Williams

Early detection is always best for any illness. Catching a disease before it becomes advanced increases the chance that it can be treated successfully. What makes this problematic for cat owners is that felines are hard-wired to hide signs of illness. Their wild ancestors did this as a means to survival, and it’s instinctual for a feline to conceal the appearance of sickness, even if they lead the life of a very spoiled housecat.

Your best course of action is threefold: 1) take your cat to the vet for wellness checkups at least once a year; 2) know your cat well enough that you can immediately recognize any changes in their normal behavior; 3) know the subtle signs of a sick kitty. Here are some things to watch out for:

Appetite Changes

Both an increase and a decrease in a cat’s food intake can signify illness. If a cat begins to eat ravenously and always seems to want more, diabetes or hyperthyroidism could be the culprit. Eating less could mean dental problems or something more serious such as kidney disease or cancer. It’s important to be aware that cats who stop eating can quickly develop a potentially fatal liver disease called hepatic lipidosis. If your cat won’t eat anything for more than a day, get to the vet ASAP.

Water Consumption

As with food, both an increase and a decrease in water intake can indicate health issues. Excessive thirst can be a sign of kidney disease, diabetes or hyperthyroidism.

Bad Breath

“Cat food breath” is one thing – all felines have that to some degree. However, if your cat opens his mouth and the smell just about knocks you over, that’s definitely cause for concern. Stinky breath can indicate dental disease, infection, digestive issues or kidney problems; a sweet, fruit-like smell can be a sign of diabetes.

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How the Aging Process Affects Dog and Cat Eyes

By Linda Cole

Growing older begins the minute we are born, and how we deal with the aging process depends on our perception of age, which is just a number. Eventually, though, the time comes when we begrudgingly admit we aren’t as young as we used to be. Like us, our pets can experience vision and hearing impairments. Changes in vision can be a normal part of aging for our dogs and cats, but could also be an early sign of something more serious. It’s important to understand what you see when gazing into your older pet’s eyes. There are two reasons why their eyes can look cloudy.

Nuclear Sclerosis

Also called lenticular sclerosis or lenticular nuclear sclerosis, this is a normal part of the aging process. Tissue fibers are constantly forming on the lens during a dog or cat’s lifetime, but as they age these fibers push toward the center of the lens and become more concentrated. They form layers around the center of the lens sort of like the layers of an onion, and are transparent when dogs and cats are younger. The lens also loses moisture as pets grow older. Because the cells get denser as pets age, the lenses are less transparent and takes on a hazy blueish look.

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Dog Breed Profile: The Fancy, Mutt-Looking Berger Picard

By Langley Cornwell

Have you seen the movie Because of Winn Dixie? We watched it recently and fell in love with the big, scruffy mutt that played the title role. But wait – was the role of Winn Dixie really played by a mixed breed? Many famous animal actors really are mutts. For instance, the famous Higgins of Petticoat Junction and Benji fame was a rescued shelter mutt, so it’s entirely possible that Winn Dixie was too. Curious, I decided to research it and discovered that he wasn’t a mutt at all. Even though the dog that played Winn Dixie looked like a shaggy, loveable cross between several breeds, he was actually a Berger Picard.

Pronounced “bare ZHAY pee CARR,” the Berger Picard is a rare French purebred dog whose origins date back to the ninth century. This herding breed is also referred to as a Picardy Shepherd.

Background

The breed was introduced to northern France by the Celts in the ninth century. The Berger Picard became useful for herding sheep and cattle as well as for smuggling tobacco and other contraband across the borders between France and Belgium. In the early 1900s, the Berger Picard was considered a legitimate breed and the first breed standards were written.

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