Monthly Archives: January 2010

The Courage of Dogs: Iditarod Serum Run of 1925


By Linda Cole

The Iditarod serum run of 1925 put man and dog smack dab into the middle of nature’s fury. Both mushers and dogs had to stay on their toes and keep their wits about them to survive their mission. Without hesitation for their safety, these men made what was thought by some to be a foolish and impossible run on the only trail that linked Nome to the lower part of Alaska. But because of their compassion, grit, trust and knowledge in the ability of their dogs to persist through difficult and at times dangerous conditions, a handful of men were able to save many lives that could have been lost.

Twenty men and 150 dogs took turns inching their way along the mail route as each man handed their precious cargo off to the next musher and team of dogs. They ran 674 miles in five and a half days and safely delivered serum to Nome, Alaska. This small town had been hit with a diphtheria epidemic that threatened the entire town which is only 130 miles south of the Arctic Circle. Most of the relay was done in the dark which makes the Iditarod serum run even more amazing.

Because a major winter storm had developed, the only feasible mode of transportation was by dog sled. Racing along the one established trail, the mail route, the first team headed into the storm. Anyone who lives in an area where wind chills can drop to -50 to -90 can appreciate the determination and grit it took for the men and their dogs to set out on their mission of mercy in one of Alaska’s mighty storms.

The names of the 20 mushers who ran the Iditarod serum run have been recorded, but only some of the names of the dogs are known. Balto, Togo and Fritz have been recorded for posterity and are considered the most famous, but each dog had a name and a role in the success of the run. Twenty lead dogs persisted through howling winds, which at times were gale force, frigid temperatures and blinding snow. Each dog had earned their musher’s trust in their ability and confidence in their instincts to lead.

The lead dog steers the sled and sets an example for all the other dogs to follow. It’s his responsibility to keep the other team members safe. A good lead dog is strong, confident, intelligent and capable of following commands. Good instincts and being familiar with the trail they ran on enabled the dogs to stay on track and avoid any serious accidents that could have spelled disaster if the serum had been lost or any of the vials broken.

Leonhard Seppala was in Nome as the serum run began. He was considered to be the premier dog musher of his time with the best dogs. Togo was his lead dog and Fritz is believed to have run either beside Togo or directly behind him. Seppala planned on taking a risky shortcut across the unpredictable ice packs off shore on Norton Sound as he headed south to meet up with the relay team heading north to Nome. Because of Togo’s experience and the trust Leonhard had in his dog, Togo skillfully lead the team of 20 dogs safely over the shifting and breaking ice pack twice—once heading south to meet the others and then on his return trip with the medicine.

Togo was 12 years old at the time of the serum run which is a testament to his stamina and desire. On top of that, Seppala’s team ran farther than any of the other teams in the relay. He and his dogs began their trip in Nome, the very place where the serum was heading. Norton Sound was considered to be the most dangerous part of the entire run because the ice pack was breaking up and only the best driver and dogs would be able to navigate around the cracking ice. Seppala, Togo and the rest of his team ran a total of 260 miles. They covered 84 miles in one day running at 8 mph, in the dark.

Balto and his team ran the last leg of the relay and is the dog most people remember. Every dog and man pulled their own weight in bone chilling weather conditions that threatened the success of the run at every mile. The story of the Iditarod serum run of 1925 chronicles how man and dogs trusted in the abilities and instincts of each other to survive in the wilds of Alaska. It’s a story that is important to remember and one that needs to be retold from time to time because it’s a story about the courage of dogs and men.

Read more articles by Linda Cole

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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Must-See Classic Movies for Cat Lovers


By Julia Williams

Although I can recall dozens of good movies about dogs off the top of my head, it’s not nearly so easy when it comes to good movies for cat lovers. The number of “felines in film” is quite limited, most likely due to a cat’s independent nature and their dislike of performing on command. Generally, felines don’t seek to please their master because they consider themselves to be the master, i.e., “top cat.” Cats certainly can be trained to do things, but not without a great deal of patience and time (cat treats help too). Dogs are far easier to train, and easier for directors, actors and film crews to work with. Nevertheless, here are a few classic cat movies that I think are worth watching.

That Darn Cat (1965)

This family-friendly cat movie from Walt Disney Productions features a wily Siamese cat named D.C. (Darn Cat) who inadvertently becomes an undercover cop for the FBI. It is laugh-out-loud funny, and good clean fun for all ages.

Synopsis: Robbers holding a bank employee hostage let D.C. into their hideout. Left alone with the cat, the hostage scratches “help” into a watch wristband and places it around his neck. D.C. returns home, whereupon the FBI decides to track the cat’s every move, in the hopes that he might lead them back to the crook’s hideout and help them crack the case.

Dean Jones stars as the good-hearted (but highly allergic to cats) FBI agent assigned to the case, and Hayley Mills plays D.C.’s doting owner and wannabe sleuth. After much sneezing, slapstick comedy and funny feline antics, the robbers are caught, the hostage is rescued, and all ends well. The feline star of That Darn Cat got rave reviews for his performance. Bosley Crowther of The New York Times wrote, “The feline that plays the informant, as the F.B.I. puts it, is superb. Clark Gable at the peak of his performing never played a tom cat more winningly.”

There was a 1997 remake of this Disney classic, also titled That Darn Cat, starring Cristina Ricci and Doug E. Doug, with a cameo appearance by Dean Jones.

Rhubarb (1951)

This baseball comedy is an okay film that’s amusing and pleasant enough to watch. But what makes it a good movie for cat lovers in my opinion, is its outstanding feline star. Orangey was, as you might expect, an orange tabby cat. He was also a fine “actor,” garnering his first of two Patsy Awards, (Picture Animal Top Star of the Year, the animal equivalent of the Oscar).

Synopsis: an eccentric millionaire dies and leaves his fortune – and his pro baseball team – to his feisty cat. This sets in motion a comedic plot involving baseball, romance, court battles with disgruntled relatives who aim to prove that the cat is mentally unfit to control the old man’s money, and crooked gamblers who become “catnappers.”

Orangey, sometimes billed as Rhubarb the Cat and later named Minerva, was trained by the famous animal handler Frank Inn. Orangey won his second Patsy Award ten years after his breakout role in Rhubarb, for his portrayal of “Cat” in the classic 1961 Audrey Hepburn film, Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

Harry and T0nto (1974)

Art Carney won both an Academy Award and a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Leading Role for his portrayal of Harry in this great movie. Harry and Tonto was also nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture.

Synopsis: Harry, a retired teacher and widower in his 70s, lives in New York City with his best friend, an orange tabby cat named Tonto. When the building is condemned, Harry and Tonto begin an adventuresome journey across the United States. They visit his children, make new friends, and meet all sorts of bizarre characters from all walks of life.

Harry and Tonto is a wonderful film that children and adults, cat lovers, and fans of thoughtful, heartfelt movies will all enjoy. Incidentally, the other Oscar nominees for Best Actor that year included Jack Nicholson (Chinatown), Al Pacino (Godfather Part II), and Dustin Hoffman (Lenny). Many people, including Art Carney himself, were astonished that he won.

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.

How Well Do Dogs and Cats Hear?


By Linda Cole

Dogs and cats and are in a special category when it comes to hearing, or not hearing, their human companions. They can be nowhere in sight, yet never miss the careful opening of a bag of potato chips or cookies. But just try and get their attention when they are in the same room with us – it’s like talking to the wall! Cats definitely have selective hearing when it comes to us, but a quiet mouse sneaking up on a missed piece of cat food on the kitchen floor can be heard loud and clear. Their sense of hearing is phenomenal; so it would seem that most dogs and cats only hear us when they want to.

Cat ears are amazing little radar antennas that have the ability to focus in on two different sounds inches apart from each other three feet away. They can distinguish these sounds so precisely and hone in on where the exact sound is coming from that a cat can tell if you are getting into a cupboard that has no food in it versus the one where you keep her favorite treats. They can detect the size of prey and the distance of a sound in just six one hundredth of a second, and can hear five times farther than we can hear.

Cats hear higher frequencies than dogs or humans. Because of that, a woman’s voice can be more soothing to a cat, especially if it’s upset. Our sense of hearing is in a range of 20 hertz up to 20 kilohertz, but dogs hear up to 40 kilohertz and a cat’s hearing jumps into the higher pitched range of 60 kilohertz. However, a cat’s range starts at 30 hertz which means they probably don’t hear lower tones as well as we do, and that could be why cats don’t always respond to a man with a deep voice. Since mice have a tiny high pitched squeak, it’s bad news for any wayward mouse in a cat’s domain.

Because of the upright and erect shape of their ears, cats can hear with amazing accuracy. Thirty different muscles allow them to rotate their ears 180 degrees independently of each other which helps them focus in on any interesting sounds they hear. These sounds are then funneled down through their ears and picked up by extremely sensitive hairs located in the base of the ear. From there, the sound is transmitted to the cat’s brain via the auditory nerve. Even though they are experts at selective hearing, a cat does hear extremely well and knows exactly what is going on in his world.

Dogs can hear with the same kind of accuracy as cats, and their ears also rotate to pinpoint the exact location of where a sound is coming from in less than a second. They can quickly decipher pertinent information to determine if they need to be on alert. If it’s a sound coming from another animal, the dog can even determine the height of the animal and know if it’s prey or predator.

A dog with floppy ears can’t hear as well as those with ears standing erect. Like cats, dogs hear and pick up on our tone of voice as well as the pitch in our voice much better than we realize. As they listen to what we say, they are able to distinguish what we mean by our pitch and tone more than by our words. If we are trying to train a dog, his response is determined by how well we convey a command to him. A sharper tone will get his attention and if you are training a puppy, using a whistle or an abrupt noise will tell him to pay attention to you.

Dogs can move their ears independently too, and have 15 muscles that help them locate and pick up sounds. We can pick up a sound 100 yards away, but a dog can hear a sound that’s a quarter of a mile away. Dogs have a unique ability to actually close off their inner ear so they can weed out distracting noises and focus only on the sound they are interested in. I guess that’s what they must be doing when they ignore us. And the next time they refuse to go outside in the rain, it might not be because they don’t want to get wet, but because the falling rain may actually be hurting their sensitive ears.

Since dogs and cats can hear so well, sirens, loud music and raised voices are annoying to them. We will get their attention better with a softer voice. It’s also important to pay close attention to their ears to make sure they are not infected with ear mites or other bacterial or yeast infections that can cause permanent hearing loss if left untreated.

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.

The Best Dog Breeds for Runners


By Suzanne Alicie

We’ve all seen those movies and television shows where the faithful dog keeps pace with his owner as they run through the park or on the beach. Luckily I am not a runner because my dogs would be dragging me all over the place. While any dog can be trained to run with you properly, there are some breeds that have a runner’s temperament and stamina.

If you are a runner who is looking for canine companionship, you may want to check out the following breeds to insure that you get a running partner who can keep up with you.

Vizsla

The Vizsla breed has shown an above average ability to be trained. As a natural hunter with a strong sense of smell, the Vizsla can be easily distracted if not well trained. But when it comes to keeping up with you and being a good companion runner, the Vizsla is affectionate and lively as well as having high energy and endurance. A Vizsla should be able to run for miles with you without tiring, as long as you can keep him focused.

Weimaraner

This friendly and obedient dog breed has the added benefit of being very intelligent and easy to train. Possessing great stamina and balance, the Weimaraner is a perfect running partner for long runs. They will excel at a steady pace, and are also a wonderful companion for hikers. Like the Vizsla, the Weimaraner has been bred for centuries to be a hunter; that sense of smell can lead to distraction, but this breed is easy to get re-focused if he picks up a scent. Simple words of encouragement will bring him right to your side.

Rhodesian Ridgeback

The Rhodesian Ridgeback is a strong athletic breed that was originally bred as a hunter – a lion hunter to be exact. This breed has wonderful endurance at a steady pace, and is a quick partner for sprinters as well. A Rhodesian Ridgeback is loyal and makes a good companion dog for its owner, but may have some socialization issues unless he is introduced to and becomes accustomed to people and other dogs being around.

Border Collie

Energetic and intelligent, Border Collies will love running with you to work off some of their excess energy. The Border Collie is a herding dog, and will attempt to group the people around it; this can be dealt with through training. A Border Collie is, simply put, an athletic dog who will strive to please and keep up with their beloved owner.

Dalmatian

While many of us think of a Dalmatian as a fire truck dog more suited to riding than running, this breed was originally bred to run alongside a horse drawn carriage. This high energy breed is ideal for runners, as they are fast, intelligent and active. Running is a great way to keep your Dalmatian from becoming bored and using all that energy in a destructive manner.

While all dogs need to be walked and exercised, for a dedicated runner it is important to choose a breed that has the characteristics needed to be a good running partner. Training is an essential step in turning your pet into a running partner, however. Don’t expect to choose one of these high energy breeds, and have him immediately know to stay by your side. Dogs that aren’t used to being with runners are more likely to walk and run in short bursts as they do with children or other family members while on a leash. Be patient and teach the dog to be your running partner. Within a few weeks, your dog will be looking forward to long runs at your side.

Read more articles by Suzanne Alicie

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 Trade-Offs of Having Pets


By Julia Williams

I’ve heard it said many times that “when you have children, your life changes forever.” Having a child does significantly alter the way people live, on a daily basis as well as long term. To a lesser extent, the same can be said for having pets. Bringing a companion animal into our home requires that we make lifestyle changes. There are things we have to choose between, and sacrifices we may need to make for the sake of our pet’s wellbeing, and sometimes our own. So what are some of the trade-offs of having pets?

Freedom

Responsible pet owners give up the ability to leave town on a whim. If our animals are staying behind, then before we hit the highway or hop a plane to Cancun, we need to make arrangements for their care. In my opinion, that goes for cats too. I was once called sanctimonious for saying that cats shouldn’t be left to fend for themselves while their owners go away on vacation, but I stand by my belief. Dogs and cats are not capable of calling 911 or seeking emergency care in the event of an accident; as such, our duty as primary caregiver is to make sure they are looked after in our absence. I trade the freedom to take off at a moment’s notice, with the good feeling that comes from knowing my cats are well cared for while I’m away.

Time

Having pets requires that we give up a lot of this precious commodity. Our animals rely on us to feed them, shop for their food, clean up after them, play with them and groom them. Dogs also need regular exercise in the form of walks, runs, or trips to the dog park. Very often, our lives can be so busy that these things feel more like a “chore” instead of a labor of love. Be that as it may, they aren’t optional. Responsible pet owners willingly trade their time in order to properly care for their animal companions.

Money

There is no denying that pets are expensive. Some cost more than others, but all require that we trade money for the privilege of having them in our life. When adopting a pet, many people fail to consider just how much money it takes to care for them, and they are caught unawares. Add in unexpected expenses like accidents, illness or an aging pet, and you can quickly see that pet ownership does not come cheap.

A monetary trade-off I recently made involved my pet door. Because it’s drafty, I close it off in the winter, and my cats stay inside 24/7. However, Mickey gets rather irritated with that arrangement and he scuffles with Rocky, particularly late at night. One night while I was in bed, a cat fight took place on my face, so after examining my scratched cheek I made a decision: I opened the drafty pet door so I could have two cordial cats. This seems like a pretty good trade-off to me.

A spotlessly clean house

Dogs and cats shed, and they make messes. They track in mud, dirt, plant debris and other unsavory things that muck up our floors and soil our carpets and furniture. Choosing a short haired breed lessens the shedding problem somewhat, but not entirely. You can religiously vacuum, scrub and dust, but the reality is that a home with pets is not going to be spotlessly clean all of the time. Sometimes this can be embarrassing, such as the time a delivery person sat in a chair my cat had slept in. When he turned to leave, I saw that the seat of his pants was entirely covered in cat hair! (And no, I didn’t brush it off, nor did I say a word).

Many pet owners also choose to forego expensive furnishings and/or fragile items that can’t be placed where they won’t get knocked off by a wagging tail or a climbing cat. I don’t put a cover on my couch and I let my cats sleep on my bedspread, because I choose not to buy overly pricey things. This way, it’s not a big deal to me if they get wrecked by cat claws or gastric “accidents.”

Certainly, pet ownership is not without trials and tribulations. But then, isn’t that the very nature of our existence? My own life so far has been a series of happy times entwined with sad and challenging times. Having pets, or not having them, wouldn’t change this. It’s true that over the years, I’ve made many trade-offs in order to have pets. I’m sure you have too. But when I think of all the things I’ve given up or had to forego, there isn’t a single one I would choose over the love and companionship of my feline friends.

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.

How to Choose the Right Dog Collar


By Ruthie Bently

Dogs should always wear a collar, whether it is for identification or training purposes. Not only that, most dogs wear collars from the time they are puppies until they leave us and cross the “rainbow bridge.” Choosing the right collar for your dog is very important; it needs to be comfortable, as well as being the right size and weight for them. There are other things to consider when purchasing a dog collar too. Is it for a new puppy or an adult dog? Is it for training, and if so what kind: obedience, confirmation or Schutzhund?

If you are choosing a collar for a puppy, just remember that they are teething and your beautiful leather collar may end up on the bottom of their crate if they get to it. When I was still in pet retail and sold a collar, our only alternatives were nylon or leather; now there are more choices. You can choose nylon, which is durable and easy to clean. Or you can choose cotton or hemp, both of which come from renewable sources. I like the renewable idea because I am a recycler, but do what fits your budget the best.

If you are choosing a collar for an adult dog, they are past the teething stage (though they may still be chewers) and a fancier collar is fine. I dressed Nimber in a collar made from saddle leather after he was an adult, and he looked great. Skye on the other hand, is a rough-and-tumble dog; she wears a decorated nylon collar that is easy to wash. When an everyday collar is fitted properly, you should be able to fit two fingers side by side between your dog’s collar and their body, and should not be able to pull the collar off over their head.

Are you looking for a training collar for your dog? Different trainers may require different collars for training; if it is a beginning obedience class most trainers prefer a choke collar. However, you should only have a choke collar on your dog when training, and it should be taken off as soon as training is finished. There are several link sizes, so make sure you get the appropriate link size. Don’t use a collar on a puppy that would be more suited to a two year old dog, choose a choke collar with smaller links.

A choke collar that fits well should not fall off over your dog’s head; however, it should be loose enough that it doesn’t choke your dog on its own. To fit a choke on your dog, face your dog, form the choke collar into the shape of the letter “P” and put it over their head. When fitted correctly you should have about four fingers worth of draw when making your correction. Too much or too little draw and your correction will have no effect on your dog.

The “pinch” collar is another training collar, so called because it pinches the dog’s neck much like a mother dog does with her teeth when she is disciplining a puppy. The pinch collar also has different link sizes, and links can be added and removed as needed. This collar does not go over the dog’s head, and when fitted properly should have about two inches on each side of the center ring that lies on your dog’s body. I prefer the pinch collar, as it does not cut off a dog’s wind, and I can give a firm, but gentle correction to get the results I desire.

You should check your dog’s regular collar every day to make sure that the stitching, buckle and any rhinestones or additions are not loose or coming apart. Your training collar should be checked daily as well for rust and elongated end rings. If the plating is beginning to come off, cease using it, as you can get metal slivers from the burrs that the wear of the plating can create. If this happens you should replace the collar with a new one.

Whichever collar you choose, whether it is for training, everyday wear or fancy dress, it should fit your dog properly and wear well. After all, you wouldn’t go to work wearing a tie with a hole in it or a pair of pantyhose that is three sizes too small.

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.