Amazing Facts about Dog Paws

dog-paws-theilr-revBy Linda Cole

The paws are not usually the first thing we notice when looking at a dog. Some canines have wide paws while others have more slender feet, and some have webbing between their toes. Over the centuries, the anatomy of dog paws adapted to the environment the dogs lived and worked in, to make it possible for them to do the jobs they were bred to do. Here are some amazing facts about dog paws you may not know.

A dog’s paw consists of five parts:

1. The claws, which give dogs a good grip on a surface

2. Digital pads, directly under the toes

3. The metacarpal pad, directly under the digital pads

4. The dewclaw

5. The carpal pad located on the front paws at the back of the foot

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When Should You Start Training a Puppy?

puppy train michael gilBy Laurie Darroch

The moment you bring home that adorable ball of fluff, you are committed to a lifetime of supervision and “parenting” this new family member. Puppies are like human toddlers in many ways. They get into everything, explore the world around them, and are full of boundless energy. Training is an ongoing process, and it is best to start early and quickly before bad habits take hold.

The sweet, gentle gnawing at your finger and on your belongings may not be as appealing when the puppy grows up. A tiny puppy jumping up on you may feel like nothing, but when that little dog becomes big and is jumping on visitors or knocking things out of your hand in his exuberance, it is not so pleasant.

In the early weeks, a puppy will spend a lot of time sleeping. They play hard and fall asleep quickly, often on the spot. As they grow, they need less sleep and have plenty of energy that needs to be vented in acceptable ways.

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The Bearded Collie, a Hard Working Herding Breed

beardie arild andersonBy Linda Cole

The Bearded Collie is a medium sized sheep herder and cattle drover well known for his clownish and enthusiastic attitude. This athletic, affectionate and happy dog gets his name from hair flowing down from his chin to form a beard.

The origin of the word Collie is Scottish and used to describe the various sheep herding dogs like the Bearded Collie, Border Collie, Smooth Collie and Rough Collie. (Lassie was a typical Rough Collie). It’s possible the word was derived from “coaley” which was used in Scotland to refer to their black sheep, although it may have come from the Gaelic word Colly which means useful.

The Bearded Collie, or Beardie, originated in Scotland sometime in the 1600s, possibly earlier. Like other working breeds used by shepherds and farmers, there are few records to trace the early years of the Bearded Collie. One common belief is that in 1514 a Polish merchant arrived in Scotland to trade grain. He had what is believed to have been Polish Lowland Sheepdogs with him and traded them for two sheep. The farmer who made the trade bred the Polish dogs with local Scottish herding dogs.

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Funny Cat Videos That Will Make You Meow Out Loud

By Julia Williams

It’s no secret that watching cat videos on the internet is a favorite pastime for many. Remember, this entertaining time waster is so popular nowadays that hordes of feline fanatics flock to internet cat video screenings across the U.S. to watch the videos together, on a big screen (cat attire optional). But thankfully, you don’t need vacation days or travel plans to watch funny cat videos from home on your own computer.

Since Facebook is a virtual water cooler for work-at-home people like me, I see my fair share of funny cat videos. OK, more than my fair share. There are worse ways to take a “comic relief” break from work, right? Plus, laughter is good for the soul. At least, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

Here are some of my favorite, recently viewed YouTube videos of cats doing funny things. Enjoy!

Cat plays peek a boo

Cat imitates boxers on TV

This kitten just wants to play – why does he get the cold shoulder?

A compilation of epic jumping fails

Cat drinks from water cooler (this could get expensive)

Cats versus the mirror, vacuum cleaner, an aquarium, their own tail, a lizard and more

A game of one potato, two potato gone wrong

Three cats watch tennis on TV

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Why Do Dogs Have Slits on Each Side of Their Nose?

dog nose kathleenBy Linda Cole

My dogs know before I put them outside if there is an animal near their dog pen, even in the winter with the windows down. By the time they get outside, they’ve already pinpointed the area where a cat, possum or other small animal is. A dog’s nose is amazing. Everything about a dog’s nose is designed to give him a sort of “super power” when it comes to smelling. Even the slits on each side of their nose have a specific function.

Every time a dog breathes, he pulls in smells. The canine sense of smell is 10,000 to 100,000 times better than ours. James Walker, former director of the Florida State University Sensory Research Institute, came up with a good visual to explain the difference between our sense of smell compared to a dog. “If you make the analogy to vision, what you and I can see at a third of a mile, a dog could see more than 3,000 miles away and still see as well,” he said.

Another way to grasp the power of a dog’s nose is to imagine two million barrels of apples sitting in a warehouse. A dog could walk in and detect the one rotten apple hiding among all the others. Once a dog has been trained to detect a specific scent, such as drugs, bedbugs, cancer or low blood sugar, he can find it regardless of other scents around him. One reason why canines can isolate a scent is due to the slits on each side of their nose.

Compared to our ability to distinguish between 4,000-10,000 different smells, dogs can process 30,000-100,000 scents. Because they use scent more than the other senses to navigate through their world, the amount of brain power devoted to their sense of smell is 40 times greater than ours. As a dog inhales, the air is separated and splits into two different paths. One path takes about 12% of air to the back of the nose for scent analysis, and the rest passes through that area and goes to the lungs.

dog nose marcoThe air that stays at the back of the nose is filtered through a maze of ruffle-like bony structures called turbinates that sift out odor molecules according to their chemical makeup. Olfactory receptors in the tissue of the turbinates then recognize an odor based on their shape, and send impulses to the brain to process.

The slits on each side of the nose give dogs the ability to have a constant stream of air that can span many respiratory cycles. When we inhale and exhale, the air goes out the same way it came in and any odors that entered are forced out along with the air. In dogs, exhaled air goes out through the slits and the swirling motion of air helps new odors enter the nose. This makes it possible for a dog searching for smells to have a steady stream of air coming in for up to 40 seconds, and maybe even longer.

The slits also allow dogs to wiggle each nostril independently, and give them the ability to know which nostril a smell entered. This is how a dog can pinpoint where a smell is coming from, and why a canine searching for smells on the ground will weave back and forth as he follows a trail.

At the bottom of the canine throat is a second structure found in cats and other mammals: the Jacobson’s organ, which is used to pick up pheromones. The smells it detects are sent to a part of the brain that’s devoted to only analyzing the pheromone molecules it picks up. It lets dogs smell and taste the scent. If you’ve ever seen your dog sniffing with his mouth open in a sort of grin, he’s having a Flehman Reaction and catching a whiff of a female in heat or sniffing urine left by another dog.

dog nose ann-dabneyOnce a dog has learned a scent, he can remember it for a long time. Certain dog breeds like the Bloodhound and Basset Hound have some added features that increase their scenting ability. Their long ears help sweep up smells from the ground, and loose skin around the chin traps scents.

The slits in a dog’s nose enhance their sniffing ability so they can follow prey, locate someone lost in the woods or buried under snow, and root out their CANIDAE treats no matter where you hide them. When you see your dog with his wiggling nose in the wind, you can bet he’s savoring every bit of information that’s riding in the breeze. That’s a pretty remarkable feat when you think about it!

Top photo by Kathleen Tyler Conklin
Middle photo by Marco
Bottom photo by ann-dabney

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What is Fly-Snapping Syndrome?

Langley's dog fly snapBy Langley Cornwell

I wanted to write this article because one of our pups has developed a new tic. At first we thought it was just another oddity specific to him, but when I researched the characteristics of his new tic, I discovered it was a real syndrome: Fly-Snapping Syndrome.

There are times when we are all relaxing in the family room and suddenly Big Al will repeatedly snap at the air as if a swarm of insects are flying around his head. He seems to focus his eyes on the area right in front of his face, and move his head around as if he’s looking at flies, even though nothing is there. Then he’ll often become fixated on staring at his front legs, as if he expects to find something crawling on them. He may start licking his front legs, and then go back to staring into space and snapping at imaginary flies. Our dog’s episodes of snapping at invisible insects can be infrequent, or can occur repeatedly throughout the day.

What are Compulsive Behaviors?

Fly-Snapping (also called fly-biting) is one of many compulsive behaviors that dogs commonly display. Other compulsive behaviors include tail chasing, spinning, pacing, toy fixation, shadow or light chasing, repeated licking, chewing or scratching, flank sucking, excessive water drinking and nonstop barking. Some dogs display compulsive behaviors over and over to the point where the behaviors interfere with their normal lives.

Compulsive canine behaviors include any repetitive actions that dogs perform unprompted. Normal dogs may engage in similar activities, but they usually do so in response to specific triggers and not compulsively.

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