By Linda Cole
The Icelandic Sheepdog is Iceland’s only native dog breed. A member of the Spitz family of dogs, this ancient breed traveled with the Vikings when they sailed from Norway and other Scandinavian countries to settle in new lands. Considered one of the oldest breeds, this primitive herding dog dates back to between 874 and 930 AD. They adapted so well to Iceland’s challenging environment and farming techniques, they were invaluable to farmers who used them to manage and move livestock.
The breed is known by other names such as the Iceland Spitz, Iceland Dog, Friaar Dog, the “dog of the Vikings,” or simply ISD. Legends tell the story of a loyal and noble dog that worked side by side with Icelandic farmers. The climate was harsh and the terrain difficult to traverse. The Icelandic Sheepdog, a crucial partner to those who worked the land, was a hard working and beloved companion of farmers.
Isolation from other dogs allowed the Icelandic Sheepdog to evolve over the centuries through natural selection and development by man. Well suited to work in and withstand the harsh Icelandic environment, these hardy dogs have changed little over the centuries. They were so respected and cherished by their owners, archaeologists have found many primitive grave sites of ISD indicating ancient farmers felt their dogs were worthy of being honored with a proper burial.
By Langley Cornwell
True confession time: we sing to our pets. My husband would vehemently deny that statement but it’s true, and I can prove it. In fact, we have three pets – two dogs and a cat – and we have a song for each one of them. What’s more, they all know which pet we’re singing to at any given time. Sure, each one’s song has his or her name in it, but even if we hum their specific tune, the appropriate animal responds. It’s fun for us and I think they like it, but I’m not sure.
What I am sure about is this: the way we talk (or sing) to our dog is important. It’s not just what we say but the manner in which we say it. Tone and pitch are critical in forging a strong bond and establishing good communication between you and your pet.
When talking to your dog, if you institute three different and specific tones—one for commands, one for corrections and one for praise—it will improve the flow of understanding between the two of you.
Here are some tips for how to talk to your dog:
By Laurie Darroch
We traveled all over when I was growing up, which made having a dog of any size something my father was not willing to deal with, much to my disappointment. Friends’ dogs were my exposure to the world of canines. Everywhere we went, there were always people we knew who traveled and moved with their families, too. That was the norm for all of us; we were expat nomads who made each new place home. This group of people became “family” to us. A few of the adults became loved aunts and uncles. One of our closest set of family friends, the Camerons, had a Beagle dog named Mity. Later in Germany, they added another Beagle named Schroeder to the family.
Mity’s full name was Mity Mite. He was a registered miniature Beagle with championship lines. Mity was a Beagle of determined personality. Although small, he made his presence known. He was a bit of a food hoarder, and often got into mischief trying to get food he wasn’t supposed to have.
He would steal and try to eat anything that was not nailed down, including two small pet turtles that were kept in a bowl with a miniature plastic palm tree. They disappeared one day and were found later under a couch, alive, one with a punctured shell but otherwise fine. That didn’t match the time Mity ate two whole loaves of sliced bread and swelled up like a balloon until he looked like he would pop, or the time in Paris he stole a whole pot roast off the kitchen table and hid with it behind an antique Victorian couch in their apartment living room. Little Mity had a royal appetite that fit his lineage.
By Linda Cole
If there’s one thing all dogs love to do, it’s sniffing out interesting scents. K9 Nose Work is a dog sport that evolved from the drug detection community. It’s an entertaining way to give your pet exercise and mental stimulation as he searches out a variety of scents. From a dog’s point of view, anything that gets his nose wiggling is fun. K9 Nose Work is also a good activity to do at home when your dog is bored.
One can’t help but wonder when watching a dog, what sort of scent has captured his attention. The canine nose is so amazing it can pick up scents we will never be able to smell. My dogs are always pointing their nose to the sky, wiggling their nose excitedly as scents drift by in the wind. Some smells are more interesting than others, which can be seen in their body language.
The creators of K9 Nose Work are professional trainers and certified handlers of detection dogs. The idea came from observing the satisfaction of canines trained to do search and rescue, tracking, and detection work. They wanted a dog sport open to all canines who wanted to participate in an enjoyable game of finding hidden scents. It doesn’t require any special training or athletic ability for either the dogs or the humans.
By Rocky Williams, Feline Guest Blogger
Hello! It’s your favorite feline scribe, here to spill the secrets of cats. Well, perhaps not all cats but one in particular – a handsome black mancat that just might be looking at you in the photo to your left. Why yes, that’s me. Aren’t I the best looking furry beast you’ve ever seen?
Oops. I’ve gotten off track already and I haven’t even begun. Today I’m going to discuss some of the things I want my human, aka “Warden,” to know. It might help you understand what your own cat wants you to know, but there’s no guarantee because like snowflakes, no two felines are ever alike. We’re individuals, baby!
Onward. Recently I overheard the Warden telling her friend about this book she was reading. The main character, Brianna, supposedly had psychic abilities; she could “hear” animals talking to her. A friend’s cat was desperately trying to get Brianna to tell his owner he didn’t like his food and wanted something different. Brianna wasn’t comfortable revealing her Dr. Dolittle ability, so she said nothing, but for days she could still hear the cat talking to her and begging her to help him.
I had to laugh, for several reasons. One, it upset the Warden that Brianna didn’t help the distraught cat. I was like, “Warden, it’s a novel! The cat isn’t real.” LOL. Two, every cat knows that when we don’t like our food, our human will be told. They won’t need to be psychic either, because we cats don’t pussyfoot around when it comes to getting the stinky goodness we love (my purrsonal favorites are the CANIDAE grain free Pure recipes).
By Linda Cole
Future guide dogs begin their lessons as puppies. They go through extensive training and socialization before they are ready to safely guide a sightless person through a busy, and at times chaotic world. However, matching a guide dog with a blind owner isn’t as simple as it may seem.
Potential service dogs are bred by guide dog schools and begin their training when they are 8 weeks old. Volunteer puppy raisers take the pups into their home, teach them basic commands, housebreak them, and socialize them to different sights, sounds, other dogs and animals, people of all ages, different terrains and surfaces.
Puppies are exposed to things like escalators, waxed floors, kids running around screaming, and noisy traffic, so that when they encounter something new or different while they are working it’s not a big surprise. When pups reach 16 to 18 months, they return to the guide school and begin their training. Professional instructors work with the puppies over a period of four months.