By Linda Cole
Future guide dogs begin their lessons as puppies. They go through extensive training and socialization before they are ready to safely guide a sightless person through a busy, and at times chaotic world. However, matching a guide dog with a blind owner isn’t as simple as it may seem.
Potential service dogs are bred by guide dog schools and begin their training when they are 8 weeks old. Volunteer puppy raisers take the pups into their home, teach them basic commands, housebreak them, and socialize them to different sights, sounds, other dogs and animals, people of all ages, different terrains and surfaces.
Puppies are exposed to things like escalators, waxed floors, kids running around screaming, and noisy traffic, so that when they encounter something new or different while they are working it’s not a big surprise. When pups reach 16 to 18 months, they return to the guide school and begin their training. Professional instructors work with the puppies over a period of four months.
By Langley Cornwell
One of my favorite guilty pleasures is looking at pet memes on various social media platforms. Inevitably, when I see a clever meme I think about how funny pets are and how creative some people can be. So I thought, let’s turn this guilty pleasure/time-wasting vortex into an article. That way, at least for today, I won’t feel bad about indulging.
Let’s begin with a definition.
Meme: The word is a derivation of the Greek word mimem which means “to imitate” or “imitated thing.” It was coined by Richard Dawkins, an evolutionary biologist from the UK, as a way to describe cultural ideas and phenomena that reproduce and spread. The creation and proliferation of memes is enhanced by the internet, and the ease in which you can share them.
With the advent of cellphone cameras, taking photos of your pets has never been easier. Most people I know have a photo roll full of adorable pet pictures. To create a meme, you just place a border around a cute or funny photo, write a caption and post it to a social media site.
By Linda Cole
Even though feist dogs have been around in the United States for hundreds of years, these little dogs aren’t widely known north of the Mason/Dixon Line. They were developed for one reason – to hunt. A feist is described as a small, noisy mongrel; a mixed breed dog with a spirited and feisty demeanor.
A feist (also spelled fice or fyce) dog can easily be misidentified as a Jack Russell, but there is a difference. Unlike the Jack Russell, feist dogs are of mixed heritage and are a type of dog, not a breed. However, they do resemble a terrier in temperament and appearance. The hunting style of the Jack Russell is also different from a feist, which doesn’t go to ground after prey.
The United Kennel Club recognizes feists, but the American Kennel Club does not. Also known as Mountain Feist or Treeing Feist, these energetic dogs are found largely in the southern regions of the U.S., especially around the Ozark Mountain and Southern Appalachian regions where the American feist originated. At one time, feists were popular working dogs found on farms throughout the south.
By Laurie Darroch
If your dog disappears during a natural disaster or an accident, or while you are away, it’s a good idea to have an easily accessible Dog Identification Kit. This will help you reunite with your pet if he wanders off in fear, gets lost, or is injured and found by someone else.
Your dog may be frightened and confused. In dire situations such as earthquakes or hurricanes, wandering animals might be brought to rescue sites or taken in by caring strangers until the dog’s family can be found.
Natural disasters can destroy homes and cut off regular communication, making contact with the dog’s family difficult or even impossible. Having proof of who your dog is will make it easier to alert people that you are looking for a specific animal and help you get your beloved pet back to his family again, wherever you are.
Obviously, identification tags with contact information may be important for a dog to wear, but not all owners opt to have their dogs wear these, and they can also fall off. Having an identification kit as a backup is a smart idea for a responsible pet owner who wants to make sure their dog is safe and easier to find if lost.
By Julia Williams
If you’re a pet lover like me, you probably think that asking if pets make us happier is a pretty dumb question. You may have even uttered something sarcastic like “well duh.” I thought the same thing, until I happened upon a blog post where there was quite a debate going on about that very question.
“Debate? What’s to debate?” I naturally thought. My cats keep my Happy Meter so full, there’s simply no question their furry presence makes me not only happier, but healthier – body, mind and spirit.
The arguments against pets making us happier spoke of things like the hassle of caring for a pet (personally, I’ve never considered caring for my beloved cats a hassle, but whatever); the stress that can arise when they’re sick or injured; the agitation that occurs when your dog shreds your couch cushion or your cat deposits a hairball on the new carpet. I’ll give them points on the stress and agitation issues. No one likes those things. However, I still believe that all of the positives of having a pet far outweigh any negatives.
In my article, How Do You Keep Your Pet Happy?, my furiend Guido the Italian Kitty made an astute observation when he said “My Meowster self thinks your article should be titled How does your PET keep YOU Happy?” It was obvious that all of the things I do to keep my cats happy also make ME happy. I don’t do things that make my cats happy for the sole purpose of my own happiness, but it’s definitely a fringe benefit. I am reminded of that over-used saying: Happy wife, happy life. My version would be: Happy cats, happy me.
By Langley Cornwell
When two people who live together decide to add a four-legged family member to the mix, the household dynamics can change dramatically. The main thing that complicates the domestic flow is that the new family member speaks a different language from everyone else in the home. The family oftentimes expects this new member to fit in seamlessly, to be obedient, to know when and where to sit, where he’s supposed eat his CANIDAE dog food and other things. They expect him to immediately understand how to behave in his new set of circumstances without being properly trained.
Not that I’m speaking from experience or anything (cough, cough) but I’ve heard that some couples have different philosophies on how to interact with this new family member. They have a different set of ideas when it comes to training techniques and methods of establishing household rules and boundaries.
Any dog will be anxious when he first arrives in his new home, and he desperately wants to please his new family. Of course he won’t know how to communicate with these strangers at first, but if the people start out giving him muddled or conflicting instructions, his anxiety will be exacerbated. Differing approaches will confuse the dog and disrupt the progress or even derail any chance he has of learning how to cohabitate with his new family harmoniously.