Tuesday, April 30, 2013

American Temperament Test Society

Dogs stir up strong emotions. While many people love them, many are also afraid. Fear is a strong emotion, and there's no reasoning with it. I, personally, am terrified of spiders. 

It doesn't matter that I know most spiders aren't dangerous to humans. There's just something about them that makes me want to scream and run the other way. I imagine the same is true regardless what one fears. I justify my spider panic with saying that I live in Florida and there are deadly spiders here, like the Black Widow and Brown Recluse.

It's true, from a certain point of view, namely mine. Not long ago, I saw a spider in the bedroom. My husband had to come home from work to take it out.

The creepy crawlies also have an important function to fill in the eco system, and statistics claim my fear is illogical. According to the website venomousspiders.net, an average of 6.6 people die from spider bites every year in the US.  Considering the population is some 314 million, it should be safe enough. Emotionally, I'm not convinced.

I'm not afraid of dogs, but a lot of people are. Some are afraid of dogs in general, others of specific breeds. Most statistics agree; around a dozen people in the US die from dog bites each year. Oh my, dogs are almost twice as dangerous as spiders! On the other hand, 6.6 or 12 people out of 314 million, I think the difference is negligible.

What was that? More than twelve people were bit by dogs? Sure, but more than six people were bit by spiders too, and they didn't die either. ;-)

Everyone, including me, fears something, and it's a part of human nature to try to rationalize that fear. Believing that something is true might make it true for me, but not for the world in general. This might sound self-evident, but as the world moves faster and faster, and the actions and words of each individual weigh heavier than ever before, it's important to keep the self-evident in mind.

When it comes to dogs, the American Temperament Test Society performs tests on various dog breeds every year. They measure different aspects of temperament, such as stability, shyness, aggressiveness, and friendliness, as well as the dog's instinct for protectiveness towards its person, and self-preservation in the face of a threat. This is done through simulating a casual walk in a park or neighborhood where the dog will experience various stimuli, and neutral, friendly, and threatening situations.

I find the ATTS statistics fascinating. Their statistics are cumulative, but some breeds have been tested more than others, and that will affect the final numbers. If only a handful of individuals have gone through the test, the results won't be statistically significant. (I personally believe the owner matters more than the breed for how a dog will turn out, but there are differences between breeds. If there weren't, all dogs would look the same. ;-)

Also, one shouldn't read too much into these types of numbers. Looking at the list below, some people might draw the conclusion that all Chihuahuas are dangerous, and that's not what the table says.

Here are some of their results for popular breeds. You can see the entire list here, it's long and spread out over a number of pages.

Breed Tested    Passed   Failed   Percent  
American Eskimo 84 69 15 82.1%
American Pit Bull Terrier 870 755 115 86.8%
American Staffordshire Terrier 657 555 102 84.5%
Australian Cattle Dog 194 153 41 78.9%
Bearded Collie 46 25 21 54.3%
Border Collie 292 238 54 81.5%
Bull Terrier 79 72 7 91.1%
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel 55 46 9 83.6%
Chihuahua 43 30 13 69.8%
Chinese Shar-Pei 213 151 62 70.9%
Dachshund (standard smooth) 48 33 15 68.8%
Dalmatian 336 278 58 82.7%
English Cocker Spaniel 71 66 5 93.0%
English Setter 31 25 6 80.6%
Flat-Coated Retriever 87 80 7 92.0%
German Shepherd 3194 2710 484 84.8%
Golden Retriever 785 669 116 85.2%
Irish Wolfhound 98 88 10 89.8%
Jack Russel 63 53 10 84.1%
Labrador Retriever 805 74 64 92.0%
Miniature Pinscher 55 45 10 81.1%
Mixed Breed 1107 959 148 86.6%
Newfoundland 176 154 22 87.5%
Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever   30 22 8 73.3%
Old English Sheepdog 49 38 11 77.6%
Papillon 91 74 17 81.3%
Rottweiler 5652 4751 901 84.1%
Siberian Husky 299 260 39 87.0%
Staffordshire Bull Terrier 129 117 12 90.7%
Standard Poodle 253 219 34 86.6%
Whippet 200 172 28 86.0%

Monday, April 29, 2013

Rare Breed Monday: Berger Picard

Berger Picard image from akc.com
The Berger Picard is a French working dog with roots back to the ninth century. According to the AKC, the breed was used to herd cattle and sheep, and to smuggle contraband tobacco across the French/Belgian border.

Sheepdogs resembling the Berger Picards have been depicted for centuries in tapestries, engravings, and woodcuts.

Just like most working dogs, the Berger Picard needs daily exercise and mental stimulation. They're known to be quiet, loyal, and athletic, but craves attention. They need to be part of the family, and have clear and consistent rules.

They enjoy swimming, running, and long walks. If you want to read more about the Berger Picard, check out this article at dogbreedinfo.com!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Pumpkin is good for more than pie and Halloween.

Besides buying something in the store, this is the laziest dog treat you can find. Most pups love it, and it is all sorts of good for them! 

Pumpkin is a great source of fiber, and treats tummy problems. Whether the problem is too loose or too hard, pumpkin helps make life better.

Just double check you buy canned pumpkin that's just pumpkin without additives - it's really easy to mix up with the pumpkin pie filling, because some brands look pretty much the same.

So, what do we do?

  • Scoop up canned pumpkin in ice cube trays.
  • Place trays in freezer.
  • When frozen, feed a cube to the dog.

See, I told you it was easy ;-)

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Operation Roger, Truckers' Pet Transport

One of my colleagues asked me if I heard about "Operation Roger" and said he saw something on TV about an Alaskan truck driver who drove nine hours to deliver a puppy to a new home. I am big on dog rescue, and had to look this up.

Many pets are displaced after storms and have a hard time finding their way home. Others need a lift to their new family or to a rescue. Some states are more flooded with homeless pets than others. A dog can be in a shelter in, for example, Georgia and someone in Michigan is willing to adopt, but getting the pet there is easier said than done. If they can, Operation Roger will help.

This is a group of truckers who drive across country, and are willing to bring a pet along. Because of the nature of their business, they can't go to shelters and pick up pets; someone needs to take the pet to a truck stop, rest area, or similar along the route, and the same thing goes for pickup.

A tractor-trailer is a big thing, and they're on a time schedule, so this is perfectly reasonable. If this can be worked out, the pet can hitch a safe ride.

To learn more, visit their website: http://operationroger.rescuegroups.org

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Sliding track system helps keep the home secure.

The PlexiDor security plate is
virtually impossible to get through.
Security is a concern for every home owner, and some people worry about making a new opening in a door or a wall. The PlexiDor comes with lock and key, and with a steel security plate that can be attached when leaving the home.

Normally, the steel security plate is screwed onto the PlexiDor aluminum frame. It's easy to do, but for those who want to use the plate every day, there's now a helpful accessory.

The Sliding Track system makes attaching the security plate a breeze. The tracks are attached to the interior frame, and the security plate slides down the track into place. The system comes with all hardware, and mounts in minutes.

With the sliding track system,
the PlexiDor security plate
is attached within seconds.

Once the plate is slid into place, a flip lock at the top ensures that the plate stays down where it's supposed to.

The tracks are made of strong, durable aluminum and comes in Silver, White, or Bronze. They are available for door sizes Medium, Large, or Extra Large.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Sago Palm, a deadly beauty

Image from ocsprinklerrepair.com
Some things are evidently poisonous or dangerous, and it's easy to understand pets and people should stay away. Other things, equally lethal, don't exactly announce the danger.

Sago palms are common in gardens, and even indoors as potted plants. (They're not technically a palm, but look enough like one.)

Every part of this plant is poisonous, both to animals and humans. The seeds are considered the most toxic, but even the roots contain the poison cycasin.

To make things better, dogs allegedly love the taste and smell of them.

Sago Palm Seeds
Some common signs that a pet has eaten Sago Palm include vomiting, diarrhea, depression, coma, seizures, and lack of coordination. Untreated, the poison leads to liver damage, liver failure, and death.

If you believe that your pet has eaten parts of a sago palm, contact your vet immediately. As little as one seed can be deadly.

To read more about the Sago Palm, check out these pages:

The Sago Palm grows slowly, a feature that
makes it popular with landscape architects

Monday, April 22, 2013

Rare Breed Monday: Swedish Spitz

The Swedish Spitz (Svensk Lapphund) is an old breed, first mentioned in writing in 1621. It is believed to be the common ancestor of all spitz dogs, descended from the arctic wolf and the 7,000-year old Varanger Dog originally discovered in northern Norway.

The Swedish Spitz is known to be hardy, alert, easy to train, and courageous. They are extremely loyal to their owners and can be suspicious to strangers. They're often used as guard dogs

These are active dogs that require exercise and room to run. They also need regular brushing and combing. They normally grow to a height of 18-20 inches, and weigh between 33-44 lbs.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Super-easy frozen peanut butter treats!

Has anyone met a dog who doesn't like peanut butter? It's not just good to eat; it's a great source of vitamins E, K, and B12, it has important minerals, and is a great source of fiber. 

Some peanut butters contain a lot of sugar or corn syrup, but there are sugar free versions. It doesn't really matter if we don't like it; odds are the dogs will.

Here is a dog treat recipe so easy and quick it can't fail.

1 cup peanut butter
1 16 Oz container plain yogurt
2 ice cube trays

Microwave the peanut butter for about 1.5 minutes. Mix it with the yogurt until completely blended. Pour the mixture into ice cube trays, and place them in the freezer.

Once frozen, they're done. Conveniently sized frozen treats. Even the storage is already cared for; they're in the freezer!

I originally found this recipe at petsadviser.com. They have many more!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Happy Endings!

Merlin, at your service!
Everyone needs a sunshine story now and then, and I have one! The handsome boy on this photo is Merlin. 

Merlin was at a shelter in Sebring, Florida, and moved everyone through his shelter picture. The image showed a sad and frightened dog who did his best to hide through curling up in a corner. He was doomed, and he knew it.

Luckily for Merlin, Ewenity Farms Border Collie Rescue saw him, and pulled him mere hours before he was to be put down. He got into the car with a look of, "Finally, I'm so glad someone came for me. Let's get out of here."

Today, Merlin is a certified search and rescue dog. He has an important job and spends his time saving others.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Bellyrubitis - it's spreading! ;-)

The animal rescue site and the SPCA of Westchester coined the expression bellyrubitis. Isn't it the cutest word? 

What it is? I interpret it as a human's absolute inability not to rub a cute tummy, even when we're in a hurry to go somewhere. For more information, watch this adorable... Umm, I mean informative, video.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Rescue dogs lend a nose to wildlife.

Four rescued retrievers have recently graduated as the US Fish and Wildlife Services first ever wildlife detector dogs. They are trained to sniff out snake skins, ivory, and other illegal animal products. 

Endangered Rhino.
Image from takepart.com
Inspecting shipping crates takes hours and hours for human inspectors. A person has to open the crate and go through every item inside. A well trained dog can get the job done in minutes. The dogs even have fun doing it; Yahoo News compares it to a scavenger hunt. They get to hop on conveyer belts, jump over stacks of boxes, and perform an important task.

To begin with the dogs will be assigned at major ports that serve as hubs for the illegal trade, helping to protect several endangered species. To put the business into perspective, rhino horns fetch up to $65,000 per kilo, and there are only 3,000 black rhinos left in the world.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Rare Breed Monday: Aidi

Aidi image from Wikipedia.
The Aidi - also called Chien de l'Atlas - is a Moroccan dog breed. It is a working dog thought to have originated in Sahara.

These dogs are energetic and highly protective, powerful, agile, alert, and ready for action. The Aidi makes an excellent guard and watchdog, but it requires an experienced owner and a job to do. They like to have a large yard and need long daily walks.

The Aidi generally grows to 21-24 inches, and weighs around 50-55 lbs.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Fun facts about the dog's history

All dogs can be traced back 40 million years to a weasel-like animal called the Miacis. It lived in trees and dens. Later, the Miacis evolved into a Tomarctus, and from there into Canis, which includes wolves, jackals, dogs, and more.

The first dogs as we know them were wolves who sought out humans over 12,000 years ago.

Most people know the ancient Egyptians revered cats. They also cherished their dogs. When a pet dog died, the owners shaved off their eyebrows, smeared mud in their hair, and mourned aloud for days.

Going further east, the Pekingese and Japanese Chins were so important they had their own servants and were carried around trade routs. The Pekingese were allegedly worshipped in some temples in China.

The most dogs ever owned by one single person were 5,000 Mastiffs owned by Kubla Khan.

All this is according to the webpage 99 fun facts about dogs. =)

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Dogs in the workplace, yes or no?

Mila, official office dog at PlexiDor pet doors.
As a pet lover, who also works in the pet industry, it's easy to say "Yes." USA Today shares the sentiment. The newspaper points out that dogs and offices can be a nice mix with the right rules, but also that most pet owners make good decisions about whether to bring their furry friends.

USA Today points out a number of benefits from having pets in the work environment. For example, reduction of stress, building relations between co-workers, and introducing some daily exercise. They also give an opportunity for human employees to get to know each other better.

It could be easy to assume pets in the workplace will lower productivity, but reality is generally the opposite. Employees feel that the company cares about them and their lives outside work. Bringing a dog reduces the worry for the pet, and increases peace of mind.

Some tips for companies thinking of implementing pet friendly policies are:

  • Make sure the environment is safe.
  • Take allergies into account. Some people with lighter allergies are fine as long as they're not close to the pet, but others get severe reactions even at a distance.
  • Owners should keep their dogs on a leash, unless they're in the employee's office or cubicle. Some people are afraid of dogs, or allergic. (Depending on the company, structure, size, and so on, it might not be a problem at all.)
  • There are pet gates and baby gates to help keep the dog from leaving the office unsupervised. 

Here at PlexiDor Pet Doors, Mila generally fills the spot as office dog. She has an important role as stress reducer, and she has a play pen where she can spend the day playing, napping, or doing whatever she wants without supervision.

If you want to read more about the benefits of dogs in the workplace, this text leads to another great article!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Dog poem by Christy Elkins

Today, I have the pleasure to share a dog poem written by fantastic author Christy Elkins. Her novel Parallel is one of my personal favorites, and I'm delighted to share her thoughts on pets with you.

Have you ever had a friend
Who'd stand by you through thick and thin?
Eager and easy to please
Never making demands or pleas?
Whose love and devotion was intently true,
Holding a special bond, for only you?
Have you ever met another who no matter the situation
Greeted you with gratitude and complete adoration?
A spirited being with soulful eyes
Who knew your laughter
As well as your cries?
A child entrusted in your care
Even though they have four legs and are covered in hair
A pet is a gift full of affection
Flawless love offering faithful perfection

Friends for life =)

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Doggie driver's license?

When I first heard about MyPetDMV.com I thought it was an unusual idea. I mean, why would a dog need a driver's license, right? After visiting their Facebook page a few times, I saw the pet gets a name tag too, and I was curious enough to try. 

This was about two years ago. Today, all my pets have licenses and name tags. They're really cool, and make a great gift for pet lovers.

I love that the dogs carry something with their names, address, and my phone number. I don't mean for them to get away, but it could happen. Also, if something does happen, I have the identifying information with a photo in my wallet.

The cool design is a bonus. Every time someone asks my husband for ID he pulls out one of the dogs'. It's priceless.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Rare Breed Monday: Coton de Tulear

Coton de Tulear from akc.com
The history of the Coton de Tulear is less than crystal clear. The most common belief is that they are descendants of dogs who survived an ancient shipwreck near the coast of Madagascar. 

In the 17th century, the dog became the "Royal dog of Madagascar," and only nobility was allowed to have one. The Coton even made its way to a Madagascar postage stamp in 1974. The breed is nearly extinct in Madagascar, but gains popularity in both Europe and the US.

The breed is considered hypoallergenic, and they are fairly sturdy with an average lifespan of 14-16 years. They are lively, trainable, playful, affectionate, and intelligent. They're known for their curiosity, and love meeting new people. They also adapt well to any kind of living environment, and they are great with kids and other animals.

The coat does require brushing and combing almost every day. They don't shed, but unless they're brushed regularly, the coat mats quickly.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Interesting changes in pet families

Looking at the petfoodindustry.com website gave some interesting news on changes in pet ownership in the US. Traditionally, mostly families have had pets, but single people are catching up. Pets are great company!

In 2006, 46.9 percent of single adults had pets, and in 2011, the number had crept up to 54.7 percent. That is an increase of nearly 17 percent.

Single men have the greatest increase. Only 27.7 percent of this group had pets in 2006, and the figure for 2011 was 42.8 percent.

The number of families with pets has also increased, from 65.5 percent in 2006 to 66.4 percent in 2011.

For some other interesting numbers, the AVMA reports that six out of ten pet owners consider their pets to be family members.

According to the Humane Society, there are approximately 78.2 million dogs in US households. The corresponding number of cats is 86.4 million.

The most popular dog breeds in the US are Labrador Retriever and Chihuahua.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Electronic door in action

PlexiDor Electronic seen from the outside
The PlexiDor Electronic is unique when it comes to pet doors. It has a composite panel that slides up and down like a miniature electronic garage door. When the door is closed, the panel acts as a security door, virtually impossible to force open.

The door is controlled through an RFID key attached to the pet's collar.

The image to the right shows what the door looks like outside the house. Below is a short video showing the inside, and the function of the door. Sorry it's a little blurry. The video is from the Global Pet Expo - it's hard to keep a camera still in a place like that. ;-)

We put the key in the opening to make it go up and down.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Dog of the month: Rat Terrier

The Rat Terrier is an American dog breed used as all-around farm dog and hunting companion. They come in a variety of coat colors and patterns, and are often mistaken for Jack Russels, even though the Rat Terrier always has a single coat. They range rom about 10 to 20 pounds, and stand 13 to 18 inches at the shoulder.

The Rat Terrier was common in the 1920s and 1930s, but is today considered a rare breed. This is an intelligent and active dog that can also appreciate relaxing in the sofa.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Mila learns to use a PlexiDor

Our office dog, Mila, is a real cutie-pie. 
This is a super short video shot when she learned how to use a PlexiDor.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Rare Breed Monday - Beauceron

Beauceron from akc.com
The Beauceron is an old French dog breed; the oldest manuscript dating it is from 1578. They are used on many farms in France to herd sheep and cattle, and their tireless work ethic grant them the position of preferred choice of herding dog.

Like most herding breeds, the Beauceron needs something to do. They are eager to learn and easily trained, can be reserved with strangers, but are loving, loyal, and protective of their families.

The website dogbreedinfo.com says, "The Beauceron is a brave, highly intelligent, obedient working dog. Eager and willing to please, it excels at obedience training, and is very quick to understand and respond to its master's commands. The Beauceron is capable of police work, as it is loyal, patient, faithful, fearless, and keenly watchful, able to detect danger. It is a worthy, natural guard dog, that loves to work and exercise in wide open spaces. Another of its many talents is working as a herding dog."