Monthly Archives: February 2012

The Noble and Impressive Tibetan Mastiff

By Linda Cole

The Tibetan Mastiff is a perfect example of why getting the right dog for your lifestyle is so important. According to the American Tibetan Mastiff Association, “If you want an obedient dog, a dog that you can walk off leash, a dog that will come when called, the TM is not the dog for you. If you lead an active social life with many people coming in and out of your house, the TM is not the dog for you. If you have small children or many children come to visit, the TM may not be the dog for you. If you prize your wood furniture (or your plaster walls) and you will be upset if they were chewed on (or eaten in their entirety), the TM is not for you.”

It’s not that the Tibetan Mastiff is a bad dog that can’t be controlled. He’s an intelligent, strong willed and independent dog who believes he knows more than his owner. However, he is loyal and extremely protective of his family and property. People the dog doesn’t know will most likely not be allowed to enter your home. He’s adaptable, likes to think on his own and make his own decisions, and is quite capable of having good judgment.

History

The Tibetan Mastiff was bred as a guard dog and will protect family and home with a fierce determination. This rare dog breed is descended from the ancient Tibetan Mastiff that is thought to go back as far as 1100 BC in China. Little is known about the history of the early dogs. They lived and worked in the high Himalayan Mountains as guard dogs and were isolated for centuries. During the day, the dogs were kept confined and released at night to patrol the entire town. Some villages only had one dog on guard duty at night.

The dogs were also effective fighters and protectors, and were used in armies of the Assyrians, Persians, Greeks and Romans. They even went into Europe with Attila the Hun and Genghis Khan. However, the breed continued to exist only in the Himalayans and central plains of Asia until 1847 when one was given to England’s Queen Victoria. Today, this giant rare dog breed is even hard to find in their homeland. They are still used to guard livestock and protect their owner from mainly wolves and snow leopards.

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The Myth of the “Independent Cat”

By Julia Williams

As stereotypes about cats go, the two I dislike almost as much as that Crazy Cat Lady thing are “felines are so independent” and “cats are not affectionate.” If I had a dollar for every time I read those and similar statements in some blog or article on the internet, I’m pretty sure I would be living on a tropical island (or at least someplace where the winters aren’t so inhospitable.) Time after time, cats are described as aloof, unfeeling, unfriendly, not desiring human companionship, able to take care of themselves, wanting no interaction with their owner, etc. etc.

I have to wonder who all these people are, and have they ever lived with a cat? I’ve shared my home with 11 cats over my lifetime, and none of mine have ever been any of those things. On the contrary, they’ve all been friendly, loving souls who clearly crave and love human companionship. I also know countless many people –family and friends in real life as well as pet blogging acquaintances – who have formed close, loving bonds with their feline friends. Surely all of our affectionate, human-loving cats were not flukes! Yet that myth of the feline as a totally independent creature incapable of love is everywhere.

One the one hand, I have to laugh since it’s such a ridiculous notion to me. On the other hand, it’s kind of sad because who knows how many homeless cats in shelters are overlooked by people who hear and read that nonsense many times over… and actually believe it. They rush little Sally and Billy past the cages with the cats without so much as a glance in their direction, because they want a family pet that the kids can interact with and share love and affection, and everyone knows that isn’t what cats are like, right? Of course.

So the family adopts a dog instead and the children never know that a cat could be a fun, funny, loving, sweet, and wonderful pet that would enrich their life in so many ways. It’s a crying shame. Oh, it’s great for all the shelter dogs that find a forever home, to be sure. Yet it’s mighty unfair to all the cats who’ve done nothing to deserve this negative label.

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Have You Heard About Treibball?

By Langley Cornwell

Treibball is a competitive canine sport that originated in Germany. The sport is designed to give high-energy, active dogs the mental and physical stimulation they need to be happy, well-adjusted animals. In addition to the many benefits the sport offers our canine friends, Treibball is also good for pet owners – it’s a fantastic way to form a deep and abiding bond with your dog! The sport fosters communication and teamwork between a dog and his owner/handler on many levels.

What exactly is Treibball? Here are answers to common questions about the sport.    

Who can participate?

The activity is good for dogs of all ages and sizes. It’s especially suited for active working dogs that do well off-leash. But don’t count out dogs that require special consideration because Treibball is a great activity for building confidence in shy dogs. It can also help reactive dogs with their impulse control issues. In fact, any dog that loves to play chase games, herd, or to use their intelligence and problem-solving skills will enjoy Treibball.

Is competing in Treibball similar to Agility?

Not really. Competing in Agility requires specialized equipment. Additionally, Agility requires a certain level of physical adeptness from the handler, who must have the ability to run with the dog and direct the dog through each obstacle. Treibball is good for encouraging the same type of teamwork and communication that Agility promotes, but it doesn’t require the same level of physical exertion from the handler.

What equipment is required for Treibball?

This is another thing that makes Treibball so accessible; the equipment is easy to find and relatively affordable. You use the same balls that humans use for exercising and stretching, those standard inflatable exercise balls (also called Swiss balls or Pilates balls) available at sports stores and department stores.

For Treibball, you want to use a ball that is at least shoulder height to your dog. Since these balls come in heights from 45 cm to 75 cm, if you are teaching Treibball to a tiny breed dog, you can start with a standard playground ball.

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How to Pick the Right Pet

By Linda Cole

We all have our reasons for why we picked a certain pet to share our home with. Adopting a pet is a tremendous responsibility, and it’s essential to pick the right pet that fits your lifestyle. For some people (that’s me) any pet fits in, but it’s not the case for everyone. There are many things to consider before deciding on the right pet. If you’re thinking about adding a pet to your family, here’s a short quiz to contemplate.

1. How much space do you have?
a. I live in a small apartment with no yard.
b. A couple of acres and a modest to large house.
c. A nice little place with a decent backyard.

Space is important to consider, because not all dogs will make a good pet if they are cooped up in a small space. All dogs need exercise whether they are a high energy breed or not. If space is limited, consider which dog breed would be happy in a small space, or perhaps get a cat instead. Check for dog parks in your area, and plan on daily walks if you live in an small home and/or have a tiny yard.

2. What kind of lifestyle do you have?
a. I have a couple of young kids.
b. I live alone and love to curl up on the couch at night to read or watch TV.
c. Exploring the great outdoors is my passion.
d. I work long hours and often on the weekends.
e. I have an active night life.

Lifestyle needs to be considered because some dog breeds and young children aren’t a good mix. Not all dogs enjoy being around little kids. Think about how much time you have to devote to a pet. Leaving a dog home alone for long periods of time can cause them to develop behavior issues, and cats need attention, too. Do you have time to train a dog? Do you like to entertain on a regular basis? Do you like to go out a lot? Do you like to be active on the weekends, or are you more of a homebody?

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Does Gender Matter when Adopting a Second Dog?

By Langley Cornwell

The short answer is yes, gender does matter when selecting another dog to bring into your home. Of course there are exceptions to this; I had two female rescue lab mixes (from two different backgrounds, years apart) peacefully live long and happy lives with me. But experts agree that, for things to have the best possible chance of working out, the second dog should be of the opposite sex.

Here’s the situation. A family I know wants a second dog. Their older male dog, Rover, is a sweet and gentle old mutt, and they are completely at ease when Rover and their young child play together. Still, they feel it’s time to open their home and their heart to another animal.

During their search for a second dog, they fell in love with a male puppy that needs a safe home. This pup is in an urgent situation and they feel they must step in and help. Still, the family did the responsible thing and consulted animal behaviorists and trainers about their situation. Right now, their household is harmonious; everyone is comfortable with their routines and the home runs like clockwork. While they are ready to adopt another pet, they want to do it the right way.

Every one of the animal experts said the family should keep looking. Even though the family has fallen in love with a male dog, experts strongly recommend they avoid getting a second male. Why? Because although Rover is a sweet and gentle senior dog, there will be some level of conflict between the two males. Yes, they may work things out in the beginning, but experts fear the dogs will likely go to battle in six months, a year, two years or more – when the dogs determine it’s time to change the pack order. The risk is there for the dogs’ entire lives.

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Crazy Pet Laws – What Were They Thinking?

By Linda Cole

We hope politicians carefully consider new laws they craft because of the impact it has on us. However, sometimes you have to wonder if these law-makers were of sound mind or sober when it comes to some laws that make absolutely no sense at all. Case in point: the following funny pet laws from different states. You do have to ask, “What the heck were they thinking?”

Sterling, Colorado says if you allow your cat to run around loose at night, she must have tail lights attached to her behind. So some poor cat gets pulled over for having a broken tail light, not wearing a seat belt and has no proof of insurance. And heaven forbid if she made a stop at the local catnip patch!

If you have a cat or dog who likes to relax with their favorite cigar now and then, don’t go to Zion, Illinois. It’s illegal to let your dog or cat have lit cigars there. I wonder how big of a problem that is in Zion?

In Hartford, Connecticut, it’s illegal to educate your dog. I suppose it might be embarrassing to have a dog giving a graduating speech as the valedictorian.

If you make an ugly face at a dog in Oklahoma, watch out. You can be arrested, fined and/or thrown in jail! “So what are you in for?” says one inmate to another. “I made a face at a dog. Got 20 years. It was a really ugly face.”

International Falls, Minnesota must have some mighty big cats in their neck of the woods, and they are apparently pretty mean and feisty as well. They had to pass a law making it illegal for cats to chase dogs up telephone poles. Picture a poor Great Dane shaking on top a telephone pole waiting for the mean old cat that chased him up there to move on.

French Lick Springs, Indiana requires that all black cats wear bells on Friday the 13th. I wonder if this is to alert passersby that there might be a witch hovering just above them on a broomstick… or maybe it’s the cat that’s the witch?

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