Friday, May 31, 2013

Have you seen the Pet Project and Feed a Pet Trivia?

One of my colleagues sent me a mail the other day. It had a link and said, "This is pretty cool." She was right. Very cool!

The link was for petproject.com. I haven't looked all that much on the page, but they have a link for "Feed a Pet" and it leads to Feed a Pet Trivia.

Answer questions to feed pets.

The idea is to answer questions, and every time you level up, the page donates food to one shelter pet. There are all sorts of categories to choose from - not just pets - and I happily clicked in states, flags, chemistry, the periodic table...

Turned out I was nowhere near as good at these things as I expected, and I ended up with just dog breed questions. That I was pretty good at.

~ Maria Sadowski

Thursday, May 30, 2013

How smart is a dog?

The answer to the question is: much smarter than people think. 

I've blogged about Chaser before. She is a Border Collie who entered the record books when she proved understanding of more than 1,000 English words.

According to the Huffington Post, she has now shown that she understands sentences and grammar. She has been tested with both familiar objects and with new things, and to make completely sure it's language she reacts to, they've also tested her in situations where she couldn't see the objects when she received the command.

Border Collies are considered exceptionally smart, but even the average pooch is thought to have mental abilities comparable to a human two-year-old.


~ Maria Sadowski

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Gangster doggies filled with mischief

I came home from BlogPaws with a suitcase filled with dog treats and various samples. Maybe that's why the doggies greeted me so warmly...

I've had a tote bag with treats and samples from the show sitting on the kitchen counter, at least attempting to keep it out of reach. The other day we decided to have a cookout, so I moved the bag to the kitchen table to get some space.

If I don't give them freely, the dogs
try to steal these chicken and sweet potato treats.
Everything in the bag is sealed and unopened, but I guess it smelled good anyway. I turned my back for about thirty seconds to go get a fresh kitchen towel. When I returned, our American Eskimo stood on one of the chairs with his front paws up on the table, stretching all he could to reach the bag. Gangster!

Now, the bag sits on top of the fridge. Try to climb up there, you hungry little noodle! ;-)

Anyway, one of the treats I got that they really appreciate is Sergeant's Barkery Lean Strips. These are chewy treats made from chicken and sweet potato.

After all the chicken jerky fiascos during 2012, I'm cautious about chicken, but they ensure me it's made in the USA, and the doggies love them.

What's your pet's favorite treat?

~ Maria Sadowski

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Pets really do become our children

My doggie Ellie is helping me work on a book.
I often tell people that my dogs are my children. They're part of the family. I long for them when I'm away - even if I'm just at work - and I'm generally more concerned for their well being than for my own.

I'm not alone in this. The Internet is filled with memes about cats and dogs and the trend goes towards being a pet parent or guardian instead of an owner.

Some people are skeptical, of course, but looking at expenditures for pets and children, it is true. The Atlantic features a fascinating article about how pets are taking the place of children. The article mentions how pets give an outlet for nurturing instincts at a fraction of the cost and hassle of kids.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics have charted pet spending. They conclude:

  • Nearly three quarters of US households own pets.
  • There are about 218 million pets in the US, not counting several million fish.
  • In 2011, Americans spent about $61.4 billion on their pets.

These numbers are even more interesting when put into perspective. Households spend more on their pets than on alcohol, residential landline phone bills, or men and boys clothing. Couples without children spend the most on their pets, and as birth rates continuously decrease, the future looks bright for the pet industry.

~ Maria Sadowski

Monday, May 27, 2013

Rare Breed Monday: Tibetan Mastiff

Tibetan Mastiff image from akc.org
The Tibetan Mastiff is an ancient breed originating in Central Asia, often used as a guard dog. Its roots have been traced to 1100 BC, and they were thought to travel with Attila the Hun and Gengis Khan.

This is an intelligent, independent, and strong breed. These dogs can be gigantic; males weigh up to 150 lbs. They are easy to train, but also intelligent enough to get bored quickly.

Happy coexistence depends on keeping them occupied. The AKC points out that these dogs have extremely strong jaws and teeth, and that this, combined with a fondness for wood can lead to great destruction if the dogs get bored.

They're known to be aloof to strangers, and devoted to their family. They require socialization from an early age so that they will accept visitors to the house. The Tibetan Mastiff is generally tolerant and patient with the children of the household, and they do well with other dogs.

According to the AKC, some Tibetans believe that Tibetan Mastiffs have the souls of monks and nuns who weren't good enough to enter Shambhala (the heavenly realm) or be reincarnated as people.

Also according to the AKC, Tibetan Mastiffs are traditionally kept with Lhasa Apsos, who would alert the larger dog to strangers.

Read more about the Tibetan Mastiff on the AKC website, and check out this funny page with 10 cool qualities of the breed.


Friday, May 24, 2013

What does your pet say about you?

A couple of years ago, the website careerbuilder.com sponsored an online survey to determine trends in pet ownership as it relates to profession, pay, and job satisfaction. 2,300 pet parents were polled.

In my opinion, these kinds of surveys might not be the most accurate, but they're entertaining. Here's what the survey says:

  • Workers with dogs are more likely to hold a top management position.
  • Workers with snakes/reptiles are more likely to have a high salary. 
  • Workers with birds are more likely to be satisfied with their job.

  • Dog owners are more likely to be professors, nurses, IT professionals, entertainers, or choose a military path.
  • Cat owners are more likely to be physicians, real estate agents, lab technicians, machine operators, or personal caretakers.
  • Fish owners are more likely to be HR professionals, work with finance, transportation, hotel and leisure, or farming/fishing/forestry.
  • Bird owners are more likely to be advertising professionals, sales reps, construction workers, or administrative professionals.
  • Snake/reptile owners are more likely to be engineers, social workers, marketing professionals, editors, writers, or police officers.

I am a writer and IT professional, so I guess I should have a dog and a reptile. I do have a house full of dogs, and I've been wanting a lizard and a turtle.

Do you think the list is accurate? Why, or why not?


Thursday, May 23, 2013

Tagg, the pet tracker

Tagg's booth at BlogPaws
Do you ever worry about your pets going walkabout? Stuff happens. Dogs jump fences and dig tunnels, visitors forget to close the door properly, and occasionally leashes break.

At the BlogPaws conference, Tagg had a table introducing the pet tracker. This is a GPS device to be attached to a pet's collar.

The device itself is small, and the software is smart. One can program a safe zone where the pet usually spends time - like the back yard - and receive an alarm if the pet ever leaves the safe zone. The software can also keep track of a pet's movement, making sure doggies and kitties get enough exercise during the day.

The device is water proof and can be worn virtually anywhere. I haven't tried the system yet, but I like the idea and the looks of it. To read more, visit www.pettracker.com!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Cute visitors to BlogPaws!

Tito the Pomeranian was both
super cute and super popular.

What truly distinguishes a pet conference from everything else? Well, pets, of course. BlogPaws had pets galore. To Dog With Love reports around 500 attendees and more than 80 dogs. There were also cats, ferrets, chickens, and even rabbits.

Many smaller pets came in strollers pushed by their human families. Convenient way to see the world without risking too close contact with people's feet or larger dogs.

The booth for Jones Natural Chews had a fun game - they asked visitors to name three of something in thirty seconds, and winners could choose a dog treat. I got the question, "Three kinds of carpet" and said, "Uuuh..." I'm Swedish originally, and carpet isn't a big thing there. Throw rugs are, but not carpets. Luckily, my colleague Robert came to my rescue.

Anyway, they had chickens. I know that saying "baby chickens" is redundant since a chicken is a baby hen, but they really were baby chickens, just days old. 

Visitors were allowed to hold them, and one fell asleep in my hands. Awww!

I wanted to take them home - predictably - but they weren't allowed on airplanes so bringing them to Florida was out of the question. They told me chickens are flock animals, and one should have at least three to make them happy. They like to curl up together.

We met a woman with a stroller. In the front part sat a child, and in a back compartment was something I first thought was a blanket. When I looked closer, it turned out to be a rabbit. A very large rabbit. 

Maya holding a 34 lbs rabbit!
I've forgotten its name, but it weighed 34 pounds. That's as much as my smallest dog. 

I knew nothing about rabbits, and learned a lot at BlogPaws. Like...

Rabbits have very sensitive noses, and they don't like when you touch their nose. 

I'm used to handling dogs, and when you meet a dog you don't know you don't want to come at them from above. Rabbits are allegedly the opposite; they don't mind too much if you pat them on the head as long as you leave the nose alone. 

I also learned one should be careful when lifting them, especially bigger rabbits, because they have sensitive spines. One should hold them like a baby. Learning new things every day!

There were also adorable ferrets.

Maya with Snotface the Ferret
Here is my colleague Maya holding Snotface the ferret. He was a cutie.

I thought ferrets were pretty active little creatures, but Snotface taught me they like to sleep. He would curl up in a nice and warm spot - like in someone's arms - and take a nap.

They're allegedly very active  in the mornings and evenings, but like to sleep during the day.

There are ferret rescues, and one had a booth informing people about ferrets and their needs.

Moses, an adoptable dog who charmed people in
PetFinder's booth.
The conference had many dogs, of course. Mine weren't allowed to come; I can see no way they'd be able to behave around so many people and other animals. It would be a herding frenzy. Luckily, many other dogs offered their services and allowed themselves to be petted.

This guy's name is Moses and he was there with PetFinder. Moses is an absolute snuggle-bunny; he curled up on my lap for a nap. He behaved like a true gentleman, even though he surely was overwhelmed by all the people, dogs, cats, and other pets.

I hope he'll get a fantastic home, where he gets to snuggle as much as he wants to.

There were many cute cats as well. Most of them were in strollers, but a few were carried by their humans. I'm amazed at how well all the animals tolerated wearing clothes. My dogs have a "rip-tear" movement and pull everything off. Best case scenario, they can put up with wearing a bandana. 

Stay put: there will be more posts from BlogPaws during the week!

~ Maria Sadowski




Tuesday, May 21, 2013

BlogPaws: The door prize was a door

A glimpse of the vendor exhibit hall at BlogPaws 2013.
Last week, a friendly Sheraton hotel opened its doors to welcome the 2013 BlogPaws Conference. The conference was sold out, and the hotel was crammed full with people, dogs, cats, ferrets, rabbits, you name it. For a pet lover, it was an amazing experience.

PlexiDor had a booth, and I was delighted to get the opportunity to come meet so many of my online friends.

A downside with only knowing people online is that it's hard to recognize them in real life. Many bloggers use their pet's image, and many twitter accounts have a logo or a pet avatar. Some solved the problem through carrying cardboard images of their pets. I attempted to read as many badges as possible so I wouldn't accidentally miss talking to someone, but I've still messed up who is who in my head.

Robert and Maya working on the booth
I attempted to assist with putting up the booth, but to be honest, I don't think I helped much. I put the door-holders together upside down...
Eventually, it took shape, and we were ready.

In my experience, it's rare to find a hotel brimming with animals. I loved hearing a dog bark every now and then, and meeting all sorts of animals sure made every day a good day!

They were in unexpected places too. It's not every day you see this sight when entering a restroom!

Peeka-boo!

Even the signs were adorable. No matter how preoccupied you are, a paw pointing towards "nom nom" makes the message clear. The floors were marked with paw prints showing the way to the exhibit hall and other things.



Robert and Maya discussing pet doors with
Marie Pickard, winner of a PlexiDor.
We had a raffle; one lucky winner would get the PlexiDor of their choice.

The speaker called out the first name, and I didn't recognize it. One had to be present to win, so a few minutes ticked by and the speaker called out a new name. This person wasn't there either. At the fourth try, they called out the name "Marie Pickard."

Marie had been past the booth several times, looking at the doors. She has Great Danes, and would definitely need an extra large door. It's great to have a giveaway when the person who wins is happy to win, and Marie's smile and enthusiasm made the day for all of us!

Marie checking out the extra large PlexiDor
with Maya and Robert.

I too returned home with treasure in the form of a suitcase filled with doggie goodies and new products.  A definite highlight of my visit was meeting Dino Dogan, the founder of Triberr. He was fantastic, and I returned to the booth slightly star struck. I will talk more about BlogPaws and the fantastic people, pets, and companies I met during the upcoming week.

~ Maria Sadowski






Monday, May 20, 2013

Rare Breed Monday: Bergamasco

Image from AKC.org
The Bergamasco is a sheep dog believed to have descended from the longhaired shepherd dogs brought to Italy by Phoenicians. Their origins can be traced back nearly 7,000 years.

They're known for having a strong work ethic and being highly intelligent. They think independently, and tend to see themselves more as an equal partner than subordinates to other members of the family.

The breed has an unusual felted coat consisting of three types of hair. They have a fine, dense, and oily undercoat, long hairs similar to a goat's, and a wooly outercoat. After the mats "set" at age one, the coat doesn't require much maintenance. The dogs should be bathed 1-3 times per  year, and never brushed. Shedding is minimal.

Bergamascos are known to be very sociable. They have extremely good hearing and the AKC claims an "almost phychic awareness of its environment." They are reliable predictors of approaching visitors and violent behavior.

If you want more information about the Bergamasco, check out their pages at kennelclubusa.com and the AKC.


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

PlexiDor Pet Doors are going to BlogPaws!

The BlogPaws conference is a pet social media conference that takes place May 16-18 in Tyson's Corner, VA. PlexiDor Pet Doors will have a booth and I hope to see many online friends there. If you're there, come and meet us!

The conference offers educational sessions on everything from finding blog content to search engine optimization and fund raising. According to the BlogPaws website, most attendees write about (or as) their pets, but the topics apply to anyone wanting to learn more about using social media.

As a result of attending the conference, our normal online activities might be irregular, but I hope to be able to present some interesting content. Now, the only problem is dividing myself up so I can go to several seminars at the same time. ;-)


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Do your dogs watch TV?

Image from www.dailymail.co.uk
Reading the New York Times the other day, I stumbled over an article about a TV channel for dogs. It's called DOGTV, and the channel claims to be scientifically developed and pup approved.

The shows are three to six minute long segments showing grassy fields, tennis balls, and humans rubbing doggie tummies. Some segments feature noiseless vacuum cleaners to help the dogs more comfortable around this horrifying human contraption.

Why should dogs watch TV?

DOGTV claims to be the ideal babysitter for home alone dogs, providing soothing sounds and music intended to make them more peaceful. They say, "DOGTV's television programming meets a dog's typical daily routine and helps prevent mental fatigue, depression, and boredom."

I've known one dog who liked to watch TV. He loved football. One of my current dogs knows what a commercial break is; she has learned when the shows are over and the odds favor going outside. Other than that, they don't care much.

According to the Mail Online, dogs in the UK watch almost an hour of TV every day, and EastEnders was named the show with most furry fans. In their article, Labradors are named most interested in the telly with Spaniels, Border Collies, Jack Russells, and Staffies next in line.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Rare Breed Monday: Carolina Dog

Image from dogbreedinfo.com
by Susan Anthony, California-Carolina Dogs
The Carolina Dog was first discovered in the 1970's. It's a landrace, which means that it has developed by natural processes by adapting to the environment where it lives. 

Today, the Carolina Dog is one of very few breeds still in existence that is a result of natural selection - developed to survive in nature - and not of selective breeding on our part.

These dogs resemble types of dogs first encountered by Europeans near Indian settlements in this region, and have been depicted by paintings, drawings, and even rock art. According to the American Rare Breed Association, they are likely to be relatives to the first dogs that crossed the Bering landbridge into America from Asia together with the first primitive humans.

2,000 year old skulls and fossils are nearly identical with these dogs of today. These tests accompanied by DNA testing show a link, but there isn't enough evidence to prove the connection. 

While many of these dogs are extremely shy around people, they're also loyal to their human, and can be wonderful pets. They're gentle, social, and bond well with children. The Carolina Dog needs to be part of a pack, and integrates well into the family framework.

They're not known to be aggressive by nature, but they do have a strong hunting instinct, and they're independent. 

If you want to know more about the Carolina dog, check out their pages at the American Rare Breed Association, at Dogbreedinfo.com, and carolinadogs.com.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Bacon-biscuits for weekend fun!

Image from allrecipes.com by
user YummieMommie
Has anyone met a dog who doesn't like bacon? Me neither. I prowled the Internet for easy to make dog biscuits the other day, and stumbled onto allrecipes.com. Check out this recipe for bacon-flavored dog treats!

For 25 biscuits, you need:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 10 tablespoons melted bacon fat
  • 5 cups whole wheat flour

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and lightly grease a cookie sheet.

Beat the eggs in a large bowl. Stir in milk, water, salt, and bacon fat until the mixture is well blended. 

Stir in the flour gradually until you have a stiff dough.

Roll pieces of dough into 2-inch balls. Place on cookie sheet and bake for 35-40 minutes.

Cool the cookies on a rack, and store in a covered container in the fridge.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Gardening time? Watch out for the cocoa mulch.

Most people know chocolate is dangerous for cats and dogs. Less known is that cocoa mulch is dangerous to pets if they eat it.

I thought cocoa mulch got the name after its color. It's actually made from leftovers from the cocoa bean roasting process. It's environmentally friendly, looks and smells good, and it is extremely toxic to dogs and cats.

The Saturday Evening Post sported an article a couple of years ago, interviewing Dr Maureen McMichael. She explains, "Cocoa mulch is significantly more toxic than milk chocolate or even baker's chocolate, because it has quite a bit more theobromine." (Theobromine is the toxic compound in chocolate.)

To make matters worse, once a dog starts eating the mulch, they generally don't stop. That means that they can eat a lot of mulch.

The website healthy pets gives an example of toxicity. The example is based on a 50 pound dog.

  • 2 ounces of cocoa bean mulch will likely lead to abdominal pain and vomiting
  • 4 ounces of cocoa bean mulch will increase the dog's heart rate
  • 5.5 ounces of cocoa bean mulch is likely to lead to seizures
  • 9 ounces or more can be fatal

Vetstreet summarizes: pet owners shouldn't use cocoa mulch in their yards. You can't change what your neighbors use on their properties, but keep your dog on a leash and make sure they don't eat it.

If your pet finds a way to eat it anyway, take him or her to the veterinarian. Disasters tend to happen after hours, but most cities have pet emergency clinics.

It's a great idea to look one up and have their number programmed in the cell phone before something happens.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Tips for caring for the wrinkly doggie

Aren't those wrinkly doggies where you can hardly tell if it's a dog or a towel just adorable?

The Huffington Post recently ran an article about wrinkly dogs. They're cute, but require some extra care to stay safe from skin problems.

Use a gentle wipe to clean the wrinkles on a daily basis. If the dog is unused to it, clean slowly, and give the dog lots of treats to help him realize the experience is pleasant.

Use a soft, damp cloth, or pre-moistened, alcohol-free wipes. Rub gently.

Wrinkly dogs should be bathed at least once a month with a gentle shampoo. Shampoos with colloidal oatmeal are particularly good because they help against itchy and dry skin. Very gently scrub between all the dog's wrinkles each bath, and make sure all shampoo residue rinses off.

These dogs tend to already have dry skin, and blow drying them is superfluous. Using a blow dryer might dry out the top layer of skin and leave moisture in the folds.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Find the right size pet door!

PlexiDor medium silver,
fits most pets up to 40 lbs.
Finding the right size of anything can be difficult, even when it comes to humans. Speaking of pets, the terms small, medium, and large can mean almost anything, depending on the frame of reference.

The PlexiDor pet door comes with a 90 day unconditional money back guarantee, so getting the wrong size doesn't have to be a disaster. It's still easier to get it right at once, particularly before making a hole in the door or the wall.

Don't be too worried if the door looks a little small; dogs generally duck their heads while going through, so the opening doesn't have to be as tall as the pet.

Also, the door isn't supposed to be flush with the floor. It should be mounted a bit up, like the door unit on this photo:

The pet door should
not be flush with the floor.


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.

The small PlexiDor is small. It's useful for dogs up to nine pounds, and cats up to twenty-four pounds. If you're uncertain whether to pick a small or medium door, the Plexidor website can put you in contact with a helpful reseller. You can also e-mail us to discuss and get advice.



Monday, May 6, 2013

Rare Breed Monday: Norwegian Lundehund, the six-toed dog.

Norwegian Lundehund
Image from akc.org.
The Norwegian Lundehund is also called Norsk Lundehund or the "Puffin Dog." 

It is a small and agile Spitz with several unique characteristics. It has six toes on each foot, prick ear that fold closed - backwards or forwards at will - and a unique ability to tip its head backwards until it touches the back bone.

The head isn't the only extremely agile part. The Lundehund has a great range of motion in all its joints, allowing it to fit into and get out of narrow passages. The extra toe makes it good at climbing.

Did you ever hear of a dog with six toes
on each paw? Image from wikipedia.
The Lundehund is described in writing as far back as the 1500s, and originated in remote parts of Norway where it was used to wrestle and retrieve live Puffin birds from the crevices of steep vertical cliffs. The extra toe was particularly useful for these balance acts.

The breed was as good as extinct after the second world war, and all dogs alive today stem from five dogs found on a remote island in the Arctic Ocean. No other breed was ever on the island.

This is a loyal and playful companion with excellent personality. They are easy to live with and their coat require minimal upkeep. On the downside, the Lundehund has a digestive disorder that makes it difficult to absorb nutrients from food. In extreme cases, the dog can starve even though it is well fed.

These are small dogs, 14-15 lbs and approximately 12-16 inches tall.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Unusual news: the mayor is a dog.

In Boone County, Kentucky, there's a small community called Rabbit Hash. Even besides the unusual name, they have something that distinguishes them from everyone else; their mayor is a dog.

You think I'm making this up, don't you? Not at all. There's even a movie about it.

According to Wikipedia, it all started in 1998 when a dog named Goofy was elected mayor in an official election. Goofy served the community until 2004, when another dog named Junior was elected mayor. Unfortunately, Junior died in 2008, and was replaced by Lucy Lou, a Border Collie.

Lucy Lou is famous for greeting the public, and makes frequent public appearances. She is the third dog in a row to hold the office, but breaks ground as the first female.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Things you didn't know about cats.

There's been a lot of dogs on the PlexiDor blog, but pet doors are used by all sorts of pets. Enter the feline with fun things you didn't know about cats!

Cats...

  • Have excellent night vision, and can see well at one-sixth of the light level required for humans.
  • Have excellent hearing and can hear higher-pitched sounds than both dogs and humans. The cat's hearing is amongst the best of the mammals.
  • Also have an acute sense of smell. About twice that of humans.
  • Don't usually greet each other nose to nose, since it puts both participants in a vulnerable position. Cats who know each other well and have been apart for a while feel safe enough to do this, and gather information about how the other cat is, where he has been, and what he has been doing. 
  • Blink and narrow their eyes when they accidentally make eye contact. To make friends with an unfamiliar cat, blink and look away when you catch his eyes.
  • Purring usually indicates contentment, but can also indicate pain. Cats start to purr at one week old, and young cats purr in a monotone while older cats can purr in two to three resonant notes.


Source: Readers's Digest.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Dog of the month: Staffordshire Terrier

The American Staffordshire Terrier is a people-oriented dog who thrives when made part of the family and given a job to do.

These dogs are extremely loyal to their owners, and will protect the family from any threat. They are strong, active, and agile. Besides being athletic, they are also both intelligent and courageous, and many owners claim their Staffies have a sense of humor.

The AKC writes, "Its affection for its friends, and children in particular, its off-duty quietness and trustworthy stability, makes it a foremost all-purpose dog."

The breed originated in England, in the nineteenth century, but the American version has developed to be bigger than the English, and the two different lines were separated in 1972.

As puppies, they should not be taken from the mom earlier than 8-10 weeks. These are hardy dogs with a life expectancy of 12 to 16 years.