Saturday, December 21, 2013

Pets Are Forever, Not Just for The Holidays

When it comes to holiday gift giving the one thing you should not give is a pet. Adding a dog or cat to the family is a serious and personal decision. It is a lifetime commitment to the pet. 
Photo by Claire Clayton
Do you know if the person wants a pet? Do they have the time for a cat or dog? Every pet needs time, attention, and a lot of care. 
Can they afford a pet? I don't mean just the cost of buying or adopting a pet. If you're giving the pet as a gift, you are handling that expense. I mean the ongoing expense of food, veterinary care, training classes and all of the things a pet needs, the basics like food and water dishes, a harness, leash, toys, scratching post, litter boxes, cat tree, clicker, breed books, pet care books, treats, a bed, a carrier, a crate.  And that's just the tip of the iceberg. That list grows and grows as the pet ages. Can they afford pet insurance or to have a pet savings account in lieu of insurance to cover any emergencies? 
Photo by Mary Slaney
What if the person or couple has at least one child? Is the family willing to supervise the child and the pet to be sure that the child isn't injuring the pet?  If the child hurts the
pet and the pet bites because of pain who is going to get the blame?
Are they going to get rid of the pet because of something that is, 
essentially, their fault for not supervising more closely and for not
teaching the child how to behave properly around a pet.
Is someone in the family allergic to pets? 
If someone wants a pet, that should be their decision. They should choose the type of pet and be sure it fits into their lifestyle. They need to decide what size pet, what sort of personality, activity level and whether or not they are willing to do the training and give the pet attention for its entire life. This is a major commitment for the life of the pet which can be anywhere from eight years for a Giant breed dog, to 12 years, 15 or 16 years and even 20 years or more for a cat. 
If someone wants a pet, they should not bring it home for the holidays when there is so much going on, so much activity and so many people in and out of the house.  Better to buy the pet supplies they will need, have those wrapped and wait until after the holidays to bring the pet home when things have calmed down and the new owner(s) can spend time helping the new family member settle in, begin training and start to build that all-important human-animal bond.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Fuzzy and the Pogo Plush Toy

As promised a few weeks ago, from time to time we will be reviewing products from PetSafe.  The reviews will pop up periodically.  This time we're talking about one of their Pogo Plush Toys.  


This is what the toy looked like in its packaging when I sent it  to  CA


Predicting who would be the best toy tester is a challenge.  In this case, I opted to send the toy to Southern California to my friend, Gary Rohde, who adopted Fuzzy, a mixed breed dog, from a local shelter.  Fuzzy is an enthusiastic dog who adores toys.  He's so enthusiastic that darned few toys will hold up to Fuzzy's, uh, scrutiny.  

This line of toys has movable squeakers, that sort of float through the toy. It's also a soft, plush toy. Perhaps not the best option for an enthusiastic chewer.  Time would tell.
The ladybug  toy came out of the envelope, the wrapping was removed and it was given over to its new owner.
Fuzzy and His Ladybug ToyA
Fuzzy immediately took possession of the toy. There's nothing Fuzzy likes quite as much as a new toy, He greets each one with enthusiasm. As you can see, this toy was no exception.


Ladybug's AntennaeWere Soon Separated from the toy


According to Gary, Fuzzy's owners, the "ears" lasted all of ten minutes before Fuzzy was able to separate them from the toy. "He loves it!!! But the ear was very easy to chew through."  Frankly,  I thought that was predictible but the rest of the toy held up much better than expected. Fuzzy enjoys chewing it, playing fetch with it and generally treating it as if it were a really tough toy. So far, so good.

And for those of you who like a little action with your reviews, here is a video Gary took of Fuzzy not only chewing the toy but if you wait long enough you'll see him playing fetch with it.  



NOTE:  PetSafe provided the Toy for review but there was no compensation for this review. All reviews on PerPETuallySpeaking are objective.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Royal Canin and The Curious Cat



Photo of Darlene & Aimee by Veronique Schejtman


NOTE: "I have written this post on behalf of BlogPaws Pet Blogger Network
http://network.blogpaws.com/ I am being compensated for helping spread the word about Royal Canin, but  please know that PerPETuallySpeaking shares information we feel is relevant to our readers."



When I brought Aimee home she was 3 1/2 years old, a retired show cat,and she arrived eating Royal Canin Special 33 and Royal Canin Intense Hairball formula.  She used to have it mixed together but when she moved here she insisted upon having the food in separate dishes.  As an only cat in this house, that's no problem.  Her coat has always been shiny, her eyes bright. 



When I took her for her first veterinary as the new kid in the family, her veterinarian asked what I was feeding her. I explained her Royal Canin diet and her veterinarian nodded approvingly.

Aimee's nearly-seamless transition to her new home was made even easier because she was on a familiar diet that agreed with her.  The company itself was founded by a veterinarian.

From time to time I have offered Aimee a taste of something I am eating as long as it's safe for a cat.  The little Chartreux will come up on my lap, sniff, and usually shoot me a look that clearly means, "how do you eat that stuff if you were eating Royal Canin your eyes would be brighter and your coat would be much shinier!"  I suspect my hairdresser would agree about my hair but I don't think Royal Canin will be making people food any time soon.


Royal Canin has done some interesting research lately.  Interestingly, almost half of all cat owners didn't do any research before they got their cat. How can anyone prepare for a new family member without learning as much as possible?  Cat owners, for the most part, know their cats sleep a lot but are unaware that cats also spend their time hunting, hiding and marking their territory.  They mainly get a cat because they believe cats are low maintenance since you don't have to walk them, etc.  However, this is a mistaken notion on their part since cats still need attention, seek us out as their family members and shouldn't be left alone with food, water and litterboxes while the owner goes away for the weekend.  Cats get lonely.  And what happens if there's a fire while the owner is away?

I wouldn't miss a moment with Aimee.  When i have to be away, she has a wonderful petsitter. And when i come home, my girl is excited to see me.

Did you know that cats eat many small meals a day?  One of Aimee's dishes, a special gift from her Auntie Sue, has a special message at the bottom: if you can read this, please refill. I am off sleeping.  And so the dish is magically refilled while she naps.  When she's ready to eat, her food is there.


People with multiple cats don't think about feeding them for their age, activity level, etc. Aimee is now 14 years old.  She gets twice yearly veterinary visits at this age and has had a baseline Senior Wellness visit.  That's important.  If there are changes, we will catch them sooner.

Royal Canin has something special for cat owners.  If you go to their Facebook page you will get a coupon for $7. Off a bag of Royal Canin.  That's an incredible deal and a nice incentive to try the food.  Aimee has flourished on it so I have no qualms about saying that our results have been terrific. To get a coupon go to: http://blogp.ws/1icoTUS

If you'd like to visit Royal Canin on their website go to: http://blogp.ws/1b2zgR7

You can also follow them on Twitter: http://blogp.ws/1aW29BP Find Royal Canin on Pinterest:  http://blogp.ws/1cqKqC9
And, of course, you can Like them on Facebook:  http://blogp.ws/IqRGEk



Royal Canin has provided this really nifty infographic.  Take some time reading it.  And then snuggle with your kitties.  Time with cats is never wasted.


Friday, November 22, 2013

New "Give Litter" Campaign and Our Chaser Contest Winner!!





World's Best Cat Litter™has launched its newest "Give Litter" campaign and voting will be running through Monday.

It would be wonderful if you would get involved and vote in this worthwhile cause.  Share it with your friends so they will vote, too.  Even if the shelter you vote for isn't near you, you'll know that you'll be helping kitties who really need it!

Here's the link to the voting area of the website:
http://www.worldbestcatlitter.com/givelitter/

World's Best Cat Litter also has a Facebook page where there is a voting area:
https://www.facebook.com/worldsbestcatlitter/app_450722531630543


And now for the news you've been waiting for!  We've had some wonderful entries in the contest this week to win a copy of CHASER Unlocking the Genius of the Dog Who Knows a Thousand Words by John W. Pilley with Hilary Hinzmann, published by Houghton, Mifflin, Harcourt who are providing the winner's copy of this wonderful book.



I wish everyone could win a copy but, alas, no such luck.  Only one winner could be chosen. And that winner is:

Hombre McClanahan

Please contact me via my Website: http://www.darlenearden.com.  There is a link there to contact me directly. I will e-mail you the form that you will have to fill out for the publisher so they will send the book directly to you.  Congratulations!











Monday, November 18, 2013

Positive Training and A Special Contest!

Dear Readers,  you know me well enough by now to know that I only subscribe to positive training. I see no reason to break the human-animal bond.  On the contrary, I believe in building and solidifying that bond.  Whether you particular companion prefers to work for treats, toys to play, there is a positive reward to suit every pets.  

I was in a rather upscale pet supply store tonight picking up food and special fortified treats when I was horrified to see a woman checking out with a prong collar.  I don't know which was worse: the fact that she bought it or the fact that this allegedly enlightened store sold such an item.  It made me sad.  I wanted to leap across the counter and pull it out of her hot little hands.  I wanted to save her dog and their relationship.  I often do try to convince people to try something else, something better.  This was not my night.  You just can't win them all, no matter how hard you try.

We'll be talking more about positive training in future blog posts but right now I want to tell you about a try exciting contest.

If you remember, I had the pleasure and the honor of reading an advance copy of Chaser, Unlocking the Genius of The Dog Who Knows A Thousand Words.  Chaser's relationship with his owner, Dr John Pilley, is quite special and I deliberately slowed down my reading so that I could enjoy every single moment, every word in the book.




I'm excited to announce that the Publisher, Houghton, Mifflin, Harcourt, is allowing me to give away a copy of this book to one winner in the United States.  I can't wait to share this wonderful book with a lucky reader! Chaser works for play and to see positive reinforcement at work, to see the intelligence of this dog at work, is a joy beyond description!





Here's how you can enter to win a copy  Just leave a message on this blog post by Friday, November 22nd.  That's it.  One winner will be chosen and will, hopefully, have the book by the holidays.

What do you have to lose? If you love dogs, love dog training, this book is right up your alley!

So, enter and Good Luck!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Winter is Coming

Rain relaxes in a Polar Fleece Coat



Cold weather brings its share of problems for pet owners.  Keeping pets safe and warm indoors is critical but we all know that dogs are usually walked outdoors to do their business and get some exercise. It's also important for them to stay warm. 


Small dogs and those with no haircoat or body fat are particularly susceptible since they lose body heat quite rapidly and will need a warm coat or sweater to help protect them from the elements.  

Rain Models Polar Fleece Coat with Velcro on the Back

Rain Lounging in a Polar Fleece Coat

I recently received a Polar Fleece dog coat from PetSafe to test.  Most of us who live in a cold climate are very fond of Polar Fleece since it's so warm. But how would it work on one of our dogs.  Well, that depends upon the dog.  I handed the coat over to my friend, Linda Aronson, to test on one of her Havanese.  The caveat here is that her dogs are in full show coat so they have lovely, flowing coats.  The Polar Fleece coat velcros on the top for easy-on, easy-off, a nice feature.  But how would it work with a long-coated Havanese?    Here's what Linda discovered:

"The coat is nicely designed and well made.  The sizing is a little off as the size 16 was a good fit for length on my Havanese who typically wears a size 14 coat.  If possible try the coat on before purchasing.  The coat is easy to put on and take off and has plenty of room for the dog to move about without restricting movement or for deep chested dogs.  Having the closure along the back is a good idea, and it is easy to hook up without trapping hair, but I had to readjust to get the velco perfectly aligned, despite first attaching the tab of velcro at the neck end and matching the neck ends.  Still, readjustment was fairly simple.  Polar fleece would mat the coat on a long haired dog quickly, but for dogs that have lost coat due to surgery or illness or for those naturally short haired dogs that feel the cold this would be a warm coat either alone or under a waterproof outer coat for wet and snowy weather."

So there you have it. An independent review along with some nifty pictures of Rain modeling the  coat.  I think for those whose dogs have shorter hair, this would be a very worthwhile coat to consider for your dog's winter outings.  



 NOTE:  PetSafe sent the coat for me to test. I passed it along to Linda Aronson for testing on her Havanese. We received no compensation other than the product to be tested and the views expressed are our own.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Petfinder is Having a Contest!

I think a lot of us know at least one person who has found their dog or cat through Petfinder. They do such a good job of showing available pets n various shelters across the county. Calling attention to them is always a pleasure.  A good reminder that they are there 24/7, doing what they do best.  

Photo by Claire Clayton


There are a lot of ways to acquire a new pet.  You  can go to Breed Rescue, or you can find a truly ethical, responsible breeder, or can go to a shy shelter. If the latter is your choice, then Petfinder gives you a way which you can view all of the available pets at local shelters before you leave home.  Then you can drive over and see them in person, get acquainted, and see if one is the right one for you and your family.

Petfinder's new contest is Adopt a Token, to celebrate the launch of MONOPOLY's new token - a cat! They are working with Hasbro on this contest that can make you and your favorite Petfinder Adoption Group a winner!  


Photo by Mary Slaney


Here's how it works.  Search Petfinder's site for dog and cat profiles to find the Cat and the Dog's profile pages. There is a profile for each and once you find it all you do is click on the link "Click to Enter Sweepstakes." You can enter every day through November 30th. Using what you already know you can use the pet filters to find the profiles.  

Petfinder will be dropping hints on https://www.facebook.com/Petfinderhttp://www.pinterest.com/petfinder/ and https://twitter.com/petfinder so be sure to check for the hints.

Here are the Prizes:

ONE GRAND PRIZE WINNER will receive a life-sized replica of the Cat Token, a $250. gift card for the Petfinder adoption group of the winner's choice.

50 FIRST RUNNERS UP will each receive one MONOPOLY Empire board game.

50 SECOND RUNNERS UP will each receive one MONOPOLY classic board game featuring the Cat and Dog tokens.

Additionally, for everyone who purchases the classic MONOPOLY board game from either http://www.hasbrotoyshop.com/monopoly-game?utm_source=partner&utm_campaign=petfinder or http://www.petfinderfoundation.com Hasbro will give a dollar for every purchase!

What a great way to celebrate the holidays and help homeless pets!  


Thursday, October 31, 2013

#PetSafe & The Bloggers Summit & A Special Contest

Stratosphere above the skyline in Knoxville



When the invitation came from PetSafe (Radio Systems) to join their Bloggers’ Summit this year I thought there had to be a mistake. I’m quite outspoken against electronic collars and fences. I don’t believe in aversive training. It hurts the dog and breaks down the human-animal bond. And there’s no need for it when we live in a kinder, gentler world, especially when we can use operant conditioning or lure and reward. It’s no secret that I’m fully supportive of The No Shock Collar Coalition (http://www.noshockcollars.com)
On the other hand, Radio Systems had purchased both Drinkwell and Premier. I was pretty sure the fountains were safe but I am one of those who has been very concerned about their purchase of Premier which specialized in products for positive training for dogs and cats.
            I was up-front about wanting to see whatever was positive and, to their credit, they did not rescind their invitation. If I was destined to be the thorn in their paw, so be it. Truthfully, they could not have been nicer and made a point of telling me that they have had veterinary behaviorists visit. They want to hear from those of us who don’t agree with them. Are they hoping to change our minds? Maybe. Will they? No. There is too much information to back-up what so many of us believe about electronic collars and fences.  Sadly, I got to witness it first-hand.  The toughest part of the trip was a demo by their “trainer.” He had his own dog, a German Shepherd there who he said hadn’t had one of their collars on in a long time, as well as a lovely Pit Bull in for training. When he started to put the collar on his dog, the dog tried to get away, and rightly so.  When he finally got the collar on and the dog’s head went down, there was no question that the dog’s entire body language changed. His head and tail went down, he drooped, he looked defeated. I could have cried. Then the “trainer” said he was using “positive” training while he used the collar and threw treats at the dog! This is NOT positive training. He really has no understanding of the basics. It was gut-wrenching to watch.
            That said, it’s not all bad news and I hope you will stick with me through this post because I have much to say.
            The people who work at PetSafe are lovely and the positive products deserve our attention.  Why?  Because they are doing the right thing with the Premier line and we need to encourage the good. If the company sees that we find the positive in their positive line, they will give it more attention – that’s just good business sense.  And they do have some wonderful things for our companions.  The familiar Premier clicker is still there. They have created something called Lickety Sticks, a very low calorie treat that you can use for rewarding your pet. YOU hold it and allow the dog to lick it. It comes in several flavors. 

I suggested they make one with a long, or telescoping stick for tall people with small dogs. You do NOT allow the dog to have the entire stick or hold it because the dog could swallow it. The treat is strictly controlled by the owner. There’s a clicker leash with the clicker attaching right onto the leash itself. PetSafe has expanded out the bait bag to now hold more, including a special spot for Lickety Sticks.
There is a line of clothing that goes over the dog’s four paws and velcros down the back – easy on and easy off and nice and warm for your little companion. 
There’s a remote treat dispenser for your dog or cat that you control.  They even have new housetraining systems that will have your pup rewarded for going on the right place.  This I see as good for apartment dwellers and elderly people who may not be training their pets to go outside.  And they have so much more.

            Premier’s safe cat harness with the great bungee leash is still there, they have an assortment of positive cat and dog toys.  They have oral care biscuits and treats.
            The company’s president and founder, Randy Boyd, sees much good in putting back into the community, along with the communities in other countries where his company has an office. They create dog parks with rules for safety, they contribute to The University of Tennessee’s Veterinary School where we toured the hospitals. The University has the ultimate training program for people who want to learn physical therapy for pets, among other wonderful programs. Some of the company’s products are in a new house on the Home and Garden Network based at Scripps, which we also toured. That’s also the home of DIY Network and The Food Network, among others.

            The company gives money to animal welfare and youth organization education. Returned products that aren’t defective are given to local shelters in a 7 county radius. They donate to the Smoky Mountain Animal Care Foundation, support local dog and cat shelters in Shenzhen, China and they support Tennessee Achieves wherein mentors support kids through college admissions and staying in school and they pay for kids to go through community college.  They also have a contest to put a dog park into a community in the. U.S.  They are helping to increase the number of dog parks in the U.S.
            I’ll be revisiting PetSafe periodically with reviews of positive products, some tested by my Aimee, others tested by pets who can give these items the challenge that they need. 

            While we got to visit Knoxville’s highlights, our last night was spent at the home of singer/composer, Jay Clark who also has a Ph.D. in Wildlife and Fisheries Science. His wife, also a Ph.D. works for the forestry service. Both were laid-back and charming. We were treated to a concert beside a bonfire, which followed a wonderful catered barbecue with real down-home food. The stars were many in the clear sky.  It was a nice way to end our few days in Knoxville.  
Jay Clark and his Group
            Now, for those of you who have stuck with me through this entire post, and most of you should know by now that my blog is content-rich, I have a contest for you.  PetSafe has agreed to put together a PetSafe Positive Package for my readers! You will receive one of their nice new Bait Bags, Lickety Sticks, a Clicker and a species-appropriate toy, so whether you have a cat or a dog you are eligible to win!  Just comment on this post and tell me why you want to win!  The contest ends on November 7th.   That gives you plenty of time to enter!
            And let’s all remember to reward the positive!

NOTE:  PetSafe paid for my airfare, hotel and meals. The opinions expressed are, however, entirely my own.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Review: Bite This Book

When Lony Ruhmann adopted a puppy named Juve (Hoo-Vee), the poor thing developed distemper, a disease that has all but been eradicated. While others may have had the dog put down, Ruhmann decided to to treat the puppy, nursing him back to health.  It was a major effort that would take 6 months.

Part of Ruhmann's process wasn't just talking to the puppy, but reading to him as well.  This is an interesting technique that I have known others to use but my guess is that they came upon it individually, that there is no formal effort behind doing this for a dog.  Much as you would read to a sick child, there is comfort for both the reader and the patient in the soft, sing-song words of a child's book.  

About two years after this took place, Ruhmann now has a book written for dogs, to be read to dogs at any time, containing vignettes that support the dog's point of view.  Allegedly, the book was also written by Juve. Make of that what you will. 

The simple text is colorfully illustrated by Pritali Joharapurkar and would appeal to children with its bright tones. 

Will your dog like it? Your dog will like anything that allows him to share quiet bonding time with you. This book is simple, inexpensive and charming in its way.  Ruhmann's purpose in writing it was to encourage people to adopt pets, preferably special needs dogs. In that his goal is admirable.

Should you read to your dog?  Why not?!  


Ruhmann with Juve
Choosing to build the bond is a wonderful thing and you don't have to wait until your dog is sick. You can start today.

Visit the book's website: http://www.bitethisbook.com

You can order the book from Amazon: https://tinyurl.com/kscypvf


DISCLAIMER  I was sent a digital review copy of this book but have received no compensation for this review.  The review itself is my own, containing my thoughts on the book.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

CHASER; Unlocking the Genius of the Dog Who Knows a Thousand Words




Those of us who have had and loved dogs have known how smart they are. We don’t really question that our dogs understand what we say. We know that eventually we have to spell words like c-o-o-k-i-e and w-a-l-k.  And after awhile only the first couple of letters of the word will elicit a response. That’s the way we pet owners discuss it, anecdotally.  But scientists demand far more proof that the dog actually knows and understands the words that are spoken.  Enter John W. Pilley, psychology Professor Emeritus at Wofford College and his Border Collie, Chaser, whose experience is shared in Chaser Unlocking the Genius of the Dog Who Knows a Thousand Words by John W. Pilley with Hilary Hinzmann.

Chaser entered Pilley’s life in 2004 when his wife decided her husband needed a puppy for Christmas. Chaser was acquired from a dedicated breeder whose dogs are known for their herding skills. From the day Chaser came home with Pilley and his wife, Pilley began talking to her, somewhat in the way a parent would talk to a small child, which is how children learn languages.

While teaching Chaser the basics of obedience, using positive reinforcement, all of Chaser’s learning has been the result of positive reinforcement using play. Pilley began teaching her the names of her toys. Adding to them, and building problem-solving situations into each new level. She has learned the names of over one thousand objects. Yes, you read that correctly.

A study of another Border Collie, Rico, in Germany was not as comprehensive. Rico only knew about a hundred words and the scientists picked apart the study. Pilley, while allowing Chaser to be a wonderful, happy companion, also used games to teach Chaser and to build a scientific study that ultimately could no longer be challenged.  How he accomplished this is carefully laid out in the book.  As a Certified Animal Behavior Consultant, I was intrigued but the nice thing is that this is written in such easy style that any pet owner can read it, enjoy it, and relate to Prof. Pilley and Chaser.  And they can try the same things with their own dog.

Chaser has been seen on television, has been the topic of news reports, but here you get to meet the dog up-close and personal, to see the love and the bond between dog and owner that will be so familiar to dog owners. 

Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, there’s no doubt in my mind that this is one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. I think you’ll agree. I highly recommend it. It will be available on October 29th.

See the Book Trailer here: http://bit.ly/13l4Had

See more about Chaser and links to buy the book here: http://www.chaserthebordercollie.com


And you can follow Chaser on Twitter: https://twitter.com/ChasertheBC

You are invited to participate in a special #BlogPawsChat on Twitter where you’ll have a chance to win a copy of the book. I hope you’ll join us there on October 22 at 8PM ET.

NOTE: This is a sponsored post for CHASER in cooperation with BlogPaws (http://network.blogpaws.com/) however, the opinions expressed in this post are my own. 


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

National Feral Cat Day 2013



October 16, 2013. What makes this day special?  It's National Feral Cat Day 2013. Alley Cat Allies (http://www.alleycat.org) does a wonderful job of helping make life better and safer for Feral Cats.  Too much misunderstanding surrounds these cats. For years, volunteers have fed, watered, trapped, neutered and returned feral cats to their colonies where they can live out their lives in peace, no longer able to reproduce but quite capable of leading happy lives, allowing for as much or as little human interaction as they like.

These cats have been vilified by far too many people, including slanted alleged "studies" of the "harm" they do to birds and the environment. Nothing, of course, could be further from the truth.  They are living, breathing sentient beings who deserve to live out their lives in peace and, through attrition, the colonies of these cats die out of, hopefully, natural causes, not reproducing any more. Sometimes the kittens can be rescued and can be gentled to become loving indoor pets. Wherever they are they have a right to live out their lives in peace and relatively good health.



A number of events are scheduled around the country, more than 400 of them!  You can find one near you by going online to:
http://www.NationalFeralCatDay.org


There will also be an online Webinar at 7 p.m. EDT on the 16th. For the Helping Cats in Your Community Webinar point your browser to: http://www.alleycat.org/webinar

It's important for all of us to remember humane animal care. Trap-Neuter-Return is the humane treatment of Feral Cats.   There is much to learn and much to be celebrated.  I hope you'll help celebrate National Feral Cat Day 2013.


Thursday, September 26, 2013

Gear Up for Adoption

Shelters and Rescue Groups have more opportunities than ever to get the word out about the dogs and cats available for adoption but with so many groups vying for attention it's only too easy for some of them to slip through the cracks, even with the advantages of social networking.

The issue becomes how to best take advantage of social networking and any other means of making people aware of all the wonderful pets just waiting for a new home and a new leash on life.  Here are just a few ideas That can help my local shelter, your local shelter, any local shelter or rescue group.

1. Don't underestimate the power of the written word.  Instead of writing a plain description of the cat or dog, let the pet write the description. How much more appealing it is to hear, "I promise to love you forever if you'll give me a forever home" along with a self-description. Open a Facebook page if you don't have one already and put the description there along with a photo of the pet and ask people to Share the picture and bios, then use Twitter to share the description and photo. And don't forget your good old fashioned newspaper. See if they'll give you a weekly adoption column. They may or may not have room for pictures but the descriptions can certainly run. You can do a column featuring two or three a week.

2. Pictures will help. There's nothing more appealing than the sweet face of the adoptee. But those pictures will be far more appealing if you have a volunteer who is a groomer who can make the pet look clean, neat and cute. Another improvement is taking pictures that don't look like police mug shots. Set up a cute photo using props in an area of the shelter. Now use that photo on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram as well as Google+.

Mary Slaney adopted Vinny more than a year ago.


3. Don't underestimate the power of clicker training. You can use a clicker to make life more interesting for shelter pets, teach them manners or a trick and then be sure to brag on all of your social networks how clever the pet is in his self-written bio. This will help your adoptees stand out among the crowd on social networks.

One more tip: don't ignore e-mail posts containing all of this information with a request to forward. Everyone knows people who know people who know people, and so on.  

With a little imagination and tapping into volunteers, utilizing their skills and talent, you can incrrease the number of pets who are adopted.




Monday, September 16, 2013

Does This Collar Make My Butt Look Big? by Dena Harris


Dena Harris has done it again.  Okay, I'll admit that I'm a fan. Few people can make me laugh as Dena can so when a review copy of her newest book arrived, I settled down for a good read.  I wasn't disappointed. 

In her newest book, Does This Collar Make My Butt Look Big? Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc., Dena Harris tackles the topic of cat diets the way she covers everything else - with a huge dollop of laughter. Subtitled, A Diet Book for Cats we already have a pretty big hint that this book is written with tongue firmly planted in the cat's cheek.

What's amazing is how well she sticks to the diet book formula but writes it from the cat's point of view more than from the owner's. At the very thought of putting their cat on a diet most owners will stock up on bandages in preparation for the cat's retribution.

From lists and tips to multiple choice questions to determine which type of kitty is reading the book the book is a total romp.  And, yes, there's a cat food pyramid. Be sure to read it carefully. You would want to miss a single quip.

Reprinted with permission from Does This Collar Make My Butt Look Big? by Dena Harris, copyright (c) 2013. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc.
Illustrations copyright © 2013 by Ann Boyajian

Take this book for a spin and don't forget it when the holidays roll around and you're looking for a gift for the cat person in your life. It's 113 pages of fun peppered with adorable illustrations! 

Photo of Dena Harris by Blair Harris

To get your copy of Does This Collar Make My Butt Look Big?
point your browser to:



Note: No payment was received for this review. It is purely independent. The blogger received a review copy of the book.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Service Dog Month!

September is Service Dog Month.  It's time to think about those wonderful dogs who make life so much better for their owners. And what other dog gets to be with their owner 24/7? The bond between service dogs and their people is nothing less than heartwarming.  It irks me when animal rights people say that owning a dog is cruel and that no one should breed dogs. The sheer gall of those people, and their uninformed position is irritating.  Apparently, they have no conception of the human-animal bond, of the joy dogs and owners take in each other.  They change the language to cause all manner of problems. Dogs bred to be service dogs are among the finest companions and what they and their owners do for each other is nothing short of miraculous. Those who wash out of the program go on to become pets in loving homes.
Photo courtesy of Guide Dogs of The Desert
These pups will eventually enrich the lives of those  who have a medical
"disability" today....to experience a life full of "abilities" in the future.


The dogs who graduate are paired up with owners who need an assist in any one of a number of ways. These dogs love being with their owners, helping them, which for the dog is like a game. And yet they also seem to understand how important they are.  One great bonus is that when people see a service dog they are much friendlier to the disabled person. 

"There are no current statistic on just how many service dogs are enriching the lives of those who live with disabilities on a daily basis," says Deborah Sands, DJS Consultant Services specializing in service animal public access/education training.  "These dogs are more than 'pets.' They perform 'tasks or work' to be the eyes that guide, the ability to notify a sound, an impending seizure, a diabetic emergency, a severe blood pressure drop or an oncoming anxiety attack. They are trained to open doors, stabilize balance, pick up objects and help someone confined to a wheelchair...and so much more!!! Just ask anyone, be it a civilian or a military veteran who has been gifted with these remarkable and loving canine partners. These specially trained dogs are everyday canine heroes who provide a lifeline to their handlers."

The dogs vary in size. Even the smallest dog can alert to an epileptic seizure, for example. The dogs are matched to the task. And not all are purebred. It depends, again, upon the task. Shelter rescues, for example, often become the "ears" for someone who cannot hear.


Photo by Debbie Sands, Courtesy of  Guide Dogs of America.
Service dogs..those 4 footed love machines...upon graduation with their handlers, will become a seamless "team" forged in a bond whose loyalty to each other will be stronger than steel.





It's easy to see the bond of love as service dog and handler work together. And when the vest comes off at home, the dog becomes a pet just like any other beloved 4-legged family member when off-duty, with plenty of time for play.

I'm glad we have a special month in which to honor these wonderful dogs and bring attention to them.  I hope you'll remember them all year long...

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Wanna Play Treibball?!

Get The Ball Rolling
by
Dianna Stearns
Wanna play Treibball?  What's Treibball?  Glad you asked!  It's a super new dog sport that's lot of fun for both dog and person. There's nothing like talking with the co-founder and current President of the American Treibball Association to find out.  

Dianna Stearns, who is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer-Knowledge Assessed, a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant, and the owner of Winn's West Dog Training and Behavior Consulting, LLC, in Northglenn, CO is enthusiastic about this new sport that she describes as, "a quiet, problem-solving game of teamwork between the dog and handler; a one-on-one communication game. It’s not fast or loud, like Flyball, or flashy like agility, so it probably will never have the showmanship quality of those dog sports. But, for many owners, who would like to create a better bond with their dog, and improve their dog’s ability to listen to them and take direction, (even at distance) the sport of Treibball is an outstanding vehicle. For those owners who do like to compete with their dogs, it’s a sport both can participate in without fear of injury Treibball is sort of like herding sheep without sheep, and sort of like soccer...for dogs."

Stearns got interested in it during Fall to Christmas of 2009 when she found some videos on YouTube showing the sport but because there was a language barrier she couldn't understand the dialog. She began writing to Dutch and German trainers who featured Treibball on their websites in an effort to learn more but her mail went unanswered, likely due to the language barrier. 

Because there was no information available, she and her colleague, Mary Manka, decided to figure it out for themselves, watching over 45 videos and visiting over 30 Dutch, Scandinavian and German websites to determine the game's common denominators. As taught in Europe it was basic obedience with some herding hand signals mixed in. Since the basics could apply to anything, Stearns started creating a curriculum that she could introduce her students to Treibball.

"My first class was held in July 2010 and my training colleague, Mary Manka, Hilary Lane and I formed the American Treibball Association in December of that year to promote and establish a structure for the sport in the U.S.," Stearns recalls.

Dianna Stearns and Friend

The sport takes about 4 to 6 months for a dog to learn, depending upon the dog, of course. And dogs need to know basic obedience, like Sit, Stay and Down.  "We work on training the basic skills and cues first, and then increase the dogs’ distance from the handler and work on more precise ball handling as the dogs’ skills increase. In each of our classes we practice to get them ready for a mock-game, by the end of the class. Certainly by 6-8 months they could be ready for competition."

"Puppies can learn the basic skills needed for Treibball, any time from 4-6 months of age," says Stearns "Our youngest class participants have been 6-7 months. For Treibball competitions there are several age categories: 6 months to 2 years, 2 to 7 years, and 7 years and older. Our oldest competitor so far has been 9 years old. The older ones may learn or move slower, but they’re still having fun!" And that's really what a dog sport should be - fun for dogs and owners.


"My goal, as a trainer/teacher has been to introduce the game, and its benefits to a wider audience. While word of the game is spreading among trainers and folks who’ve seen the videos, it’s still a bit of well-kept secret to the general population,"Stearns relates. To that end, Get The Ball Rolling is the book/workbook Deanna Stearns has written, the first comprehensive publication about the new sport. It has just been published by Dogwise.  It's available through them, soon at Barnes and Noble, and for those who can't wait, at Amazon right now: https://tinyurl.com/mxyn9vz

Go to the American Treibball Association's website, www.americantreibballassociation.org, where you'll find a Trainer Directory tab, which lists Treibball trainer and facility members, by state. Interested dog owners can contact the trainers in their area for upcoming class dates and times. "The ATA currently has over 300 members in 6 countries, with new dog owners and professional trainers joining us weekly, but we know not everyone will have a trainer in their area, yet," says Stearns "We encourage dog owners who want to get involved in the sport, to join the ATA at the beginning membership level, get the handbook (as part of their membership) and start working with their dog. As part of that membership they will be invited to join our Yahoo discussion group where they can ask questions and get training advice."

"Treibball is an all-positive, low-impact team sport that handlers and dogs of all physical abilities can play equally. There are no corrections allowed in Treibball, just the use of verbal cues and hand signals; it's all positive and all fun, with the dog working under the handler's control. For training, Treibball requires some space with low minimal cost for equipment. You need a designated goal, a fitness ball 45-75 cm, a clicker and a target stick to train, and additional field space, 8 balls and a larger goal to play the entire game or to compete:
  
The game is played with the dog working off-leash, using his nose, shoulders or the backs of his paws to drive eight fitness balls into a goal area, within 10 minutes. The handler directs the dog which balls to bringing, in which order. The eight balls are laced midfield in a triangle (like in billiards) with the point/peak ball farthest from the goal. The balls can be of differing sizes or all the same size, just appropriate to the size of the dog playing at that time, so dogs of all sizes can play! The mid-point of the balls should be at the level of the dog's nose or shoulder. The game stops when 10 minutes is called or when all eight balls are in the net/goal and the dog lies down within the goal area (like penning sheep). The better the communication between the dog and handler, the faster the time the team achieves. Bonus and demerit points are added/subtracted to the score, based on the team’s performance. The 2013 Sanctioned game rules can be downloaded free from the ATA website.



Stearns says that if anyone knows "a professional, positive reinforcement trainer in their area they’ve enjoyed working with, we encourage them to get that trainer involved, to start a local class. Membership information is available on the website, under the membership tab."



For more information ATA has a website, www.americantreibballassociation.org, a Facebook page, www.facebook.com/americantreibball, and a YouTube channel where you can see videos of students and competitions, www.YouTube.com/AmericanTreibball

Questions can be directed to their mailbox: info@americantreibballassociation.org