Monthly Archives: September 2009

Why Do Dogs Roll in Disgusting Things?


By Ruthie Bently

I’ve lived with American Staffordshire Terriers since 1981 and have been lucky enough to own four of them. While they were all basically the same because they were AmStaffs, they were all different in their personal habits. AmStaffs are a wonderful breed and my first dog Nimber was a great dog that literally cleaved to my left hip, but for all his nice traits (and he had many) he had one habit that I was never able to break. He liked to roll in nasty things.

Before I had put up fencing for a dog yard where Nimber could exercise safely, there was one weekend that the person supervising his recreation period wasn’t leashing him for his walks. As a result he got loose and went wandering on his own. Nimber ended up getting three baths in a day and a half because he kept rolling in green deer poop. I am totally convinced that he went back to the same spot after each bath just to get smelly again. After I put up the dog run fencing, he was confined safely; but every time he got loose he found the smelliest pile of stuff to roll in.

There are many schools of thought as to why our dogs roll in things we think are nasty. Whether it is a pile of fresh cow or horse manure in a pasture, a pile of deer poop in the woods or maybe a dead animal carcass that they run across on a daily walk, some dogs will roll in it. I have happy news, though – not all dogs roll in smelly stuff.

Some people believe that our dogs roll in nasty things to cover a rival dog’s scent, which seems foolish to me. I have owned enough dogs, both male and female, that will mark a spot with either feces or urine after another dog has left a deposit of their own, but they never rolled in it. If anything they got perturbed by the miscreant marking territory that they felt was theirs.

I read something else that I tend to agree with after living with my own dogs, which suggested that the behavior goes back to that original pack. A dog finding something to roll in was doing it to take a message back to the pack. Bees go back to a hive and do a dance, ants lay a pheromone trail back to their nest for other ants to follow back to the food source they have found. What better way for a dog to take a message back, than to roll in the filthy mess? Their whole body is covered in a new smell!

Dogs are very scent oriented in nature; they always smell each other when they meet (if their owners allow them). If a wolf were to roll in fresh deer poop, they could lead the pack back to the area, and the pack could track the deer, which in turn could lead to a new source of food.

Yet another theory that goes back to the original pack, mentions that our dogs may be trying to camouflage their own scent from others. Think about it – they roll in very smelly stuff and come home not smelling like our dog any more. What better way to protect themselves from anything that may want to harm them, or prey they may not want to smell their scent and become spooked?

The last theory is that our dogs get turned on by many odors. Maybe they just like to smell different than they already smell. We humans use perfume, and according to the findings of one laboratory experiment performed, the dogs tested rolled in a large scope of things, including rotting garbage, dung, tobacco, lemon rind and perfume. This would seem to shoot down either the theory about covering the scent of a rival or camouflaging their own scent from another animal.

So the next time your beloved dog rolls in something disgusting, try not to get angry. And if it makes you feel better, think of it as aromatherapy for your dog.

Read more articles by Ruthie Bently

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

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The Health Benefits of Dog Ownership


By Anna Lee

We love our dogs and they love us. As responsible pet owners we do the best we can for our furry friends and they repay us in kind. We also know that laughter is the best medicine and dogs are very funny. Therefore, it makes sense that owning a dog is healthy for us! I am extremely lucky because Abby is a funny dog. She also knows how to melt my heart.

We know that pets enrich our lives. Recent scientific studies have begun to pin-point the ways that companion animals improve our minds and our bodies. Beyond walks and games of fetch, eager faces at the end of the day and many kisses, pets provide documented health benefits.

A 1993 report in the Harvard Health Letter explains that companion animals have more consistent behavior compared to our human companions and that they offer unconditional affection. The effect is lower blood pressure, heart rate and anxiety levels for pet owners. We repay our pets with love and attention. More than 60 percent of pets receive “as much attention as children,” according to the 1994 American Animal Hospital Association pet owner survey. In my house Abby receives 100% since we have no children.

Laughter has been proven to reduce stress, increase muscle flexion, lower blood pressure and boost immune function by raising T-cell levels. Laughter also releases the body’s natural painkillers, endorphins, and increases emotional well being while decreasing feelings of depression. Dogs are natural born comedians; mine is and your dog mostly like is also. Abby makes my husband I laugh on a continual basis. With recent studies suggesting that depression is more deadly than many other chronic diseases, spending some time with a canine goof-ball might be the best health insurance available. If I am in a bad mood and Abby does something typically Abby, the bad mood lifts away!

Exercise – In a Columbia University Study participants lost an average of fourteen pounds when they started walking the dog for just 20 minutes a day five times a week. Dog owners are more likely than non-dog owners to walk regularly and longer. Taking responsibility for someone else’s well being is more compelling than looking out for your own health. I agree with that totally. I put off going to the doctor myself, but if Abby looks a little ‘off’ I call the vet instantly for an appointment.

Socializing – When we walk our dogs in the park or around the block people are more apt to speak to us. Dog lovers will naturally start up conversations. When we socialize with others we feel good about ourselves. We were on vacation a few years back in Chattanooga and visited Rock City. This is a huge mountain with all kinds of fun and interesting things to look at and squeeze through on the climb to the top. At the summit is a fantastic view of several states. That day there were many families with kids who had no desire to look at a view.

We sat down to relax and within seconds were surrounded by kids all wanting to pet Abby. Just watching their little faces made us feel better and Abby certainly didn’t pass up one kiss or pat on the head! Finally, parents realized the kids were having a better time with our dog because they were all on vacation and they missed their dogs back home. Rock City is pet friendly – check their website for more information on a great attraction! (www.seerockcity.com)

Sleep – I don’t know about other dog owners, but I know feel confident at night knowing my dog is in the same room snoozing – with one ear and one eye open! Our quality of sleep has a big effect on health. Lack of sleep has been linked to some cancers, heart disease, diabetes, etc. Now if I could just get Abby to sleep later than 6 AM I would be very happy.

All of the health benefits of canine companionship are good for us. Better brain chemistry equals better sleep. More exercise makes for less depression. Better sleep eases mood problems. And wet sloppy kisses can mend a broken heart!

Dogs are good for our health! Since they provide us such a beneficial service we need to make sure we take care of them in return. What better way to take care of your best friend than to feed your pet a premium food like CANIDAE?

Read more articles by Anna Lee

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

Do Dogs Understand Words?


By Linda Cole

Most of us who own dogs or cats swear they understand every word we say to them. Dogs tilt their head and listen with eager eyes, and cats respond with an acknowledging meow or tail flick which I’m sure means, “Of course I understand exactly everything you are saying.” In reality, they probably understand only a fraction of what I say, but I know cats and dogs understand words.

Research has shown that dogs are more intelligent than what was once believed. It’s possible your dog’s intelligence equals that of a three year old child. Dogs are just as capable of understanding what we say as parrots or apes, two species considered to be the “Einsteins” of the animal kingdom. Some breeds are considered more intelligent than others, but most dogs are not purebreds. Does a mixed breed have an advantage over purebreds when it comes to intelligence? Do these dogs understand words just as well as their purebred counterparts?

Dogs have an advantage over their owners. Not only do they understand the laws of the pack, they also understand our tone of voice and body language. Body language and tone may contribute more to how dogs interpret our words than what we realize, but dogs understand words and can learn signals from whistles and hand signs. Herding dogs work with their handlers through a series of specific whistles and voice commands. Police dogs and rescue dogs are taught the language of search and rescue, and therapy dogs understand how to assist humans in everyday activities from learned signals and words.

It’s believed an average dog can understand up to 165 words and count up to 5. Some dogs may be able to understand even more words. My mom had a mixed breed named Ben. He was so mixed even our vet couldn’t figure out the possible breeds, but he was smart as a whip. Ben loved toys and my mother loved buying them for him. A green frog was his favorite and he understood each toy had a name. Each night, mom had Ben pick up his toys. It became a game Ben loved to play. Mom called out the name of a toy and Ben picked up each one correctly every time and put it away in his toy box. I learned from him that dogs understand words and can associate those words with an object or toy.

I have two mixed Jack Russell terrier sisters who know the names of the other members in our dog pack. Just as Lassie knew who Timmy was by name, they know and understand the names we use to call the other dogs. They look at the dog just as we would do in a group of people when someone’s name is called out.

Of course our dogs learn to associate words by commands we give them. Down, go outside, stay, go for a walk, fetch or any other word or phrase dogs learn through repetition. However, understanding words and actually knowing what they mean are two different things.

Researchers question whether our pets have the mental capacity to understand love, for instance. Can they really be capable of understanding something as complex and abstract as love or hate? I know dogs are just like us in that they seem to like or dislike certain people. This could be due to body language, protective posturing by the dog or other factors such as unpleasant odors like perfume or other smells on a person. I also know when I cuddle with my dogs and look them in the eyes when I tell them I love them or give them praise, there’s subtle ear flicks and a different look in their eyes like they did understand what I said and what it meant. Of course, that too could be simple association with my body language, tone of voice or actions because I’m also scratching their ears or back or giving them a kiss and hug.

Maybe one day research will be able to determine if our pets can learn abstract concepts, but at the end of the day, does it really matter how much they may or may not understand what we say? Talking to our pets is good for them as well as for us. I think most pets actually treasure our conversations as only they can. Positive attention is always good. They may not understand why your boyfriend/girlfriend is such a loser or why you don’t have time to play ball right now, but dogs understand words more than what was once thought. So enjoy your next conversation with your dog, but remember, they may understand what you are saying more than you realize.

Read more articles by Linda Cole

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

How Many Cats Makes Someone a Crazy Cat Lady?


By Julia Williams

Although I couldn’t find any information on who actually coined the term “Crazy Cat Lady,” it supposedly was first used to describe a cat hoarder, i.e., someone who collects hundreds of cats. Hoarders have serious mental health issues; hence, these cat collectors were called “crazy” despite the very un-pc nature of that slang term.

Later, the term Crazy Cat Lady evolved as a stereotypical label for a lonely, (usually older and always single) woman who either has a house full of felines, or one who likes cats “a little too much.” The Crazy Cat Lady is the butt of many jokes, and she’s made out to be someone who is unnaturally obsessed with cats. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard someone mocking the Crazy Cat Ladies, I’d be rich.

I’ve often wondered, though, how people determine whether someone fits the Crazy Cat Lady stereotype. How many cats does it take to qualify? How much “cat love” is too much? Are you a Crazy Cat Lady if you wear something emblazoned with a kitty, or have cat knick-knacks in your home? Why do we never hear of Crazy Dog Men? Do the same rules even apply to men?

So many questions, and the only one I have a definitive answer to is how many cats it takes to be called a Crazy Cat Lady. I know it has absolutely nothing to do with the number, and everything to do with attitude and lifestyle. You can be a Crazy Cat Lady with one cat, or a dozen. If you dare to choose cats over the traditional route of marriage and children, then you’re most definitely a CCL.

For years, I had a cartoon on my fridge with a woman who said, “My husband told me I had to choose between him and the cats. We miss him sometimes.” It still makes me laugh when I think of it, and I only threw it away because it became tattered and unreadable.

I haven’t always been a Crazy Cat Lady, because I was married for five years. But I am a CCL now, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. I really don’t care what anyone calls me, or who judges me because I choose to love cats. My three cats are among my very best friends, and they bring me the greatest happiness and joy. If someone thinks this is wrong or weird, so be it. I’m content with my choices and lifestyle, and this is all that matters to me.

However, I was a bit surprised to see that the Crazy Cat Lady stereotype has become so ingrained in our society. I discovered this by accident when, out of curiosity, I googled the phrase one day.

I found out there is a Crazy Cat Ladies Society whose purpose is “to use humor to counter the stereotypes made about people who love cats.” They say that claiming the CCL phrase on their own terms takes away its power to offend. Whether it actually does or not, I do appreciate that they’re using humor instead of indignation to counter the stereotype. I don’t personally see the need to be a member, but good for them for taking a stand.

Would it surprise you to learn that there are dozens of products out there devoted to the Crazy Cat Lady? It did me. There is a Crazy Cat Lady Board Game illustrated by four goofily dressed women with silly expressions on their faces. The aim of the game is to collect cats, of course, and the player with the most cats wins.

Then there is the Crazy Cat Lady Magnetic Sculpture Kit, which includes a figure and 12 metal cats that will jump on her the first chance they get. There is a Crazy Cat Lady Nightshirt with a cute illustration on the front, a Crazy Cat Lady Action Figure that comes with six cats (only six?) and a hardcover book titled Outing the Cat Lady: Embracing Your Feline Addiction with Style.

Last but not least is a product that isn’t specifically associated with the Crazy Cat Lady label, but leaves no doubt who the target market is. The Cat Butt Magnet Set includes five furry feline behinds and a hairball. Um…cat butts? I must admit, I find the notion of displaying cat butts on your fridge a little bit strange. It takes the CCL concept to a whole different level. But hey, to each their own.

If there is a Crazy Cat Lady in your life, now you know what to get them for Christmas!

Read more articles by Julia Williams

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

What Happens at a Dog Show?


By Ruthie Bently

Have you ever been to a conformation dog show and thought you had just entered a three ring circus? Now that the Westminster Kennel Club Show at Madison Square Gardens is being televised, it is a bit easier to follow a dog show, but what really goes on? The premise of an all breed conformation dog show is to find the one dog that is the best representation of its own breed. The way this is done is to judge the dog’s physical structure and overall appearance against a set standard for the breed.

At an all breed conformation dog show, the first thing that happens is that the breeds are judged against their own kind to find the best single dog of one given breed. For example, all Labrador Retrievers would compete against each other. This competition is done in the breed ring. After a dog wins its breed, it goes on to the group ring and competes against the other dogs in a specific group. The different groups are Working, Herding, Non-sporting, Terrier, Toy, Hound and Sporting. So a Labrador Retriever would be shown in the Sporting Group, and a Chihuahua would be shown in the Toy Group. After a dog wins in their group ring, they go on to the Best in Show ring and are shown against all the other group winners that were chosen that day.

There are two other kinds of conformation dog shows: specialty shows and group shows. The specialty show is held for one specific breed; for example, there is an American Staffordshire Terrier specialty show every year. Only AmStaffs are invited, but they could come from all over the world, as long as they are registered with the AKC (if the show is held in the United States). The group show is open to dogs of a certain AKC group, i.e., a show for the hound group would be open to Bloodhounds, Greyhounds, Afghan hounds and other dogs in that group. Each dog entered in any AKC or breed club sanctioned dog show must at least meet the minimum requirements for their breed. Each dog is judged by a set standard for its own breed, and can earn points toward a championship.

It takes fifteen points to become an AKC champion. Out of those fifteen points the dog must earn two majors, which is an awarded score of either three, four or five points. The way they determine how high the points awarded will be, is by the number of male and female dogs entered in the show. The more dogs entered, the higher the points awarded. There are seven different classes that a dog can be entered in depending on their age, whether or not their handler is an amateur, who their breeder is, and whether they were born in the United States. After the seven different classes are judged, the winning males and females are brought back and compete again to see which one is best. The males and females are judged separately and only the top two dogs judged “Best Female” and “Best Male” are given championship points.

Besides regular conformation dog shows, you can attend field trials for agility, tracking, herding and hunting, as well as lure coursing, rally, and obedience trials. You can find shows scheduled in your area by visiting the American Kennel Club’s website for more information. These shows are also a great way to get a feel for a specific breed of dog, and what they are capable of doing. So, if you are looking for a new game to play with your own dog, you might want to give one of these shows a look.

Read more articles by Ruthie Bently

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

The Best Food and Water Bowls for Dogs


By Anna Lee

You are probably wondering what the big deal is, right? Grab an old plastic container you don’t need anymore and put some dog food or water in it. Actually, there is a little more to it than that. There are things you need to consider when choosing a food or water bowl for your dog.

You need a bowl that is easy to clean, dishwasher safe, tip and spill proof, durable, and the right size for the job. If you have a 120 pound female Mastiff you can’t put her CANIDAE dry dog food in an old butter container, because it isn’t big enough. She would probably destroy the bowl in a week! On the flip side, you don’t want to use a mixing bowl as a water bowl for a Yorkie!

You need to determine the bowl size by the dog’s size and needs. Narrow and deep feeders are ideal if you have a long-eared dog such as a Bassett Hound or Blood Hound. This design allows your dog to drink or eat without getting his ears in the water or the food. A lab needs a rather large water bowl so you won’t have to fill it quite as often during the day.

There are also automatic feeder bowls on the market. They run on battery and you set the time and amount of food or water that is dispensed. They are not recommended for puppies, but they are fine for the established dog.

At the top of the list for an appropriate bowl, heavy weight stainless steel is the best choice. Get one with a rubber bottom which will stop your dog from pushing the bowl all around the room. It is almost impossible for a dog to break a stainless steel bowl.

If you do happen to have a kitchen cabinet full of old butter containers, throw them in the trash. You don’t need them and your dog doesn’t either. Once you invest a few dollars in a quality bowl you won’t have to buy another one.

Abby is an older dog, and an item I am thinking of buying her is a set of elevated bowls. They come on a stand and there are two bowls fitted into the top. Since it is elevated the dog does not have to bend over so far to eat, which makes it more comfortable for the dog overall and supposedly aids in digestion. You can also clean around elevated bowls very easily.

Where should you feed your dog? That decision is totally up to you. Our last house had vinyl flooring in the kitchen and that is where Abby’s food and water bowls were. This house has hardwood floors in the kitchen. Water and hardwood floors are a bad combination! I keep her bowls just beyond the kitchen in the hall to the laundry room. It has vinyl flooring but I also use a rubber backed runner under the bowls to help contain some of the water spills.

You can find a variety of bowls in all sizes and shapes at your local pet store, online pet stores, Tractor Supply, and almost every discount store including WalMart and Sam’s Club. Check out www.dogsupplies.com for examples of stainless steel bowls and the raised dog bowl systems. They have a very large selection and you don’t have to leave the comfort of your easy chair.

You need the right size food and water bowls for your dog. You dog may not know the difference, but you will!

Read more articles by Anna Lee

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.