Monthly Archives: January 2012

“Simon’s Cat” Animated Cartoons are Simply Meowvalous

By Julia Williams

I love cats, and I love cartoons. So today I decided to share some information about my all-time favorite cat cartoon called Simon’s Cat. Now, I’m sure some of you know about this animated series and have watched the hilarious films on YouTube or Facebook. If you’re a cat lover, you can’t help but love the Simon’s Cat cartoons! I may have a lot of “favorite things involving cats,” but Simon’s Cat cartoons are at the top of that long list. They always make me laugh…and laugh… and laugh. The cartoons are such an incredible mood lifter, but I learned the hard way that I must put down any drink or snack before clicking the play button on my computer screen.

About the Simon’s Cat Cartoons

Simon’s Cat was created by Simon Tofield, an award-winning English illustrator, animator and director at Tandem Films in London. Simon is a “cat guy” who not only clearly loves and understands felines, but brilliantly translates that into the funniest animated cat cartoons I’ve ever seen! The Simon’s Cat cartoons center around the relationship between a man and his mischievous cat, who is always getting into some kind of trouble. If you’ve ever shared your home with a cat, you’ll recognize many of this cartoon cat’s antics, which Simon illustrates so hilariously. This “foodie cat” will do just about anything to get noms, including stealing a giant turkey off the table and leaving a small can of cat food in its place. The cat’s signature move is pointing to his mouth and making an amusing “feed me” meow that cracks me up no matter how many times I see it.

Simon’s Cat made his first appearance in March of 2008, in a film called “Cat Man Do,” described as “A hungry cat resorts to increasingly desperate measures to wake its sleeping owner.” Simon’s Cat has a huge fan base on Facebook and on YouTube, where that first cartoon has more than 29 million views! All of the Simon’s Cat films (there are 16 to date!) can be watched for free on their website and YouTube, and there’s talk of making a special DVD compilation of the films with added extras. I think that’s a splendid idea, but I’m not sure my body could survive all that laughing; I’d have to pace myself and only watch 5 minutes at a time.

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Kooikerhondje – A Beautiful and Rare Dog Breed

By Linda Cole

The Kooikerhondje is a rare dog breed that originated in Holland around the 1500’s. Nicknamed Kooiker, they’re also called Dutch Decoy Dog. The name is pronounced coy-ker-hund-che, although sometimes it’s pronounced koy-ker-hund. According to historians, it’s thought the Kooiker and the Nova Scotia Duck-Tolling Retriever share origins because of a similar working style. Both dogs were bred to hunt ducks in a rather unique way.

Generations of Dutch hunters devised a foolproof method of trapping ducks, and they used the Kooikerhondje as bait, so to speak. The men constructed a pipe of sorts beside a pond used by ducks. It consisted of netting spread out over a long archway with a trap at the end of a tunnel. The trap was called a “Kooi” and that’s most likely where the Kooikerhondje name came from. The dog was trained to get the attention of the ducks and lure them down the tunnel far enough that by the time they lost interest in the dog, it was too late to get back out the opening because the hunters would stand in the entry way and block it. This forced the ducks to continue down the tunnel, into the trap.

This trapping method was and still is a very effective use of the Kooikerhondje’s unique characteristics. Once the trap is set up and ready, hunters toss a stick into the pond. The dog jumps into the pond in a game of fetch and then plays with the stick; tossing it up in the air and trying to catch it. For some reason, this attracts ducks. When the hunters think the dog has the ducks attention, they instruct the dog to start to lure them into the trap. A long, bushy white tipped tail keeps the ducks curious enough to follow him. An entire flock of ducks can be trapped using just one dog. This method is still used today for conservation efforts to study, tag and inspect flocks for research and to monitor the health of duck populations.

This 20-40 pound sporting dog was on the verge of becoming extinct during WW II, but because of the efforts of Baroness Van Hartenbroek van Ammerstol, the breed was saved. With only 25 Kooikers to be found in Holland, the Baroness made a commitment in 1939 and began a dedicated breeding program. She is also credited with helping allied pilots in WWII escape from the Germans by using her dogs to lead soldiers through the woods to the safety of the Belgian border.

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Why I Feed My Cats FELIDAE

By Julia Williams

Many years ago, long before CANIDAE started this blog, I became a fan of their FELIDAE cat food. And nearly a decade later, I’m still a fan. I mention FELIDAE in some of my posts because it is, after all, the food my three cats eat. I realized some people might think, “Well of course she recommends this food since she writes for their blog!” It’s actually the opposite – I became a contributor for the Responsible Pet Ownership blog in 2009 because I already had a positive experience with the FELIDAE brand, and I had published an unsolicited review of the food on another website. But I’m getting ahead of myself here. I want to share the tale of how and why this food became the only one I feed to my cats.

I’ve loved cats forever, and I’d never knowingly do anything that would harm them. From my very first cat to my current three, I have promised to not only love and cherish them, but to do my best to keep them healthy. To that end, my cats always get regular vet checkups and also go in whenever there’s even a whiff of trouble.

I thought I was a responsible pet owner and was doing everything I could to keep them healthy. But here’s the thing – I was feeding them sub-par supermarket cat food because I didn’t know any better. I bought the cheapest food too, usually whatever was on sale that week. I bought my own food at the supermarket, so why wouldn’t I buy my cat food there too? It’s safe to say I didn’t know a thing about what might make one cat food better than another. Mind you, this was also before many, if any, premium quality foods like FELIDAE even existed. Still, cat food was just something I didn’t give a lot of thought to, other than buying more when I was running low.

The turning point for me as a cat food consumer came in the late 90s, when I read a book called Natural Health for Dogs and Cats by Richard Pitcairn, a noted holistic veterinarian from Oregon. I bought this book primarily for its holistic approach to cat care and its comprehensive section on pet ailments and treatments. Little did I know, Dr. Pitcairn also addressed nutritional issues I had never even thought about before, and it forever changed the way I looked at pet food.

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Remembering Stubby, the Most Decorated Dog in History

By Langley Cornwell

The U.S. Military has been using Working Dogs since World War I. At that time, selfless American families donated their pets to the wartime efforts. These days, military dogs and their volunteer handlers are trained as sentry, trackers, scouts, mine/booby-trap/tunnel and water detection of enemy forces. These amazing animals were used in WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Persian Gulf, Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq. The U.S. War Dogs website estimates that these courageous canine heroes saved more than 10,000 lives during the Vietnam conflict.

The website goes on to say that today, all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces are using Military Patrol Dogs who specialize in drug and bomb/explosive detection. At this time, there are roughly 600-700 military dogs in the Middle East in places such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia. These valiant canines are patrolling air bases, ammunition depots, military compounds and military check points.

And it all started with a stray, mixed breed mutt named Stubby. Where he came from is a mystery; one day in 1917 Stubby just showed up at Yale Field in New Haven, Connecticut. At the time, soldiers were running drills and the pup playfully joined the ranks. All the soldiers were happy for the company but one soldier in particular, Corporal Robert Conroy, formed a swift and strong bond with the dog.

Conroy quickly noted Stubby’s intelligence. Without much effort, he taught Stubby to shake hands. Once Stubby mastered that trick, Conroy decided to teach him to raise his paw a little higher when he was given the order to ‘salute’.

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How to Get Your Dog to Stop Barking

By Linda Cole

My beagle/terrier mix loves to bark, especially when she’s outside. If it moves, Alex barks and once she starts, there’s apparently no “off” button. Some breeds bark more than others, and beagles are among them. You can yell at a barking dog until you’re blue in the face and they may stop briefly – but usually start in again. This problem behavior isn’t entirely their fault, however. We have to accept our role in their unacceptable barking if we don’t teach them what we want them to learn. It’s not that difficult to do, but you have to commit to teaching them, and it can take some time to get your dog to stop barking.

One thing dogs do well is vocalize. They alert us to intruders or danger by using their voice. Happy yaps say your dog is having fun playing. Some dogs bark to let us know when they see something interesting, and barking lets other animals know they have been seen. Dogs bark when they’re lonely, bored, feel threatened or stressed, for attention, or when they don’t get enough mental or physical exercise.

A barking dog is annoying, especially to neighbors. Most people understand if a dog has a reason to bark, but yapping constantly is likely to get you a visit from the local police if your neighbors complain. In some cases, you may be asked to leave an apartment or rental home if you can’t contain your dog’s barking.

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Can You Imagine Living in a World Without Animals?

By Julia Williams

I read a thought-provoking post recently on one of my favorite pet blogs, 24 Paws of Love. She wrote of having a day where things were going from bad to worse and just as she was about to “lose it,” the sight of two dogs instantly calmed her down. Mind you, these were not her own dogs, who were at home while she was out and about. She wrote, “I didn’t need to touch them or have any major connection with them, their presence was enough to settle those frayed emotions. All it takes sometimes is a glimpse of an animal, whether it be wild or domesticated, to feel back in touch with myself.” She went on to ask if others felt this same connection with the animal world, where just seeing them could elicit comfort and a sense of belonging.

Oh yes, I thought to myself…all the time. I understood this feeling completely, having had similar experiences time and again, for as long as I can remember. But what surprised me is that several others said they felt the same. I’d always thought it was somewhat uncommon to feel so innately and intensely connected to animals, even (and especially) those that are not your own. I now realize I may have been wrong about that. There are others like me, who would not really know how to live in a world without animals.

In the presence of animals, I feel more grounded and more comfortable than I do with people. I empathize more with animals than I do with humans, and feel as though they are somehow more like me than any human I know. Developing a deep bond with an animal is second nature to me, but to feel a meaningful connection with another human takes a lot of effort. It can be done, but it doesn’t happen nearly as naturally for me.

I’ve long held the belief that you are either born an animal lover, or not. Further, that this sense of connection to animals is not hereditary or a product of our environment. I really think it’s either there at birth, or it isn’t. Now, sometimes we can suppress this love just as we can also amplify it by our life choices. In other words, if our parents were not animal lovers and did not want a pet, it may take being out on our own before we realize that we don’t feel the same way. Conversely, we might know that we love animals and love having a pet, but it takes a certain pet coming into our lives to make us realize how vitally important they are to us and our sense of well-being.

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