Friday, May 27, 2016

Your Dog's Incredible Mind

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How often have you looked at your dog, looked at his expression and thought he was really smart? Or it's something else that seems unusual for him to know. Most people would accuse you of projecting your own thoughts onto him, or in the case of doing something, that it was just an accident. But was it? Really? When it was discovered that dogs are more accurate at detecting cancer than some labs it's time to pay attention. Isn't it about time for someone to explore the ordinary and extraordinary canine behavior to shine a light on the inner workings of a dog's mind and reveal the role of cognition in the rich mental lives of dogs? If you answered Yes! I have good news for you.
Dr. Brian Hare

Purina Pro Plan BRIGHT MIND and Dognition - founded by leading dog cognition expert and Duke University Professor, Dr. Brian Hare - are exploring ordinary and extraordinary canine behavior to 
shine a light on the inner workings of a dog's mind and reveal the role of cognition in the rich mental lives of dogs. The fact that BRIGHT MIND is behind this research seems fitting. If you are a regular reader of this blog you will remember that before the food was on the market I had interviewed two nutrition researchers who were developing this food for dogs and cats. 

If you want to learn what goes on inside of a dog's mind, here's a graphic of Did You Know? Factoids that should help you understand:

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Everybody Loves Norbert!

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There are so many cute dogs and cats on the internet that it's impossible not to spend an absurd amount of internet time cooing over their pictures. Frankly, I'm not immune. Yes, I'm a Certified Animal Behavior Consultant but I don't know if that makes me more or less vulnerable to the little darlings. I shouldn't admit this but I am a complete sucker for Norbert, a 3-lb. registered Therapy Dog, philanthropist, picture book star and social media influencer. I want to kiss him. I want to blow raspberries on his little tummy. I am utterly besotted.  And my colleagues would probably drum me out of the corp. Look at that face. I mean, just look at it? Could you keep your paws off his paws?

Norbert at The L.A. Mission

Julie Freyermuth is the lucky lady who became Norbert's mom when she saw him on Petfinder. "When I adopted Norbert, right away, I knew he was a special dog but I never imagined all of the wonderful things we would do together - from volunteering as a registered therapy dog team to donating books and plush toys to creating a picture book series and more. I am still in awe of it all."

Freyemuth is the children's book author behind Norbert's series of books with such charming titles as, Norbert: What Can Little Me Do? and Norbert and Lil BUB: What Can Little WE Do? co-starring one of my favorite internet cats, the equally adorable Lil BUB, who was featured here in February 2016.The books were illustrated by Virginia K. Freyermuth, Ph.D. and published by Polly Parker Press, LLC. Norbert has won 9 prestigious book awards including a Nautilus Book Award, and Mom's Choice Award.  

Yes, the little guy is a Philanthropist: "Norberthood for Good" does a lot of charity work in the Norbert's name. In addition to visits to hospitals, schools, nursing homes and special events, Norbert has supported a wide range of charitable causes such as Pet Partners®, Intermountain Therapy Animals, Just for Kids Sake Foundation, Lil BUB's BIG FUND for the ASPCA, the Children's Melanoma Prevention Foundation, and Boot Campaign, a military non-profit.

A portion of their profits are obviously sent to a range of charities. "The charities we support were selected because they are in alignment with Norbert's mission to spread smiles and encourage kindness." Norbert believes that you don't have to be big to make a big difference in the world.

Who can possibly argue with that?! It's impossible to look at little Norbert and not smile! There is such sweetness emanating from that little face, so much life sparkling in his eyes. He is totally captivating. 

Norbert's latest charitable venture is a new plush toy in his likeness to benefit Toys for Tots. Who wouldn't want a little Norbert of their own? The little toy looks amazingly like the real Norbert. What a perfect gift for kids of all ages! 

"By partnering with Toys for Tots, we extend Norbert's 'Buy One, Donate One' campaign to bring happiness to children in need who do not have the opportunity to own their own puppy or who could use a toy to hug and hold," says Freyermuth.

"We are very pleased to welcome Norberthood for Good as a National Corporate Donor of the 2016 Marine Toys for Tots Campaign," said retired Marine Colonel Ted Sylvester, vice president of the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation. "Their community service goals certainly align with those the Marine Corps has promoted for over 68 years through our Toys for Tots Program. Sylvester concluded, "With their generous support we will be able to fulfill the Christmas holiday dreams of many less fortunate children, who otherwise might be forgotten."

What is truly wonderful about Norberthood for Good is that it encompasses all age groups from children to seniors. No one is forgotten, no one is left out.

Norbert has worked on a variety of awareness and branding projects with major National Brands and other non-profit organizations such as The Walt Disney Company, Condé Nast, Hilton Hotels, iTunes, 

Natural Balance, and PetSmart.

In 2009 Norbert was adopted through He was so tiny that he could only go to a special home. Julie Freyermuth was deemed to have that special home. When asked how she trained little Norbert, Freyermuth responded, "I got lucky! Norbert is my first dog and I had no experience or knowledge about dog training. Norbert is very motivated by food and is super smart. Both of these things made him very easy to train.

If you want to purchase the Norbert Plush, please visit:

Norbert is all over social networking. One of my favorite places to see him is on his Facebook page where you'll find all sorts of posts and even videos. I'll be you won't be able to resist Norbert's High Five!

In 2015 Norbert won what The New York Times has called the "Internet's Highest Honor," he was a Webby Award Honoree in the Social-Animal Category.

You can Follow him on Twitter @NorbertDog

He's on Vine, YouTube, magazines, newspapers, websites, television. He's everywhere!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

MEOW: A Book of Happiness for Cat Lovers - Book Review

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I don't often review books as you've no doubt noticed but MEOW: A Book of Happiness for Cat Lovers was screaming to be read. It's a very simple concept, really, quotes about cats from famous people, each accompanied by a beautiful color photo of a cat.

First published in 2014 in Australia and New Zealand, it has finally been released in the U.S. and Canada. MEOW has been brought out here in paperback, however, from the size and look it is a coffee table book. It was likely originally a Hardcover book. According to the press release, it was written by a cat loving book editor, Anouska Jones. I kept looking for her byline in the book since it wasn't on the cover but couldn't seem to locate it. 

The book opens with an introduction, the only part of the book specifically written for the book.  I was pleased to see Jones' enthusiasm for cats and can believe that she wrote it with her beloved cat on her desk. In the midst of describing cats is the one word with which I found fault - she gave in to the Old Wives' Tale and referred to cats as "independent."  This is a total misconception since cats are independent hunters not independent companions. It's hard to say why so many people don't identify their cat's play for attention for what it is. You're reading and the cat is on the book. You're at the computer and the cat is walking across the keyboard. You take a nap and your cat is on top of you. These are ways of expressing how much your cat wants to be with you. Those who know their unconditional love and appreciate cats will love this book.

That said, the book is wonderful. Anouska Jones has compiled some of everyone's favorite quotes about cats from such notables as Ernest Hemingway, Jules Verne, Pablo Picasso and Mark Twain. Each quote has a gorgeous color photo on the facing page. 

MEOW A Book of Happiness for Cat Owners will delight cat lovers who will find the quotes resonating with them as they enjoy the beautiful cat photographs. This delightful book would make a wonderful gift for a cat loving friend or for yourself. You can put it out on your coffee table or on the nightstand in your guest room. 

MEOW A Book of Happiness for Cat Owners by Anouska Jones is published by EXISLE and distributed in the U.S. by QDS. 

ISBN: 978  925335 08 8    March 2016
$11.95 in the U.S  $13.99 in Canada   
Paperback   160 Pages

 NOTE:  I was not monetarily compensated for this book review.  I received a review copy of the book in order to read it for review.  The opinions expressed in this blog post review are mine alone.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Whisker Stress & Last Week's Contest Winners!

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Vibrissae. That is the technical name for a cat's whiskers. These amazing whiskers are not what you think. They are not fancy decorations, or just facial hair growth. They are embedded quite deeply into the cat and reach the muscular and nervous systems, providing a truly remarkable sense of their surroundings. Did you ever wonder how your cat can find his way around in the the dark when you are stumbling until you see the night light? Her whiskers tell her everything she needs to know.  They are extremely sensitive and you may also notice some sticking up like eyebrows. They are extremely sensitive.  If you didn't know this before, I want to you to know it now because, as a cat owner, you must be aware of their sensitivity in order to keep kitty happy and healthy. The position of your cat's whiskers will also tell you what her mood is like. If she's chasing a toy or another cat around the house, you'll see that her whiskers are forward, as they will be when she's startled. When she's relaxed, her whiskers will be in a normal position.  

Photo Courtesy of Lisette Brodey

What has made me even more aware of this sensitivity and the thought that my readers might not understand, was a recent trip to my local pet supply store, part of a large National chain. I was buying food for Aimee and as I came around the aisle, I saw and end cap display of cat dishes. The problem with this prominent display is that there were only a couple of dishes - almost the entire display consisted of bowls, may of them with cat designs on them. Innocent owners buy them without knowing that that's the last thing you should buy for your cat. It's nearly impossible to find a photo of a proper feeding dish for a cat. They are almost exclusively bowls. Why is this wrong?
Photo Courtesy of Claire Clayton

Cats are not dogs. Dogs do very well eating from a bowl. Cats, however, find their very sensitive whiskers rubbing against the bowl with every mouthful of food. Is it any wonder that some of these cats scoop out the food with their paw and put it on the floor to eat? Owners think this is some sort of cat trick, or a weird idiosyncrasy. No, it's not. The cat cannot be comfortable eating from a bowl. Imagine having something hurt you every time you ate. You wouldn't be very happy, would you? It puts stress on the cat.

The correct feeding dish for a cat is wider and has very low sides, or you can use a plate. Plates don't have to match your dinnerware. You can find perfectly acceptable plates in discount stores. Be sure that they are safe for you cat.  

As for the water dish, a neighbor recently asked me why Aimee's dish could be a swimming pool for a  cat whose weight hovers between 8 and 9 pounds. Simple: whisker stress. So what if it was meant for a big dog?  She loves it. The same with a water fountain. The big one is preferable to a small one for a cat's whiskers.
Photo Courtesy of Shara Rendell-Smock

And one more warning: Do NOT ever cut your cat's whiskers! Don't interfere with feline whiskers. You can look, you can admire them, but for cat's sake, leave them alone!

Now for the winners of last week's contest

Each has won one of Morris The Cat's Well-Groomed Kitty Kits Provided by Morris and his human friends at 9 Lives Cat Food!  

Drum Roll Please!  

And The Winners Are:

Lisette Brodey



Congratulations, Ladies!  Please e-mail me via my website: with your mailing address so Morris can have his personal assistants get a kit off to each of you!  Thank you for entering the contest!!

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Getting Spiffy with Morris the Cat's Grooming Tips & Two Contests!!

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With spring coming up and after that, the dreaded bathing suit season (eek!), I know everyone's searching for ways to look their best. And my readers have a 'paw up' on the competition because we're about to get some style and wellness tips from someone who knows a thing or two about looking awesome... I'm talking, of course, about Morris the Cat. I love Morris. He has such style, such panache.

In case you're not familiar with this illustrious feline, Morris is the original celebricat, starring in over 50 9Lives cat food commercials from the 1970s up through today. He's even been called "the Clark Gable of cats," and that's about as debonair as it gets! In his "Dear Morris" column, he'll be answering some readers' burning questions about good grooming, and he's also giving away a human-sized, 9Lives-branded bathrobe, a $300 Spa Finder gift card, and a whole year's supply of 9Lives cat food! Enter at his website:  

Dear Hairy Harry,

If your cat is shedding on you, the thing you should tell him is... "thank you!" Being covered in cat fur means you get to look like a cat, which means you get to look more awesome. However, if this isn't your desired effect (although I can't imagine why it wouldn't be), try wearing clothes the same color as your cat to camouflage the fur. Kind of like a cat camouflages himself in clean laundry--hey, come to think of it, that could be why you're always covered in fur! You can also try brushing Baxter a couple times a week to remove excess fur and redistribute the natural oils on his skin--now, that's what I call a win-win!

Dear Morris,

My teenage daughter spends 45 minutes in front of the mirror every day primping and brushing her hair. I think this is excessive but she tells me it's what makes her happy. Morris, since you always look fabulous, I thought you could give me some advice--what's the best way to get her to spend less time in front of the mirror?


Frustrated Mamma

Dear Fur-ustrated Mamma,

I know it may seem like I just wake up looking this good, but believe it or not, I put in lots of long hours licking my fur. In fact, as a cat, I groom up to 50% of the time I'm awake. Grooming not only makes you look good, it can be used for meditation--kind of like focusing really hard on a red laser dot. So I say, take the time you need to feel your best--whether it's 5 minutes or 45. It's a very purrsonal choice. 

Dear Morris,

Lately I've been looking slightly less than my best, which is unfortunate because I just started a new job and I wanted to make a good first impression. But instead, my eyes are all puffy and I just haven't been my chipper self. I'm not sure how to get out of this style rut. Morris, can you help me get my grooming groove back?


Fashion Faux-Paw

Dear Fashion Faux-Paw.

Let me shed some light (and some fur) on this situation. The main thing I took away from your question is that you're STRESSED! Starting a new job can be stressful and can lead to falling out of typical routines and lack of sleep.

 I should know because every time I start shooting a new commercial, I only sleep 15 hours a day instead of 16. But don't despair! There's one failsafe way to calm those nerves and give you back your glow. I'm talking about a massage, specifically a kitty massage. We kitties LOVE to give massages--well, we think of it more as kneading but you humans don't seem to know the difference. A kitty massage will help you relax, and in turn, feel and look better. Plus, it's purr-ty much impossible to feel stressed when you have the love of a cat.

There you have it! Thank you, Morris the Cat, for sharing this invaluable grooming advice. Readers, how many of you have a good-looking, well-groomed feline at home? You could win them a whole year's supply of delicious 9Lives cat food, plus a human-sized, 9Lives-branded bathrobe and Spa Finder gift card for you! Just go to Morris' Live Well & Prospurr website [] to enter. Then, 'paw it forward' by tweeting #MorrisFeeds, and Morris will donate a bowl of 9Lives cat food to a kitty in need.

You've read this far. Now, here's an extra contest!  Morris the Cat is giving two of my lucky readers a Well-Groomed Kitty Kit!  To enter, post here and tell me why you and your cat want one of Morris' Well-Groomed Kitty Kits thanks to Morris and his friends at 9 Lives Cat Food! You have until Sunday to post. Winners will be announced on Monday!! This contest is open to U.S. Residents Only.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Some Fun & A Good Cause for Puppy Day & Beyond !!!!

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Happy National Puppy Day!  Puppies are just so darned cute, sweet and lovable. They may be a lot of work but they bring such sunshine into people's lives! Just look at that cute little Corgi face in the picture above - how long before he grows into those ears?!  Too adorable for words.

If you've got a case of the Wednesdays - or any other day - Purina Puppy Chow and Soul Pancake have a perfect cure for that!  Puppies!!  See what happens when you unleash #ThePowerofPuppies at a Preschool, Retirement Home and a Gym. Watch puppies transform an ordinary day into something happy. Share this link with friends:

Help celebrate #PowerofPuppies  For ever video view (and oh, how it will make you and your friends smile!) Puppy Chow will donate one pound of Puppy Chow Natural to Rescue Bank. Up to 500,000 pounds of food will be donated to feed puppies across the country!  

Purina Puppy Chow Natural is a new complete and balanced for puppies that's made without any artificial flavors, colors or preservatives. 

Please share the link to the video with friends and family to increase donations to Rescue Bank!

On another fun note, Next Door, a private social network used by more than 95,000 U.S. Neighbors, has shared a graphic showing the most popular dog names by breed that come from within Next Door's members. It doesn't include dogs of mixed heritage. This by no means reflects all other pet owners in the country but I'm sharing it just for fun!


Saturday, March 12, 2016

Collars and Leads and Futons, Oh My!

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If you know me, you know I prefer Harnesses to collars. I also like really nice accessories for dogs and cats. If you're going to buy something, I believe in buying quality harnesses, leads, beds, etc., for your beloved companions. The simple truth is that if you can afford it, it is an investment and much less expensive in the end because you don't have to replace the item unless you want to. Sometimes it's just fun to choose more than one design for any number of reasons: seasonal, holiday, wedding and more.

One such place to find great products for your dogs and/or cats, is Up Country. The bonus for those who like to buy products Made in America to support our own economy, Up Country's stunning collars are made in Rhode Island where the company is based.

Over 30 employees design, sew, pack and ship their products to customers around the world, and that product line keeps expanding. You can shop by item type or by theme. You can choose matching collars or harnesses and leads for various holidays as well as weddings and a wide range of designs. Surfing the UpCountry website is a lot of fun with their drop-down menus, clean website design and easy surfing/shopping. If there is a problem, it's choosing which design(s) to purchase. A size chart gives you all of the measurements and equivalent sizes. Their products are made to last a lifetime.  

Along with the wonderful designs on the website, Up Country can help you design your own custom design. This is fantastic for businesses of all kinds. How neat to have your own design on products which becomes a form of subtle advertising for your business when you have branded products that are specific to your business. Promoting schools, clubs and resorts along with businesses.

"At our very core, Up Country is committed to giving back to the community, both in our backyard and far away. It's a natural extension of who we are to have a grass roots approach to giving, choosing the organizations we support carefully. One thing remains through our work with charities of all sizes, and that is our concern for the well-being of animals everywhere," stated Alice Nichols, President and Founder of Up Country, Inc.

There is also a link on the Up Country website to retail outlets where their products are sold. I warn you that you're going to have a wonderfully hard time choosing from among the wonderful designs. 

I have not been paid to say this. I share what I like with my readers and always say exactly what I mean. It's always up to my readers to decide if they agree.