Posts tagged ‘dogs’

(The Dog’s) Life After People

If you didn’t catch the documentary “Life After People” last night on the History channel look for it in re-runs (there are plenty of those on these days!).  The program is an entertaining look into what the world might be like if human beings suddenly ceased to exist.

Along with eye candy provided by visual effects showing the demise of landmarks like the Empire State Building, Golden Gate Bridge, Hoover Dam and Eiffel Tower; the program also takes a look at existing abandoned places like Chernobyl, and some island towns off the coast of Maine. 

The video touches on the potential fates of domestic animal species including an interesting discussion about the ability of our dogs to survive presented by Raymond Coppinger Coppinger notes that without us to take care of them, many dog species would not survive. Those that did survive might evolve to a form more like dingos or other feral dogs or interbreed with coyotes, wolves or other wild canids to form new species.

We’ll give it two paws up for entertainment value and a half paw up for scientific validity. The documentary was understandbly vague about how all human life suddenly ceased to exist while leaving animal populations intact. Other interesting aspects such as survival of exotic species (such as those in zoos), how urban ecosystems might change over time, potential changes in climate, cross-breeding and hybridization, and evolution of existing species were either glossed over lightly or ignored completely. 

Like most ‘documentaries’ we see these days it offers more gee whiz moments than truly insightful ones — but its far more entertaining than the current fare of reality teevee shows and reruns.

Wild Dingo?

Zip masquerading as a Dingo. Could she survive alone in the wild?

January 23, 2008 at 1:50 am 2 comments

The Best New Book on Dog Training

illbehaveddog.jpg

How to Have an Ill-Behaved Dog from the Self-Hurt Series at Knock Knock is THE best book on dog training that I’ve read in a long time.  I’m not joking.  This book will give you all the information you need to train your dog.

This is from the promo on Knock Knock’s website:
Have you ever been to the dog park and wondered, “How do those people achieve such ill-behaved dogs?” Or perhaps you’re thinking about adopting a canine companion and want to start off on the right paw. Whether you’re experienced or new at the pet game, this book will teach you the most cutting-edge techniques for cultivating a dog who doesn’t listen, barks incessantly, and destroys your shoes.

Learn How To:

·         Develop your dog into a narcissistic extension of yourself
·         Make sure your dog jumps on all visitors
·         Harness your dog’s natural drives to extract the worst possible behavior with the minimum effort 

And, if you follow the directions in the book, I guarantee that you will have an obnoxious, ill-behaved dog!  There’s even a place inside the front cover where you can sign a pledge committing yourself to accomplish the task. 

If you read this little gem of a book closely, you’ll see that the folks who wrote it (and by the way, the only way that the book disappointed me was that it gave no credit to the authors or editors) must be absolutely brilliant dog trainers… or psychotherapists who specialize in treating dysfunctional dog owners.  Their descriptions of neurotic dog owners, obnoxious dogs and the ways that they create each other are deviously clever and wonderfully entertaining. 

You might think that this is just a silly, useless, little book — and you’d be wrong.  “How to Have an Ill-Behaved Dog” provides the thoughtful dog owner with a sort of magic mirror on “How Not to Live With a Dog.” 

Get this book and read it twice.  The first time read it purely to be entertained.  It’s a very funny book and even someone who isn’t a dog owner will appreciate the humor.  Then read it a second time with a more critical eye, to see if you recognize yourself (or your dog) anywhere in its pages.  If you do — use the book as a guide to change, and correct the parts of your behavior that you saw mirrored in the book.  If you see yourself in many places in its pages, you may want to call a professional dog trainer - and a therapist!

January 9, 2008 at 5:37 am 1 comment

The Best Pet First Aid Kit

The domestic dog is the most diverse species in the world.  Dogs range in size from tiny, four-inch tall Chihuahuas to enormous mastiffs weighing over 200 pounds.  They live in cities, on farms and in suburban homes all over the world – and they can be injured by a wide variety of hazards.  The amazing range of sizes, shapes and lifestyles that dogs enjoy today means that there is no single commercially available first aid kit that is suitable for every dog.

So, what’s a responsible pet owner to do?  Why make your own kit of course!

I could probably devote an entire book to the impossibly long list of all the the things that could be put in a kit – but not only would that be boring, it would also keep you from conducting a bit interesting and helpful research on your own, so instead I’ll present information you should consider when putting together your kit.

What Size is Your Dog?
Important items like bandages, medications and restraints should be selected based on the size of your dog.  The four-inch wide roll of self-adhesive bandaging tape that is perfect for a 100-pound Rottweiler is probably not going to be particularly useful on a 10-pound Papillon.

Where Do You Spend Time With Your Dog?
If your dog spends all his time in highly urbanized areas, you can probably leave that nifty tick removing tool at home, but if he spends time in areas where ticks are common you may want to put it on your keychain.  The importance of other items like insect repellents or pliers to remove cactus spines also varies greatly depending on the environment your dog frequents.

Does Your Dog Have Any Known Health Problems?
If your dog takes prescription medications on a daily basis to control a disease or disorder, you should include them in your kit, especially when you travel.   You should also contact your veterinarian about medications or supplements that would be therapeutic for your dog in a health crisis.  One of my dogs suffers from both Addison’s disease and epilepsy.  Our vet provided me with a list of things that she recommended we keep on hand in case of emergencies and they have proved to be priceless the few times that we needed them.

You should also consider the common, minor health issues likely to affect your dog.  Many relatively minor problems like diarrhea, constipation, hot spots, and ear infections can be treated with over-the-counter medications.  Make sure you have the right dosage and check with your vet (if you haven’t already) to make sure that these treatments don’t interfere with any perscription medications your dog takes.

If you prefer to use natural, herbal, homeopathic or holistic remedies and want to include some in your kit it is a good idea to discuss this with your vet.  Although many veterinarians are skeptical about these kinds of treatments it is important to discuss them with your vet as some may cause adverse reactions with the prescription medications your dog takes.

Never put any unlabeled treatment or medication in your kit.  In the excitement of an emergency it is easy to misidentify an item or to grab the wrong item.  If you must put a treatment or medication in a package other than the one it originally came in (and I don’t recommend that you do this) you must  label it accurately and include dosage information.  Be sure all containers are sealed tightly and don’t store treatments or medications in excessively hot or cold areas for any longer than you have to.

What Information Do You Need?
One item many people forget to put in their pet first aid kit is a list of emergency contact numbers.  These can include numbers to contact you; your vet; local emergency clinics (don’t forget to look up number for the area you’re travelling in); the Animal Poison Control Center; your local animal control authority; and a friend, relative or boarding kennel who can take care of your pet if you can’t.  It is also important to include information on the names and dosages of any prescription medications your dog is taking.  When you travel, keep photos of your pet in the kit in case you need to identify a lost dog or make lost dog posters.  It is also a good idea to carry a copy of your dog’s license, vaccination records and insurance information.

The most important information you can carry is a good working knowledge of pet first aid and CPR.  Studies have shown that approximately 25% of all fatally injured pets could have been saved if they had been treated with just a single first aid technique.  Because many of the methods you should use to treat an injured dog (most notably when performing CPR) are considerably different than the procedures you would use to treat an injured person it is important to learn pet-specific method of treatment.  Taking a class from a certified pet first aid instructor is the best way to get this essential information.

Basic Items

  • Sterile pads, gauze rolls, self stick adhesive tape or other bandaging materials
  • A muzzle that allows your dog to pant (NOT one that holds his mouth closed!) or a strip of cloth to make a muzzle with
  • A multi-tool with a knife blade, pliers, scissors, and tweezers
  • Latex or nitrile gloves and hand sanitizer
  • Plastic baggies (preferably the zip kind), poop bags, trash bags
  • Styptic, alum or cornstarch to control minor bleeding
  • Graduated oral syringe (one with measurements on the side)
  • 3% hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting (NEVER induce vomiting without discussing the situation with your vet or poison control first!)
  • Activated charcoal (NEVER to be used without the recommendation of a vet or poison control staff!)
  • Benadryl for allergic reactions (contact your vet for dosage information)
  • Small, rigid plastic card to scrape off stingers or small thorns
  • Lightweight slip lead
  • Blankets or towels
  • Rectal thermometer and petroleum jelly
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Cleansing wipes
  • Crate
  • Notepad and pencil

Optional Items (A partial list – this could be almost infinitely long)

  • Hot and cold packs
  • EMT Gel for cuts
  • Trimmer or mat breaker to remove hair
  • Otoscope
  • Duct tape
  • Specialized dressings (for burns, odd shaped areas, different sizes)
  • Elizabethan collar or BiteNot collar
  • Magnifying glass to find foxtails, thorns and ticks
  • Eye wash
  • Ear cleaning solution
  • Saline solution for irrigating wounds
  • Nail trimmer
  • Tick removing tool and jar for ticks
  • Disposable camera
  • Sling or stretcher to transport a large dog

You’ll also need something to put the kit in.  This can be either a bag that zips closed or a plastic storage container.  I suggest that you choose something brightly colored and label it clearly to make the kit easy to find when you are in a panic.  You may also want to consider doing what I’ve done – create two or more kits customized for different situations.  I have a very large kit that I keep in a cabinet in my home, a medium-sized kit in a bright purple bag that I carry on trips and a small fanny pack kit for short hikes and day trips.

Things You Don’t Need
Don’t waste valuable space in your kit by carrying an electrolyte drink for your dog unless your vet specifically recommends that you do so.  Dogs don’t sweat to cool themselves off, they pant.  Unlike sweating, panting doesn’t result in a loss of electrolytes.

You probably don’t need a snake bite kit either.  Because of the vital importance of early treatment, your car keys are the most valuable item available to you in a snake bite emergency according to Dr. Joe Trueba, director of Pima Pet Clinic and Animal Emergency Service in Tucson, Arizona.  Dr. Trueba’s clinic sees one of the highest numbers of snakebitten pets in the country.  Along with Dr. Trueba, most veterinarians today recommend against using tourniquets or “cut and suck” methods of treatment.  Take the money you would have used to buy the snake bite kit and use it to get an inexpensive disposable camera to get a photo of the snake instead.  Most snakes are not venomous, but if your dog is bitten by a venomous snake you may need to know EXACTLY what kind of snake it was to get the dog proper treatment.

Specialized splinting materials are another item that you are not likely to need.  Splinting a terrified, injured dog is about as simple (and as dangerous) as hugging an angry, soaking wet cat.  If you suspect your dog has a broken bone you are almost always better off securing the dog in a crate and transporting it to the vet ASAP than in messing around with an injured limb yourself.  If you do find yourself in a situation where you need to splint a limb – and you have the training to do it properly – you can combine things like rolled gauze, duct tape and adhesive wrap from your first aid kit with other items you find in your home or car to get the job done.

In Summary
Take some time, consider carefully, get advice from your vet, be creative and enjoy making your own pet first aid kit.  The lists I’ve provided include general recommendations.  Take a pet first aid and CPR class to learn more – and remember – the life you save may be your dog’s!

January 3, 2008 at 1:32 am 2 comments

Do You Take Pitbulls?

Really Scary

I got a phone call today from a nice woman who had two, young bull-breed dogs she wanted to enroll in my beginning obedience class.  She sounded nervous and hesitant as she asked if I would take them in the class.

 “Well” I responded, “there will have to be two humans there to work with them during class.”  She replied that that wasn’t a problem, her husband would come with her.  Then she went on to say how relieved she was that I would take these dogs in my class.  I asked her a few more questions about the dogs (something I do with every potential client who calls) and none of my ‘trick the dog owner’ questions resulted in answers that worried me.

Are there really dog trainers out there who don’t accept ANY bull-breed dogs in their classes?  Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but I don’t understand how anyone who calls themselves a professional dog trainer can do that.  I expect a professional dog trainer to know enough about dogs to understand that the propaganda put out by narrow-minded proponents of breed-specific legislation is largely over-blown hyperbole.  I also expect that someone who accepts money for their dog-training advice has enough skill to handle difficult dogs in class.

But then, maybe I’m just old-fashioned.

January 1, 2008 at 2:00 am 6 comments

Don’t Shoot Me!

Here in the upper midwest, deer hunting isn’t just a season — its a way of life.  And we don’t have just one deer hunting season to contend with, we have several.  Here in Minnesota, the archery season opener happened back on September 15.  A two-day antlerless deer season started on October 13, the regular gun season opened on November 3, and muzzle loader season opens on November 24.

So, from about October 13 until December 9 (the end of muzzle loader season) the woods and fields surrounding our rural home are crawling with armed men in blaze orange.  According to the Minnesota DNR, about a HALF MILLION  Minnesota hunters will harvest about a quarter million Minnesota deer.  Based on reports available from the MDNR, about four hunters will be ‘harvested’ and another two dozen will be shot and injured.

Don’t get me wrong, I think hunting is a wonderful thing.  When I was younger I hunted deer, grouse and chukars in Idaho.  But the number of armed humans per acre was significantly smaller then.

Although I realize that I am far more likely to be killed in a car-deer accident than by a deer hunter’s fatal blunder – the IDEA of getting shot is a whole lot scarier to me than the idea of hitting a deer with my car.

So, during hunting season the dogs and I either get our exercise at home or at nice, safe urban parks surrounded by highly developed areas.  Having a nice, large, heated dog training business right next door to my house is a big advantage this time of year.

Traning Center

For the next month or so we’ll work on dog tricks, clean up some obedience work, play a little fetch and let our neighbors enjoy hunting season…… without us.

November 8, 2007 at 9:53 pm Leave a comment

Old Dog

Zorro is, all at once, the most wonderful and the most difficult dog I have ever owned.  And I’ve had a lot of dogs.

 Zorro is an 8 year old Leonberger.  He is epileptic, arthritic, has Addison’s disease and polyneuropathy.  That alone makes him a ‘project dog’.  But even before health problems and old age began to take their toll, he was far from easy to live with.  Right from the start Zorro was an enormous, athletic, strong-willed dog who feared absolutely nothing.  He was also incredibly charming and had a strong desire to please……. himself.

Zorro enjoyed competitive obedience – and cheerfully ignored commands at home.  He had a great flair for the dramatic.  The first time we went into the obedience ring together, he executed the entire routine flawlessly – except for consistently remaining 6 feet behind me.  Seven years ago he ran off into the November snow.  Terrified that he’d find the busy road 500 feet through the woods, I took off after him – wearing only underpants, a sweatshirt and pac boots.  My husband followed, with only a pair of slacks on.  We finally cornered him in our neighbor’s garage.  I’m sure they’re STILL laughing about that.

A later hunting trip resulted in him chewing a metal drain pipe off the wall of our house.  In a another creative moment, he dove head first into a carrot cake.  He learned how to open our sliding glass doors, screen doors, cabinet doors and gates.  Life was never dull.

Chippie Hunter

With time, patience, and training Zorro became an incredible dog.  Obedience was an adventure and he was my willing partner.  Utterly fearless and always cheerful, he was a joy to work with.  He taught me more about dogs than anyone I know.  Knowing him changed me and the years of his young adulthood were some of the most wonderful ones of my life.

Now the incredible dog who could clear a five-foot fence sometimes needs help getting into our minivan.  His muzzle is gray, he drags his rear feet – but there’s still a gleam in his eye.  These days I have to be careful about where I take the old fellow.  He still sees himself as young and strong and if I let him, he’d try to race through the forests of our youth.  Leaping over fallen logs, racing down steep hills, scrambling over rock falls – in my mind’s eye (and in his) he’s beautiful and fit, but reality can be cruel and I won’t risk his lovely bones.

We take fewer trips together these days, my old dog and I.  The stress of travelling might trigger a seizure episode and the medications he needs to take to control the many illnesses of his aging body make frequent pee breaks a necessity.  When I take a long hike my husband stays home with the old fellow.  I hate to leave them behind but Mark assures me that Zorro only whines a bit when I leave and is quickly distracted by his Buster cube or a rousing game of tug.

I’m sure that his growing old is a lot harder on me than it is on him.  After all, Zorro is a dog and he has a wonderful ability to take each day as it comes.  Each disappointment is quickly forgotten in the joy of a new moment.  The old dog sleeps peacefully and looks forward to each day as a new adventure.  Its only me that yearns for the days of his youth and dreads the day we’ll have to part.

That old dog still has a lot to teach me.

  Snow Angel

September 29, 2007 at 12:22 am 4 comments


Because A Dog’s Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste

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