Category Archives: canidae

The Changing Face of Veterinary Medicine

veterinary medBy Linda Cole

The field of study in veterinary medicine is wide open these days for people who love animals and want to pursue a career working with household pets, wildlife, farm animals or other animals. Advances in technology are helping pets live longer, and changes in the way animals are viewed have created a need for more specialized studies. Veterinary medicine is no longer just about caring for pets in an office. There’s even a field of study that helps protect our food supply. There are some surprising opportunities available for someone with a degree in veterinary medicine besides working as a veterinarian or vet technician.

Sports Medicine

The American College of Veterinary Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation is open for veterinarians from around the world to get an advanced degree in the science of sports medicine. Its main focus is on the structural, physiological, medical and surgical needs of working and athletic animals. Currently there’s two fields of study: Veterinary Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation (Canine) and Veterinary Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation (Equine).

Shelter Medicine

Vets who care for shelter animals deal with the health and welfare of pets in a unique environment. In an effort to improve quality of life for pets that have been abused, neglected, homeless or given up because of medical issues or age, shelter medicine is an important and necessary field of study which also promotes the bond we share with pets, and improves the treatment of animals.

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How to Tell if Your Dog is Smart

By Langley Cornwell

Our two dogs are sweet, lovable, and have completely bonded with us. Those are some of the traits they share. A trait they do not share is intelligence. I have had the great good fortune of sharing my life with a menagerie of animals with a wide range of behaviors and characteristics. Of all the animals I’ve ever lived with, however, the big boy I have now is, well, he’s the least smart of the bunch. That’s right, he’s just not that bright.

Not bright, but so willing to please. We call him “the little gentleman” (even though nothing about him is little) because he’ll come and sit down right in front of you as if to say “what do you want me to do now?” If there’s a group of us standing around talking, he’ll walk into the middle of the group and sit properly with his ears and eyes alert, just waiting for someone to tell him what to do. This dog will do anything you ask of him, if only you can get him to understand the request. That’s where things start to break down. He just doesn’t get it. In fact, he doesn’t get much.

I know this is just his nature because we have another dog that is bright. She understands our requests, responds well to training and commands, and clearly exhibits thinking characteristics. She makes wise decisions and seems to know what is expected of her with minimal urging. She has a large vocabulary. I would classify her as a smart dog.

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The All Dog Radio Website: Online Fun for Dog Lovers

By Laurie Darroch

While doing some of my endless researching and web searches, I happened across an internet website that is totally dedicated to all things dog. Intrigued, and obviously being a longtime dog lover, I wanted to see what the All Dog Radio site had to offer. I discovered that it’s full of trivia, music and other dog-related content, and some of it was quite surprising, fun and informative.

The site has a large collection of varied musical recordings that are described as “The WooFTunes Music Library! Probably the largest collection of Dog Music & Dog Songs anywhere!”. The musical choices range from rap to a page called “WoofHouse” which is a concert series of unplugged non-amplified and acoustic musicians.  The WoofHouse musicians travel by dog cart and perform around parts of Maryland and Pennsylvania on their little red cart.

All Dog Radio offers pages of jokes, poetry, song and rap lyrics, (available in recorded format to listen to or in print to read if you prefer it that way), and dog stories, including three ongoing fictional stories. If you want to send in your own stories, the site encourages submissions of your own real life doggy tales. For those into political related trivia, the First Dogs make an appearance on the website as well.

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The Importance of Visual Cues When Training Your Dog

By Linda Cole

What we say and what we do can be two different things. We’re only human after all, but if we fail to match our words with our actions when training our dogs, we risk creating a credibility gap that can be frustrating, and cause confusion and a loss of trust. During training, it’s important to be aware of not only how you say a command but what your body language is saying to your dog. You may not notice a subtle difference in visual cues, but your dog can clearly see them. What you’re showing your dog could be why he’s confused by what you’re trying to teach him with your voice.

Some canines learn commands faster than others, and some willfully try your patience with their stubbornness. Nevertheless, all dogs are intelligent and can learn basic commands once you understand what motivates him and that he’s more likely paying attention to your body language and hand gestures than listening to your voice. What your dog observes in body language and what he hears could be puzzling to him if they differ. For example, if you hold your hand up with the palm facing your dog and lean towards him as you tell him to stay, your visual cue is saying to come and your voice is commanding him to stay.

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3 Real-Life Cats with Important Jobs

By Julia Williams

A while back, a certain feline wrote about 10 Purrfect Jobs for Cats. Rocky’s position, I believe, was that there are plenty of jobs cats could do admirably well but that most felines think work is beneath them and looking cute is all they need to do to have us humans wrapped around their paw. I would agree with that last part; Rocky doesn’t lift a claw to help me around the house and yet…I am definitely smitten with the furry boy.

That being said, there actually are some cats with jobs, and mighty important ones at that. Cats have, in fact, been working for us for a very long time. Their skill at keeping the mice and insects away from the granaries in ancient Egypt likely contributed to their high place of honor in that society. Many farmers employ barn cats even today, but rodent control isn’t the only job felines can do. Here are three working cats with very interesting jobs.

Station Master Tama

A calico cat named Tama is the first feline to become an official railroad executive. Tama is the station master and Operating Officer of the Kishi Station in Wakayama, Japan. Moreover, this hardworking feline has been on the job for eight years! In 2006, the Wakayama Electric Railway Company converted all stations on the Kishigawa Line to unmanned posts to cut costs. Station masters were chosen from local businesses, and grocer Toshiko Koyama was selected for Kishi. Koyama adopted the stray kitty and fed her at the station.

In 2007, railway officials seeking ways to boost ridership decided to officially name Tama the station master. It worked brilliantly! Ridership increased dramatically as tourists flocked to see the cute cat. It’s a cushy job, apparently, as Station Master Tama’s primary duties consist of lounging in her office, greeting passengers and posing for photos. Although she doesn’t collect a paycheck, the railway does supply Tama with free cat food.

Tama became the symbol of the railway and still attracts scores of tourists today. In 2008, Tama was given an award for providing an estimated 1.1 billion yen ($10.8 million) economic boost to the region. Now a spry senior at 16, Tama has earned the right to work less and relax more, logging just four days a week and getting help from two “junior station masters” who are, of course, also cats.

Mayor Stubbs

An orange Manx cat named Stubbs has served as honorary mayor of a small town in Alaska for 16 years. Talkeetna, a hub for bush pilots to ferry climbers onto Mount McKinley, was reportedly the inspiration for the quirky town of Cicely, Alaska in the 1990s TV show Northern Exposure. So naturally, having a cat for mayor wasn’t a stretch for a town that embraced its reputation for eccentricity.

The roughly 900 residents elected Stubbs as a write-in candidate since he seemed better suited for the job than the human contenders. They say Stubbs is the best mayor the town has ever had, and he’s frequently spotted making the rounds around town.

Unfortunately for Stubbs, his political career hasn’t been all sunshine and roses – over the years he has been shot with a BB gun, mauled by a dog, and fallen into a restaurant’s fryer. Word on the street is that these unfortunate incidents were all assassination attempts by a political opponent. Nevertheless, Stubbs is still on the job, and unlike some human politicians, still maintains a high approval rating after many years of service.

Police Officer Lemon

When an itty bitty stray kitten wandered into the Yoro police station in Kyota, Japan, he was warmly received by the officers, who immediately made him an honorary member of the force. Now a fully grown mancat, Lemon wears a custom-stitched uniform and mostly works a desk job at the station (rather, he keeps the other cops company and chills out on any desk he pleases).

Sometimes he gets to go out on ride-alongs with the officers to help calm people in distress and offer a little feline comfort to victims of a crime. “Purr Therapy” is what every cat does best, so even though Police Officer Lemon is just doing what comes naturally, I think he’s a shining example of a working cat!

Do you know of any other cats with jobs we should feature here?

Top photo by Melanie_Ko/Flickr
Middle photo by Meredith P./Flickr
Bottom photo by Jenni Konrad/Flickr

Read more articles by Julia Williams

How to Plant a Dog-friendly Herb Garden

By Langley Cornwell

The first day of spring just passed and where I live that means it’s time to start planting. Here in coastal South Carolina, it’s usually safe to sow your seeds around this time of year, so I jumped right in. I was worried that I started too soon, though. After I planted my raised bed and some giant containers, it rained and rained and rained. It rained so hard and so long that I was afraid I’d wasted my time; I was sure the seeds were going to either wash away or rot. Well, guess what! They’re poking their tiny heads up already. I think they liked that long drink of water because they are responding with hardy germination.

As someone who shares her life with dogs and cats, I’m always mindful about what I’m planting and where I’m planting it. If you’ve ever seen your dog chew on grass, you know that animals have an instinct about plants. They will seek out certain plants and eat them when they are not feeling well. Because of this, it’s vitally important to keep any harmful and toxic plants out of your pet’s reach.

On the other hand, you can make your life easy by simply planting a dog-friendly herb garden like I did. With the herbs listed here, it won’t matter if your dog goes in and chomps on anything. In fact, some of these herbs are even being used by pet care professionals who lean towards herbal or homeopathic remedies. Here are some of my favorite dog-friendly herbs.

Basil

If you’ve ever taken a giant whiff of a handful of freshly picked basil, you know what summertime smells like. This has to be one of the best smells offered by nature. Easy to grow from seeds, this healthy herb adds a sublime dimension to everything you include it in. You might use it to make a big batch of pesto or a fresh Caprese Salad, but did you know basil is loaded with antimicrobial, antiviral and antioxidant properties? So if your dog decides to sample the basil, there’s no harm done.

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