By Linda Cole
Small dog breeds in the AKC’s Toy Group are perfectly happy to curl up in your lap when you want to relax with a good book or watch TV. They were bred to be companion pets, but these seven small dogs also enjoy going outside to stretch their legs. Most also have the energy and ability to participate in dog sports or go hiking.
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
This dog may be small, but he still retains his spaniel traits and is a true sporting breed that enjoys getting outside for hikes and walks, or participating in dog sports like flyball, agility and rally. Some have been trained to hunt small prey like rabbits and birds. This is an intelligent breed that loves being with people. The Cavalier can easily steal your heart with his cheery and sweet disposition, large round bright eyes and a tail that never stops wagging.
A favorite companion pet of Chinese royalty, this dog’s name means “little lion.” The Shih Tzu is one of the 14 oldest dog breeds. Archaeological discoveries of dog bones in China date the breed back to at least 8,000 B.C. This happy, outgoing and affectionate breed gets along well with other dogs and is a good family pet. Unlike the Cavalier, a Shih Tzu has no interest in hunting anything, but he does enjoy getting rid of excess energy by doing agility, rally, obedience and other dog sports.
By Linda Cole
Touch is an important aspect in our relationship with dogs. My dog, Keikei, enjoys a good massage and one of her sweet spots is at the base of her tail. Most dogs enjoy having this area petted, but what relaxes her completely is when I lay my hand on one of her ears and slowly and gently move my hand down her ear and along the side of her face. This is not something she allows anyone else to do. We can usually get away with touching areas on our own dogs that someone unfamiliar to the dog couldn’t.
The bond we share with our dogs is an emotional tie. It’s an investment of trust earned through positive interactions, understanding and commitment. It’s not an accident when your dog puts his paw on your leg, jumps up to greet you, or wants to cuddle next to you. Touch is an important part of the bond. My dog likes to back up to my legs, especially when I’m sitting outside with him. He faces away from me and slowly backs up until he’s touching me, then he sits down and leans on my legs. It’s his way of saying he feels safe and comfortable with me. Like us, dogs are social creatures and enjoy a gentle touch from the person they share a bond with.
A team of German researchers wanted to understand the emotional response dogs have when petted by an unfamiliar person. They enlisted the help of 28 dogs and strapped a heart monitor on each one to record their heart rate. The average age of the dogs was about five years. They were a mixture of different breeds, all were privately owned pets, and some had gone through obedience training while others had not. Each dog was tested individually in an office-like setting. The dog was in the room with his owner and an unfamiliar person. While the stranger interacted with the dog and touched him in nine different ways, his owner paid no attention to what was going on.
By Linda Cole
From my perspective, I don’t care if a dog is purebred or mixed. I’ve had both over the years and cherished each for their unique personalities. Mixed breed dogs, however, can garner interesting debates about what breeds are in their makeup. You might be able to figure out a few by looking at the face and overall body type, but one of the best places to start is at the tail. The shape, size, length, how it sets and whether the tail is bushy, feathered or smooth can all give you clues about your mixed breed dog’s heritage.
A dog’s tail is an extension of the spine and consists of flexible vertebrae that give the tail movement up and down or side to side. Muscles located in the lower back are attached to the tail by tendons. The tail gives us information that can indicate a dog’s mood. Recently, scientists discovered a subtle movement to the right or left can mean your dog is feeling negative or positive.
Many of the breeds that are members of the Spitz family of dogs have a bushy tail that forms a sickle and curls up over the back. Some Spitz dogs, such as the Shiba Inu, Akita and Norwegian Buhund, have an extra curl at the tip of their tail. Spitz dogs closely resemble the original body type and look of the first domesticated dog, the Peat Dog from the late Stone Age era, and scientists believe the sickle tail held over the back helped people tell the difference between domesticated dogs and wolves. Chihuahuas are not part of the Spitz family, but they also have a sickle tail type.
By Jabbers Cole, Feline Guest Blogger
Mew – Mew, Maauul, Meow. Pardon me, I had to get my voice warmed up so I can share my purrfectly good news with all my kitty friends. CANIDAE has some tasty new recipes in their Life Stages line of food for cats! The Boss (aka my human) says I’m the one that loves to jabber all the time, so I could tell everyone about this meowvalous food.
My culinary adventure started awhile back when I was checking out what the neighbor dogs were yapping about. All of a sudden, this scary looking guy walked right by my window! He tossed something down and ran away. The Boss went to see what he left. She came back with a box and set it down in front of me. “Look what came for you, Jabbers.”
My first thought was “Nice box!” But it didn’t look at all big enough for me to fit inside. There were lots of small cans of cat food in the box. Now that got my attention, and I decided there was plenty of time to figure out how I was going to fit inside that tiny box.
By Linda Cole
When I was a kid, we had a Manchester Terrier who would race to the front door and bark during severe thunderstorms. She’d bark and race over to us and then back to the door as if she thought someone was knocking. Distant thunder didn’t bother her, but loud and close thunder did. Our two other dogs would sleep right through a thunderstorm. Why does thunder and lightning scare some dogs and not others?
Lightning is formed when ice and water particles inside a cloud are compressed by warm air currents. Friction from the quickly moving currents causes electrical charges to form within the cloud. Negative charges build up at the bottom of the cloud and positive ones go to the top. When there’s a large buildup of negative charge, a feeler is sent towards the ground where it meets up with a positive streamer reaching up from the ground and causes a lightning strike. The negative charge descends rapidly, heating the air surrounding it to around 54,000 degrees Fahrenheit and creating a shock wave – thunder.
A low pressure is when the atmospheric (barometric) pressure is lower than the surrounding area. Lows produce snow, rain, wind, humidity, thunderstorms, hurricanes and tornadoes. A change in barometric pressure can bother some dogs more than others, especially arthritic pets that can experience more pain and stiffness in their joints during storms. Lightning is a natural source of nitrogen oxides, and dogs that are sensitive to storms may be able to smell these odors from the atmosphere as well as the ozone.
By Linda Cole
The Kemp’s ridley is the world’s smallest sea turtle. It’s also the most endangered sea turtle, with only about 1,000 breeding females left. Over-harvesting of eggs throughout the last century drastically reduced the population, and the turtle has had a hard time rebounding. To help keep these turtles from becoming extinct, a Cairn Terrier named Ridley and his owner have been working the beaches of North Padre Island in Texas, searching for nesting areas filled with precious eggs.
An adult Kemp’s ridley weighs 80 to 100 pounds and is 24 to 28 inches long, but a hatchling hits the scale at a mere 0.5 ounces and 1.5 inches. Their average lifespan is thought to be around 50 years. Found mainly in the Gulf of Mexico, they prefer diving in shallow waters. These omnivores swim to the bottom in search of crabs, their favorite food. They also eat other shellfish and jellyfish, and will dine on seaweed and sargassum now and then.
Sargassum is a brown seaweed that is found floating in clusters throughout the waters of the Gulf. To many people it’s considered worthless, especially when it washes up on shore. However, to marine life like tiny crabs, shrimp and other small sea creatures, sargassum is home and a place of refuge. For Kemp’s ridley juvenile turtles, this floating seaweed provides a place where they can rest and find food on their journey through the sea.