Friday, November 13, 2015

Did you know, you can make clothes from your dog's fur

On chilly days it's pleasant to curl up next to a dog. They're like furry hot water bottles! Some have more hair than others, of course, but most dogs have something.

Brushed out hair from dogs and cats can be washed and spun into yarn, that in turn can become sweaters, mittens, and hats. Some people who work with spinning yarn from dog hair even work with clipped hair from breeds like poodles, provided it's long enough.
Image from
Socks made by wool from
an Old English Sheepdog.
The yarn can be used with the color it has, or be colored.

Norwegian website advice not to wash the brushed out hair. They also say it should be stored dry and well ventilated in a paper bag, not plastic.

The website says the hair should be at least 2" long for best results. They handspin the wool on a spinning wheel and the end product is yarn suitable for knitting, crocheting, and weaving. They also point out that the finished product will not smell like dog if it gets wet.

Some spinners offer to work with wool shorter than 2", but in that case it might have to be mixed with another type of wool. 

It's possible to make the yarn on one's own as well, if you're willing to learn how to spin.

Image from

The yarn on this photo comes from a Golden Retriever.

Yarn from a Golden Retriever.
Image from

Yarn from a Border Collie.
Image from

What do you think? Would you wear a sweater with yarn from your dog?

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Thursday, November 12, 2015

The fastest cat breeds

Bengal, one of the world's fastest domesticated cat breeds
When it comes to pets, most people associate dogs with speed and cats with lounging in the sunshine. While this is true for many dogs and cats, some kitties can reach amazing speeds. If this sounds strange, consider big cats hunting in the wild, like jaguars and cheetahs. The cheetah is the world's fastest land animal and can race up to 75 mph for short bursts.

Here are four of the world's fastest domestic cat breeds:

The Egyptian Mau

The Egyptian Mau are fantastic athletes that can run up to 30 miles per hour - faster than any other domesticated cat breed. They can also jump onto high-up places without problems, and some are known to leap off the floor onto their owner's shoulder. 

Abyssinian and Somali

The Abyssinian is an active breed with high levels of energy and extreme smarts. Abyssinians need to be occupied with exercise, puzzles, and training. Many enjoy sports such as agility. The Somali is considered a long-haired version of the Abyssinian and are also fantastic athletes.


Bengals are active cats who want attention, enjoy playing in water, playing fetch, and climbing. They are very fast not as fast as the Egyptian Mau, but very fast. A Bengal owner will need to find ways to keep the cat occupied, or they are likely to find some kind of trouble to entertain themselves.


The Savannah is another exotic and fast cat breed. These cats are created from a cross between a domestic cat and a serval - a type of wild African cat and they will climb and reach places you wouldn't imagine possible. Savannahs are typically curious, smart, and agile.

~ Maria Sadowski ~  

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Dog sports: Canine Freestyle

Canine freestyle is a dog sport mixing obedience training, tricks, and dance. The sport is also called musical freestyle and freestyle dance.

Any move is allowed unless it puts the dog or handler in danger, and the dance routines typically include the dog doing twists and turns, weaving through the human's legs, walking backwards, jumping, and moving in sync with the human.

This sport requires mastery of basic commands, and before putting a routine together, the dog must learn each individual move. The dog must also be able to work on both sides of the human's body, not just the left as in standard obedience training.

This is a sport better seen than described. Here's a video clip from Britain's Got Talent!

Have you tried something like this with your dog? Would you be interested in trying?

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The dog breed matters

Border Collie puppy going for a drive
It might be more evident when talking about dogs, but both dogs and cats come in a variety of breeds.  It isn’t possible to put an exact number on the dog breeds of the world, because many varieties can be recognized by one breed registration group but not by another. 

The World Canine Organization is the largest internationally accepted registry of dog breeds, and they have more than 340 breeds. Dog breeds aren’t scientifical classifications; they’re groupings based on similar characteristics of appearance and behavior.

Some breeds have existed for thousands of years, and others are fairly new. Many scientists believe the first dogs were domesticated around 16,000 years ago, but others claim evidence points as far back as 32,000 years. In the latter theory, modern dogs would be related to an ancient type of wolf that is the ancestor of both dogs and modern wolves.

A dog's breed matters to a certain extent. Many people believe that dog breeds mostly have an impact on the outside of the dog, but through the ages breeds have been created based on wanted behaviors such as hunting and herding.

It is important to pick a dog that fits the family’s lifestyle. If you want a dog with a special look but the breed characterics seem difficult to handle you might want to look for a mixed breed dog.  Dogs are individuals, just like people, but being aware of a breed’s average energy level, exercise needs, or grooming needs can prevent future problems.

Do you have a favorite dog breed? What about it makes it the best?

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Monday, November 9, 2015

Dog breed spotlight: Pyrenean Shepherd

The Berger des Pyrénées – Pyrenean Shepherd – has worked with sheep herding in southern France since medieval times. It is mentioned in medieval manuscripts, and often referred to as the “constant companion” due to its loyalty and tendency to stay by the shepherd’s side through thin and thick. 

Pyrenean Shepherds were traditionally paired with a Great Pyrenees that would protect the herd against wild animals. They are tenacious; two Pyrenean Shepherds are enough to manage a flock of 1,000 sheep.

The breed comes in two varieties: smooth-faced and rough-faced. They are intelligent and energetic, and need a job to do. When herding, a dog easily covers 25 miles every day, and running a herding dog tired is an almost impossible task. Mental stimulation can make them tired, and they are great at agility, flyball, and competitive obedience.

This is not a breed that does well being left alone. They prefer to be by their human’s side at all times, and love to follow a person around the house to help with daily chores. They are very sensitive to a person’s moods and often seem to read minds.

Pyrenean Shepherds are generally healthy dogs, and they require little grooming. An occasional bath and a thorough brushing every few weeks goes a long way towards keeping their good looks. The dogs are often referred to as enthusiastic, affectionate, and active.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Friday, November 6, 2015

Dog breeds that shed little

Portuguese Water Dog, image from
Dogs shed. It's a fact of life, and many dog lovers couldn't care less about dog hair under the sofa or paw prints on the floor. Others need or want to keep their home tidy, and knowing how much a breed sheds beforehand can be of great help. There are a number of dog breeds that shed very little. For instance...

The Bichon Frise requires grooming to keep the coat healthy and free from mats, but they shed so little you'll barely notice. To make things even better, they're hardy and cheerful dogs that love to be active and play. While no breeds are truly hypoallergenic, many people allergic to dogs can do well with a Bichon Frise.

Smooth or wire-haired Dachshunds also shed very little. They have a convenient size and are generally playful and lovable. All dogs should be supervised when interacting with children, but a Dachshund generally does very well with kids.

The Portuguese Water Dog is known for being active, athletic, and loyal. They make great companions for active families that can fulfill their need for exercise. The Portuguese Water Dog has a waterproof coat that can be curly or wavy.

Poodles often battle Border Collies for the top position on lists with intelligent breeds. Poodles are great companions, make wonderful service dogs, and shed next to nothing.

Border Terriers are great little dogs that are affectionate and easy to train. They are active and need regular exercise, and they love to do things with the family.

Standard Schnauzers don't shed regularly, but they need their body coats stripped twice a year. This means that all loose and dead hairs are plucked out. They are social, affectionate, and generally great with children, but can be quite stubborn and might not be an easy breed for a new dog owner.

The Yorkshire Terrier is another light shedder. These dogs adapt easily to new environments, they're energetic, curious, and generally sport large personalities. The Yorkshire Terrier is a large dog in a small package.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Should you get a small dog or a large dog?

To a certain extent a dog is a dog, but there are differences between having a Chihuahua and a Great Dane - not just in food consumption. We humans tend to treat small dogs differently, and we forget to consider the world seen from their perspective. Each breed has its own challenges, and it is important for us humans to learn as much as possible.

Many times, a small dog is perceived harder to house train than a large dog. If a large dog has an accident inside there's a big mess that everyone will notice - and the owners will go to great lengths to prevent it from happening again. A tiny dog can snake off behind the sofa and pee ten times before someone notices it, and once it's discovered, the puppy already has a bad habit.

To house train a small dog, you have to watch it all the time. Use baby gates, exercise pens, and a leash to help you keep track of him or her. Take the dog out every time it has napped, eaten, or played, and give lots of praise when the right thing happens.

Another difference between small and large dogs is that we rarely pick up and carry a large dog. No one would even consider putting a Labrador in their purse, or carry a Newfoundland under their arm. Small dogs sometimes need to be carried, if nothing else to avoid people in a crowd stepping on them.

While the dog might not have an aversion to being carried per se, many small dogs dance out of reach when someone tries to pick them up. It make sense - a hulking shape five feet taller than the dog leaning over it can be scary. It's a good idea to train the dog by always saying "Pick up" when picking the dog up - this little warning can make a big difference.

Many owners with small dogs choose to carry them when meeting new people, and this is generally a bad idea. A dog that's held can't express what they're feeling and can't get away if they don't like the stranger. Let the dog meet strangers on its four paws. That way, your dog doesn't have to bite someone to show they're uncomfortable. They can walk away - or towards - interaction.

Excessive barking is another problem many encounter with small dogs. These tiny boys and girls live in a land of giants where everyone else is five feet taller. It's tempting to yell at a dog who is barking, but many dogs interpret this as getting "help" with the barking, and the more you yell the more they'll bark. Instead, do your best to ignore noisy behaviors, and reward calm and quiet behaviors.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Save money on your heating bill with a PlexiDor pet door!

Fall is here and northern parts of the country are already buckling down, expecting winter. With the cold comes heating bills, something no one likes to spend money on. Did you know that installing a PlexiDor pet door can save money on your energy bill? Every time you open your household door to let your dog in or out, the air inside your home blends with the air outside. 

If you already have another type of pet door, odds are it's not as well insulated as the PlexiDor. The panels on a PlexiDor are molded to form a dual thermo-pane that insulates, and the panels are lined with high density nylon pile weather seal to stop drafts. The doors close tight to keep weather outside. Many customers from extreme climates report minimal loss in heating and cooling after installing a PlexiDor.

The below energy savings figures are typical of PlexiDor owners and based on more than 25 years of worldwide customer testimonials. The actual results can vary based on your home's insulation, roof and window type, age, and size.

The figures are based on an average spring/summer temperature between 80 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit with an indoor temperature cooled to 72 degrees, and an average fall/winter temperature of between 32 and 45 degrees with the indoor temperature heated to 72 degrees.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

November is Senior Cat Month

November is Senior Cat Month, intended to celebrate older cats, their wisdom, and the joy they bring to our lives. How old a cat can become - and when it becomes a senior - is highly individual, but many live to their late teens and even into their twenties.

Generally speaking, a 7-10 year old cat is considered middle-aged. An 11-14 year old cat is considered a senior, and one that is older than 15 years a geriatric. The oldest cat recorded in the Guinness Book of World  Records lived to be 28. We found a good brochure about caring for your older cat here.

Senior cats who end up in shelters are often the last to be adopted - many who come are wooed by kitten cuteness. However, kittens have a lot of energy and they require a lot of work, and if you're not ready to spend all your time training and entertaining a kitten, a senior cat will give you love and company while avoiding many problems.

If you adopt a cat - or any animal - from a shelter/rescue, please be aware that the personality you see in the shelter isn't necessarily who the pet will be in your home. Many are overwhelmed in shelters, get stressed or depressed, and coming home makes a world of difference. Building that trust and settling into the new environment can take some time, so be prepared to give your new best friend a few weeks to see who they will turn out to be.

Do you have a senior cat, or have you thought of adding one to your household? Do you have any tips to share about their care?

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Monday, November 2, 2015

Dog breed spotlight: Pharaoh Hound

The Egyptian Pharaoh Hound was traditionally used as a companion for hunters from Malta. Some scientists say there is no DNA evidence for the breed being related to Egyptian dogs, others claim the breed is related to ancient Egyptian dogs with a lineage back to 3,000 BC. 

Pharaoh Hounds are graceful, powerful, and fast. They make pleasant companions who can be peaceful indoors yet loves to play given an opportunity.

This breed has a unique ability - they blush when excited. The nose and ears get a rosy hue.

Pharaoh Hounds are generally healthy and need little grooming. As their coat is short and thin they need to live indoors with soft bedding and warmth.

~ Maria Sadowski ~