When people think of a specific dog breed for the sport of agility, the image of a Border Collie often comes to mind. The dog’s piercing eyes are focused on his human partner as he waits to start his run. Both dog and owner are pumped and ready to go, eager to test themselves against the clock. The dog’s job is to race around an obstacle course as quickly as he can, taking direction from his partner. The Border Collie excels in this fast-paced and demanding sport, but there are other breeds that have the speed, intelligence and determination to be agility champs.
Aside from being a fun way for a dog to burn off energy, agility is a sport that builds confidence and patience. One look into their intense, eager eyes and you just know that agility is something dogs truly love to do. A paralyzed Border Collie named Zip enjoys agility so much that she continues to run courses in her wheelchair!
Members of the Herding Group have what it takes to excel in agility. These breeds were developed to move livestock and can make sharp turns. They have plenty of stamina and speed, can think on their own and are workaholics who follow commands from their handler. They are intelligent and quick to learn new things. This group includes the Border Collie, Australian Cattle Dog, German Shepherd, Collie, Shetland Sheepdog and Australian Shepherd. Even the short-legged Cardigan and Pembroke Welsh Corgi can succeed in this dog sport.
What could be more natural than pairing dogs with a day dedicated to independence, patriotism and love of our country? After all, our furry friends are the epitome of freedom, loyalty and love. At least that’s how my mind works, and so my patriotic canine crafting theme for the Fourth of July was born. These easy crafts range from dog-themed to actually for the dogs, with a little in between.
Uncle Sam Dog Hat
This was my favorite project, because it produced such adorable pictures and inspired the final craft. I started with one of those dollar store cloth hats, but you could easily make one from construction paper. Just be sure to have a camera and dog treats handy – I used CANIDAE Chicken and Rice TidNips™ to reward Wuppy for sitting pretty.
Supplies: Uncle Sam hat, white snow batting or cotton balls, glue gun, glue sticks, and 1 ½ foot of string or elastic.
1. Pull off enough batting to make two sections of pouf white “hair” to hang around your dog’s ears.
2. With the glue gun, glue each section to the inside brim of your hat, so it hangs down like hair, one section on the left and one on the right. Allow glue time to dry.
3. Pull off another section of batting, enough to make a goatee. Hot glue the goatee to the center of your string or elastic. Let the glue dry, then tie the goatee on your dog’s head.
4. OPTIONAL: You can also glue the string or elastic to the hat, like a chin strap, if you want your pet to wear the hat for more time than just picture taking. Loop it around from your dog’s head to chin, to measure the right length.
Firecracker Dog Treat Favors
Since I was handing out treats to get Dusty and Wuppy to pose for pictures, I decided they needed their own rocket favor containers. They were entirely too willing to pose with this craft!
Supplies: toilet paper or paper towel roll, small section each of red and blue poster board or scrapbook paper, white printer paper, scissors, tape, glue gun, 3 inches of string, and markers or paint.
1. Wrap the white paper around your toilet paper roll and tape it where the paper meets. Trim the excess paper off the top of the tube with scissors.
2. Decorate covered roll with markers or paint and write your dog’s name on it.
3. Take one of your poster boards or scrapbook paper and cut a half circle that is 3 ⅓ inches on the flat side. This is going to be the firecracker’s pointed cap.
4. Fold the half circle perfectly in half, tip-to-tip. Tape it where the flat bottom now meets in two sections.
5. Put a bead of glue along the top edge of your toilet paper roll and set the newly made point cap on top, with the point facing up.
6. For the feet: Cut out three or four identical feet from your poster board or scrapbook paper, for your firecracker or rocket to stand on. These should be an inch across at the top and taper where they will stand at the bottom.
7. Tape the string to the inside top corner of one of the legs, if you want a firecracker. You can skip this step if you want a rocket.
8. Cut 3 or 4 slits (depending on how many legs you made) evenly up the bottom of your tube.
9. Insert legs, with the narrowest point facing down.
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.
Several years ago, Julia wrote a thoughtful article about Including Family Pets in Your Holiday Plans. With the season upon us, I thought it would be interesting to take a poll to see if my friends included pets in their holiday traditions. I’m happy to report there are no “Scroogely Curmudgeons” among my friends!
Many people hang stockings for their pets and give them special presents. In fact, lots of my friends acted surprised that I even asked; I received answers like absolutely and of course and even a few why yes, don’t you?
Sherrie’s pets receive presents and get extra treats. Christina’s dogs get presents – toys, cookies, clothing, the works – and they let their dogs open gifts before the people do. Sharon’s dogs have stockings and get special gifts and doggie treats. Jo says: “Of course our furbabies get some Christmas dinner and they have stockings with toys and treats. Don’t all pets?”
Brandi’s dog and birds have stockings hung right alongside the family’s, and theirs are always filled, just like everyone else’s. Rissa’s dog has a stocking and gets gifts; he loves getting all his new toys on Christmas morning! Luchrisa says her pets help her and her husband open their packages and then have a great time playing in the wrapping paper.
Alina hangs tiny stockings filled with a few treats for their cats. Her kids think it is the funniest thing ever. Michelle always makes sure to buy a little stocking for each of her animals and puts them up on the fireplace with treats in them. Scott’s pets all get their own stocking on the fireplace filled with goodies. His family thinks making the stocking with their pet’s names in glitter is part of the fun.
I got a lot of answers that involved dressing up or otherwise adorning pets for the season. Tania’s greyhound is going to get a red scarf-type collar with bells this year. And she always paints her Diva dog’s toenails in Christmas colors. Starr’s dogs wear Santa or elves hats and have their own stockings filled with CANIDAE treats. Deborah’s “little girls” each have her own Christmas sweater; one says “Naughty” and the other says “Nice.” David dresses up his dog like Santa, but he says the dog acts more like a devil.
A few years ago, there was a serious tropical storm that resulted in it pouring rain in Charleston for over a week. As luck would have it, this happened the very month we rescued our puppy. To make matters worse, I was under a tight deadline to finish up an important project that week. As you might imagine, our dog was going bonkers. I needed to entertain her to the point of exhaustion so I could get some work done, and we couldn’t go outside.
At that time our dog was young, but dogs of every age need exercise and mental stimulation regardless of the weather. In fact, this past summer it was so hot and humid that we didn’t think it was healthy to let our dog romp around outside for too long. We needed to help her burn off energy in the confines of our air-conditioned home.
My point is, there are days when you can’t offer your dog the necessary exercise and mental stimulation she needs in the great outdoors. Here are a few creative ways to entertain your dog when you can’t run around outside:
Find a friend with a dog and a basement. Seriously, my neighbor has a small dog and a large basement. When the weather isn’t conducive to outside play, she always wants me to come over with our dog so they can play together. We let the dogs wrestle and chase one another around until they wear themselves out. It’s great for them and fun for us too; we just hang out and chat. When I load our pup back in the car and get home, she takes her rightful place on the sofa for a long nap. On the flip side, if you have the space you can have the “play date” at your house. I can assure you that your friends will be grateful!
Stuff your dog’s toys. We have a few treat dispensing toys that help relieve boredom. I’ll stuff a rubber toy tightly with CANIDAE TidNips and let our dog entertain herself for hours. I’ve gotten good at packing the dog treats in so they’re hard to get out and it drives her crazy, in a good way. There are lots of puzzle toys and treat dispensing toys that can keep your dog occupied while indoors.
I’ll admit it: watching a dog happily chase a pinpoint of light can be hilarious. But it turns out laser pointer games have a dark side that can actually harm a dog’s mental wellbeing. It was a heart-stopping moment when I discovered this, having enjoyed just such a romping good time visiting a Pitbull pup we had rescued at his new home.
I was quick to let his new owner know the ramifications of his puppy’s favorite game and suggest some better ways to play with the laser pointer, if he wasn’t willing to completely stop using it as a toy.
Haywire Prey Instincts
The problem with letting a dog chase after a laser pointer beam is that it triggers their prey drive – what makes them hunt and chase after small things that move – without the satisfaction of ever catching the red dot. This may sound like a small thing, but it can actually cause an obsession in dogs to chase light. As in, it actually makes them a bit crazy. Many dogs will begin pouncing on any beam of light they see, just dying to finally catch it.
Before suggesting any laser pointer games to play that will satisfy your pet’s need to be a predator, I would like to emphasize that not playing with a laser pointer at all is really the safest option.
Also keep the beam out of their eyes, as it can cause blindness in dogs just as it does humans. Since a lot of dogs will bite at and pounce on the red dot, keep it off of other pets and people. Oh, and never point the beam at anything you don’t want to see broken.
The personal opinions and/or use of trade, firm, corporation or brand names, in this blog is for the information and convenience of the reader. Such use does not constitute an official endorsement or approval by CANIDAE® Natural Pet Food Company of any product or service to the exclusion of others that may be suitable. All opinions in this blog are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® Natural Pet Food Company.