Category Archives: dogs

Would You Like to Own the World’s Ugliest Dog?

By Julia Williams

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” is one of the oldest, and most often repeated, sayings, and nowhere is it more evident than at the World’s Ugliest Dog Contest. This internationally acclaimed contest is held every summer at the Sonoma-Marin Fair in Petaluma, California. I lived in Petaluma for ten years and attended the event many times. It was a lot of fun, but it was also interesting to see just how much the owners (and the fairgoers) adored these hideously homely dogs.

To be crowned the winner of the World’s Ugliest Dog Contest, you must indeed be Ugly with a capital U – and these dogs definitely are! Many of these ugly dogs are hairless with odd tufts of hair here and there (often referred to as “Einstein hair”) and they usually have toothless grins or tongues that hang outside their mouths – in short, these ugly dogs have faces only a mother could love.

It got me to wondering, aside from this well-known contest whose past winners have achieved instant canine celebrity status, what the appeal is in owning an ugly dog. Some of these dogs are so ugly they make you laugh. And some are so ugly they make you shudder! In a society that values beauty so much, it’s fascinating to see ugly animals so revered. Can you imagine the uproar that would ensue if we humans held a “World’s Ugliest Person” contest? I have to laugh at this double standard; it’s not only okay to call a dog ugly, but we revel in their ugliness.

Do the owners of these ugly dogs love them even more because they’re so ugly, or do they fall in love with the dog’s “inner beauty” and become oblivious to the outside package? I don’t know. What I do know is that the World’s Ugliest Dog contest is immensely popular with pet owners and the general public alike. Contestants come from all over the U.S., from as far away as Florida. Animal Planet sponsors the contest and has broadcast the proceedings for the last several years. The World’s Ugliest Dog winner gets a $1,000 prize, a trophy, doggie bling (collars, leashes, bowls and toys) and worldwide fame, complete with talk show appearances, videos, glossy magazine write-ups, a professional photo shoot and a modeling contract with House of Dog. Whew!

This year marks the 22nd annual World’s Ugliest Dog contest, and judging by the entries posted on the official website, there is no shortage of homely dogs hoping to be crowned the King of Ugly (or Queen) and take home all of those fabulous prizes. Past World’s Ugliest Dog winner Rascal is back for another go at the title, and his family says “To us, Rascal is the most handsome being to ever live, and is a loving family member, but it’s in fun when he is called ugly.” And then there’s Handsome Hector, whose motto is “eat like a pig, look like a rat and lounge like a bloated seal!” You can see all of the ugly dogs vying for this year’s title of World’s Ugliest Dog here.

Call me shallow, but I’m just not sure I could ever fall in love with an ugly dog, or an ugly cat for that matter. Inner beauty notwithstanding, I just really prefer my pets to have hair…and teeth…and tongues that stay inside their mouths instead of lolling lopsidedly out one side like a drunken sailor. Then again, maybe I just haven’t met the right ugly dog, the one who’s “so ugly he’s cute.” Since there are so many other pet lovers willing to overlook the ugly canines of the world, I guess it doesn’t really matter.

Would you – could you? – love the World’s Ugliest Dog?

Photos courtesy of the World’s Ugliest Dog® Contest, Sonoma-Marin Fair, Petaluma, California

Read more articles by Julia Williams

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

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The Benefits of Pets for Teenagers

By Suzanne Alicie

Everyone has heard of the positive benefits of pets for the elderly, but what other demographic can you think of that may need some unconditional love and understanding? Why, teenagers of course! They often feel misunderstood, unloved and just plain dumped on as they are caught between being children and being adults. Teenagers are trapped between being responsible for their decisions and having to ask permission for the things they want to do. Pets are a very positive interaction for troubled teens, providing love and emotional support as well as teaching responsibility.

My oldest son is now 16. Just after he turned 13, he went through my divorce and the destruction of all that was stable and safe in his life. We were both thrown into turmoil. Anger and depression were affecting my son’s choices, and he made quite a few bad decisions.

He began misbehaving at school, dabbling in drugs and just generally choosing to be around people who were a bad influence. I felt like I was losing my son. The sweet boy who smiled and laughed so easily was becoming an angry and out of control teenager who more often wore a scowl. He stopped communicating with me, and I was at a loss as to what to do. Punishments and talking didn’t seem to help; everything I said went in one ear and out the other.

We found a place to live with a friend, and lo and behold there was a dog. Not only that, but a dog that was shy and a bit insecure, and more often than not could be found hiding under a bed. This dog was Bear. This wonderful patchwork dog that didn’t seem to fit in anywhere and lived on the fringes of the family became part of my son’s salvation.

My son instantly began working with Bear to get her to be more sociable, even when he wanted nothing to do with other people himself. He took on the responsibilities of taking care of her, and before I knew it everywhere my son was there was Bear. They formed an intense friendship, he talked to her and he petted her, and Bear? Well she listened to him, she didn’t judge and she loved him no matter what. She absorbed the love that the troubled teenager had to give but couldn’t find a way to express to people.

The boy and the dog formed their own unit of support and love that was a doorway to my son learning to express his emotions. Because of Bear’s nervousness, my son learned to express anger without yelling or throwing things; he learned to keep his composure because of his love for this dog. It was a friendship that helped him see the future instead of the destruction in the past. In many ways Bear helped save my sanity by being a source of unconditional love and understanding for my teenage son.

To this day, there is no one that Bear loves more than her boy. She is protective of him and always full of love and excitement when he comes into the room. She loves to sit beside him or try to get all 50 pounds of her into his lap to be petted. Not only did Bear transform my son, he also transformed her into a real family dog that loves her people and interacts with us all regularly. She still prefers to sleep under the bed, but if a hand is placed near the floor she will scoot over and lick it before going back to sleep.

In several cities across the United States there are programs for troubled youth that incorporate caring for pets into their programs. Teachers Pet, AAT and many other programs provide animals for teens to interact with in order to learn responsibility. In these programs you will find cats, dogs and even horses. Animal shelters are always looking for volunteers and amazingly, those lazy teenagers who don’t ever want to do anything but listen to music and hang with their friends have proven to be the most dedicated and loving of shelter volunteers. Many troubled teens go on to be dedicated to animals in their adult lives as well, continuing to volunteer and do things to make the world a better place for their animal friends.

Read more articles by Suzanne Alicie

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

Can Your Pooch Help You Lose Your Paunch?

By Julia Williams

At the beginning of every new year, millions of people make resolutions pertaining to weight loss, exercise and fitness. They hit the gym with a gung-ho attitude, certain that this time they have the drive and determination to achieve their fitness goals. All too often, January’s resolve melts before the winter snow does, and they end up sitting on the couch watching The Biggest Loser contestants work out, instead of doing it themselves.

Sound familiar? Well, maybe you just need some new motivation – and who better to help you find your fitness mojo than your best canine buddy? By recruiting your dog as your new workout partner, you’ll not only rekindle your drive to get in shape, but you’ll help your four-legged companion get some much needed exercise too!

With the hectic, overscheduled lifestyle so many of us lead nowadays, it makes perfect sense to incorporate the family dog into your workout regime. Beyond taking them for their daily walk, there are countless things you can do to get fit with Fido. I’ve come up with several to get you started, but don’t be afraid to brainstorm to find other creative ways to exercise with your dog.

Power Walk Plus

Walking your dog is good exercise, but taking it up a notch or two will increase your heart rate and help you both burn more calories. Throughout your walk, mix in some higher-intensity intervals of power walking, jogging, running, leg kicks or high stepping.

Play Dog Tag

The timeless children’s game of tag is just as much fun with a dog, if not more. Take your dog out to your back yard or the local dog park, and let them try to chase you down as you run to get away from them. Dogs catch on to this simple game right away, and they have a blast trying to “tag” you.

Fetch Race

Every dog loves to fetch, and this variation on that classic canine game lets you both get some exercise. Just take your dog’s favorite toy and toss it across the yard or dog park as you normally would when playing fetch, and then race him to see who can get to it first. If your dog is a slow runner and you can easily beat them to the toy, you might want to let them “win” at least part of the time, so that the game remains fun.

Obstacle Course

If you have a large backyard, you can set up a fitness obstacle course that both you and your dog can do together. Use your imagination to create a course that involves jumping over things like benches, low stools, small boxes and other objects, darting around objects like trees and picnic tables, and crawling through tunnels made out of large cardboard boxes.

The popular sport of dog agility is another way both you and your pet can get some exercise. Dog agility involves directing your pooch through an obstacle course in a timed race. As they run up ramps, snake through tunnels and race across balance beams, you’ll need to be guiding them every step of the way, which means that you both get lots of exercise in the process.

“My Best Friends Workout” DVD

This instructional DVD and manual are designed to help dog owners increase the intensity of their daily walk with their canine companion. A certified fitness instructor demonstrates nine unique exercises which incorporate strength training, cardiovascular exercise, anaerobic challenges and core exercises, essentially turning a 20-minute walk into a total body workout. Modifications are shown for nine different dog types, including Lap Dog, Marathoner and Old Timer, which makes it easy to provide the correct amount of activity for your particular dog. It sells for $24.95 and can be purchased online here.

“BOW WOW Bootcamp” Audio Program

This veterinarian-recommended exercise program was created by a top fitness trainer to provide a great workout that’s lots of fun for both dogs and owners. With 2 levels to choose from, each six-week BOW WOW Bootcamp audio CD includes a special mini-flip booklet demonstrating the exercises, as well as nutritional information and dietary guidelines (for the human, not the dog). You can order the CD here for $29.95 plus shipping, or download the MP3 file for $19.95.

Just as you should visit your own doctor before starting any fitness program, so too should your dog get a vet checkup, especially if they are overweight or not used to regular exercise. You can discuss any health issues that might affect your dog’s ability to exercise with you, and your vet can help you determine which activities are appropriate for their current fitness level.

Now that you have some good ideas for how to get fit with your dog, isn’t it time to shut down the computer, call your four-legged friend and get moving?

Read more articles by Julia Williams

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

Why Are Dogs Protective of Children?

By Ruthie Bently

Growing up I had several incredible dogs in my life. We lived on two acres at the end of a gravel road, and I had to walk a quarter of a mile to catch the school bus. The man who lived across from the bus stop had a Saint Bernard, and every morning the dog would come out of the house and walk me to the bus stop. As soon as I was on the bus, he went back home, and every afternoon when I got off the bus he was waiting for me. No matter the weather, he would walk me to the north end of his owner’s property before returning home.

My family owned two boxers, though not at the same time. They were both named Duchess, and were our constant companions. Dutchie (the first) watched over us in the summertime when we went racing across the yard or rambling through the woods that surrounded our property. Whenever I was ill, she would climb on my bed and nestle next to me, keeping me warm with her body heat.

One cold winter day while we were playing inside, Dutchie began whining, barking, growling and pacing the room. We looked out the window and saw a man with no coat on walking across our back yard. The closer he got to the house, the more upset Dutchie became. Mom tried to call the police but the line was busy (this was before 911). The man took off down the drive to the main road. Our neighbor across the street had reached the police and they met the man at the end of our road. We found out later he had walked away from a psychiatric hospital over ten miles away. Dutchie used that innate sixth sense dogs have when danger is near.

Our second boxer (Dutchie II) tried to save me one day while I was swimming. I had swam underwater to see how far I could go on one breath and when I disappeared, she came after me. She caught up to me and began tugging on my hair trying to save me. I wasn’t in any danger of drowning as I was a good swimmer, but Dutchie didn’t know that. After this incident, Dutchie was always watchful when I went swimming, and often swam with me.

I have read several accounts of dogs saving children from drowning or guarding a child during a cold winter night when they accidentally wandered from their home. I even read a story about a pit bull that saved children from a cobra with no apparent thought for its own safety. But why do they do it? Very simply, dogs are pack animals and when we bring one home they accept us as members of their pack. Because we become the alpha dog of the pack, they are bound by their instincts to protect us, and in their eyes our children, as offspring of the alpha, must be protected as well.

All female dogs (wild or not) protect and teach their pups, and although human children are larger than most puppies we are pack members and they accept us into their care. In the wild, the pack must make sure the pups reach adulthood, as they are the continuation of the pack’s lineage. Protectiveness comes to our dogs from their wolf ancestors and the years of breeding we have added to their genealogy. Dogs instinctually know that human children are in need of care.

I heard a story about a boy with seizure issues, and though his dog was not trained could recognize symptoms and would warn his mother when he was about to have one. The school year started and the boy went off without his four-legged companion since dogs were not allowed. One day, the dog began whining, acting strange and looking out the window in the direction the bus had gone. The boy’s mom couldn’t get the dog to settle down and on a hunch called the school to speak with the nurse, who told her that the boy had just had a seizure. The school was ten miles from where the boy lived, and yet his dog knew what was going to happen.

We as humans need to be taught to be wary of potential dangers, but our dogs do not and they act accordingly, whether they are raising puppies or babies. While we as adults can usually see danger coming, our children cannot and our canine companions act to protect our precious two-legged family members.

Read more articles by Ruthie Bently

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

Are “Dog People” and “Cat People” Really Different?

By Linda Cole

We are attracted to certain types of pets just as we are to specific types of people. All animals are worthy of our compassion, and choosing either a dog or cat to share our home with is a reflection on our personality.

There’s something mystical about a cat. They cuddle with us on their terms. Most will come when called, but only if they think there’s something in it for them. I’m pretty sure mine enjoy seeing their frantic owner comb every known hiding spot in the house looking for them as they watch from a newly discovered spot. I love a cat’s independence and how the intensity in her body grows as she watches a squirrel or bird perch on a tree branch in front of the window separating them.

Dog people and cat people do have good reasons why they prefer one over the other. But as much as I love cats, dogs also have a special place in my heart. I love how a dog greets you no matter how long you’ve been gone. Cats miss us too, but they are often too proud to let us know. A dog wants to be with us all the time and they always have a smile in their eyes. I don’t think of myself as a dog or cat person, just an animal person.

According to a study that was done in 2008 by the American Veterinary Medical Association, “cat people” are more likely to be single with multiple cats; “dog people” are typically married with kids and have just one dog in the home. But with so many variables in the equation, this generalization seems rather pointless.

Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin recently conducted an online survey to find out if there really is a difference between cat people and dog people. Their study is called the Gosling-Potter Internet Personality Project, and they asked participants questions to measure five different personality traits. Around 4,500 people answered questions that measured openness, agreeableness, neuroticism, conscientiousness and extraversion (this spelling is correct and is the same as extrovert). The researchers used these five personality traits in earlier studies to measure responses, and believe most people fall into one of the categories.

What they found was that people who consider themselves to be dog people tend to be more outgoing and social. Cat people, according to their study, are more neurotic yet open. The openness in this case means creative, philosophical, curious, imaginative, or more in touch with their own feelings.

The University of Texas at Austin study has not been published yet, so I’ll reserve judgment until it’s available to the public to read. The small bit of general information that has already been released has created controversy and defensive reactions from pet owners. Neurotic, after all, is a pretty strong word to label cat people with. The information that’s been released is more of a generalization of the five personality types. The study was only for differences between dog people and cat people based on how they viewed themselves. Some considered themselves to be dog people but they own cats, or cat people with dogs. Some of the respondents didn’t even own a pet.

What’s useful about the Texas study is when matching up a therapy animal with a patient, understanding a person’s preference can make a difference by using an animal the person relates to best. But do we really want to stereotype someone based on their choice in pets? And where do households with both dogs and cats fit into the study?

The study also found that some people may prefer dogs, but have cats because that’s the pet that fits best into their lifestyle or work schedule at the moment. Cat people may have a certain breed of dog because that’s the pet that works best for someone in the home with allergies.

Studies are useful in providing an insight into how people see themselves. However, I’m not convinced that placing a label on a person from a generalized statement is convincing as far as determining a difference between dog people and cat people. The way I see it, we are pet parents who are enriched with the love we give and receive from our pets. A preference does play a role in our choice, but regardless of whether we have cats or dogs, labels mean nothing to them and they accept us for who we are. And so should we.

Read more articles by Linda Cole

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

What to do With Pets When Your Home is for Sale

By Suzanne Alicie

Selling a home can take time. It is not uncommon for a home to be listed for several months. During this time, you and your family may continue to live in the home. But of course you make an extra effort to keep the house clean and presentable because the realtor could show up any time with a potential buyer.

While this is a bit of an upheaval for your family, there is one other thing to consider and that is your family pet. The homeowners are often at work when the house is shown. This means that your dog or cat is at home unattended when strangers enter and move through your home.

When your house is for sale it is important to make sure that your pet is kept enclosed to protect both the pets and potential home buyers who are viewing the house. When a realtor and viewers enter a house, your dog or cat could slip out the door and get into the street or become lost. Another possibility is that your dog may become territorial and frighten or even attack the strange people coming into his home.

To solve these potential problems, consider some of the following solutions for your pets while your home is for sale. Pets who are accustomed to being able to roam freely about the house may balk initially, but will soon adjust to a new routine.

1. Doggie Daycare will get your dog out of the home when you go to work. He won’t be at home so that the realtor can show the house at any time while you are gone, without worry.

2. Crate your dog or cat when you leave the home so that he is in an enclosed and safe area where he won’t be in contact with the realtor or home viewers.

3. Backyard kennels or enclosed runs are a way to not only protect your dog and the people who are entering your home, but also a great way to make sure your dog gets fresh air and a bit of exercise. An enclosed kennel in the back yard is also a good selling point for potential buyers who have a pet.

Do not place your dog on a chain outside unattended. The dog could become entangled, spill his water, or even break the chain and escape.

Taking some precautions while your home is for sale will help you to avoid losing your pet and even possible lawsuits. However, there will be an adjustment period for your pet when you begin instituting these changes in the daily routine. Expect some regression in training and a bit of acting out from your canine or feline friend. Be patient and realize that your pet is experiencing a great deal of upheaval along with the rest of the family. The difference is that your pet won’t understand what is going on and may feel as if he is being punished. Be sure to reward your dog or cat for good behavior, and give them a lot of attention when you are home.

Read more articles by Suzanne Alicie

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.