Monthly Archives: March 2012

Accepting the Pet You Get

Mickey

By Julia Williams

Very often, people adopt a pet with a preconceived notion of what that pet will be like, or they might have an idea in their head of what they want their pet to be like. Some people adopt a new pet expecting it to be like a previous pet they loved. They may even think, “He’s the same breed, so he should have the same traits my Rover did, right?” Some people even adopt a cat expecting it to behave like their dog, and vice versa. Problems arise when they bring the pet home and find out that the vision in their head doesn’t mesh with reality. The pet doesn’t act the way they wanted it to or expected it to. What can you do?

There’s really only one thing you can do – and that is accept the pet you get. All pets are unique individuals, and they have certain likes and dislikes. You get what you get, and you can’t change their individuality any more than you can change the personality of your friend, spouse or co-worker. Think of their personality like the color of their fur – you can’t turn a black cat into a white one no matter how much you might long to have a white cat.

Now, sometimes you can change how they interact with you if it’s based on their past; for example, you can help a fearful abused pet become more confident and trusting. But I’m talking more about things that are part of the personality your pet was born with as opposed to traits that were shaped by experience. It can be really difficult for pet owners to give up on that mental picture they had of the “perfect pet.” We may really want our pet to be a certain way, and it’s disappointing when they aren’t, but it is what it is. Sometimes you get what you want, and sometimes you don’t.

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Exploring the Emotional Attachment to your Pet

By Langley Cornwell

There is no relationship that equals the attachment we have to our pets. I’m not saying the attachment is better or worse than the attachment we have with humans; I’m just saying we form a bond with the animals in our lives that cannot be duplicated with another human. I can wax on and on about the strength of the connection I feel with my pets, as I’m sure you can too. But have you ever really analyzed the emotional attachment you have with them?

According to a study compiled from the American Pet Products Association 2011-2012 National Pet Owners Survey, 33% of U.S. householders own at least one cat, and 39% own at least one dog. In truth, I thought the numbers would be higher. Even so, most everyone has lived with a pet at some point in their lives and during that time, they’ve certainly formed some type of attachment with the pet.

An article in Psychology Today looks at ‘attachment theory’ and applies that concept to humans and their pets. They say that pets are the perfect object of a human’s attachment because they are affectionate and easily accessible to anyone. As I understand it, there are several types of attachment styles: secure attachment, ambivalent attachment and avoidant attachment. In human-to-human interaction, attachment theory postulates that people adopt a style of relating to the important people in their lives based on their relationship with their primary caregiver when they were a child. What’s interesting is this concept of attachment extends to our pets.

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The Adorable and Tenacious Dandie Dinmont Terrier

By Linda Cole

When you look at a Dandie Dinmont Terrier, you see a low to the ground, slightly longer than he is tall, adorable little dog that’s not a particularly imposing canine. However, the Dandie Dinmont was bred to hunt vermin and has a fierce reputation when it comes to doing the job he was bred to do.

The Dandie Dinmont is an old breed that originated around the border areas of England and Scotland during the 1700′s. The Skye Terrier and the Scotch Terrier were the most likely breeds the Dandie Dinmont originated from. The Scotch Terrier is most likely the foundation dog for the terrier breeds, and was one of the oldest breeds in Scotland. Unfortunately, it’s extinct today and isn’t related to the Scottish Terrier.

Originally, the Dandie Dinmont was called the Pepper and Mustard Terrier, and they were popular companion animals to gypsies and farmers who lived along the border between Scotland and England. They were bred to hunt and kill badgers and otters; they were also a marten, rabbit, skunk or weasel’s worst enemy. Their short legs allowed them to easily go underground after fleeing prey and the dogs were highly prized for their courage, hunting ability, independence, intelligence, and confident nature along with a laid back and affectionate disposition with people. It wasn’t until a book was published that the breed got its name.

Sir Walter Scott wrote a novel in 1814 called “Guy Mannering.” One of his characters, a farmer, was named Dandie Dinmont and owned six Pepper and Mustard Terriers. Scott’s vivid description of farmer Dinmont’s dogs was so good, it made the breed famous. Soon after that, the name was changed to the Dandie Dinmont Terrier. Today, this breed is hard to find in his native country.

Because this dog is small, he can develop small dog syndrome if his owner doesn’t take the lead role. However, it’s not always easy to ignore this dog’s large round and warm dark eyes staring up at you. He’s affectionate and loves being around kids. As long as you are consistent, patient and firm, and let him know who’s the boss, training a Dandie Dinmont is easy.

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Tips to Help Avoid Costly Vet Visits

By Langley Cornwell

If you have a pet, you already know how costly it can be to go to the veterinarian’s office or worse, the emergency animal hospital. The best possible scenario is one in which you keep your dog or cat perfectly healthy and out of harm’s way, and only go to the vet for regular checkups. If only it was that easy.

Having lived with multiple animals my entire adult life, I could write volumes about all of the middle-of-the-night emergency vet visits I’ve taken. If I could have avoided some of those visits I might be driving a more reliable car, too – but that’s another story.

So what can you do to avoid some of those costly visits? I’ve compiled a list from a variety of resources as well as my personal observations and experiences. While most of these tips are common sense, it helps to have a reminder once in a while.

Socialize your dog at a young age. Dogs that are comfortable around strangers and other dogs are less likely to show aggression toward humans and they get into fewer dog fights.

Get your dog or cat used to simple grooming. Start this early too. Pets that have been acclimated to simple grooming tasks at a young age allow their owners to trim their nails, brush their teeth and clean their ears so you don’t have to pay groomers or the vet to do these things.

Take basic obedience classes. As with socialization, a dog that is good with basic commands is generally better-behaved. If your dog listens to you and obeys you, you are better able to protect them. Once I was playing fetch with my dog in the back yard. Something caught her attention and she became fixated on an object in the grass, which was unusual because she loved to play ball. I issued the ‘leave it’ command as I was running over to see what was in the grass. Upon my command, she backed away from a copperhead snake.

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Don’t Let Fear Stop You from Adopting a Dog

By Linda Cole

Since I was raised with dogs and have never had a time when I didn’t have a pet, it’s hard to imagine people having doubts or fears about adopting a dog. I do understand the importance of making sure you can handle the dog breed you bring into your home. I’ve dealt with aggressive dogs, small dog syndrome, fearful dogs and confident ones. To me, it’s no big deal, but to someone not as comfortable working with a dog, it is. It’s like trying to learn a math formula or anything else. The teacher knows the information and the student wants to learn, but sometimes it’s not that easy.

When I think about the dogs I’ve had in my life, there has been a variety of mixed breeds and purebreds. One thing I know as a longtime dog owner is that it gets better when you take the time to ask questions and learn. I’ve never hesitated to take in another dog because I am active and they all fit into my lifestyle. I have never met a dog I couldn’t handle. So to me, it’s hard to imagine hesitation when it comes to adopting, but that’s because I’ve always had dogs.

What got me thinking about this topic was an article written by my friend Julia Williams, where she was pondering her fear of being a bad dog owner. Knowing how responsible and caring she is with her cats, I know she would be a great dog owner, but I can understand where she’s coming from. Caring for a dog is different, but both dogs and cats need love, attention, exercise, and a responsible pet owner who understands their needs. In order to have a positive and lasting relationship, it’s important to pick the right dog.

No pet is perfect, and neither are we. I’ve made mistakes over the years with my dogs and then learned the right way to interact with them. It’s a learning process we all have to go through. Dogs don’t read the “How to be a Good Dog” manual, and we have to be willing to roll up our sleeves and work with them. Don’t fear the unknown but rather, seek out answers to bring it out into the open where it can be dealt with and set free.

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Cat Breed Profile: the Turkish Van aka Swimming Cat

By Julia Williams

Although I’ve never actually had a purebred cat myself, I always like learning about different cat breeds. Many have fascinating histories or characteristics that make them unique. The rare Turkish Van cat actually has both.

The Turkish Van (pronounced “von”) is an ancient cat breed believed to have originated in the Lake Van region of Eastern Turkey. Unlike many purebred cats of today, the Turkish Van is a natural breed, not a man-made breed. Turkish Vans are a semi-longhaired white cat with colored markings primarily on the head and tail. Vans are said to be an active, affectionate, playful, intelligent, strong and healthy breed with no known genetic defects.

Perhaps most interesting of all is that Turkish Vans love water, hence their nickname “Swimming Cat.” Vans not only play in water, but will enter ponds, horse troughs and shallow streams to swim in it! Some have speculated that the cats learned to swim in order to cool off during the extremely hot Turkish summers, and to catch fish.

In an article published by the Cat Fanciers Association (CFA) Diane Marcus writes, “The Turkish Van is unique – in its history, its color and pattern, its personality and its ability to survive, virtually unchanged for thousands of years. It shares an area known as the ‘Cradle of Civilization’ with mankind.”

History of the Turkish Van Cat

In 1955, British photographers Laura Lushington and Sonia Halliday were hired to promote tourism in Turkey. While traveling around taking photographs, they became interested in the native white cats with auburn markings on their heads and fluffy tails. After their assignment, the women took a pair of unrelated male and female Van cats back to England and found them to breed true, i.e., they produced kittens that looked exactly like their parents.

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