Border Collies are consistently among the top ten on those “smartest dog breed” lists, and they often rank number one depending upon who put the list together and the criteria used to assess canine intelligence.
What would happen then, when a Border Collie puppy gets adopted by a retired psychology professor with a penchant for scientific research and new discoveries in canine intelligence? Add to that, the man’s desire to help his smart dog unlock her full potential, so much so that he’s willing to devote four to five hours a day on training and teaching her?
The result is Chaser, a dog who knows more than a thousand words; that’s more than any other animal except human beings! Her trainer and constant companion is John Pilley, and he’s written a wonderful account of his experience with this incredibly intelligent dog in the book Chaser, Unlocking the Genius of the Dog Who Knows a Thousand Words.
Our blog’s 6th anniversary (“blogiversary”) is coming up in one week, which naturally got me thinking about the principle of responsible pet ownership. CANIDAE chose that phrase as the name for this blog because it’s a perfect fit for the company philosophy. Responsible pet ownership is not only a fundamental value of the company founders, but every employee as well.
As such, I like to discuss it here once in awhile to serve as a gentle reminder of what the term means, what it entails and how we can all be the best, most responsible pet owners possible. We are, after all, the ones in charge of every aspect of our pet’s wellbeing. Their health and happiness is in our hands. This is always at the forefront of my mind; I want to make good decisions, because my cats’ lives depend on it…and on me.
Many people – myself included – think of their animal companions as family. We want the best for them, just as we do for the important humans in our lives. The difference is that the humans can do many things for themselves that will make a positive impact on their quality of life. Our four legged friends can only rely on us, which is why being a responsible pet owner is so important.
In a perfect world, that would mean no one would ever be allowed to adopt a pet unless they agreed to take care of it for life, not “until.” You know…until the baby comes, until they have to move, until the pet becomes too old or inconvenient. Sadly, our imperfect world is filled with people who abandon their animal companions for one reason or another.
Recently, a Facebook friend posted a link to an article about cats that really got my goat. It claimed a scientific study had determined that cats hate it when you touch them and only pretend to love humans for the fringe benefits we provide. “While cats may look all fuzzy and adorable on the outside, research shows that they really are the cold, unfeeling monsters the world thinks they are,” the article stated.
It’s not the first time an obviously anti-cat person went on a diatribe about what awful, unloving creatures cats are, and I’m sure it won’t be the last. What I found particularly egregious about this one was the use of “science” to back up the author’s negative feelings about cats.
I told my friend that this was the most ridiculous article I have ever read. It was ridiculous because anyone who loves cats knows that every statement the cat hater made was untrue. We don’t need science to tell us that if we take the time to understand our cats as individuals and find ways to bond with them, that they will – and most certainly do – love us back. My cats Mickey, Rocky and Annabelle are positive proof of that.
Early detection is always best for any illness. Catching a disease before it becomes advanced increases the chance that it can be treated successfully. What makes this problematic for cat owners is that felines are hard-wired to hide signs of illness. Their wild ancestors did this as a means to survival, and it’s instinctual for a feline to conceal the appearance of sickness, even if they lead the life of a very spoiled housecat.
Your best course of action is threefold: 1) take your cat to the vet for wellness checkups at least once a year; 2) know your cat well enough that you can immediately recognize any changes in their normal behavior; 3) know the subtle signs of a sick kitty. Here are some things to watch out for:
Both an increase and a decrease in a cat’s food intake can signify illness. If a cat begins to eat ravenously and always seems to want more, diabetes or hyperthyroidism could be the culprit. Eating less could mean dental problems or something more serious such as kidney disease or cancer. It’s important to be aware that cats who stop eating can quickly develop a potentially fatal liver disease called hepatic lipidosis. If your cat won’t eat anything for more than a day, get to the vet ASAP.
As with food, both an increase and a decrease in water intake can indicate health issues. Excessive thirst can be a sign of kidney disease, diabetes or hyperthyroidism.
“Cat food breath” is one thing – all felines have that to some degree. However, if your cat opens his mouth and the smell just about knocks you over, that’s definitely cause for concern. Stinky breath can indicate dental disease, infection, digestive issues or kidney problems; a sweet, fruit-like smell can be a sign of diabetes.
We all strive to be responsible pet owners and “do the right thing” where our beloved furry friends are concerned. We are human, though, which means that despite having the best intentions, sometimes we slip up. Read on for some common blunders pet owners make, and how to avoid them.
Adopting on a Whim
Judging by the number of people I know who’ve made this mistake (myself included) I’d say that “impulse adoption” is fairly common. It’s also understandable. That adorable little puppy face in the window can be so hard to resist. That kitten being given away on the street calls to our most basic need to “save” this tiny helpless being. However, getting a pet before doing your research or making the necessary preparations can have disastrous results, with the pet being the one who bears the brunt of our hasty decision. Adopting a pet is a long-term commitment, and you need to be absolutely certain you’re picking one that is appropriate for your family, your living situation and your lifestyle.
Not Enough Exercise
Yes, it can be darn inconvenient to walk the dog in frigid winter weather, or make time to play with your cat every day. But exercise is a vital part of a healthy lifestyle for our pets, just as it is for us. Couch potato pets run the risk of becoming overweight, which can cause numerous health issues including arthritis, diabetes, joint issues, liver problems, difficulty breathing and a decreased quality of life. Insufficient physical activity can also contribute to bad behavior. How much exercise is enough depends on your pet’s age, breed, size and health status. A basic rule of thumb is 30 minutes a day for dogs, and 15 minutes for cats. Consider that the bare bones minimum; your pet may need more exercise than that.
I tried to find a good word that rhymed with 2015, but “bean” was the best I could do. See, if you don’t already know, some cats and dogs who blog call their human a bean. I’ve no clue who coined that term, but it’s a thing, so I went with it.
Bad rhymes aside, it’s time once again for us here at the CANIDAE RPO blog to wish a very Happy New Year to those we hold dear. That certainly includes all of you, our readers. Without you, there would be no reason to write a thing!
Whether you’ve just discovered this blog, have been with us since our inception (in early 2009!) or joined us somewhere in between, we appreciate you and are so glad to have you along for the ride.
Each year, we strive to bring you a variety of topics ranging from pet care tips and important pet-related information, to human interest stories and entertaining posts that will make you smile. We’re always open to suggestions, so feel free to drop us an email or a comment if you have a specific topic you’d like to see us cover in 2015.
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.