In the home improvement store last night, we stood in line with a collie and a hound dog while waiting for our duplicate keys. We stopped for frozen yogurt on the way home and sat at a table beside a French bulldog.
I used to think it was a big deal that you could take your dog along when you shopped at a big box pet shop. Now it seems you can bring your pet almost anywhere, and I’m mostly okay with that. But a west coast friend and I were discussing this trend and she said she’s seen more and more dogs showing up in grocery stores. I’m not okay with that.
Seeing dogs when I shop at an office supply store or a home improvement center is fine, even nice if they’re well behaved. Enjoying a cup of coffee or a light lunch al fresco among the animals is also fine, if the pet isn’t a nuisance. But I don’t want dogs in my grocery store.
This may sound hypocritical because our pets have no restrictions in our house. The dog is often right under my feet as I prepare dinner. But it’s our dog and our dog hair. Somehow, that makes a difference.
To get a reality check, I posed the question to some friends, all of them over-the-top animal lovers. Here’s a sampling of the responses:
Juniper thinks it’s a bad idea all around. “I know that some dogs are better behaved than your average toddler, but many (if not most) can be unpredictable. They might jump on a kid, pee on the floor, tear into a bag of dog food, lunge at another dog… It’s just a nightmare waiting to happen. It’s also a health hazard.”
Felicia Harrison just turned 16 in June, but don’t let her young years fool you. She’s already an accomplished horsewoman with an impressive collection of medals and buckles. Her passion for riding and love of riding and horses, however, is even more impressive.
Felicia lives in Washington State in a small community that sits on the northern bank of the Columbia River, in an area described as “the crossroads to discovery” in the Pacific Northwest. It took me a few tries before I was able to get Felicia on the phone, because she’s a teenager more dedicated to her horses and riding than she is to her cell phone!
In April, Felicia’s family bought a 17 year old horse, Hollie Mae, from a friend. Hollie had been living in a cramped paddock (a small enclosure used for pasturing or exercising). When they brought her home, Hollie was hyper and wore herself down quickly. Her muscle tone was poor and she was sluggish when she ran. She hadn’t been getting very much exercise.
Diet plays such an important role in temperament and physical health for humans and animals. Weighing only 990 pounds, Hollie was 160 pounds underweight. To add on pounds and give Hollie a healthier diet, Felicia started her on the CANIDAE Pet Foods line of horse feed, EQUIDAE, a few months ago. I asked Felicia if she noticed a difference when they switched Hollie to EQUIDAE. “It’s actually a lot. Now she has much more energy. We can tell a big difference between the grain we were feeding her and the EQUIDAE. On the other feed, she was hyper and when we switched, her attitude became mellow. On a trail ride, she would be prancing or dancing in place, and now she walks with her head down, she looks around, and she’s very serious.”
Felicia also said that her horse “has more muscle tone in her butt and neck, and her flanks have gotten a lot more muscular. Now she is kinda like a mini tank – she’s gained about 150 pounds and her coat is very shiny and soft! Before it was really long and shaggy, and she had a dull look to her and appeared sad and miserable all the time. Now she’s perky and happy! Her previous feed had a lot of molasses in high concentrations to quickly put weight on her. It was more like feeding her coffee and the EQUIDAE is like feeding her a tea; she doesn’t get hyper eating it. It has a lot of natural ingredients and she doesn’t have to eat as much to get full.”
I have to admit to a bit of pet envy when it comes to dogs who are able to speak a few words or “sing” a song. It’s not that my three guys aren’t smart—they are—but they don’t have any linguistic skills to speak of (pun intended) when it comes to verbalizing anything in English. So while we do plenty of dog dancing, we won’t be down for any karaoke duets anytime soon.
It’s not that I need my dogs to actually be able to tell me, “I wub you,” but imagine how cute it would be! As it stands now, I can get my fix of doggie talk from YouTube videos and my parents’ dog, Rascal, who has some verbal talent. His favorite phrase involves getting just “one more” dog treat or more when showing off his words.
Do Dogs Really Talk?
According to scientists, dogs only talk if you count barking. Research has been done that proves what most pet owners have figured out on their own: that dogs communicate with each other and even attempt to speak to us through specific barks and tones. It’s this sensitivity to tonal nuances that make it seem as if dogs have learned to talk when they are really just imitating human speech patterns. Even dogs who master certain phrases aren’t thought to know what the words mean.
Are the Voices In Our Heads?
Scientific reasoning and research are all well and good, but it’s hard to coincide that with what we hear and experience. I’m not saying I don’t get that repeating a word and offering a yummy CANIDAE dog treat as a reward are stacking the deck, but imitation seems to be a fairly important aspect of how we learn to speak a language ourselves. And I would double dog dare you to tell a parent that the first word their child utters doesn’t actually qualify as talking.
The Greyhound is hands down the fastest dog breed around with a top speed of about 45 miles per hour. Some people claim the greyhound is the second fastest land animal, right behind the Cheetah (70-75mph); however, other land animals like the Lion (50mph), Pronghorn Antelope (61mph) and Wildebeest (50mph) are faster than the Greyhound which sits at number 7 on the list. There are other fast dog breeds right on the heels of the Greyhound, and some of the breeds might surprise you. Keep in mind, the “fastest list” isn’t one everyone agrees on.
The Whippet (35.5mph) and other sighthounds like the Afghan Hound (40mph), Scottish Deerhound, Borzoi (38mph), Saluki (43mph), and Ibizan Hound were bred to sight their prey, give chase, and wear them down. Sighthounds hit their top speed in only a few strides and are built for endurance. In a one-on-one race with a cheetah, the Greyhound or other sighthounds could easily outrun the big cat, because a cheetah’s top speed is only good for a short distance.
The Siberian Husky has a top speed of around 28mph, but the dog is like the Energizer Bunny and will keep going and going. Endurance is the name of the game for a Husky. A team of dogs can maintain an average speed of 10-11 mph and run for hours, covering around 150 miles in a day. They can withstand a harsh winter climate and have great instincts for finding a safe trail under snow and ice.
The Border Collie is a speedy and agile herder with a top speed between 20-30mph, a speed they can maintain as they quickly twist and turn to keep livestock in line. They can work over rugged terrain with the same surefooted confidence of the sheep they herd. Considered the smartest dog around, the Border Collie is quick to learn new commands, especially if he’s offered his favorite CANIDAE treat.
I’ve always been a “dog person.” Growing up, we had hamsters, turtles and dogs as family pets (and a horse, but he was imaginary so that probably doesn’t count). As an adult, I became active in rescuing and rehoming shelter dogs. For some reason, cats never really hit my radar.
Then along came my future husband, an ardent “cat person.” When we decided to make a life together, cats were a non-negotiable for him and dogs were a non-negotiable for me. So we agreed to make room in our hearts and our home for both.
At first, I didn’t know how to relate to cats. I believed everything I’d been told about them: that they’re independent and aloof, that they aren’t affectionate, etc. Still, my clumsy attempts at interaction didn’t faze the little kitten we adopted whatsoever. Jet chose me to be his best buddy and that’s what we are. He’s my special little guy. He has introduced me to the wonders and joys of living with felines, a pleasure I’d missed for many years—but never will again.
Our cat is clearly affectionate; he shows me affection in ways that are impossible to miss. We’ve fostered other cats, however, that are harder to read, but it helps that we’ve studied and observed the different ways that cats show affection.
Bringing home gifts
Our cat is an irrepressible hunter. I won’t go into details but we’ve had a variety of gifts deposited on our porch. (As an aside, there is nothing cute about a mole). My husband keeps telling me I need to acknowledge my gifts because our cat is expressing his love for us, but I had a hard time buying it until I looked deeper. Catster confirms that when a cat brings home the spoils of his hunting activities, he’s presenting you with a prized gift and he expects you to be pleased with it. In fact, they liken the action to a child seeking approval from his parents.
I love watching dog shows on television because I always learn about some breed I’ve never seen before, which then leads to researching the breed. One of my favorite breeds to see has been what I call the “mop dog.” There are actually several dog breeds that have roped or matted coats that to me look like mops when they run – one of these is the Bergamasco Sheepdog. The Bergamasco is an excellent show dog with a nice smooth gait and striking features. The personality of these dogs shines through, although most often what catches my attention first is the coat.
Of course the most distinctive feature of this dog is its appearance; talk about a unique dog! The felted coat looks almost like dreadlocks and is quite long. This coat is made up of three types of hair that forms mats which grow to the ground. What is interesting to me is that Bergamasco pups are born with a smooth, short coat and as they grow the hair grows and mats itself.
The medium sized Bergamasco is compact but solid and powerful with a great deal of stamina and strength. Originating in the Italian Alps, the Bergamasco was originally a herding dog. These days this excellent working dog is bred and raised to compete in agility trials, shows, fly ball, tracking and of course herding exhibits. As a herding dog working in the mountains the felted coat was not only warming but also water resistant and didn’t tangle or get caught in things as loose fur would.
The color of the Bergamasco varies between shades of gray or merle, black and a few shades of brown mixed in. The colors are ideal for camouflage when the dogs worked in the mountains of Italy, guarding and herding the sheep.
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