By Langley Cornwell
It’s hard to believe that we have what is considered a senior dog now. I remember when she was just a scruffy, malnourished little runt, shaking on my lap as we drove her away from deplorable conditions. Now, eight years later, she’s fat and happy, gracefully entering her golden years. According to the ASPCA, most dogs are considered senior by the time they reach seven years of age. Larger breed dogs age faster than smaller breeds, but between seven to ten years is a good average.
If you have ever shared your life with a senior dog, you are likely aware of the physical decline associated with the aging process. Dogs, like humans, also experience mental decline as they grow older. As a responsible pet owner, you want to do your part to keep your senior dog mentally sharp. Simple things like changing your typical walking routine or taking an alternate route will offer a renewed perspective for an older pet, but it’s good to do more. The best thing you can do is construct ways to keep your dog’s mind active with brain games that require problem solving skills.
Start Where You Are
Teaching your senior dog new tricks is a fun way to engage her mind. You can start with the basics like shake, roll-over and play dead, and get creative from there. If you don’t know how to get started, the article Training an Older Dog will provide an overview.
By Linda Cole
I’ve never gotten into the laser pointers people use to entertain their pets. I don’t really know why, because I can’t help but smile when I see a dog or cat chasing that little light. It’s a good way to get them up on their feet for some playtime and exercise. However, chasing that red dot can be frustrating for our furry friends, and there is a potential hazard of eye injury.
In reality, the eyesight of dogs and cats isn’t as sharp as ours when it comes to seeing distant things clearly. Dog and cat eyes are made to see best in dim light, and being able to see brilliant colors and details like we see isn’t necessary when hunting prey. Compared to our field of vision, which is looking straight ahead, dog can see 240 degrees, cats see at 200 degrees, and we come in last with a field of vision of 180 degrees. The binocular vision (where the field of vision of both eyes intersect) of humans and cats is 140 degrees compared to dogs with 30 to 60 degrees. Dogs and cats depend on movement, especially rapid movement, to see things up close. Both dogs and cats have a visual streak, which is a high density line made up of vision cells across the retina. This gives them extremely good peripheral vision for seeing motion, and dogs can see better out of the corner of their eyes than cats can.
Motion is what activates a dog or cat’s prey drive. That’s why a mouse, rabbit or small prey will freeze in place – to make it harder to be seen. Laser pointers can quickly get a pet’s attention. Not because of the little red dot, though. It’s the motion of the dot that clicks on a pet’s prey drive and catches their interest, and there’s no way they can ignore the moving light. The problem with that erratic light is that it’s impossible for a dog or cat to actually catch it, and that makes it frustrating for them. Some dogs can develop behavior problems if they become obsessed with trying to catch that darn light. Cats aren’t as likely to become obsessed because they have a tendency to lose interest faster than dogs.
The loyal Kira
By Laurie Darroch
Poetry is an art form dear to my heart. I was inspired from a very young age by my mother and maternal grandfather. I write my poems in every style and on every subject that touches or inspires me.
I have had poetry published on the web and in numerous books in print. With a few awards and prizes under my belt, and the title of featured poet in two anthology books, I continue to write and strive for more learning and achievement in poetry. I hope to eventually publish a full book of my poems.
I dedicate this poem to the three dogs who have given me unfaltering love and loyalty: Kusje and Kira who have reached the other side and are greatly missed, and Neela, the newest loved family member, who daily keeps me on my toes with her puppy antics.
By Linda Cole
One nice thing about cats is that no matter how insistent they meow for their supper, it usually won’t annoy the neighbors. A barking dog can, on the other hand. Some breeds use their voice more than others, and others will bark just for attention. Thankfully, there are some dogs that typically don’t bark a lot.
Chinese Shar-Pei – Bred in southern China as an all purpose farm dog, the wrinkly Shar-Pei dates back to at least the 1200s. The breed was highly prized as a herder, hunter, tracker, and guard dog for property and livestock. He shares his distinct blue-black tongue with only one other dog breed, the ancient Chow Chow, also from China. Shar-Pei means “sand skin” in Chinese. This breed is intelligent, devoted to his family, an independent thinker with a stubborn streak, wary of people and dogs he doesn’t know, and a good watchdog. As a general rule, the Shar-Pei only barks when he’s worried about something or during play.
Rhodesian Ridgeback – This is an ancient breed native to South Africa, developed by farmers who needed an intelligent, athletic and courageous dog for hunting, herding, and guarding livestock and the home from large predators. Also known as the African Lion Hound, the Ridgeback was used to hunt lions and leopards, holding them at bay until a hunter came. A distinctive ridge of hair along the spine, growing in the opposite direction from the rest of the coat, is how the breed got its name. The Ridgeback is extremely devoted to his family and will do what’s necessary to defend them.
By Julia Williams
Love is definitely in the air today. (Or maybe it’s in the water?). In any event, a lot of women get all goo-goo eyed on Valentine’s Day, with thoughts of love, a romantic dinner, a box of chocolates, maybe some beautiful red roses. Me? I’m usually thinking “Ugh. It’s Valentine’s Day…again? When will the madness end?” Now, I’m all in favor of romance and fine dining, but the commercialization of this Hallmark Holiday has really gotten extreme. And talk about pressure!
Who needs the stress – and the expense – of trying to pull off the mother of all dates? I have a much better solution. A date with your cat! According to Yahoo News, one in five people would prefer to spend Valentine’s Day with their pet over their human partner. Now, some might not have the courage to actually make that preference known, but I say just go for it. Feel free to use this list of 8 reasons why a cat makes a better Valentine’s Day date if you need backup. Just please don’t mention my name.
Actually, make that no expectations. No need to worry about planning the most over-the-top date ever, because a cat won’t stare at you mournfully when you don’t whisk them off to Paris, or procure an entire fancy restaurant for the two of you, or hire a famous band for a private serenade (you know… all that fake stuff the Bachelor does on TV). Cats have no concept of romance, hence, no Valentine’s Day expectations.
Your moolah goes a whole lot farther when you’re buying a Valentine’s Day gift for a cat instead of a human. Forget the bling and the overpriced red roses. Just buy a couple of catnip mice, and call it a day!
By Linda Cole
My dogs don’t lose sleep worrying about what to get me for Valentine’s Day. They snooze through TV commercials for flowers and candy, and their idea of a night out on the town would involve me chasing them after they’ve escaped from their dog pen. Fact is, dogs have no concept of Valentine’s Day…but they are capable of showing love. It might not be the same way we express our fondness for one another, but dogs do indeed have feelings of love.
We know dogs share some of the same emotions we have. They can become jealous, angry or depressed. Dogs show joy and express their happiness with a wiggling body when they see their favorite person. Research has also shown that dogs are capable of showing empathy to us and other animals. Many people claim their dogs can also express love, and now there is research to back up their claims.
The debate over which emotions dogs can feel has been going on for years. However, as scientists continue digging into the canine mind, they are learning that the bond we share with our dogs is more than just providing them with security or their favorite CANIDAE food. It’s deeper and perhaps even more complex than we know.
Researchers at Emory University in Atlanta trained 12 dogs to remain calm and relaxed inside an MRI machine so clear images of the brain could be seen without having to sedate the canines. They focused on the area of the brain associated with positive emotions, and found that dogs and humans share the same brain structure that controls emotions. We share the same hormones, and have the same chemical changes that take place in the brain.