Category Archives: Julia Williams

Dog Themed Museums

dog museums theilrBy Julia Williams

If you’re a dog lover and your summer travels take you to Missouri, Texas, Tennessee or Alaska, you might want to check out the following museums dedicated to our canine companions.  These woof-worthy dog museums feature original art, books, videos, historical information, dog collectibles, dog toys and a whole lot more.

American Kennel Club Museum of the Dog

The AKC’s Museum of the Dog claims to be “Home to the world’s finest collection of art devoted to the dog.” Now, I have not traveled the world in search of dog art nor have I been to this museum in person. However, if what they showcase on their website is indicative of the quality of dog art found in the museum, I’d have to agree. It looks doggone impressive!

Located in St. Louis, Missouri, the Museum of the Dog displays more than 700 original paintings, drawings, prints, sculptures, bronzes and porcelain figurines as well as decorative art depicting man’s best friend through the ages. The All-Star Dogs Hall of Fame features colorful wall murals painted by the American artist Stephen Hubbell, and story boards created by the international design firm Hellmuth Obata Kassabaum. Also on permanent display is a Dogs of War exhibit with historical photographs, limited edition prints and memorabilia on the famous WWII Yorkshire Terrier mascot named Smoky.

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How Do You Keep Your Pet Happy?

Belle happyBy Julia Williams

Every now and then my mother, a true non-pet person if ever there was one, says something along the lines of “Your cats sure are spoiled.” I smile and say “thank you.” I know she doesn’t mean that as a compliment, but to me it definitely is. If I am spoiling my cats, it means I am doing everything I can to make sure they are happy and healthy, and feel loved and appreciated.

Unlike spoiled children who run the risk of becoming brats who feel and act entitled, spoiled pets are just contented creatures who have a wonderful life. Are they thankful for it? I’m sure there are those like my mother who believe animals don’t have the capacity to feel thankful, or happy or sad either, for that matter. But we know better, don’t we?

Who among us can say that we haven’t seen looks of sheer joy on the faces of our pets? The greatest thing about making a pet happy is that it’s actually quite easy. They don’t ask for much other than to be well fed and well loved – now, how hard is that?

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Book Review: Lessons in Stalking

lessons in stalkingBy Julia Williams

I have had the pleasure of a cat’s company for all of my life. Without giving away my age, let’s just say that this amounts to a very long time. Cats have been my BFFs ever since the cute yellow kitten my toddler self inexplicably wanted to name Blacky (sadly, I was outvoted). I think it’s safe to say I know a thing or two about cat behavior. Which means that whenever I start reading a new cat book, I can tell within the first few pages whether the author really “knows” cats, or not.

As it happens, sometimes people who have a cat decide to try writing some funny stories about the cat. The stories are indeed humorous, but they don’t really describe feline behavior. As you might imagine, I enjoy books about cats more when they’re portraying at least semi-realistic things the cats do … or might do, if given the chance.

When I began reading Lessons in Stalking: Adjusting to Life with Cats, it was obvious that the book’s author, Dena Harris, was a bona fide cat lady. Not everyone gets cats, but Dena Harris most definitely does. Moreover, she captured their feline quirks perfectly, and the stories – although slightly exaggerated for comic effect – were plausible. Events may not have happened exactly the way she described them…but they could have.

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Does My Dog Understand How I Feel?

dog understand TonyBy Linda Cole

We already know that dogs are experts at reading our body language and have the ability to read our emotions by looking at our face. We also know that dogs respond to our tone of voice in much the same way we understand another person’s tone. A new study was recently released that gives us a deeper understanding into how the canine brain processes the emotional tones of our voice to understand how we feel.

Scientists have been trying for years to get into the head of canines to unlock what goes on in their mind. Several years ago Dr. Gregory Berns, a Neuroeconomics professor at Emory University, and his colleagues trained dogs to remain calm and lie quietly in an MRI scanner so they could scan the canine brain with the dog fully awake and unrestrained.

In a nutshell, Neuroeconomics is the study of how we make choices by evaluating risks and rewards, and when interacting with other people. When other researchers learned it was possible to train dogs to lie still inside an MRI scanner, it opened up more studies into how the canine brain works. The surprising finding is that dogs, like us, have a dedicated voice area in their brain that receives and interprets emotions in the voices of humans and dogs.

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Oh, the Things Cats Do to Embarrass Us!

cat embarrass chrisBy Julia Williams

I do not necessarily think cats stay up all night dreaming up ways they can embarrass us. Sometimes it seems like they do, though, given the number of awkward moments we endure thanks to our feline friends. However, since I have no actual proof, I can’t make such accusations.

Perhaps it’s coincidental that embarrassing things just seem to happen whenever there’s a cat present. Yeah, right. I just heard my cat snicker behind my back. Oh, but I think I read somewhere that surviving mortification builds character, so perhaps we should be grateful to our cats for helping us be better humans? Yes, I’m sure that’s what they intended all along. Ha!

Whether by accident – or not – every cat will at some point do that “grooming of the privates” thing in front of your guests. Since it’s usually in the middle of the living room, I have a hard time believing the cat’s indecent exposure is unplanned, no matter how nonchalant they try to look. And I’m pretty sure that aside from embarrassing us, they like showing off just how much more flexible they are than us.

Naturally, I have suffered my share of embarrassment at the paws of the cat. Anyone who has “scaredy cats” will relate to this story: whenever a stranger comes in the house, my cats make a terrified mad dash to their hiding spot in the bedroom, trampling anything or anyone in their way. Dude, chill! It’s just the furnace repairman, not the evil spawn of Satan.

When I was moving out of state, a former client came to look at my collection of large flower pots I wanted to sell. Keep in mind, we didn’t have a social relationship; I’d only interacted with her in a business setting. She asked to use my bathroom and when she emerged, she looked like she’d just witnessed something horrifying that would change her forever. “There’s some kind of dead critter in there,” she whispered. Uh oh! I look, whereupon I find half of a gopher, guts and all, in the middle of the floor.

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The Story of Cinnabun, My Wild Rabbit “Pet”

By Julia Williams

I love all animals, but I have a soft spot for two in particular: cats and rabbits. I’ve had many feline friends over the years, but despite being tempted to have a pet rabbit, I never have. I suppose I haven’t taken the plunge because I’m not certain a rabbit would be a good fit for me. Rabbits can  make great pets, but they’re not for everyone.

Last autumn, I started following the exploits of a charming wild rabbit named Mister. I visited Mister’s Facebook page daily to see what he and his “Carrot Lady” were up to. For a wild rabbit, Mister had it made because the Carrot Lady catered to his every need.

The “bunny itch” came back in full force. One day I saw a small gray bunny in my driveway. I ran inside, fetched two carrots and slowly approached the bunny. I gently put the carrots down about three feet in front of it. The bunny hopped right past my delicious offering and disappeared! Harumph!

I saw the bunny a few more times, and the same scene played out: I tried to befriend it with carrots, and was rejected. “Why can’t you be more like Mister?” I asked, but the bunny just scampered away. When winter came, the bunny sightings ceased. This spring, however, the little bunny reappeared. Every day it sat in the middle of my yard, munching on grass. I didn’t offer it any carrots, but I did go outside to talk to it.

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