Category Archives: Langley Cornwell

John and George: The Dog Who Changed My Life

By Langley Cornwell

I take a ridiculous number of pet photographs. Every time one of our pets strikes a new pose or just looks extra adorable, I snap a picture. Most of my animal-loving friends do the same thing, and have a ton of pet photos on their camera phone. When I look at the photos of my pets or photos other people have taken of their pets, it’s a treat to see the strong connection between photographer and pet. Without trying to sound too cheesy, it’s like I see the animal through a lens of love.

That’s probably the first thing that grabbed me when I stumbled upon artist John Dolan’s sketches of George the Dog. Long before I learned about their incredible life together, I responded to the connection that was so evident in the simple black and white portraits John drew of his beloved George. And, like me, it seems that John picks up pen and paper as often as I pick up my camera; he’s created hundreds of pen and ink drawings of George the Dog in a variety of positions and circumstances. It’s heartwarming.

To discover Dolan’s art is one thing, but when you learn more about the back story, it’s quite another. The first time his art and story came to my attention was via an article in the UK publication, the Hackney Citizen. Apparently this exceptionally talented guy has a rocky past that includes multiple jail stays. He eventually ended up living on the streets of London before he was “discovered,” and he attributes all of his success to George the Dog.

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Dog Breed Profile: The Fancy, Mutt-Looking Berger Picard

By Langley Cornwell

Have you seen the movie Because of Winn Dixie? We watched it recently and fell in love with the big, scruffy mutt that played the title role. But wait – was the role of Winn Dixie really played by a mixed breed? Many famous animal actors really are mutts. For instance, the famous Higgins of Petticoat Junction and Benji fame was a rescued shelter mutt, so it’s entirely possible that Winn Dixie was too. Curious, I decided to research it and discovered that he wasn’t a mutt at all. Even though the dog that played Winn Dixie looked like a shaggy, loveable cross between several breeds, he was actually a Berger Picard.

Pronounced “bare ZHAY pee CARR,” the Berger Picard is a rare French purebred dog whose origins date back to the ninth century. This herding breed is also referred to as a Picardy Shepherd.

Background

The breed was introduced to northern France by the Celts in the ninth century. The Berger Picard became useful for herding sheep and cattle as well as for smuggling tobacco and other contraband across the borders between France and Belgium. In the early 1900s, the Berger Picard was considered a legitimate breed and the first breed standards were written.

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Steps to Take in a Common Canine Emergency

By Langley Cornwell

At one point or another during life with your dog, you’ll likely encounter some type of canine emergency. And if you are fortunate enough to have a dog that behaves well enough to get out and about with you, it may happen more frequently. When minor predicaments occur, it’s good to know what action to take. Here are three common canine emergencies and what you should do when they strike.

Dog Bites

Dog bites happen. Sometimes it’s because a new dog acts up at the dog park or because a dog slips his lead during a walk. Regardless of how or why it happened, it’s time for you to take action. Clean the wound thoroughly but gently and investigate it. If the skin is broken but the bite does not seem to require stitches, you can avoid a trip to the vet.

Place sterile cotton pads against the clean wound and wrap it all with sterile gauze. Be careful not to wrap the area too tightly because you don’t want to constrict the blood flow. Then put some type of inflatable or cone recovery collar on your dog so he won’t aggravate the area. Change the bandage every day and scrutinize the area for signs of infection. If you notice additional redness, warmth, swelling, oozing or increased sensitivity, then make an appointment with your vet to get it looked at.

Skunk Sprays

This is one area that I have personal experience with. Well, not me exactly (thankfully) but my dog. When I lived up north, I had a Spitz mix who was an escape artist. Every time she got out, she seemed to head straight to her favorite skunk’s house. I’m telling you, this happened several times a month. At the time I thought tomato juice was the antidote so I soaked her in it. Not only did the smell linger, but she ended up looking like a golden retriever most of the time. That juice stained her white hair orange. It was a constant mess.

Skunk spray contains oils that help it stick, so you need a solution that will cut through it. Bathing your dog with a mixture of one quart 3% hydrogen peroxide, a quarter cup of baking soda, and a teaspoon of liquid dishwashing soap (with grease cutting action) is what some “skunk experts” recommend. The recipe may need to be doubled for large or extra-hairy dogs. If your dog gets hit with a blast of skunk spray and you don’t have those ingredients on hand, white vinegar diluted with water will suffice. Whatever solution you choose, take care to protect your dog’s eyes. You’ll also want to follow up with a bath using your dog’s regular shampoo, and everything should be back to normal.

Bee Stings

For most dogs, bee stings are uncomfortable but manageable; you should remove the stinger and then apply cold compresses to reduce swelling and inflammation. Be extra cautious if your dog is stung in the face or around the mouth area, especially if your dog happens to be a brachycephalic breed like a Bulldog, Pekingese, Pug, Boston Terrier, etc. These dog’s airways are already restricted, so any additional swelling can be serious. You should seek veterinary care in this instance.

It is widely agreed that administering a low dose of anti-histamine like regular Benadryl (not “non-drowsy”) is okay in a bee sting situation for dogs other than the short-nosed breeds. The recommended dose is 25 mg for smaller dogs and 50 mg for larger dogs, but please call your vet to confirm.

After a bee sting, if your dog acts confused, has labored breathing, excess swelling or hives or if he is vomiting or has diarrhea, then go straight to an animal hospital.

We can provide our dogs love and shelter, and feed them premium pet food like CANIDAE grain free PURE, but sometimes things happen that are beyond our control.  Dogs can get into all kinds of mischief, so it’s good to know what steps to take in a common canine emergency.

Top photo by Michelle Tribe/Flickr
Bottom photo by Owen Parrish/Flickr

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Help for a Dog with a Collapsed Trachea

By Langley Cornwell

When we adopted our most recent family dog, Al, he had been stuck in the system for a long time; he’d been transported to several different animal shelters in the hopes of finding him a good home. I applaud the local shelters for recognizing that he had potential despite some behavioral problems. Even so, he was on borrowed time, and when my husband and I met him, we agreed that we were ready for the job.

To help his transition, we started Al in behavioral training classes immediately. We still have a very long way to go with this dog, but he’s part of our family and we’ve pledged to give him a safe, loving and comfortable home for the rest of his life.

As it turns out, Al’s behavioral problems are only half of the picture. Once the adoption was finalized, we took him straight to our veterinarian. His examination revealed that Al was heartworm positive and had a collapsed trachea. The heartworm condition has been corrected, but we have to take special precautions not to aggravate his tracheal collapse.

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When “Cat People” Consider Life with a Dog

By Langley Cornwell

Do you believe some people are “cat people” and some are “dog people?” I used to think that was true, and considered myself a staunch dog person. Granted, I love all animals, but preferred to share my life with those of the canine persuasion. All of that abruptly changed when my husband and I were at an animal shelter to get a new dog. As we were filling out the final paperwork, we started chatting with the shelter staff. Everything was settled and we began making our way to the door with our new pup when one of the staff members raced up with a tiny little kitten. She thrust the kitten into my husband’s face and said, “This is my special little guy and I want to make sure he has the perfect home. What about it?”

“What about what?” I said in my best dog-only-person voice.

“He’s a cutie” my husband the cat lover said (although I’m not sure he used the word cutie, and he’d probably deny it). “He looks just like my favorite cat Rudy used to look,” he continued, and looked me square in the eyes. That look let me know it was my decision but he really wanted the kitten to come home with us. The shelter staff noticed my hesitation and ganged up on me. Now what’s a girl going to do? I caved to the peer pressure and agreed. So we went to the shelter for a dog and came home with a cat and a dog.

That’s how I made the switch. But don’t misunderstand my use of the word switch.  I didn’t switch from being a “dog person” to being a “cat person.” No, I switched from being a “dog only” person to being a “dog and cat” person.

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Common Cat Injuries, and What to Do About Them

By Langley Cornwell

There is a lot of information circulating about acute and chronic feline illnesses, which is helpful when you need details about a particular situation or condition. However, there are a handful of common injuries that befall cats on a fairly regular basis, and some of these injuries can be treated at home. A responsible pet owner would do well to have a standard working knowledge of common cat health issues and know what steps to take to help their feline friend. In other words, it’s important to know when you need to make a mad dash to the emergency veterinary clinic versus when you can calmly assess the problem and either treat it yourself or make a convenient appointment with your regular veterinarian.

Here are some of the most common cat injuries.

Animal Bites and Puncture Wounds

Among the most common injuries with cats are puncture/bite wounds, usually the result of a cat fight. With a bite wound or a puncture wound from a sharp, pointed object, you must clean the area thoroughly and try to flush out the wound so you can inspect it. A note of caution: be careful when inspecting your cat’s injury; a wounded animal can be unpredictable and aggressive.

If the wound looks superficial, after cleaning the area apply an antibiotic ointment and keep a close watch on it for signs of infection. Continue to keep the area clean and dressed with the ointment as it heals. Deeper wounds may require stitches and oral antibiotics, so it’s best to head to the veterinarian’s office. Also, cat-on-cat fights can be especially harmful because the bite from another cat can easily abscess. If you know that the puncture wound is a cat bite, go see your veterinarian. A snake bite is an entirely different thing; go straight to the nearest animal hospital.

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