Friday, July 22, 2011

FUN Friday

It's Friday - time for some FUN!

There's something so cute about kittens at play!

To add to the cuteness quota today, two bunnies sharing a meal.

And to get your blood pumpin' - how about some Wallace action?

Have a wonderful weekend everyone!!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Wednesday's Favorites

My name is Wednesday. That's me, the little gray cat. I'm on the lap of my favorite person - Dad. I'm not that fond of the stinky dog next to him. She's scared of me, though, so it works. I like to tell her where she can sleep and chase her off the couch. Just to make sure she never forgets that I'm the boss.

I wanted to share some of my favorite things with you. Besides naps. Those are the best, but you already know that. Especially if you have cats.

While we're discussing naps, this is my favorite place to take one. Okay, second favorite. Dad's lap is the first. I love this cat tree. It puts me way up high where I feel secure. I like to nap in the cubbyhole while my sister, Pip, takes the very bottom. It's fun to race around the house, up and down the tree.

Mom doesn't let us scratch the furniture so these come in handy. We have two in the living room and I love to use them. One of them has sisal rope on it. Why do we scratch? I scratch because I like to mark my territory. It also just feels good!

These things are fun to play with by myself. They roll all over the house. We have hardwood floors so they work really well. If I get tired of one room, I can pick them up in my mouth and run into the next one. Mom finds them under the couch when she cleans on the weekend. My favorites are the wide ones. I don't have a color preference.

Mom and Dad play with us every day. I wish they would spend all day playing, but they have things to do. When they break this thing out, I go nuts. You should see me run and jump and flip trying to catch that dang bird. Mom says I'm very acrobatic. Whatever that means. I just know it's fun, fun, fun!

These are just a few of my favorites. I also love cat nip, which Mom sometimes spreads on the floor right before she vacuums. I can roll around in it and eat it for hours! It's fun when a fly gets in the house as well. I love to track and chase those little buggers. And I'm very sneaky with Mom's hair bands. I like to sneak those when I can. They're fun to bat around. I leave them in the water bowls for her. I know, I'm so thoughtful. I know I made them dirty on the floor so I like to clean them up for her.

What about your cats - do they have any favorite toys?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Video Recommendation – “Assessing Dog to Dog Interactions”

I make it a habit never to take someone else’s word for it when it comes to my dogs’ safety around other dogs. I find it really frustrating how often someone shouts to me, “Don’t worry, he’s friendly,” as they plow their way over to us while holding onto their dog’s leash for dear life. In the best cases, the dog is dog-friendly but has poor social skills to approach other dogs in that manner. In the worst cases, the dog is actually dog-aggressive and the owner is oblivious.

I’d consider myself somewhat knowledgeable about canine body language, but I still have a LOT to learn and I’m certainly no expert. I asked my trainer Janine Pierce of J9sK9s Dog Training for advice and she recommended a video made by Sue Sternberg called “Assessing Dog to Dog Interactions.” The video is a step-by-step assessment of a series of dogs greeting each other both on-leash and off-leash, and how to determine whether an interaction between the dogs is safe or risky. It will give you a better understanding of your dog’s signals whether you’re casually encountering another dog on walks or trying to interpret his play style with other dogs.

What I love about the video is that they repeatedly slow the interactions down to help the viewer identify the subtle behavior signs that are easy to miss in real time. The video highlights many signals that I was previously unaware of. I also liked that the video uses subtitles instead of narration (which I find easy to tune out). I highly recommend this video for anyone interested in becoming more behavior-savvy.

The video also makes a point that I think is important to share for those of you who don’t watch it – dogs greeting one another on-leash is the WORST way for dogs to meet. Most dogs find it stressful. Keep in mind when you’re walking your dog that just as humans don’t shake hands with every person they pass on the street, dogs don’t need to say hi to every dog they pass on their walk. Try to save dog interactions for off-leash time at the park or doggy play dates.

And for those of you that are fortunate to have dog-friendly dogs, PLEASE keep this in mind: your dog is only 50% of the equation. Don’t assume that because your dog is friendly, that the other dog is too. As the guardian of a dog-timid Labrador, I’m constantly given odd looks when I explain that Harley doesn’t enjoy on-leash greetings with other dogs. For everyone’s safety, it’s important (and also polite) to ASK first before allowing your dog to approach another dog. If you allow your dog-friendly dog to approach another dog without getting permission first and the other dog responds with a snarl and a bite, it’s because of YOUR lack of proper “petiquette,” not his.

- Meredith

Friday, July 15, 2011

FUN Friday

I struggled with renaming this because of the first video. But it is Friday and we will have some fun after this clip demonstrating the loyalty of dogs.

(The dog survives and they are reunited).

What's cuter than a kitten playing?

These dogs know how to have fun!

Have a great weekend everyone!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Aftermath of 4th of July

Our AmStaff, Lily, is a big baby. She managed to make it through her first three 4th of July fireworks with little more than a moderate concern. Unfortunately, this year we were walking her after dark on the 3rd of July and some teenage boy thought it would be funny to set off a firecracker right next to her (not funny even to him when I got done with my verbal lashing in front of all of his friends). The damage had already been done. Lily tried to run the three blocks home.

This turned the 4th of July into torture for her. Despite having the television on, which has worked in the past, she spent the twenty minutes panting heavily on her dog bed. We ignored her and went about our evening. It took her almost two hours until she fell into an exhausted sleep. She elected to sleep in the bedroom with us rather than in the living room with the cats for the first time in three months.

She's been retiring to the bedroom as soon as the sun goes down. We're not forcing her out. We coax her out for her evening potty before we go to bed. She gets a cookie and it's party time when she joins us.

She forgot her fear two nights ago when a friend came over. Unfortunately, the moment she went dashing into the yard was the exact moment the fireworks show started to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the city we live in. Lily dashed back into the house, into the bedroom and no amount of coaxing could get her back out again.

Tonight, we started Operation Safe Streets. I boiled some chicken, her favorite treat. I alerted some neighbors and friends when we were ready to leave. We didn't force her but she forgot her fear momentarily while performing tricks for chicken, when she saw a neighbor along the route, when she saw a doggy friend across the street. Our walk was not our usual hour. She did not stop at the Cookie House for a cookie. But she walked and sometimes she was happy for it. This is our new course of action each evening as the sun goes down. Her breed doesn't allow for early walks during the heat so she must get over this fear. And she will. Not by being forced or bullied, but by being rewarded. She'll remember the night is not scary.

Thank you to all the friends and neighbors who helped us out tonight along our route (and will be helping all this week)!

How did your pets do on 4th of July?

Friday, July 8, 2011

FUN Friday

It's Friday - let's have some fun!

Ever wonder how skunks play with their siblings? Wonder no more!

My favorite new commercial (if only it happened this way in real life!)

Pigs are so cute! I vow someday when Erik and I live in the country, we're going to own a few.

What do you suppose these ducks are saying to each other?

Have a great weekend everyone!!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

You Owe it to Your Dog to Use a Leash

I am not fond of little dogs. I used to love them until we moved into our neighborhood four years ago. The small dogs, mainly of the poodle and maltese variety, are extremely undersocialized and have had no training. As if that doesn't put them, and anyone else out walking, at enough of a disadvantage, they are also frequently taken out without leashes. Here's two scenarios that came up on our walk this morning:

1) A poodle saw Lily and I across the street. The owner was standing in her doorway on the phone, watching her dog go potty on the lawn. That came to an abrupt halt at the sight of my dog. This poodle raced into traffic, causing cars to slam on breaks, to reach us. We got to witness a minor car accident as an SUV rear ended the compact car that came to a screeching stop to avoid killing this dog. When it reached my dog, it snapped and lunged and growled. Lily, thankfully, is terrified of little dogs (and you would be too if you had been charged, bit and barked at by them to the extent this poor pit bull has been for the last four years). She tucked her tail, ran behind me and shivered while I tried to fend off this poodle version of Cujo. I will admit that I thought more than once about kicking it. I feel awful that it even entered my head, but I wanted to protect my dog. My favorite part of this whole scenario (and this happens EVERY time) is the owner racing across the street (almost getting hit herself) yelling COME! FIFI COME! COME! Followed by "Don't let your dog hurt her." If my dog wanted to hurt her, she'd be dead. I always open with "You know, there is a leash law for a reason." To which she replied, "She's NEVER done this before." I know this to be a lie because I've witnessed it numerous times and told her as much. As she walked into the street with her dog in hand, she yelled at me, "I don't know how you can own a dog like that!" A well trained dog that walks on leash and doesn't dart across traffic to corner another dog? I can own a dog like just fine, thank you. This little poodle has been lucky more times than I can count. Obviously, the owner isn't getting that not following the law is putting her dog at risk. One day, the luck is going to run out. She may not make it across that street.

2) We rounded a corner and had a Maltese run the entire block up to Lily and I. Lily's tail tucked and she tried to run this time. Meanwhile, the owner is screaming, "Don't let your dog hurt her" over and over. Really? Don't let my dog that is trying to run hurt your dog that has charged us and is now tormenting her? Lily got smart and jumped up on a brick wall. The other dog couldn't reach her. Again, I mentioned the leash law. I also pointed out that there is a dog aggressive yellow lab that is walked every night down our street. If her dog had decided to pull this on him, it would not have ended well for her little Maltese. To which she replied, "They shouldn't be allowed to walk that dog." Really? Or maybe you should just LEASH your dog like the law says you have to and then no one has to worry about it.

These poor dogs may end up losing their lives because their owners aren't using leashes. I just don't understand why people don't leash them up even to take them into the front yard to go to the bathroom. Even if your dog is well trained, it's still a dog. Something might catch his attention across the street and off he goes to chase it! Without a solid recall, he's at the mercy of cars. At some point, the luck runs out.

Leash up those pets!!

Monday, July 4, 2011

4th of July

Fourth of July is the busiest night at Emergency Vet Hospitals around the country. Dogs have extremely sensitive hearing. Loud fireworks not only hurt their ears, but also frighten them. You should never take your pet with you to a fireworks show. Instead, leave them inside the house in an enclosed area. Many frightened dogs have been known to hurt themselves jumping through windows and can easily get lost in the panic of running to escape the noise. If you must leave your dog unsupervised inside the house, be sure to leave the television or radio on for background noise. Obviously, you don't want to leave a channel on that has a fireworks show.

For more information on ways to make your pet comfortable this holiday season, click on the following links:

Dogs and Storks

ASPCA Fourth of July Tips

We wish you and yours a safe and happy 4th of July!