Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year!

Thank you for a wonderful 2013.
Hope to see you here again in 2014! =D

Monday, December 30, 2013

Rare Breed Monday: Blue Lacy

Image from wikipedia.org
The Blue Lacy is the official state dog of Texas, and originated in the state in the mid 19th century. This is a working dog that excels at controlling rambunctious live stock.

The Lacys are allegedly a result of crossing greyhounds, scent hounds, and coyotes. They are known to be extremely intelligent and easy to train, but they do not like noise, and they're prone to become nervous if the environment is too loud. Reprimanding them harshly doesn't work well; they respond better to firm but quiet commands.

A Blue Lacy is quick, strong, agile, active, and alert. They were originally created to work feral hogs, but soon developed into a multitalented working breed for ranchers, cowboys, hunters, and trappers. They are bold and brave, and will protect their families and property.

Just like all working breeds they need activity and mental stimulation; if they get bored they might invent something to do, and these tasks are rarely jobs humans appreciate. They're well suited for agility, fly ball, and other active tasks.

This breed is hardy and requires little maintenance. The average life span is around 16 years. There are 16-year old Lacys still working cattle and hunting!

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Whatever you celebrate this holiday, 
I hope you have a wonderful time. 
Take care and be safe.


~ Maria Sadowski ~

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Have a wonderful holiday!

We here at PlexiDor Pet Doors are closing for the holidays. 
The answering service at 1-800-749-9609 will remain available, 
and the office with customer service will be open again on December 26th. Until then, have a wonderful holiday!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Most popular kitty names of 2013

Vetstreet.com recently released their list of the year's most popular names for kittens. The list is made from a database of 425,000 kittens born during the year.

The most popular name for a girl kittie is Bella, holding the top for the seventh year in a row. The most popular name for boy cats is Oliver, who poked Max down to second place after five years at the top. Names on the move are Luna, Mittens, and Pepper.

Image from vetstreet.com

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

How many dog breeds are there?

It's not possible to put an exact number on the dog breeds of the world, because many varieties might be recognized by one breed registration group but not by another. The World Canine Organization (Fédération Cynologique Internationale) is the largest registry of dog breeds that's internationally accepted, and they have 343 breeds at the moment. 

These 343 breeds are divided into ten groups based on the dog's purpose, function, appearance, or size. Currently, the ten groups are:

  1. Sheepdogs and Cattle Dogs other than Sweiss Cattle Dogs
  2. Pinscher and Schnauzer - Molossoid Breeds - Swiss Mountain and Cattle Dogs
  3. Terriers
  4. Dachshunds
  5. Spitz and Primitive Types
  6. Scenthounds and Related Breeds
  7. Pointing Dogs
  8. Retrievers - Flushing Dogs - Water Dgos
  9. Companion and Toy Dogs
  10. Sighthounds
Each group is in turn divided into subgroups of dog breeds, and each has been assigned a country or region of origin. This isn't necessarily the country where the dog breed first appeared; it's often the first nation to have recognized and registered the breed.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Monday, December 16, 2013

Rare Breed Monday: Kai Ken

Image from akc.org
The Kai Ken is a Japanese breed, rare even in its own country. According to the AKC, they developed as a wild breed in the mountains in the province of Kai, on the island of Honshu. The dogs were isolated by mountains and water, and are believed to be the purest of all Japanese breeds. The Kai Ken was designated a "Natural Treasure" in Japan in 1934, and is protected by law. 

The Kai is a natural hunter. They're intelligent and quick learners, and considered trustworthy and devoted guardians. However, their strong prey drive gives them a tendency to take off in search of game. They're excellent swimmers and climbers, and have even been known to climb trees to get to whatever they're chasing.

Kai Ken is a healthy, athletic, and sturdy breed. Their average life span is anywhere from twelve to over fifteen years. Many Kais are reserved with strangers, but they are also loyal to their families and love children.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Friday, December 13, 2013

Pets do not make good surprise Christmas presents

Pets do not make good surprise gifts. All pets require care and attention. Getting a pet for Christmas can be a great idea if everyone agrees with the plan, but astounding numbers of cats, dogs, ferrets, guinea pigs, and other pets are dumped right after the holidays. 

Adorable, but should not come as a surprise.
I personally feel that a home is richer with a pet. There are many health benefits to having pets, and they can be a great way to teach children about respect and responsibility. Every pet deserves a good home where he or she is loved and receives proper care.

Some things to think about before getting a pet:
  • Different animals have different physical needs. Research the type of pet you're considering, and make sure you can meet them. Do you have the space? Enough money to get whatever equipment you need?
  • Are you prepared for a lifetime commitment? A guinea pig can live for five years. A dog can live for fifteen. Some parrots can live for more than 100 years. Can you deal with someone being dependent on you every day for that long?
  • Discuss the pet's schedule with the family. All pets require attention, care, and training. If you're getting a dog, he or she will need walks every day, whether it rains or not. Puppies need to go out right now, and not when it's convenient.
  • Make a budget for vet costs, food, treats, kitty litter, straw, and whatever else the pet might need.
  • Make a plan for emergencies. You need to have some funds set aside in case something happens and your pet needs sudden care.
  • A child should not be sole caretaker of a pet.

This list doesn't cover everything, but it's a good starting point for the family discussion.

~ Maria Sadowski ~ 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Why do cats ignore us?

Japanese scientists at the University of Tokyo have made a new study on cats and their interactions with humans. The result comes as no surprise to cat owners: cats hear us fine. They just don't care.

The study tested twenty house cats in their own homes and analyzed the cats' responses to calls from their owners - and strangers - through measuring ear, tail, and head movements, eye dilation, paw movement, and more. The cats did show a greater response to their owner's voice than to strangers, but couldn't be bothered with moving regardless of who called for them.

Every cat owner knows cats are independent. The interesting question is why. The study suggests the behavior might stem back to the early domestication of the species, which contrasts with the relationship between humans and dogs.

The website independent.co.uk writes, "Recent genetic analysis has revealed that the common ancestor of the modern housecat was Felis silvestris, a species of wildcat that first came into contact with humans around 9,000 years ago. As early societies developed agriculture, these cats moved in to prey on the rodents that were attracted to stores of grain. They effectively 'domesticated themselves'."

Dogs, on the other hand, were domesticated to work with humans and taught to respond to orders and commands. The cats never needed to learn.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Cato the Husky goes on a crime spree

image from foxcarolina.com
You know that list Santa-paws keeps of who has been naughty and who has been nice? Cato is a husky from South Carolina who just made the naughty list. 

Fox News reports that Cato got off his leash and took off. Shortly after his escape, he robbed the local Dollar General store. The sneaky pup entered with some customers, helped himself to pig ears, beef bones, and treats, and buried his loot not far from the crime scene.

As punishment, he got to spend some time incarcerated at the pound, but has since then been released.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Donte's Den - constructing a doggie-haven in Florida

Donte's Den is a non-profit 501(c)3 project in Manatee county in Florida, aiming to rescue homeless dogs as well as provide care and housing for those whose humans have died, or are incapacitated. The vision is to be able to care for up to 100 dogs, in style.

Image from the Bradenton Herald

The dogs will be able to spend hot afternoons swimming in a 15,000 gallon pool. They will have private porches connected to clean and air-conditioned rooms equipped with toys and televisions. They will be coddled by volunteers, have access to veterinary care, and plenty of treats.

The main focus is on dogs whose owners are in care facilities or die as well as military personnel deployed abroad. They will also have a place for dogs abandoned and made homeless, and for these dogs, Donte's Den will actively search for adopters.

Construction starts in January, and is estimated to finish in October 2014.

To learn more about the project, visit their website through clicking here and read this article in the Bradenton Herald!

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Monday, December 9, 2013

Rare Breed Monday: Egyptian Pharaoh Hound

Image from akc.org
The Egyptian Pharaoh Hound was traditionally used as a companion for hunters from Malta. 

How the dogs ended up on Malta is a matter of debate. Some scientists say there is no DNA evidence for the breed being related to Egyptian dogs, others claim that the breed is related to domesticated Egyptian dogs with a lineage that can be traced to 3,000 BC.

Regardless of the breed's history, they are graceful, powerful, and fast. They make a pleasant companion dog who can be peaceful in the house and still loves to play outdoors. They need to live indoors with soft bedding and warmth.

The Pharaoh Hounds have a reputation for being naturally well-behaved and intelligent, but they like to chase things and should not be let off the leash. Even in a fenced yard, owners should be aware that the breed are excellent jumpers and can find a way out if it senses something interesting. They love children, but can be reserved around strangers.

A unique trait of the breed is its ability to blush when it's excited, giving the nose and ears a rosy hue.

The Pharaoh Hound needs little grooming, and the breed has an average life expectancy of 11-14 years.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Waiting for Santa Paws

It is December already, counting down to the Christmas holiday. Looking at the calendar on the wall gives me a twinge of panic. It's the first week of December, but the month seems almost over. It's almost 2014, and Christmas will be here before we know it. I imagine that my doggies wait for Santa Paws. They all get stockings and presents, and thrive on the extra attention. 

I go to a local dog bakery for some special treats. The doggies open their own presents, and for me it wouldn't be Christmas without them.

Do you include yours in the celebrations? Do you have holiday routines or traditions with the dogs? Something they have to have?

I sure wish my dogs could help like the guys in this video. (Sorry I couldn't find a version without commercial in the beginning.) Too cute! =)

~ Maria Sadowski

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Dog of the month: Alaskan Malamute

The Alaskan Malamute is the largest and the oldest of the Arctic sled dogs. They have a quiet and dignified temperament, and are known for their loyalty to their owners. They were originally bred to carry large loads over long distances, but today, many are family pets.

This breed is athletic and enjoy sledding, weight-pulling, back-packing, jogging, and swimming. The Alaskan Malamute is a brown eyed, heavy dog, bred for power and endurance. They're known for being affectionate and friendly. They're intelligent and learns quickly, but can also be quite stubborn.

Average height is 23-25 inches, and average weight 75-85 lbs. They have a double coat, and the undercoat can be up to two inches long, protecting from harsh weather.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Rare Breed Monday: Löwchen

Image from akc.org
Löwchen is a German word meaning little lion, and this comes from the breed's traditional hair cut. The breed is mentioned in words and pictures as far back as the mid 15th century, and some 400 years ago, ladies at Pre-Renaissance courts would groom the dogs to resemble a lion. 

The haircut is believed to have originated to prevent matting and infestation. It also allowed the dogs' exposed skin to warm ladies in cold and drafty buildings.

In 1973, there were only 65 registered individuals. Since then the population has increased, but there's generally only a couple hundred new registrations each year worldwide.

These dogs are small, intelligent, and lively. They're known for being affectionate, curious, and willing to please. While they love having access to a yard for daytime play, they're not meant to be outside dogs, and they need to live with the family.

The coat requires a fair amount of brushing and combing. Clipping normally takes place once or twice a month, to preserve the lion trim. Their average lifespan is 13 to 15 years and they are normally 12-14 inches tall at the shoulder. 

~ Maria Sadowski ~ 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Stay safe for Thanksgiving!

Stay safe for Thanksgiving, and ensure that your pet is safe as well. That big Thanksgiving dinner that makes humans sleepy is not good for dogs and cats, but hat doesn't mean they can't get treats. It's okay to share a small piece of turkey or some unsalted, unbuttered vegetables. Stay away from - and ask your guests not to feed the pets - turkey skin, gravy, turkey bones, and chocolate.

According to Petplan who insures over 100,000 dogs and cats, the Thanksgiving weekend gives a 91% increase in pet gastroenteritis, 82% increase in poisonings, and 28% increase in pancreatitis. Luckily, these disasters are easy to avoid.

Most doggies will love a pumpkin smoothie. It's easy to make and a delightful and healthy treat. Mix up equal parts canned pumpkin puree and plain nonfat yogurt. Can be served as liquid, or frozen.

If you want to do something more elaborate, I borrowed this recipe for doggie turkey meatballs from Petplan:

6 ounces lean ground turkey
1/2 cup chopped carrots
1/2 cup quinoa or oatmeal
Pinch of kelp powder

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place turkey and carrots in a food processor and blend until smooth. Add remaining ingredients and blend until smooth. Roll into 1-inch balls and place on a nonstick cooking sheet.

Bake 15 minutes.

Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday for meeting family and friends. Stay safe, whether you're traveling or at home. 

Image from petfinder.com
~ Maria Sadowski ~

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Wearing your dog?

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, and at times when I brush my dogs I think, "It would be cool to use all this fluff for something." It's possible. 

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 hundegarn.com.
Socks made by wool from
an Old English Sheepdog.
The yarn can be used with the color it has, or be colored.

Before I tell you more, I want to point out that we are in no way affiliated with the websites mentioned below. I don't know anything about their products or services, but I want to mention my sources and give credit for photos and creativity.  

I read a Norwegian website called hundegarn.com, and they advice not to wash the brushed out hair. They say it should be stored dry and well ventilated in a paper bag, not plastic.

The website customdoghairspinning.com says the hair should be at least 2" long. 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. I have never attempted spinning and wouldn't know where to start, but Wikihow has an article on the subject.

Image from customdoghairspinning.com

The yarn on this photo comes from a Golden Retriever.

Yarn from a Golden Retriever.
Image from hundegarn.com

Yarn from a Border Collie.
Image from hundegarn.com

I haven't knitted for over a decade, but the idea of making something from my fur kids is appealing. I know how to knit, I just don't usually do it. Might be time to start saving all the stuff I brush out.

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

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Monday, November 25, 2013

Rare Breed Monday: Czechoslovakian Vlcak

Image from Wikipedia
The Czechoslovakian Vlcak, or Wolfdog, is a fairly young breed. In 1955, German Shepherds were crossed with Carpathian Wolves. The plan was to combine usable qualities of the wolf, for example strength, physical build, and stamina, with the temperament and trainability of the dog.

The experiment was successful and created dogs that are loyal, lively, active, and courageous. They are intelligent and can work well both independently and in a pack.

Originally, the breed was used for border patrol. The Vlcak also excels in search and rescue, tracking, obedience, agility, and herding.

These dogs form an exceptionally strong relationship with their family, and live well together with other domestic animals that belong to the family. Some of the wolf's passion for hunting remains, and they must be well socialized as puppies in order to do well with strange animals. They are an excellent choice for active owners who spend outdoors time with their dog.

When it comes to training, they learn easily but also get bored easily, and they need to be motivated. Repeating the same exercise over and over will likely lead to failure.

At the end of 2012 there were 91 Czechoslovakian Vlcaks in the US. The breed is recognized by the UKC and they are able to compete in AKC companion events.

Females should weigh at least 44 lbs, and males at least 57 lbs. The average life span is somewhere between 13 and 16 years.

Fun fact about the Vlcak: they rarely bark.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Guest blog by Bonnie: being a working dog

I'm on quality control duty. Mom failed: these sliding
tracks are silver and the door is white. And people
think dogs are color blind... Good thing she has me!
Bonnie here, doing a day of work at PlexiDor pet doors! I prefer to be called "Princess Bonnie," but I understand that not all people want to use my full title. 

My mom asked me to come to work with her today, and to write a blog post. Silly human, doesn't she know how hard it is to type when you have paws? She doesn't listen to that. She says, "You're part Border Collie. That's a working breed. Go to work." To be honest, I would just nap all day if I wasn't here, so it's okay. (Dad has tattled on me. He told mom I sleep on her pillows all day when she's not there, so she decided I need more activity.)

I have important tasks to do here. They clearly can't get by without me. Look at the door on the picture. Someone put silver sliding tracks on a white door, how silly!

Anyway, I love people, so I greet anyone coming close to mom's office with happy tail and wiggly butt. She says I'm too big to jump on people, but when she doesn't look I jump anyway. Mom worries that I'll tip someone over. Who is she kidding? All these people are much taller than I.

Mom has no sense of order.
I must help her sort these files.
Since I'm part Border Collie I have a great sense of keeping things in order. I help mom sort her files. If she had it her way payroll papers would be in a folder marked Narnia. You wouldn't believe the weird stuff she does.

Another important task is keeping the trucks away. Both UPS and FedEx come with big trucks, and they remove stuff from the buildings!

They're clearly fire-breathing monsters that must be kept in check, so they don't drive away with all the doors. And even worse, with all the treats!

Mom tries to make sure I don't see the trucks, but if I do, I bark all I can to scare them away. That's the only time she doesn't tell me I'm a good girl, but it doesn't matter. I still know I'm a good girl.

See my pretty pink harness? Mom says I'm an expert at wiggling out of my collar, so she makes me wear this when we're in public. Pfft!

Open them up already! You know I
don't have thumbs.
My favorite products are the Deidre's K9 stuff. The chews are good! Mom won't let me go to the factory, but I know it's close. Sometimes she makes me try shampoo. I like trying chews much better!

Product testing is an important part of my job. I especially like it when it's about treats.

Mom tried to make me go through a doggie door in the office. I know how to use a door, but doing it like this is just silly. It's much easier to go to the side, and I know I'll still get the treat!

Downtime is important too. When mom goes to the coffee maker, I relax with my chewie. Soon I'll take mom for a walk. She sits too much, and going for a lunch-stroll will do her good.

Woofs and wags!
~ Bonnie ~

Downtime is important. Chillin' with the bone.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Can I put a dog door through the wall?

PlexiDor with aluminum wall tunnel.
In some cases it might not be feasible to place the pet door in a regular door. While making a hole in a wall might be intimidating, it is both possible and common to put a PlexiDor through a wall.

The PlexiDor wall kit can be used for stud, brick, block, or cement walls. The wall kit comes with an aluminum tunnel that connects the interior and exterior frames.

The bottom tunnel section is sloped to prevent water from entering.

The tunnel won't rust, it has no sharp edges, and it is easy to keep clean.

Remember, the part with the lock and such goes on the inside of the house. (It's easy to look at it and assume it's the outside.)

See those extra holes in the frame below? They're for the steel security plate - either for fastening the plate directly into the frame, or for attaching the sliding track system that allows the security plate to glide smoothly into position.

The PlexiDor as it will look on the
inside of a door or a wall.

There are wall kits available for all size PlexiDors, from the smallest to the electronic. The doors presented on this page all have the silver frame, but they are also available in a durable, baked-on white or bronze finish.

Wall mounted PlexiDor seen from
the outside of the house.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Where did the dogs come from?

Alaskan Malamute
Dogs have walked side by side with humans for a long time. There is a 12,000 year old burial site in Israel that contains the body of a woman and her puppy. 

Some scientists think the association between dogs/wolves and people might go back as far as 100,000 years. That statement is so bold I have to give a reference: it comes from "Multiple and ancient origins of the domestic dogs" by C Vila. I don't know if the theory is feasible or not, but it's certainly interesting.

Another intriguing question is: where did the dogs come from?

The oldest known doglike fossil comes from Europe. DNA studies have implicated that dogs would come from east Asia and the Middle East, but new DNA studies point towards Europe. This latest research indicates that dogs might have indeed have originated in Europe, and this would have happened some 32,000 years ago.

The study gathered DNA from fossils of 18 ancient wolflike and doglike creatures that lived up to 36,000 years ago in Argentina, Belgium, Germany, Russia, Switzerland, and the United States. They compared this genetic material with samples from wolves from North America, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East along with 77 different dog breeds and four coyotes.

The DNA of modern dogs showed similarities to the DNA from ancient European specimens as well as modern day European wolves.

This doesn't mean that Europe is the only place where dogs developed. The continent played a major part in the domestication process of dogs as we know them today, but a parallel development might have taken place in other parts of the world.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Monday, November 18, 2013

Rare Breed Monday: Cirneco dell'Etna

Image from akc.org
The Cirneco dell'Etna is a Sicilian breed that has been present in Italy for over 2,500 years. Its image has been found on coins dating back to the Greek colonization of Sicily, around 500 BC.

This is a hunter of small mammals and fowl, and bred to work under adverse conditions. The word Etna in the breed name refers to the volcano Etna - the largest active volcano in Europe. These dogs work on rugged terrain formed by volcanic lava, withstanding heat for hours with no food or water.

Traditionally, the Circneco would be used to hunt together with a ferret. The dog would find rabbits, and the ferrets would flush the rabbits out. They have an extremely good sense of smell.

According to legend, the slopes of Mount Etna held a temple devoted to Adranos, a fire deity worshipped by the people of Sicily. He was believed to live under the mountain, and one thousand Cirnecos guarded his temple. The dogs had a divine ability to recognize thieves and disbelievers.

Since the breed stems from an island the dogs have developed with little manipulation from man, and they are extremely hardy. They usually weigh between 18 and 27 pounds, and their expected life span is 12-14 years.

The Cirneco dell'Etna is strong and independent, but friendly and affectionate with people. They require exercise and mental stimulation; like all intelligent dogs they grow bored easily. They are also excellent jumpers and diggers, and can find a way out of most yards.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Friday, November 15, 2013

Oldest cat fossil found in Tibet

Scientists have found an ancient ancestor to the
Snow Leopard. Image from ibtimes.com.
Big cats have roamed the Earth for significantly longer than we once thought. Up until now, the oldest big cat fossil was recovered in Tanzania and dated to approximately 3.7 million years ago. The new find is from Tibet, and about 4.4 million years old.

4.4 million years is a relatively short period of time for the planet, but mind boggling to imagine. At that point in time Mammoths roamed the Earth.

The fossil appears to be closely related to the snow leopard, and it's believed to have evolved in Asia and spread over the world from there.

The snow leopard is one of the world's most endangered animals, and there is only around 4,500 left in the world.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The world's smallest dog

Image from guinnessworldrecords.com
The world's smallest dog according to Guinness World Records is a 2-year old Chihuahua from Puerto Rico. Milly stands 3.8 inches tall when measured from backbone to paw, and weighs around 1 pound. She is shorter than a soup can.

When she was born, Milly weighed less than an ounce and fit in a teaspoon. She was too small to nurse from her mother, and the family gave her milk every two hours through an eyedropper. Today, she eats twice a day, and prefers salmon and chicken.

The smallest dog in terms of length is also a Chihuahua. Brandy lives in Florida, weighs two pounds, and measures 6 inches from her nose to the tip of the tail.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Stay safe in the dark.

Princess Bonnie modeling
the PupLight.
Dogs see much better in darkness than we do. I have stumbled around on many dog walks, relying on my dog's eyes, because she can see even if I can't. In retrospect that wasn't smart. 

As a pedestrian it's easy to rely on people in cars being able to spot you. Truthfully, when driving, it's difficult to see people - and dogs - walking along the road. I know this when I'm in a car, and forget it the second I'm on foot.

In February this year, I wrote about the PupLight - a flashlight constructed for dogs. Princess Bonnie and I have used this every evening since, and it's a robust and reliable product. I've had to change batteries a couple of times, but that's it.

The light hangs down a bit from an adjustable collar, so it's easily seen. It can also be put on the dog's regular collar.

I like it because it's easy for me and others to see where she is. If it's dark outside I like to put it on even if we just mosey around in the yard. I can't see the black dog in all the darkness, but I can sure see the little light bouncing around.

I've gotten so used to the PupLight I don't really think about it anymore. It's become a part of our evening routine; Bonnie goes to the door and sits down, waiting for me to put on her reflective harness. After the harness, the PupLight comes on, and off we go.

The other day, a car pulled over next to us. The driver rolled down the window and said, "That's a really cool flashlight for your dog. It's so dark here, and I can actually see you." Mission accomplished!

Good investments for staying safe in the dark: doggie flashlight, reflective harness or leash, and a flashlight for yourself.

Have you tried this product, or a light-up harness, leash, or collar? I'd love to hear your comments and thoughts!

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Canine Good Citizen Degree

Image from akc.org
Since 1989, the AKC offers a Canine Good Citizen test, and over 600,000 dogs have passed it. The idea is to offer a fun and satisfying way for dogs and owners to work together towards the goal of a well-trained and well-socialized dog.

The CGC is now an official title. Dogs who successfully completed the 10-step test can have the title "CGC" affixed to their name. 

To make things even better, there's now an advanced degree as well: AKC Community Canine, or CGCA. In order to earn this title, the dog must have a CGC award or title, and have an AKC number. (All dogs can get an AKC number, it doesn't matter if it's a purebred or mixed.)

Both tests focus on a dog's social skills. Evaluators stage a series of ten common situations a dog and owner might encounter, and to pass, the dog must react in a calm and well-mannered way. For the CGC, the tests are simulations of real world skills, but the CGCA performs the test in a natural setting. 

To pass the test, the dog must:
  1. Stand, sit, or lie down and wait while the owner is busy doing something else.
  2. Walk on a loose leash in a real-life situation.
  3. Walk on a loose leash, without pulling, through a crowd.
  4. Walk, without pulling, past distraction dogs.
  5. Sit and stay in a group of three other dogs and owners.
  6. Allow an approach and petting from a person carrying a backpack or other object.
  7. "Leave it" - be able to ignore food on command.
  8. Down or sit-stay from a distance.
  9. Recall in an environment with distractions.
  10. Sit or stand-stay while owner enters/exists a doorway or a narrow passage.
To read more about these degrees, visit akc.org!

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Monday, November 11, 2013

Rare Breed Monday: Kooikerhondje

Image from akc.org, by Ine Dekker.
The Kooikerhondje is a Dutch breed, also known as Dutch Decoy Dog. They stem back to the 1500s, and were traditionally used to drive ducks into a trap where the hunter could easily get them. The hunter was called a Kooiker, the dogs were called the Kooiker's hondjes - Kookier's dogs - and this became the name of the breed.

These dogs are good family dogs, known for being cheerful, friendly, well-behaved, and eager to please their owner. They adapt quickly, changing behavior from quiet to lively as the situation calls for it. They're normally not shy, but they can be selective about who they like and don't like.

Since they are a hunting breed, they love outdoor life and need exercise to stay healthy and happy. They need a daily long walk or jog. Even though they can be happy in an apartment, they prefer a fenced in back-yard. Just like all working dogs, the Kooikerhondje gets bored easily, and they require stimulation. It's much better to give them a task than allow them to make up some form of "work" of their own.

They usually reach a height of 14-16 inches, and can weigh up to 40 lbs. The average life span is 12-14 years.

Today, they're often used as service dogs, and for search and rescue. They also excel at agility and obedience. Kooikers are believed to be ancestors to the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Friday, November 8, 2013

What size PlexiDor should I get?

I post about pet door sizes from time to time, because this is one of the most common questions that come my way. People will look at the pet door and say, "That's so small. No way my dog/cat can get through."

The PlexiDor shouldn't be mounted
flush with the floor.
The door does not need to be as tall as the pet. It has to be wide enough to let the pet through, of course, but it doesn't have to be as tall as the pet. 

Check out the image to the right of a Collie standing in a door. The door isn't flush with the floor. It could be, but you want a small hole to help keep weather outside.

Theoretically, a dog door could be as tall as the dog. Imagine a Great Dane. That would be a large hole in the door or wall! A door that size would also become heavy for the pet to open.

Generally, the pets duck their heads a little while going through the door, and they lift their feet to step over the threshold. Thus, if you measure your pet and think, "Oh no, there's no door tall enough for my dog" it will probably still work.

If you have larger and smaller pets together, the panels on the PlexiDor swing so easily smaller dogs and cats can usually open even large doors without problems.

To make sizing easier, we have put together a convenient sizing chart, see below. Some breeds have great variations in size, of course, so see the breed examples as general guidelines.

Visit the Plexidor website for more information on the different doors and sizes. The website also holds a convenient dealer locator

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Human dog?

I think it's safe to say everyone at PlexiDor pet doors and everyone who visits this blog love dogs. I often wonder what dogs think and feel, and what their world is like.

Boomer has taken this one step further. His human name is Gary Matthews, but according to ABC news, he prefers his dog name. He has made a dog suit from shredded paper, and allegedly wanders around Pittsburgh streets barking at cars and digging holes in the back yard. He also enjoys going to local festivals, because kids like the costume.

Some days he stays in a dog house, wears a dog collar, eats canned dog food from a bowl, and munches on milk bones and dog cookies. Just like most dogs, he also likes pizza.

Wanting to be a dog isn't new to Boomer; when he was a kid he'd bark or get into a big box and peek out with his paws over the side, like a dog would.

When I started to read the articles about Boomer I had a mindset of, "That's nuts." I read more, and suddenly it didn't seem all that crazy. I mean, I bark with my dog friends on Twitter. I impersonate my dogs on their Facebook accounts. I hold conversations with them all the time, imagining that they answer back not just in body language, but with words.

What do you think? Would it be fun to try to be a dog?

If you want to read more about Boomer, check out these articles at national geographic and ABC news.

Image from national geographic.com
~ Maria Sadowski ~

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Do big cats like catnip?

House cats are hunters, definitely related to their larger relatives. Just how similar are they? Do big cats like catnip? To get the answer, check out this video made by a big cat sanctuary. 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

A pet door can be secure.

This weekend I ended up in the midst of a fascinating online discussion. There seems to be a misconception about pet doors and security; several people said if they installed a pet door they would have no way to lock, and there would be a permanent opening for bad people to get through.

A pet door is an opening in your house. That doesn't necessarily mean it's an invitation to robbers and bad people.
The security plate attaches
to the dog door's inner frame

For starters, a PlexiDor comes with lock and key.

If the door is locked, it's extremely difficult to get through it. Honestly, it's easier to break a window.

All models except for the small PlexiDor - which is too small for a person to get through - are delivered with a steel security plate.

The security plate attaches to the inner frame. It's either screwed to the frame, or attached through a sliding track system with flip lock feature. Getting through it would require extensive time and tools.

What about the electronic door?

The point of having an electronic pet door is that it won't open for pets without a key. If the pet door is closed, you can hit it with a baseball bat and the panel will not break: the object striking it will bounce off, and odds are the person hitting it will hurt themselves.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Monday, November 4, 2013

Rare Breed Monday: Tornjak

Image from dogbreedinfo.com
The Tornjak is a very old breed stemming from the area around Boznia, Herzegovina, and Croatia. The breed is first mentioned in an old manuscript from the year 1067. Tornjaks were nearly extinct in the 1970s, and a group of enthusiasts set out to save the breed. 

These dogs are large and powerful, and generally calm and peaceful. They like order and harmony. If the occasion calls for it, they turn into vigilant and alert watchdogs. They are considered one of the best breeds to protect livestock, especially in areas with wolves and other predators.

Image from akc.org
Like most working dogs, the Tornjak is intelligent and independent. They tend to estimate a situation and make decisions of their own. They learn commands easily, but often don't see the point in obeying them.

They don't require large amounts of exercise, but they love playing outdoors with other dogs.

They need space, and are happiest in a large yard. The males weigh between 77 and 110 pounds, and females between 61 and 88 pounds.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Dog of the month: Canadian Eskimo Dog

The Canadian Eskimo Dog is one of North America's oldest indigenous purebred dogs with roots dating back over 4,000 years. It is bred less for speed than for hard work, and these dogs are loyal, tough, brave, intelligent, and alert.

This is a working dog known for developing a deep bond with its owner, but they can also be challenging. They have a lot of energy and need a job to do. Canadian Eskimos have an extremely thick coat and love cold weather.

These dogs love sledding and backpacking activities, but make poor watchdogs and guard dogs. They are hardy with an average lifespan of 12-15 years.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

New numbers on pet ownership

Every year, the APPA - American Pet Products Association - do a survey on American pet owners. The trend for the past 40 years has been an increase in pet ownership, and the trend still holds true. 

From 1970 to 2010, the number of dogs and cats in US homes increased from 67 million to an estimated 164 million. For 2013 the number is even larger. There are 83.3 million owned dogs, and 95.6 million owned cats. That makes almost 179 million!

Here are some more interesting numbers. There are:

  • 83.3 million owned dogs
  • 95.6 million owned cats
  • 47% of US households have at least one dog
  • 46% of US households have at least one cat
  • 20% of dogs were adopted from shelters
  • 26% of cats were adopted from shelters
  • The proportion of male to female dogs is even
  • The proportion of male to female cats is skewed towards female

When it comes to shelters, the Humane Society has estimated numbers for 2013. 

During the worst period, almost 20 million dogs and cats were euthanized in shelters during one year. That number is down to around four million. (This is of course four million too many, but a clear improvement.)

There are:
  • Approximately 3,500 animal shelters in the US
  • 6-8 million cats and dogs enter shelters each year
  • 25% of dogs in shelters are pure bred
  • 3-4 million of dogs and cats are adopted from shelters each year
  • 30% of shelter dogs are reclaimed by their owners
  • Only 2-5% of shelter cats are reclaimed by their owners
~ Maria Sadowski ~ 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Dogvacay donating meal for shelters

To be perfectly honest, I hadn't heard about the website dogvacay.com until about five minutes ago. It seems like a neat idea though; they connect people in need of boarding with in-home pet sitters.

During October, they have a shelter-campaign. For every person signing up through this link, they donate a meal to a shelter dog.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Keep pets safe for Halloween

Halloween is trick or treat time. I bet most dogs would think it's trick-and-treat - they do tricks for us all the time, and get treats. Halloween is different, and there are some easy things to think of to keep pets safe.

Pets should not eat human candy

Chocolate is toxic to dogs, and can in a worst case scenario lead to death. Xylitol is also toxic to dogs (often found in sugar-free candies and chewing gum). Not even natural treats are safe; dogs should not eat raisins. Make sure children don't get the idea to share candy with the pets.

Some dogs are known for chewing down tin foil and cellophane, so make sure all candy wrappers are disposed of at once.

Keep your pets inside or at least under supervision at all times

There are several reasons for this. Many pets are scared by strangers showing up in unusual costumes, screaming for candy. Some pets get anxious and defensive, others might run away. On that note, makes sure your dog has an ID tag on the collar, just in case.

Pets left outdoors can encounter tricksters. It's hard to believe for a pet lover, but according to PetMD some people think it's fun to tease, injure, steal, and even kill pets as Halloween pranks. This is especially bad for black cats, and in order to keep them safe, they should stay inside the entire week. (Many shelters won't even adopt out black cats during October.)

Even if visitors mean well, they might give a pet candy. Avoid a trip to the emergency room, and keep them in a safe place or well supervised.

Plan your doggie-walk

On Halloween, it might be wise to re-schedule the dog walk. Go for a walk before witches, fairies, Iron Man, and pirates appear. If you take another walk late in the evening, keep an eye on the ground so your dog doesn't eat dropped candy or wrappers.

Other good ideas for the evening walk is to carry a flashlight and use a reflective leash/harness. There are dog flashlights, and collars/leashes that light up as well. When lots of people are out and about, make sure they see your dog, for everyone's safety.

Use common sense

If a pumpkin is lit up by a candle, place it out of reach for pets. If a pumpkin is lit up by a glow stick, make sure the dog doesn't eat it. (Sounds far-fetched, but some dogs are veritable vacuum cleaners.) If you want your pet to use a costume, try it on a couple of days before Halloween and make sure it's comfortable. Some pets love wearing costumes and the extra attention that comes with it, others not so much.

~ Maria Sadowski~

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Cats and dogs

Cuddle like cats and dogs
The English language is filled with idioms related to pets. Like... "Fight like cats and dogs." We clearly assume cats and dogs won't like each other to the point where we think people unable to agree resemble them. 

Many cats and dogs get along just fine. I will even claim that they love each other. 

If you're thinking of introducing a new species to the household, PetFinder has a good article with tips on how to make introductions smooth.

On the same note, a couple of weeks ago, Fox News reported a heart-warming story where a rescued pit bull saved his best friend; the rescued cat.

Two coyotes had gotten hold of the cat. One held her head, and the other the tail. The article reports that the dog fought them off, and kitty could be rushed to the vet. He's still guarding, ready to deal with the coyotes if they return and threaten his best friend again.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Monday, October 28, 2013

Rare Breed Monday: Hovawart

Image from akc.org
The Hovawart is a very old working dog breed from Germany. The name stems from an old form of German, and translated to today's language it would mean "Watcher of the farm." The Hovawart was first described in text and paintings in medieval times.

These dogs are outstanding watch dogs. They make great and devoted family dogs, but tend to be reserved towards strangers. As all working dogs, they require training and meaningful activity.

A Hovawart works with people and not for people. They do very well with search and rescue, tracking, and other types of work - as long as they're motivated. They possess the ability to think and act independently, and require an experienced handler.

Hovawarts are medium sized dogs with long coat. They can be black, blonde, or a combination of black and gold.

To learn more about this breed, visit the Hovawart club of North America.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Friday, October 25, 2013

Canine PTSD

A few weeks ago, I wrote about dogs helping people with PTSD - post traumatic stress disorder. On the other side of the coin, dogs can suffer from PTSD as well.

Allpetnews.com reports that from approximately 650 military dogs deployed with American combat forces, nearly five percent have come down with symptoms of PTSD. These dogs have been subjected to gunfire, explosions, and other combat scenarios.

Military veterinarians say some dogs become clingy or aggressive, they might refuse to enter areas where they used to be comfortable, or become hyper-vigilent and set off alarms whether there's something to worry about or not.

Dogs affected should be taken off their patrol duty, given lots of exercise, play time, and gentle obedience training.

Just as people, dogs don't have to go to war to enter a state of extreme stress. Causes can include natural disasters, car accidents, and physical or emotional trauma.

If you want to read more about dogs with PTSD, treatment, and management, these websites might provide a good starting point:

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Dogs around the world: Swedish defense

Dogs perform an important job for organizations all over the world, and it might be interesting to get a glimpse from another culture. The website forsvarsmakten.se - the Swedish armed forces - mentions breeding and training of dogs for the Swedish defense.

These dogs do everything from assist with patrolling to search for explosives or missing persons. The dogs trained here are used both for the military and the police.

Every year, selected dogs produce 35-40 litters of German Shepherd puppies. (It's important to note that Sweden does not have the same problem with overpopulation of dogs as the US. If they didn't breed working dogs, there wouldn't be any working dogs.)

Sixteen people work full time with planning the breeding, caring for the dogs, finding foster homes, and so on. From these puppies, the  most suitable are chosen. They go to foster homes when they're between 8 and 10 weeks old, and they stay in the foster home until they're a year and a half.

Don't worry; the puppies not chosen for service are placed in good homes.

At eighteen months, the dogs are considered old enough to go through a suitability test. This test makes sure the dog is stable and mentally suited to perform at the level needed. Each year around 250 dogs go through the test, and around 60 will move on to training.

Most of the dogs that don't get approved stay with their foster homes, or go to another good home. There are usually more people wanting dogs than dogs available.

Image from forsvarsmakten.se

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Will petting a cat really stress it out?

A few days ago, headlines appeared all over saying, "Petting your cat can stress it out." Cat lovers, you can relax. It's fine to pet your cats.

According to National Geographic, there has been a study on stressed cats. That much is true. Unfortunately, the results have been misreported. What the study really says is that if a cat is already anxious of something, you can pick up on that when you stroke it.

These cats aren't stressed because they are being stroked. They're stressed because of something else in their lives, and a twitchy, nervous reaction to being touched might indicate that something is wrong. 

Cats are experts in hiding their feelings, and any clue to something being wrong is valuable.

A cat that spends most of its time hiding might be stressed. A kitty doing that can't relax unless it is in an easily defendable position. 

If you're interested in cats, read more here.

~ Maria Sadowski ~