Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Hero dog gets key to the city

Bear is an adopted Mastiff mix in the city of Islip - Long Island. Only weeks after his rescue, he took the opportunity to rescue his new family right back. The house filled with smoke, and Bear woke his new human. Thanks to him, everyone in the family escaped the fire unharmed!

The town of Islip has rewarded his bravery; Bear was recently presented with the key to the city. An edible key to the city. There is a video of him getting the key here.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Technology is going to the dogs!

During the past few decades, technological progress has moved forward with incredible speed. Thus far it's been mostly aimed at humans, but in the future, dogs can also be users of technology.

The FIDO project is an interesting example. FIDO stands for Facilitating Interactions for Dogs with Occupations, and the goal is better communication between dogs and humans. Working dogs do everything from assisting disabled persons to detecting bombs, and this interaction would work even better if we understood each other better.

The FIDO project tests new systems using its Inter-species interaction lab. It sounds like something from Star Trek, but it is real. 

Fox News gives examples. Military dogs could use technology to mark the location of a bomb and move to safety. Today, they have to stay with the bomb and bark until the handler arrives, putting both dog and handler at risk.

In the long run, a dog might wear a vest with sensors connected to a head-mounted display for the human. When the dog touches a sensor on the vest, a message could show on the display.

Who knows. Maybe in the future dogs will be able to tell us exactly what they feel and want, not just through hoping we understand their body language, but through words that makes sense to us bi-peds.

~ Maria Sadowski

Monday, July 29, 2013

Rare Breed Monday: Finnish Spitz

Image from hundstunden.se
The Finnish Spitz is the national dog of Finland, and it is also known as the Suomenpystykorva. Say that ten times fast! These dogs were originally bred for hunting small game and birds, but they're often used for moose and even bears. 

These dogs are lively, intelligent, quick, and friendly, and love being active and spending time with the family. They're known for loving children, and usually get along well with other dogs.

Being a barking hunting dog, they bark at anything out of the ordinary, and their country of origin hosts barking competitions. A Finnish Spitz can bark up to 160 times a minute! They can be trained to bark less, but it does make them excellent watchdogs.

The Finnish Spitz is a healthy breed, and their median life span is around 11 years.

Friday, July 26, 2013

The Cat - Human relationship

Did you ever wonder about the concept of Crazy Cat Lady? Why couldn't it be Crazy Cat Man? The University of Vienna has made a study on cats and cat owners, and it turns out that cats are more likely to initiate contact with women, and that cats and females develop closer relationships than cats and men. 

Amongst the findings are:

  • Relationships between cats and their owner mirror human bonds. Especially if the human is a woman.
  • Cats attach to humans, particularly women, as social partners. Not just for the sake of obtaining food. 
  • Cats and owners influence and control each other's behavior. 

There are plenty of male cat lovers too, of course. The study concludes, "A human and a cat can mutually develop complex ritualized interactions that show substantial mutual understanding of each other's inclinations and preferences."

We understand each other pretty well!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

A well trained dog!

There are many Youtube videos with well trained dogs. I personally like this one. I showed the video to my doggies the other day and said, "See and learn. After you watch we'll go do all this stuff."

They looked at me as if saying, "Mom, you're silly. Leave us alone!"

A slight disclaimer might be in order: The video mentions a dog training company. We are in no way affiliated with them. I don't know anything about them. I do like the video and the dog!


~ Maria Sadowski

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Do cats really ignore us?

Cats can seem aloof and not caring, but according to Discovery News, it's just an act. Cats have evolved not to be demonstrative. If they're sick, for example, they hide it, because in the wild predators pay attention to weakness.

Cats have cohabited with humans for 10,000 years, and domestic cats have developed an ability to communicate with us. Cat lovers seem to understand them, for the most part.

Discovery News point out that cats behave like kittens around their humans, and humans treat cats similar to the way we treat babies. In order to form such tight relationships, cats need to recognize and pay attention to humans. The study shows that cats might not communicate through grand gestures, but even when we think they're ignoring us, they're paying attention.


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Pet ownership and language

Different parts of the world view pets and animals in different ways. It's a difference based in culture, religion, and climate. The differences are mirrored in language as well.

In the US, I've noted a tendency for people with pets to no longer call themselves "pet owners" - many say "pet parent" or "pet guardian." At the same time there's a movement for stronger laws protecting pets, and for laws punishing animal abusers. This is wonderful. Caring for our furry friends can lead to improvements not only for them, but to a more caring society on all levels.

I'm Swedish originally, and I've noticed a couple of fascinating differences I never thought of before I moved to the US. For example, we have special words for pet parents.

A mother of a child is called "mamma" and the father is "pappa." In relation to a pet, the words are "matte" and "husse." If you watch someone else's kids you can be a "dagmamma" - mom during daytime - and if you watch someone else's pet you're a "dagmatte."

Here, I call myself a doggie-mom and around other people I tell the dogs to "come to mommy." When no one else is around I speak Swedish with them. Poor babies have to be bi-lingual...

I think language matters because it influences our way of thinking. Do you think it matters? What do you call yourself in relation to your pets?

~ Maria Sadowski

Monday, July 22, 2013

Rare Breed Monday: Swedish Vallhund

The Swedish Vallhund is
short, but tough.
The Swedish Vallhund - also called Västgötaspets - is a small, sturdy, and fearless dog. It stems back to the Vikings over 1,000 years ago, and some historians believe they were brought to Wales around the year 800, forming part of the ancestry of the Welsh Corgi. The Swedish Vallhund is an original species, meaning it did not come from another breed of dog.

These dogs are traditionally used to herd cattle, catch vermin, and guard the home. Today, they excel at obedience, agility, tracking, herding, and flyball. They're intelligent, alert, and eager to please at the same time as they are athletic and active. As long as they get some daily exercise they make great pets.

In Sweden, docking of the tail is not allowed, but some Vallhunds are still seen with bobtails; they can be born with no tail, with a stub tail, or with a full tail.

The Vallhund has been pictured on stamps around the world. Some of the countries featuring it are Sweden, Nicaragua, Ukraine, Mali, and Russia.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Dogs' memory work a lot like humans'

Discovery News reports that dogs' memory work much more like ours than we used to think. Dogs possess what's known as declarative memory - which means that facts and knowledge can be consciously recalled.

Can dogs anticipate what will happen tomorrow?
The study adds to a growing body of evidence showing many animals experience the world just like we do, with knowledge of the past and the present. Many animals are also likely to be able to imagine the future.

This might also change how we think animals perceive time. A generally spread notion is that dogs, for instance, wouldn't have a sense of time since they live solely in the present. If they have a recollection of the past and can imagine the future, this might not be true.


Thursday, July 18, 2013

Focus on dog sports: Canine Freestyle

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

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

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

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


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Why shouldn't you tell your dog "No"?

I've always said "No" to my dogs and assumed they'd eventually understand that "No" means "Stop whatever it is you're doing." It has worked well with some of them. With others, not so much.

Dogs aren't good at generalizing. There's nothing inherently wrong with saying No, but it doesn't give them enough information. Say that your dog jumps on people. If you say No, the dog might get that something is wrong, but he or she doesn't know what.

Maybe my person will be happier if I jump higher? Or if I jump more to the right? Consistently saying "Sit" is more likely to produce a good behavior; the dog will understand what you want.

On of my dogs thinks bikes and motorcycles are annoying things that should be herded. She is part Border Collie, and trust me, they'll herd anything. She wants the bikes to stand still in a neat little group.

If we're out walking and she sees a bike she'll start barking like crazy and tug on the leash. I'm sure she thinks I'm pretty silly; if I'd just let go she could run over there and teach the bike to behave!

I've said No for about a year to no avail. The last couple of weeks I've changed my behavior, and every time we see a bike I tell her to sit. Now she looks up at me as if asking, "Do I have to?" and I nod and say "Sit." She sits down and watches the bike. No more crazy struggle! Win!

~ Maria Sadowski


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Norman the Scooter Dog has a world record!

Image from lifewithdogs.tv
Norman the scooter dog rides his scooter through placing his front paws on the handle, one back paw on the scooter, and propels himself with his other back paw. Besides scooters he can also ride a bike and a skateboard.

Norman has become quite the celebrity, and has amongst other things appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman, and on the Cartoon Network. Last week he became the Guinness World Record holder as fastest dog on a scooter.

He needed to ride 30 meters in less than 30 seconds. He went almost two feet further, and needed only 20 seconds.

Congratulations to Norman!




Monday, July 15, 2013

Rare Breed Monday: Peruvian Inca Orchid

Peruvian Inca Orchid
Image from akc.org
The Peruvian Inca Orchid is not a flower; it is a dog. It was first depicted on pottery around 750 AD, and as the name indicates, these were the dogs of the Inca and their descendants.

These dogs are elegant, lively, and alert. They're excellent hunters and do well in sports such as lure coursing, rally, and agility. They can be hairless or coated, and come in three sizes: small, medium, or large.

They get sunburned easily and need a sweater in winter. They don't have the protective coat of other breeds, and should live indoors, protected from the elements. 

The Peruvian Inca Orchid is known for being loyal and protective of its family, but requires plenty of exercise and activity. They're considered to bring good luck, and through history their warmth has been used to treat arthritis. 


Friday, July 12, 2013

Product test: hand crafted collar from Montana Grrl Critter Gear!

Collar from Montana Grrl Critter Gear
Social media has changed the world in exciting ways. I made a new friend on Twitter the other day, and she manufactures and sells dog collars, leashes, bandanas, and other pet related products. 

The company's name is Montana Grrl Critter Gear. I have tried a collar, and I'm so impressed I want to spread the word.

The products are hand crafted in the USA. The collar is washable, sturdy, and beautiful.

Right out of the package you can tell it's made with love and an eye for detail. Everything down to the packaging itself is thought through and beautiful!

Topper sporting his new collar
from Montana Grrl Critter Gear!
Topper is usually less than impressed with cameras, but he agreed to model, so everyone could see how handsome he looks in his new collar.

I got a medium size. There's plenty of adjustment, and the medium collar would fit a much larger dog than my Topper. It would also fit a somewhat smaller. (He's around 33 lbs.)

It is very well made with sturdy seams and hardware.

There's a wide variety of patterns, colors, and products to choose from, and I will definitely get more products for "my gang" from Montana Grrl Critter Gear.

The company has its own website here, and can also be found on Etsy.

Showing the collar from behind,
so everyone can see the cute pawprints. =)


Thursday, July 11, 2013

Sliding tracks - new accessory


In a perfect world, no one would have to worry about intruders crawling in through a doggie door. In reality, the areas where residents don't bother locking their front door are become rare, and an increasing number of people worry about security.

The PlexiDor comes with lock and key, and when the door is locked, forcing entry is difficult. The panels are shatter resistant and made from the same material as aircraft windshields. It's possible to break them, but it's not easy.

Attaching the security plate
To improve security further, every PlexiDor except for size small comes with a steel security plate.

In its original state, the security plate is fastened on the door through four screws. It's easy, and makes the door virtually impossible to get through.

Some people like to use the security plate every time they leave the house, and in the long run, screwing it to the door can seem like more trouble than it's worth. To make using the security plate easier, there's a new accessory called the Sliding Track system.

The sliding tracks come with all hardware and mounts to the door in minutes. Once they're attached to the interior frame, the security plate slides down the tracks into place.

Sliding track system
with flip lock
A common question is, "If an intruder gets through the panels, won't he be able to push the security plate up?"

The sliding tracks have a flip lock that folds over the upper edge of the security plate and keeps it in place. Sliding the security plate in and locking it only requires a couple of seconds.

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.

The smallest door does not have a security plate because it's too small for anyone to get through.

If you have any questions about PlexiDors and security, visit our main website, or contact us at questions@plexidors.com.


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Guest blog by Topper GoodBoy - waking up your human.

Mom caught me using the computer. I was just talking to my friend Abby on Facebook, and little did I know this would lead to work. She said, "Hey, if you can type well enough to talk to Abby, you can write a guest blog for me too. I'll give you a cookie!" 

Silly mom. I'm so cute she should just give me cookies. Or bacon. There's too little bacon in our house!

Anyway, I'm Topper GoodBoy. At least I think that's my name. I know my first name is Topper, and I hear the words GoodBoy all the time, so that must be my last name, right? I'm a rescue, and I came to my mom through Ewenity Farms in Florida.

Now when all that is sorted out, I want to share my best tips on waking up a human. This is an important job, and in my house it falls to me because I can jump up on the bed real easy.

I don't know what it is with humans and this urge to sleep in the mornings. I want to cuddle, go out, and have breakfast. In that order. Mom just wants to sleep and sleep and sleep! Seriously, we did that all night!

When I was new to this human-waking thing, I'd try to whine to get mom's attention. That didn't work at all. Then, I tried jumping up in bed and waiting for her to notice me. Major fail.

The best way is to jump up on the bed and poke your human with a paw. If he or she is a deep sleeper you might need to shake them a bit. Pretend you're poking a toy or something. It's fun, and it pays off!

When I poke my mom, she usually wakes up enough to cuddle with me. I let her enjoy my soft fur for a few minutes before moving to the next step: licking. Any part of skin that might stick out under the sheets should be properly licked. This helps humans wake up. If you can get to the face, it's a bonus.

If you have brothers or sisters or even a cat, this is a great time to get help. My brother Boo is really good at whimpering and whining, and I've taught him to start at the same time as I do the face-lick. My sister Bonnie doesn't like to jump up on the bed, it's a bit too high for her, but she'll stand up against it and help me poke or lick mom.

At this point, mommy usually grumbles something like, "It's a good thing I love you," and that means she's grateful for the doggie alarm clock service and ready to get out of bed. While she pulls on a robe and whatever humans need to go outside in the morning, I sneak in a nap on her pillow.

~ Topper GoodBoy

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Do You Doga?

Doga image from nytimes.com
The first time someone asked if I've tried Doga, I said, "Uuuuh...?"

Had I done the what-and-the-what?

I still haven't tried, but I've studied up. Doga is Yoga with dogs. It combines massage and mediation with stretching for both dogs and humans. There are classes where people and pooches can meet up and do it together, or video classes to get into the Dojo, I mean Doga, at home.

According to the New York Times, the underlying philosophy of Doga is that dogs are pack animals, and thus a perfect match for yoga's emphasis on union and connection with other beings.

It makes sense. I think my doggies would be more interested in checking out the other dogs and people than doing exercises with me, but I still like the idea. I don't go for walks by myself because it feels silly, but I walk just fine with my dogs every day. Maybe the same principle is true for other forms of exercise. I don't do Yoga because I'm lazy and it's easier to stay at home. If I were to do it together with a dog, it might actually happen.

Have you tried? Did your dog like it?

~ Maria Sadowski

Monday, July 8, 2013

Rare Breed Monday: Pachón Navarro

The Pachon Navarro is an old Spanish breed, stemming back to the original Old Spanish Pointers developed in the 1200s. It is a popular breed among Spanish hunters and they are known to excel at teamwork with both each other and humans. 

Image by Craig Koshyk from
http://pointingdogblog.blogspot.com
This breed has an interesting distinction from all other dogs. The website pointingdogblog writes, "All dogs have a slight crease between their nostrils, but it is usually no more than a very shallow line. Many Pachones have nostrils that are clearly divided by a much deeper furrow, making it look similar to the business end of a side-by-side shotgun."

The dogs are known to be intelligent, friendly, loyal, and brave. They are large and athletic, and need plenty of daily exercise. While they excel at hunting, they also make wonderful family dogs. They are gentle and affectionate, and prefer to be near their humans. This is not a dog content with being alone in a yard.

Pachon Navarros get along with most other dogs, they are cooperative, and learn quickly. Combined with intelligence and loyalty, this makes them easy to train.

There aren't many websites with information about the Pachones, but easypetmd.com have an article on them, and pointingdogblog have featured them as the dog of the week.


Friday, July 5, 2013

Nevada says No to BSL!

Breed Specific Legislation - the idea of banning certain dog breeds - is popular amongst some people afraid of dogs. It doesn't work. Looking at statistics from areas that implement Breed Specific Legislation, the public safety benefit is unmeasurable, while loved pets and service dogs are ripped away from their families and killed because they happen to be an outlawed breed.

I'm not saying that everyone has to love every kind of animal, but legislation stemming out of fear is rarely effective. May 24th, Governor Brian Sandoval signed Nevada AB 110, stating "a local authority shall not adopt or enforce an ordinance or regulation that deems a dog dangerous or vicious based solely on the breed of dog."

Prince George's County in Maryland has done the most thorough assessment of BSL to date. They found that:
  • The cost for the county to confiscate and euthanize one single pit bull came out to around $68,000
  • In the fiscal year 2001-2002, these expenditures totaled a dazzling $560,000
  • The county lost revenue due to a dramatic reduction in dog shows and exhibitions
  • Dog bites decreased at the same rate amongst all breeds
Amongst the indirect losses, the investigators found people moving away from the county because of BSL. Tourism decreased because people with banned breed can't - or won't - visit. And, there is the loss of trained service dogs, not to mention the heartbreak of families who lose their pet.

The ASPCA states the problem is never the breed, but the way a dog is treated by the humans around it. The three most aggressive breeds are actually the Dachshund, the Chihuahua, and the Jack Russell Terrier. Ironically, none of these have ever been covered by a breed specific ban. These are fairly small dogs and those who worry about dog bites might say they'd rather have a Jack Russell run up and bite them than a Pitbull. The point is that owners must take responsibility for their dogs, train them, and socialize them, whether they're large or small. 

The CDC (Center for Disease Control) also made a study on dog bite fatalities in the US and have published an interesting fact sheet. They conclude that each year, 4.7 million Americans are bitten by dogs. These bites result in approximately 16 fatalities. According to the fact sheet, the data on which breeds might be more dangerous is inconclusive, and they say, "Many practical alternatives to breed-specific policies exist and hold promise for preventing dog bites."

They also give some good hands-on advice on things to consider before getting a dog, and on how to prevent dog bites.

What are the alternatives to BSL? Education, enforced leash laws, strong animal abuse and dog fighting laws, and owner accountability are a few examples. 

Dog of the month: Newfoundland

The Newfoundland is a Canadian dog originally bred and used as a working dog for fishermen. They are known for their giant size - some males weigh over 200 lbs - tremendous strength, calm disposition, and loyalty.

The Newfoundland is also known as the "Gentle Giant." They excel at water rescue, because they have great lung capacity for swimming long distances. They are also strong enough to take on rough ocean waves and powerful tides.


Thursday, July 4, 2013

Katoby's Campaign for Rescue

Our friends at Katoby Distribution in Canada are running a Campaign for Rescue contest. It is intended to help spread awareness of various rescue groups across Canada.


Anyone can nominate a Canadian rescue, it's possible to vote every day, and the four winning rescues will receive great prize packages. There is dog food, a PlexiDor, blankets, dog collars, toys, and much more.

You can read more about the contest here, and go here to participate!


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Stay safe in the summer heat!

Here in Florida the weather is rarely cold. In my personal opinion there are a few days each winter that are warm, and the rest of the year goes from hot to hotter. Thank goodness for AC!

As a human, I can choose to stay inside in the air conditioning. I can go to the beach and mosey around in sandals. It's not quite that easy for pets. They are at our mercy. Luckily, it's easy for us to make summer better for them.

Asphalt becomes hot, and pets walk barefoot. Press your palm against the asphalt and keep it there for at least five seconds. If it's too hot for you to do this, it's too hot for your pets to walk on.

Cars also grow hot quickly. It's easy to think "it's not all that warm" but both pets and children are sensitive to heat. They will die if left alone in the car. On a hot day, the interior of a car reaches 120 F in a matter of minutes.

If your pet is outside in the yard, make sure there's shade and plenty of fresh water. Best is to make sure they stay inside, in the AC, during the day.

Petfinder.com has an information campaign right now on how to best care for our furry friends in the summer heat. When they point out that more pets are lost on 4th of July than on any other day of the year it makes sense, but I wouldn't have thought of it myself.

Here are a couple of the infographics Petfinder has available on their website. Spread the word!



Let's all stay safe and happy, and have a great July 4th!

~ Maria Sadowski

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Why can't my dogs do laundry?

Image from the Dailymail.co.uk
Last week I wrote about all the remarkable things dogs can do, and about the development of technology for dogs. While researching the post I stumbled over a wonderful article in the Dailymail

The article is from last year and talks about service dog Byron. Reading about him makes me think I'm a failure as a pet parent. On a good day, my dogs know sit and stay. Byron knows over 100 commands, and he has truly changed his human's life. Before she got him, she hadn't been outside on her own for over 18 months!

Byron helps his human into her wheelchair every day. He makes the bed, gets milk from the fridge, money from the ATM, and at the supermarket, he can get whatever item she looks at!

He also unloads the shopping basket on the conveyor belt and presses pedestrian crossing buttons with his nose. He does laundry. In the evening, he fetches hot water bottles and puts them in bed, under the covers. Surely, I'm not the only one just loving Byron right now?

To read more about Byron, see more photos, and a video, click here!

~ Maria Sadowski

Monday, July 1, 2013

Rare Breed Monday: Appenzeller Sennenhund

Image from akc.org
The Appenzeller Sennenhund is a large and active Swiss breed. It is the most rare of the Swiss Sennenhunde. The Bernese Mountain Dog belongs to the same type of dog, and is probably the most known.

The Appenzeller is active and known to be suspicious towards strangers. It requires exercise, training, and something to do, and is not recommended as an apartment dog. They do bond closely with their owners, and they thrive on attention.

According to dogbreedinfo.com, these dogs are charming and affectionate, tough, intelligent, and lively. They usually get along with other dogs and animals, and they love open spaces and freedom to run.

Appenzellers are versatile working dogs, often used to herd cows. They will control a wayward cow but dashing in to nip at its heel. Consider how big a cow is compared to a dog... Nipping cows is not for the faint of heart! They're also good at agility and games of catch.