Monthly Archives: October 2011

Growing Cat Grass

By Julia Williams

Does your cat like to eat grass? Mine sure do. The minute I let them out for a romp in the morning sunshine, they make a beeline for the lawn. Of course, immediately after this grass gorging, they come back inside to redeposit it on the carpet. When I hear that telltale sound I race over to scoot my cat into the kitchen. The life of my carpet depends on it!

This daily act of carpet preservation was the first thing I thought about when my friend gave me a “cat grass kit” last Christmas. “Are you nuts?” was the second thing I thought about. Like I don’t have enough trouble – now I’m going to grow grass so they can ruin my carpet in the middle of winter, when there isn’t a blade of grass to be found outdoors?

Well, in a moment of weakness (insanity?) I decided to try growing cat grass. The little planter was so cute, and the kit said cat grass was a nutritious snack that provided several health benefits, so it sucked me in. Thankfully, the grass I grew for my cats did not have the same undesirable after-effect. I’m not sure why, but I think it might have something to do with the type of seed; it was a welcome surprise nonetheless. My cats also took to it immediately. The first time I put the cat grass down, they nearly mowed it into oblivion. I had to put it on top of the fridge so they couldn’t eat every last blade on the first day.

Cat grass is very easy to grow. It sprouts in just a few days and grows quickly – as much as one inch a day! It’s recommended to let the grass get at least four inches high before letting your cat snack on it. The grass will continue to grow for a few weeks. If your cat is like mine and tries to eat too much grass at once, you may want to put it down for just a few minutes and then put it someplace out of reach.

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What Our Scent and Voice Mean to Our Pets

By Linda Cole

I saw a news story the other day about a little dog named Mango that had gotten onto a multi-lane highway. Traffic was at a standstill as Mango’s dad tried in vain to capture the terrified dog. Mango raced around evading capture and finally ran off into a neighborhood. Animal control arrived to help, and the poor dog was at her wits’ end as strangers closed in on her. Finally, Mango’s mom arrived and called to her, and the frightened dog raced into her arms. It brought tears to my eyes as I thought about how confused and scared Mango was. Pets love the sound of our voice, and our scent is the best perfume in the world to them. Our scent can even help lead a lost dog or cat home.

Why do pets steal our stuff? Because our smell is all over everything we touch. They love to snuggle in our beds and clothes. My dog Riley’s favorite place to be while I’m working is on a footstool under my desk. I have a pillow on it for my comfort, but she loves to lay on it and rest her head on my leg. I love it just as much as she does; I know she’s doing it because she likes to be next to me and she can snuggle next to my scent which makes her feel safe.

Our voice is a sweet melody to our pets. Their entire body language changes when we talk to them. My cat Jabbers will roll over on his back and stick his front paws in the air as he listens to me. His eyes are fixed on me. Then he sits up and talks to me. Some of my other cats will join in to see what’s going on. The dogs gather around me with their tails wagging furiously when I talk to them. Some days I feel like I’m a rock star with adoring fans. But then, in our pet’s eyes we are rock stars!

My Siberian Husky Cheyenne was an escape artist. She found ways out of the dog pen or raced past visitors at the front door. She learned how to quickly slip out of her collar on walks. I had to watch her like a hawk. If she got away despite my best efforts, she’d be gone for about an hour before I’d see her slowly making her way out of the woods nearby. When she was running away, my calls fell on deaf ears but coming back, she was worn out from her run. As soon as she heard my voice, her beautiful blue eyes would light up and she’d walk over to me with the most innocent look.

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Secrets of a Working Dog

By Julia Williams

When you think about the term “working dog,” this usually brings to mind one or more of the various jobs that dogs do, such as herding, search & rescue, police work, assisting the disabled, sniffing out explosives, or offering a therapeutic paw to hospital patients and others who need one. Those are just some of the ways dogs help humans. Bella the Boxer is a different breed of working dog, but her help is just as invaluable!

Bella is a self-described “dogpreneur,” and she’s written a very insightful book called Secrets of a Working Dog: Unleash Your Potential and Create Success. I’ve just finished reading it, and I highly recommend it. This great book is for anyone who wants to be successful in business as well as in life – and doesn’t that pretty much describe all of us?

It’s a fun read for dog lovers too, because Bella presents ideas that show how we can incorporate desirable traits canines have to make our own lives better. Such as, “Dogs follow their own instincts. We don’t worry about being judged or criticized by others…be your own dog and don’t let what other people think keep you from taking risks and pursuing your dreams.”

I hesitate to call Secrets of a Working Dog a self-help book, because that genre tends to have negative connotations. It was very helpful, though. It’s filled with pearls of doggie wisdom, bite-sized juicy tidbits and chunks of food-for-thought on how to create success and live a meaningful life – no matter who you are, where you’re at now on your life journey, or where you want to be in the future!

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Intro to Weight Pulling, a Fun Sport for Dogs

By Jen Lupo, CANIDAE Special Achiever

There are many dog lovers out there competing in various different events. Back in 2009, I found one that sparked my interest: weight pulling. This dog sport has been around for a while, although it’s not as popular as conformation, agility, obedience and dock jumping. Weight pulling involves strength and endurance, but it also creates an amazing bond between an owner and their pet!

Overview

Most dog owners are unaware of this interesting sport. Any breed of dog can compete or just have a good time with it. From the smallest toy poodle to the biggest Great Dane, each dog has fun and gains confidence and athleticism. It usually involves a dog in a specially designed harness, hooked up to a sled, cart or rail type system. The dog is then given a command that the owner chooses to get the dog to pull forward. Typically, the object being pulled has to be accomplished 16 ft in 60 seconds or less.

The Beginning

When I start training my dogs for this sport, they just wear a harness around. This helps them get accustomed to wearing the harness and the noise of it clinking around. From there, I have attached a milk jug to the D ring on the back with rocks inside. That’s a great way to get noise going on back there, while walking them around on leash. A buckle collar is the only one I train with. It is the only collar approved for competition, and it’s safe. Chokers and other types of training collars to me get in the way or cause too much correction. Remember, it should be something happy for the dog. Any negative feedback will cause a dog to not want to pull.

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Protect Your Pet from the Ghosts of Halloween

By Linda Cole

Halloween is a holiday many people plan for long before the leaves begin to fall. Spooky costumes, eerie sounds, and a house full of masked intruders invade our lives, which can terrify some pets. Halloween is a time for human fun, but it’s also a time to remember your pet to help make their holiday as stress free as possible. It’s a reminder that’s given each year, but it’s important because we need to keep our pets safe during this holiday.

Many people decorate their homes with scary ghosts and goblins, and play creepy sounds on the CD player for Halloween. A pet’s home is suddenly overrun with two legged creatures that may sound like humans, but they don’t look normal and that can confuse and frighten some pets. We don’t always notice how our pets react to things we find enjoyable. Scary music and loud noises can be stressful. It’s enough to send a frightened dog or cat racing out the front door when it’s opened to trick-or-treaters or guests arriving for a party.

Animal shelters are very busy right after Halloween with lost pets that are found and turned over to them. Even a friendly and happy dog can become stressed or aggressive by seeing creatures instead of people standing at the front door. Not all pets are happy when company comes, and dogs or cats that normally go crazy every time the doorbell rings can become agitated with the constant interruptions. The safest thing you can do to protect your pet and your guests is to secure your pet in a room away from the ghosts of Halloween. If your pet doesn’t have a microchip, make sure they wear an ID tag just in case they slip out the door. That way, if someone finds your pet they know who to call. If you walk your dog on Halloween, keep him on a short leash to control him better. Using reflective tape on his collar and leash can help drivers see him.

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The Bizarre Behaviors of Cats

By Julia Williams

Cats are such strange creatures. Not strange in a bad way, just prone to bizarre behavior that can leave you wondering what exactly is going on in that pretty little head of theirs.  I suppose there are cat critics who’d argue that nothing is going on in their heads and that’s why they act so peculiar. However, I’m convinced that cats know exactly why they do the things they do! And I think they might even do some things precisely because it keeps us guessing. I think they don’t want us to “figure them out” because being decoded would go against their feline nature, i.e., pretending to be independent and oblivious to us.

After decades of living with cats, I’ve concluded that it’s pointless to try to understand why they do such strange things. Most if not all of the funny things cats do will never be understood. Knowing the crafty feline mind like I do, I wouldn’t put it past them to pretend to be asleep when they’re actually lying there concocting yet another kooky behavior to confuse their gullible human.

A cat’s fascination with boxes is high on my list of the behaviors I find perplexing. What’s up with that? I saw a photo cartoon that had a bunch of boxes on a deserted road, and each box had a cat sitting in it. The caption said, “The cat traps are working.” Funny, but so true! I daresay there isn’t a cat alive that doesn’t love boxes. They sleep in them, play in them, slide through them (Maru!) and wedge themselves into the teensiest box like feline contortionists. Why? And how can that even be comfortable?

Moreover, why would they prefer sleeping in that hard box or on the cold floor instead of their cozy cat bed? Who sleeps on the floor, anyway? I was so excited when I got my cats a multi-level scratching post/cat condo with three places that looked (to my dumb eye) like great places to sleep. They took one look at this thing and bolted off to find their favorite box. It’s become a lovely piece of “corner art” now.

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