Monday, June 30, 2014

Book Review: The Poodle Tales

Author Toni Tuso Faber & her three stunning Standard Poodles,
London, Deja vu, and Dante



Former Miss. California, Toni Tuso Faber, has enjoyed an interesting and varied career since winning her title in the Miss. World Contest. After college, using money she'd earned in pageants and modeling she purchased a struggling magazine and turned it into the successful Orange Coast Magazine, the largest magazine in California's Orange County. An inveterate Poodle lover, with  Standards, the largest of the three Poodle varieties, being her dog of choice, she turned her writing skills and her love of this incredibly intelligent breed into a wonderful series of books aimed at children ages four to nine. The truth is, this series easily appeals to children from four to ninety-four.

"I have had Standard Poodles in my life since birth," says Faber.  "They are smart beyond compare...and have great temperaments. I decided they would be great Therapy Dogs, so we now have therapy dogs who thrill the lives of patients weekly! It's a blessing to me, the patients, and the Poodle who is in attendance."

I received a copy of Book Twelve, The Poodle Contract, to review. Written in charming rhyme, the book carries a responsible owner message and the best place to start that is with children. It will also allow the children to educate their parents as the parent reads aloud or the child relates the tale.  Responsible dog breeders sell their puppies with an extensive contract and will not sell to anyone they deem unacceptable to own one of their puppies. This message is brought home with such charm and warmth that it's hard to think of a better way to do it.

Faber is a talented author.  Children's books are notoriously difficult to write and yet she pulls it off with warmth and caring.

Wonderfully illustrated by Benton Rudd who captures the insouciance of Poodles with seeming ease, each of the twelve puppies in the litter has an obviously different personality.  They come alive on the pages. Rudd illustrates Faber's rhymes to perfection.

As if the twelve books weren't enough of an undertaking, Toni Tuso Faber has created a website to enhance the experience:  www.thepoodletales.com is chock full of fun animations and interaction. A child can receive a message on his or her birthday from one of the adopted Poodles in The Poodle Tales "Poodle Club." The Club also features two online or printable activity books, audio eBooks, the official Club ringtone, and a new game, "Catch A Poodle," available in HD online or as an IOS or Android App. Faber has apparently left no stone unturned. There is also a video, Introducing The Poodle Tales on YouTube which has over 331,000 views and is featured on the website. A thirteen minute cartoon based on the first two books in the series is in production and should be online any minute now.

A portion of the sales of all the books will be donated to charity.

"We do not show the Poodles," Faber relates.  "Two are, in fact, rescues.  Poodles are my passion.  A series of books about them and their capabilities....just perfect!"

Each book would make a wonderful gift for a child or for an adult who collects children's books, creating a very special library that will be enjoyed for years to come.

Published by Windstar Media, each book is priced at $16.99.

NOTE:  I received no compensation for this review, just one copy of one of the books in the series.  The review is my own.


Thursday, June 26, 2014

Summertime and Pet Safety



With the start of the Summer season there's a lot to think of with regard to the safety of your pet.

Be very careful of fleas and ticks. Go over your pet daily and have your veterinarian show you how to safely remove ticks so the head it's left in the pet's body. Be sure you vacuum your house and every place your pet sits or sleep. Wash bedding and toys and check for flea eggs - those dark spots on your pet's skin. There are various safe treatments for fleas on your pet. Again, talk to your veterinarian. Some of the products you can buy over the counter or via e-mail can be poisonous to your pet and that is not anything you want to try!

More people are thinking about traveling with their four-legged family members and spending time in the great outdoors, whether on holiday or in their own backyard. But accidents can happen, some because owners don't know some of the facts of outdoor life with a pet.

On very hot days, your car can heat up like an oven. Even if it's only in the low 70s your car can quickly turn lethal even with the windows cracked open. To prove this to yourself, put a chocolate bar on your dashboard and see how long it takes for the candy to melt. Your pet can die of heatstroke.  Please leave your pet at home while you run errands.  If you're on the road traveling, either pack a meal or use a drive-through window.  Don't leave your pet unattended. 


Alana being walked on a harness by her owner, Claire Clayton


Walk your dog in the early morning and late afternoon.  The hours between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. are when it is hottest. Avoid walking your dog during that time and don't ever put a pet out in the heat!  It's dangerous. If your dog begins to show signs of heatstroke turn fans on him and dunk him in a cold bath to try to bring down his temperature and then rush him to your veterinarian for emergency treatment.  This is no time to let your cat go outdoors into a cat enclosure. It's just as dangerous for kitty. 

Don't walk your dog on pavement or hot top or tar. The rule of thumb is that if it's too hot for the palm of your hand, it's too hot for the pads of your pet's paws. And tar or hot top can adhere to your pet's paws in the heat because it melts. That's dangerous. Don't try to peel it off because you'll peel off the pads of the paws at the same time!!  You can put some petroleum jelly on it but best to go to your veterinarian. Better yet, don't expose your pet to that in the first place.

No matter where you go, your pet should be protected by proper identification in case he gets lost. Dogs and cats have been known to bolt out of cars at rest stops and finding them again can be extremely difficult. You should always travel with recent pictures of your pet in case you have to make posters or show the picture at shelters and veterinary hospitals.  And you should have the name of a veterinarian in the place to which you're going. But you will also need identification for your pet!  I prefer two forms, a microchip that can be read and reunite you with your pet (don't forget to register it!), and an i.d. tag. You can have an extra tag made up if you are, for example, going away for a week or more and have the address of the place where you'll be staying so your pet can be returned to you there.
Aimee prefers to be safely indoors

.

With the Fourth of July come firecrackers complete with loud noises that can give thunder a run for its money when it comes to frightening pets. Dogs and cats have far more sensitive hearing that we humans. If it sounds loud to us, imagine how it sounds to your pet!  Just like Thunderphobia, your pet can have the same reaction to fireworks. Many pet owners dread the fireworks, legal or illegal that cause havoc for pet owners with dogs panicking and running or just standing and shaking.  Keep your pet calm, distract him with games and don't react to the noise or he will believe it's even more scary and dangerous.You can use one of the snug-fitting shirts used for Thunderphobia, or adjust an old tee shirt to fit like swaddling on your pet. There are recordings to try to condition your pet to the sound.

If you have a white dog, one with a short hair coat and especially one who is hairless you will have to protect your pet from the sun. He'll need sunscreen. Seeing a sunburned dog is horrifying. And remember that all dogs need fresh cold water to drink.

Put some thought into what you're doing.  If you're going out on a boat, get your pet and appropriately sized lifejacket. 


Photo courtesy of Anne Hudson

And use all of this good weather to get outside with your dog and have fun!  

Happy Summer!



Thursday, June 19, 2014

Take Your Dog to Work Day!

Photo of Fuzzy by Gary Rohde

June 20, 2014 is the official Take Your Dog to Work Day this year.  This annual event was created in 1999 by Pet Sitters International and they have a website devoted their special day (http://www.takeyourdog.com/index.php). Why not?! If your dog is well-behaved and your company is on board with it, it can be a really wonderful event.

If you're planning to take your dog to work, be sure that he or she is current on all vaccinations and has excellent manners. This includes reliably house trained, walking nicely on a leash, sitting and lying down when told, sitting nicely for treats and is quiet. If you dog is a barker, he or she should know how to be quiet. Sometimes this means putting the bark on cue if the dog is an inveterate barker. And he or she should get along well with other pets because yours will not be the only dog there on Take You Dog to Work Day.

Photo of Sandy by Jim Stagg
Knowing how to behavior properly and be quiet in the work atmosphere will earn you and your dog bonus points. No one wants to listen to a barking dog. 

Be sure to walk your dog before going into the building so he has a chance to eliminate first. Even if you have walked your dog at home before leaving, give him another chance to eliminate before entering the workplace.  

Take along bottled water and a water bowl as well as a food dish and food.  He should have the opportunity to have a snack while there or a meal if he's fed more than twice a day.  Bring along a few treats and a toy or two, but not a noisy toy! Bottled water is essential because water changes from place to place and water from anywhere but your home could cause an upset digestive system.

You may want to take her around to meet people and she should definitely have a chance to sniff and get acquainted with the place as well as the people.  Don't forget to take her out for a walk at lunch time so she has another opportunity to eliminate.  Reward her for doing the right thing in the right place and don't forget to clean it up!

One of the nicest thing about having dogs in the workplace is that dogs help lower blood pressure, help people relax and be more productive.
Karma photographed by Veronique Schejtman

It's hard to imagine anything nicer than having the opportunity to have your dog with you when you work. And for dog lovers who don't have a pet at home it's a nice opportunity for them to interact with calm, well-mannered pets, which can only make their workday much nicer.

A BIG Thank You to Pet Sitters International for creating this very special day.

Have fun with your dogs and please let me know how you and your dogs spent the day and what the highlight was for you!





Monday, June 9, 2014

National Adopt a Cat Month

Darlene & Aimee


June is National Adopt a Cat month in the United States.  While the hype makes it sound as if everyone should have a cat, it's not quite that simple. There are many questions you need to ask yourself before heading out to a shelter or calling a breed rescue group.  Here are just a few of them:

1. Are you ready for the responsibility? A pet is forever, not until you get bored with her.

2. Can you afford a pet? Are you ready to pay for veterinary bills, including annual check-ups and whatever vaccinations are required as well as food, toys, a solid scratching post and a solid cat tree and litter boxes?

3. If you have children at home are you ready to do the full-time supervision required of having pets and children together? Don't think you're getting the cat or kitten for your child - children can help with age-appropriate chores but you will have to be fully responsible for the cat.

4. Are you willing to assume the responsibility for keeping your kitten/cat indoors and providing environmental enrichment for the cat's entire life?

Photo of Alana by Claire Clayton


5. Are you aware that cats are independent hunters but not independent pets? They require all of the interaction that a dog would require including playtimes each day. Yes, that is plural! You can train your cat using positive reinforcement which will be fun and interesting for you and your pet. Will you take the time to do it?

6. Are you willing to kitten and cat-proof your home just as you would for a baby or small child? Cats and kittens are just as capable of getting into trouble by chewing on electric cords (electrocution and/or burns), picking up small toys left on the floor and other items they can swallow including paper clips, string, ribbon, etc.

7. Did you know that you will need a petsitter if you go away, even for the weekend? The old wives' tale that cats can take care of themselves is pure rubbish. They cannot take care of themselves and they do get lonely. Beyond that, what happens in an emergency if the cat gets sick or if your house catches fire? It has happened to others and it can happen to you.

8. Have you had a pet before? If so, what happened to it?

Photo of Velvet by Sue Janson


9. Did you know that declawing a cat is animal cruelty? It's not a simple manicure.  It is cutting of each of the toes at the first joint. How would you feel if someone cut off each of your fingers at the first joint?  Relatively speaking, it's the same thing.

10. Will you still cherish your pet when she gets old? We live in a throw-away society. Pets are loving, living, sentient beings and for all the love they give you, they deserve to be cherished until their end of their days.

These are just a few of the questions you need to answer for yourself.  And here's a little bonus for you:  If you're a vegan do not expect a cat to be one. They are obligate carnivores and will die without meat in their daily diet.  If you can't live with that, then you can't live with a cat.  Try a hamster. And even then you'll have to assume a good deal of responsibility. 

A cat is a wonderful companion that will give you years of love and pleasure. If you've passed this test, give some thought to adopting an older cat. Everyone wants a kitten but they stay little for such a short time and their personality can change. With an older cat from a shelter, who will likely be killed if you don't adopt it, you will know what you're getting and you will also get years of love and happiness. Someone else's throw-away can be your treasure.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Fuzzy Meet Papa Pete's Organic Pet Treats

Fuzzy enjoying one of Papa Pete's Organic Pet Treats

There's a great deal of interest in organic foods for both pets and people. Papa Pete's Organic Pet Treats (http://petesorganicpettreats.comaren't just natural but gluten free as well.  The dog treats, made in Vermont, are also made from hormone and antibiotic free meats. It should be noted that the treats are made to order.

Founders of the company, Lynn Camper and Peter MacDonald say that their standards for making the treats are the same as when they are cooking for their human family members. They believe that good food contributes to good health. That includes treats.

Fuzzy samples another of Papa Pete's Organic Pet Treats

Currently living with a cat, not a dog, I have volunteer dog products testers. In this case, I opted for Fuzzy, a rescue from one of the worst shelters in California. Life is good on the "outside" of the shelter in a loving home.  Fuzzy had the pleasure of testing two treats: the Vermont Maple Oatmeal Cookie since the California dog had never tasted maple, and the Woofie Cookie which contains peanut butter. The cookies come in several flavors which are listed on their website.

From that happy expression we can see that
Fuzzy is enjoying the Treats

Shipping was speedy and Fuzzy was soon "taste testing" the cookies.  Before I knew it, I had a "report" from Fuzzy, via has owner/Dad  Gary Rohde. 

"Fuzzy Loves the two flavors he tested. One called Woofie is made with peanut butter and cinnamon. Whats not to like!!!!!!"  Hmmm, it sounds like Fuzzy's dad was tempted to eat them, too.

There was one caveat, "As much as Fuzz loves them both......I hate the packaging," said Gary who has a handicap that includes not having much strength in his hands. "Its so difficult to open. I put them in a zip lock bag as you have to cut the original bag to pieces," he added.

Not having tried to open a package I'll take Gary's word for it but he seems to have come up with a workable solution. Unless, of course, the manufacturer changes the packaging at some point in the future.

You'll find the full assortment of flavors, their process and more on the website for Papa Pete's Organic Pet Treats:  http://petesorganicpettreats.com

Meanwhile, here's a peek at the treats in their packages...

Woofie Cookies




Oatmeal Cookies




NOTE: I received no monetary compensation 
for this review. Two packages of cookies were 
sent to Fuzzy's owner, Gary Rohde to sample
and for his and his owner's reaction to the cookies.




Saturday, May 10, 2014

Mother's Day, Mary Jane McKittrick & Pets Teach Us

Mary Jane McKittrick


Mary Jane McKittrick spent a quarter of a century creating packages for television, broadcast news and corporate communications. That sounds pretty exciting to most of us but perhaps not so exciting to Mary Jane. She has always loved animals and she found her true vocation when she discovered that she could work with animals. Inspiration hit when she was living on a horse farm in North Carolina. Raised in Southern California, she always had pets and has learned from them throughout her life. Storytelling is also part of her new life. She has created a series of children's books, the Boomer and Halley book series. And she has created the website, www.petsteachus.com You'll enjoy exploring the website because, as most of us know, Pet do teach us!  Among the many things we learn from our pets is that we learn to nurture them. Mother's Day for Mary Jane will be much like mine. There are no human children to send us cards or take us out to lunch or bring us a present. Instead, we have the unconditional love of our four-legged kids (two-legged for those of you with birds). We very much have a maternal role and we are just as much mothers as any woman who has given birth or adopted a child. Our children are of a different species but we love them and they love us just the same. It's a bond that should never be broken but strengthened and cherished for what it is.

I was fortunate enough to interview Mary Jane McKittrick. As usual with an interview here, my questions are in black, her answers are in my usual brown.  Enjoy! And Happy Mother's Day to all of us!



Why did you start Pets Teach Us?

It’s a natural progression from my book series aimed at helping children learn important life lessons from their animals through humorous stories. The Pets Teach Us!™ project has broader demographic appeal. Whether it’s the child with a first pet, to the elderly woman living alone with her dog, most people can relate to stories about the amazing contributions animals make in our lives. I see this project continuing to expand in ways I probably can’t even imagine at this moment.



What do you hope to accomplish?

The goal of the Pets Teach Us! ™ project is to help people recognize that some of the best self-help experts you can find are probably chewing on a bone, chasing a mouse, or fluttering in a cage at this very moment. The insights, unconditional love, and inspiration our animal companions bring to our lives should not be overlooked. Pets Teach Us! – What Matters Most in Life. We hope to build a community of people sharing their stories, and helping one another live more fulfilled lives.


Why did you leave the entertainment industry?

Well, some might argue I’m still in it! I’ve gone from behind the scenes in TV production, to in front of the camera hosting various shows, then transitioning to anchor/reporter/producer for three TV network affiliates. After working in corporate communications and consulting, I’m back with a book series designed for animation television, and the Pets Teach Us!™ project which has the potential for multiple media applications. 


Do you have companion animals other than horses?

I also have two cats. But, I was the kid who brought home goldfish, kittens, parakeets, hamsters, even a duck. My childhood Australian Shepherd dog, Boomerang, is the inspiration for one of the main cartoon characters in my award-winning book series for young children, Boomer and Halley. Halley is Halley’s Comet, a silver streak of a cat. The two, four-legged “children,” of Harold and Edna Sanders are always into something prompting an opportunity to address life lessons. The blended family of humans and animals learns and laugh together in the small Southern town of Shady Pines.



How many horses do you have?

I’ve had many horses over the years. I currently have just one. He is a really big guy who’s taught me the value of cooperation versus confrontation wins! It’s very difficult to win an argument with a 1400 pound animal. He is also very funny and is one of the main characters in another project I have in the works.  



What would you like to say that, perhaps, has never been asked before? What would you like people to know?


I’d like people to know that the time-honored saying, “You’re never too old to learn,” is a mainstay as it relates to our relationships – not only with humans – but also with our animal companions. I learn something new all the time, just by paying attention. For instance, one day I was especially stressed out over a situation in my own life. I knew I was uptight, so I tried to relax before I entered the barn to feed my two horses. They took one look at me, and I was busted. The big, red gelding turned around in his stall and showed me is backend. The black mare ducked her head down and pretended to eat her hay. It doesn’t take words for communication to occur, it just takes awareness.