Monthly Archives: April 2012

Dog Breed Profile: the Expressive Norwegian Lundehund

By Langley Cornwell

Many years ago I adopted a dog from the shelter that looked to be partly yellow Labrador; the other parts were anybody’s guess. I always thought she had some type of Spitz breed in her because of her fluffy, high-set tail that arched over her back. She also had what I thought was a Spitz-like personality. One of the things that set her apart was her expressive ears, they could move in every possible direction. Friends and family loved this dog as much as I did… almost. I remember we were at a big outdoor, dog-friendly gathering once and the conversation drifted to favorite dog breeds. More than one person said they wished my dog was a specific breed because they wanted a dog just like her. She was my constant and cherished companion for 17 years.

During the time that precious pup was part of my life, I hadn’t heard of Norwegian Lundehund dogs. Since then, however, I’ve learned that the Lundehund is a small and active Spitz breed that has upright, triangular ears that move in every direction. Their ears can fold forward, backward, or shut at will, just like my dog’s ears. Furthermore, online images of the Norwegian Lundehund look very similar to the way she looked. There’s no way to confirm it (and it certainly doesn’t matter) but I’ve come to believe that my dog was part Lab, part Lundehund.

The Norwegian Lundehund has a distinctive combination of traits not found in any other dogs. The ear acrobatics are one of the special qualities. Another is that this dog breed has six toes on each foot. Additionally, they’re able to lift their head up and tip it backwards so far that it can touch their back bone. That’s a unique set of characteristics for this one-time Puffin hunting dog.

The history

As the name denotes, the Lundehund is from Norway, where their job was to locate and retrieve live Puffin birds from the fissures of sheer upright Norwegian cliffs. At that time, Puffins were a meat and feather crop for the farmers of Norway so the Lundehunds had an important role in the local economy. But in the 1800’s, Puffins became a protected species and Norwegian Lundehunds were no longer needed. The breed numbers sharply decreased and the Norwegian Lundehund dwindled down until the breed was close to extinction. Several concerned Norwegians joined together and established a plan to save the breed, and the plan is working, albeit slowly. There still are not many of these dogs in existence.

One thing that may help the growth of the breed is the fact that the American Kennel Club recently recognized the Norwegian Lundehund.

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How Do Pets Find Their Way Back Home?

By Linda Cole

There’s no shortage of stories about pets that become lost and then somehow were able to find their way back home. Some of these pets had to travel thousands of miles in order to get home. They had to navigate over rough terrain and cross obstacles many humans couldn’t handle, yet they were able to survive and find their way back home, even if it took a year or longer to get there. The 1993 remake of “Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey” was based on a true story of the survival and determination of two dogs and a cat to find their way home through 250 miles of the Canadian wilderness. We know some pets can find their way back home, but how do they do it?

This is a topic I’ve always found intriguing. It’s one thing for a pet to find their way back home over short distances, but it’s another thing when they set off to find their owner in a completely different state or town they’ve never been in. One story recounts how an Irish Terrier dog named Prince went searching for his owner, a soldier serving with the British army during WW I. Prince had grown so depressed when his owner was shipped overseas to France that he stopped eating. Finally, he ran away from home. No one knows how Prince was able to cross the English Channel, but once he was in France, he started searching for his owner in the war torn land with bombs and bullets whizzing all around him. Prince found his owner in Northern France in a foxhole.

How lost pets can find their owner or their home remains a mystery to scientists. There is, however, one interesting theory: the homing instinct, which is broken up into two types. The first type is when a pet finds their way home using something other than the usual five senses. A sixth sense, if you will. It’s known that animals have the ability to make a sort of “map” in their mind of landmarks, scents, sounds and familiar territory. It’s believed pets are sensitive to the earth’s magnetic fields and this gives them the ability to know which direction they’re going by using an inner compass. But the question still remains, how do they know which way to go? No one knows, but researchers do know if magnets are attached to a dog or cat, the homing ability is taken away.

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Do Dogs and Cats Know Right From Wrong?

By Julia Williams

A few weeks ago, when my cat Rocky guest wrote a post on How to Spoil Your Cat, he mocked me for making a big deal out of his counter surfing when company was there. He implied that I freely allow him to get on the kitchen counters when no one is looking, which is only partially true. I do make a bigger fuss when people are over, because I know how ‘icky’ it is for many people to see cats walking on surfaces where food is prepared. However, it’s not like I love him getting up there. It grosses me out too, but I have tried everything known to man to keep him off the counters, and nothing works. Whenever there’s food preparation going on or I’m dishing the FELIDAE cat food into their bowls, he’s right there in my way, trying to steal anything he can get his paws on. Let’s just say he’s earned his nicknames, Naughty McNaughterson and Quick Paw McGraw, and that should speak volumes about my ordeal with this cat and kitchen counters.

Rocky’s post prompted a reader to comment that they believed in disciplining their cat to teach it what was acceptable behavior and what was unacceptable. I laughed and told my friend, “Oh, Rocky knows it’s wrong to get up there, but he does it anyway.” This got me to thinking about animals and whether they really do have a capacity to know right from wrong. Plenty of people are adamant that animals don’t have any sense of morality or the ability to think about such concepts as ‘right and wrong’ in the same way that humans do. Many claim animals are incapable of complex human emotions and have no grasp of concepts like right and wrong.

But Professor Marc Bekoff from the University of Colorado disagrees. He believes that morals are ‘hard-wired’ into the brains of all mammals. “The belief that humans have morality and animals don’t is a long-standing assumption, but there is a growing amount of evidence that is showing us that this simply cannot be the case,” he said. Professor Bekoff presented his case in a book called Wild Justice: The Moral Lives of Animals which I’ve not read but now have on my wish list.

I was only kidding when I told my friend that Rocky knew what he was doing was wrong, but I was intrigued by the possibility nonetheless. So much so, that I decided to conduct an informal poll among my pet loving friends. I asked them if they believed dogs and cats knew right from wrong. The responses I got were about half yes and half no. Regardless of which side they were on, people gave various examples and reasons why they believed one way or the other. This proved even more thought provoking.

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The Military Working Dog Foundation

By Langley Cornwell

Stories and photographs of soldiers bravely serving our country move me. Many of the stories depict another type of soldier, the four-legged type. The U.S. Military has been using working dogs to help defend our country since World War I. In fact, brave canine soldiers were used in WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Persian Gulf, Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq. The U.S. War Dogs website estimates that these amazing military heroes saved more than 10,000 lives during the Vietnam conflict alone.

A quote on the U. S. War Dogs website says it all: “The capability they (Military Working Dogs) bring to the fight cannot be replicated by man or machine. By all measures of performance their yield outperforms any asset we have in our inventory. Our Army (and military) would be remiss if we failed to invest more in this incredibly valuable resource.” – GENERAL DAVID H. PETRAEUS, USA. 9 February 2008

While that’s impactful and inspirational, there comes a time when these military dogs are released from serving our country and must find a forever home. These dogs are at various stages in their lives; some are young dogs who didn’t meet the training standards of the military K-9 boot camp, some are older dogs that have completed their tours and it’s time for them to retire from service, and some are dogs that have been medically discharged from service due to sickness or injury that interfered with their ability to perform their mission. In all of these cases, the dogs need to find a safe and loving place to live out their years.

That’s where The Military Working Dog Foundation gets involved. This 501c3 non-profit organization’s mission is to help the Department of Defense Military Working Dog Center find suitable homes for our four-legged soldiers after their period of service to our nation.

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Zip: The Inspiring Story of a Disabled Dog

By Linda Cole

No matter how hard we try to protect our pets, accidents happen. It’s how we respond to help a pet deal with devastating injuries that makes a difference in how they recover. A dog named Zip survived a horrible accident that changed her life forever. Sue Cohen, Zip’s owner, has had to deal with health concerns of her own. After seeing a You Tube video of Zip running an agility course in her wheelchair, I contacted Sue to learn more about her amazing dog. However, I discovered through our conversations that Sue is equally amazing and inspiring. She didn’t allow Zip to give up, and Zip returned the favor.

As I watched the video, I could see the smile on Zip’s face and her enjoyment was evident as she ran. Zip could no longer sail over bars, weave through poles or race through tunnels, but just being on the course made her happy. Tears welled up in my eyes as I watched the brave Border Collie run. Her body may be disabled, but in her heart Zip is the same dog she has always been. Not even a wheelchair can keep her away from a sport she loves.

Sometimes a dog gets lucky and finds the right owner. This was the case with Zip. Her first home was with an owner who didn’t understand the needs of a Border Collie, and while Sue was fostering Zip, she fell in love with her and discovered Zip’s potential in agility. “When I got the papers from the previous owner, I saw that her grandfather had been imported from Scotland and there was a Great Britain Herding Champion (a highly coveted achievement) in her bloodline. I had already named her Zip and I found out she had an ancestor also named Zip.”

Sue lives with chronic pain and was diagnosed with genetic degenerative disc disease when she was 22 years old. The disease has made it difficult for her to do agility with her dogs, but agility is something she enjoys as much as her dogs. When Zip didn’t give up, her determination inspired Sue to keep going too.

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The Benefits of Massage Therapy for Pets

By Langley Cornwell

Holistic health care for our canine and feline friends is gaining traction. There are all types of herbs and remedies being touted to keep dogs and cats healthy. You may or may not embrace this mindset, but whatever you think of the trend, there is a hands-on therapy that has captured my attention. The benefits make sense to me, it’s free and it’s something I can do at home for my pets. I’m talking about pet massage.

I’ll admit to indulging in a massage once in a while. I’m convinced of the benefits of massage for me, so it stands to reason that the same would benefit my dog and my cat. Additionally, I’m a huge advocate of creating and maintaining a strong bond with your pets. Any activity you participate in together furthers that bond – so that’s another plus for giving your dog or cat a massage.

An article in Your Holistic Dog convinced me to start massaging our four-legged family members because it explained the benefits in layman’s terms. Some of the benefits are easy to quantify but other benefits of massage therapy are hard to measure. Sure, obvious mobility improvement can be measured but there are other reasons to consider pet massage. One big reason is that massage and other hands-on therapies increase the movement of your animal’s body fluids, thereby washing their internal systems. This increased fluid circulation flushes toxins and strengthens their immune system. In addition, massage is believed to provide your pet with relief from pain and from stress. As in humans, stress manifests itself in a variety of physical ways and contributes to an assortment of illnesses. Here are some of the measurable and immeasurable benefits of pet massage.

Stimulate bodily fluids and expedite recovery from surgery or sickness

As already touched on, dog and cat massage stimulates all the fluids in the body including water, lymphatic fluids and even blood. If your pet has recently undergone surgery, you can give him a massage to speed up the recovery time. Massage circulates the sedation or anesthesia through the body quicker. Moreover, the stimulation of bodily fluids helps release stored toxins and flush them from the body, thereby enabling your pet to recover more quickly from sickness. Another benefit is that the movement of lymphatic fluids can strengthen your pet’s immune system.

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