Monthly Archives: February 2013

Dog Inspired Valentine’s Day Crafts

By Tamara McRill

I’m a dog person who likes to make special things for every holiday. So of course I had to make some Valentine’s Day crafts inspired by my canine loves! The three doggie Valentine’s Day crafts featured here offer a little something for everyone and are fairly easy to make. They even make excellent gifts for the dog lovers in your life.

Sweetheart Dog Book Page Art

Have you ever seen those framed book pages with an ink drawing or sketch of a dog on them and wished you could have one of your pet? I have and finally figured out just how simple it was to make. Especially after using some of the same techniques used in making a dog portrait pumpkin.

Supplies: Ruler, scissors, tape, pencil, black ink pen or fine point marker, red marker, book or newspaper page, frame, computer and photo of your dog.

1.  Measure the opening of your photo frame.

2.  Cut your book or newspaper page 1/2 inch wider than that measurement. (Bonus points if you can find a page about dogs.)

3.  Bring up your dog’s photograph on your computer screen. Blow it up just big enough to fit in the center of your book page.

4.  Tape your book page to your monitor and lightly trace the photograph. You don’t have to get too detailed, just get the general impression, but don’t forget to give the idea of your pet’s general markings.

5.  Untape your book page and go over what you have traced with a black pen or marker.

6.  Color the dog’s tongue and collar with red marker.

7.  Draw a red heart in the upper right or wherever you like best.

8.  Frame your book page art.

Of course, feel free to take any artistic license! Dusty was quite fascinated with his portrait.

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Ara and Spirit: Our Home [s]

By Ara Gureghian

The floor was hard this morning as Spirit romped around, his usual self being the Daily Clown. That is what Pits do. It’s vibrations through my own steps I felt, and no, it was not “parquet,” it was frozen dirt from this ongoing winter. Crunch… crunch. Frozen mud. Unfamiliar spaces for me, it takes me at least 24 hours to get the lay of the land, this mental “I am here” feeling while the tent is pitched near a fire ring. It takes Spirit seemingly only a few minutes to be “at Home.” He lives in the moment, definitely more accomplished than myself.

We have been on the road full time camping for a bit over 6 years now. Time has flown by, and every day is more exciting than the previous one. Our Home has become more mental than anything else. Of course Spirit has his familiar spaces where he feels more comfy than others, such as in his sidecar and his spot in the tent. That is it.

Hard to explain. Home is our togetherness. 365/24/7. Not a moment less. It is the two of us making one. Words too well understood, eye glances saying it all, imperceptible gestures leading the ways to our own dance through this Life of ours together.

There is no beginning and no end in his mind, and what a wonderful way to live as I have taken many lessons from him. Some laugh at that notion. We are after all humans, they are animals. How can that be? It is. Spirit is as I call him also my Pawsome Human and I don’t “own him.” We cohabitate. There is never a complaint toward the lack of walls, a fence maybe, a gate, a room dark at night where the stars would not glow. We are in the Wild at most moments but far from being wild. I have never trained him as my previous two Buddies in my Lifetime while I am approaching myself 65. It is more of a “mutual understanding” so much based on Love and respect, and much natural communication.
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Do Cat Families Have a Pack Order?

By Julia Williams

Is there such a thing as an “Alpha Cat” in a multi-cat home? And do the cats fight for dominance, to be the pack leader? Is there “pack behavior” or a “hierarchal structure” in a group of cats who live together?

I used to believe the answer to all of those questions was a resounding no. Many people still do. There are plenty of people who are adamant that cats are not social creatures, and that there’s no such thing as an Alpha Cat or a pecking order among felines. They maintain that only dogs and wolves form packs and defer to the pack leader.

While it is true that felines are not “pack animals” per se, many cat owners (myself included) will tell you that in their own household it does seem like the resident cats actually do establish a pecking order. Perhaps not every feline family forms a hierarchy, but some do. Not in the same way that wolves and dogs do, but in a uniquely feline way.

As I said above, I always found the notion of an Alpha Cat improbable. What changed my mind was that I read what other cat-knowledgeable people said about it, and then I began to consciously observe my own cat family to see if what they said held water. Truth be told, I was surprised by what I saw when I actually studied the behaviors of my cat family.

Cats have been an integral part of my life ever since I was a young girl. It’s kind of funny to me now, that in all those years I never really saw certain behaviors. However, I’m certain it’s not because the behaviors weren’t there, but that I just wasn’t paying attention. When I began to really look at how my cats interacted with each other, I saw their relationships in an entirely different light.

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How to Make Sure Your Dog Likes You Best

By Tamara McRill

When my chocolate lab Wuppy first came into our home three years ago, I had one ultimate fear: What if my dog doesn’t like me the best? That may seem like a strange or small thing to worry about, but it was a very real possibility, given that my fiancé is a dog magnet. We already had a dog that was “his” and every dog that comes across him gives him an enthusiastic happy tail/face licking woof of approval. I missed that special bond of being an animal’s favorite person, so I took steps to make sure we were bringing home a puppy that would love me as much as I already adored him.

1. Meet Often Before Bringing Home

I had the opportunity to get to know my Wuppy before his owners couldn’t keep him any longer. I already knew that he liked me, because he would follow me around their home. That played a huge part in our agreeing to add him to our family.

Always try to visit and interact with a dog before bringing one home, so you know how they will respond to you. You never know what a dog has been through before you adopt them. You could resemble someone they are afraid of, or maybe they smell another dog and don’t like it.

Also make sure to introduce the dog to everyone who lives with you, so you can gauge who they will bond with the strongest. It doesn’t have to be a deal breaker if they go to one of your kids or another family member more often; you just want to make sure they feel comfortable coming to you. That’s enough to start a relationship.

2. Be the Sole Provider

We all know that the quickest way to the canine heart is by being the person with the tastiest dog treats. If you want your new dog to consider you his #1 human, you’ll have to be the one that feeds them their CANIDAE and hands out all of the TidNips and Snap Bits. It’s not a job you can shove off on another family member, and it means you will have to be there when they need to eat. It’s a commitment to take care of their needs.

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What Are Your Pet’s Favorite Things to Do?

Alex and Kelly

By Linda Cole

Over the last six months, I had to say goodbye to two of my canine best friends, Alex and Kelly. Both of them lived long, happy lives, and when it’s time for a pet to cross over the Rainbow Bridge, all we can do is hold their memory in our heart. I can’t help but smile whenever I think about the favorite things they loved to do. Pets are like us in many ways, and have their own likes and dislikes.

Alex, a Beagle/Terrier mix, was my little yapper. She would wander around outside in her enclosure patrolling the area for anything that warranted closer inspection. If it moved, she yapped. Barking was something she really enjoyed doing. It was her way of letting me know she was on it, even if “it” was just a plastic bag blowing down the street. My office window overlooks the dogs’ pen, and when she had trouble finding her “off button,” all I had to do was call her name and tell her to come.

She was usually at the far end of the pen, and dutifully trotted over to the window as if to say, “What? Can’t you see I’m busy?” She’d be quiet for awhile, until something moved, and she was off on another adventure, yapping as she ran over for a closer look. Alex loved following insects moving in the grass or watching a butterfly flutter around her head. She’d sit and watch birds flying overhead, and always had her nose in the air to catch scents blowing by. She was always alert, just in case something moved and needed her attention to let me know…something moved.

Kelly, a Jack Russell Terrier mix, was 17½ years old when she passed. As far as she was concerned, I belonged to her. She always knew where I was and what I was doing around the house, and was by my side, inside or outside. Although, during her younger years when a rabbit bolted out from underneath a bush, she couldn’t resist a good chase. She was, after all, a terrier. But she always stopped and returned as soon as I called her back. Kelly’s absolute favorite thing was snuggling with me at night, and she’d drift off to sleep knowing I was safe by her side.

Figaro

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Music Therapy for Dogs?

My new pup, “Big Al”

By Langley Cornwell

We adopted another dog recently. He needed a home quickly so we are making it work, even though our original plan was to wait until we moved into a house with a yard before getting a second dog. One of our biggest concerns with bringing another shelter dog home was that he might undo some of the work we’ve done with our shy, fearful resident dog, Frosty. In order to get ahead of any potential problems, we immediately enrolled the newest member of our pack in training classes.

Armed with a new harness, a dog mat, a clicker and plenty of CANIDAE TidNips treats, we were ready for training. The first day we worked on basic mat work and name recognition exercises. While practicing having the dog stay on the mat, our instructor had a “stranger” dress up in a crazy outfit and weave through the participants. The dogs were supposed to remain calmly on their mats and not react to the mysterious stranger in the giant sombrero. After that, the instructor pulled out a vacuum cleaner that has to be the loudest one I’ve ever heard.

Happily, our new pooch was unfazed, which is the exact opposite of how Frosty would have responded. She would have tried to eat the sombrero-wearing lady whole, and she would have become completely unhinged by the vacuum cleaner. In fact, several dogs in the training session did not fare well during this portion of the class, which prompted an interesting discussion about the influence of sounds and music on an animal’s behavior.

An article on the WebVet website explains this subject in detail. It starts with a series of questions. I think most dog owners would answer yes to at least one of these questions: Does your Pug pace and whine when the alarm clock goes off? Does your Labrador retriever howl when you run the blender? Does your Australian shepherd bark incessantly when your neighbors mow their lawns? Is your Dalmatian afraid of the vacuum cleaner?

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