Friday, January 31, 2014

Paws might need protection from ice and salt

Large parts of the country are covered in snow and ice. This is inconvenient for humans, and can be outright painful for dogs.

Some dog owners reason that it's natural for dogs to be outside in the snow, and that wolves are outside in the snow all winter long. The problem with this is that humans have created an artificial environment where dog's feet come in contact with substances that don't exist in the forests where wolves run.

Most northern dog owners are aware of lumps of snow catching on their dogs' paws. It is less known that most de-icers are toxic to dogs. A sidewalk that looks clean and pleasant might be covered in salt or other chemicals which can hurt the dog's feet. The paw pads can dry out and crack, they can get frostbite, and chemical burns.

What can dog owners do to protect their pooches?

Dog booties make great winter protection and work against both frostbite and salt. As a bonus they also give some protection against the burning hot asphalt in summer. Using the booties can take some practice. Praise the dog for having them on, start with short periods of time inside the house, and gradually increase the length of time. When it's time to move the training outside, start with short walks.

If booties isn't an option, there is paw wax specially formulated to create a barrier between the dog's paws and whatever might be on the ground. This might not be as effective as boots, but it is definitely better than nothing at all.

Trim the hair around the paws and between the paw pads. This helps prevent snow and ice balls that can hurt the dog's feet. Also make sure the nails are trimmed, because long nails will force the paw pads to separate when the dog walks, and this increases the risk of snow and ice building up between the pads.

When the walk is over, whether the dog wears boots, wax, or nothing, it is important to wash the paws with warm water at once. If they're given a chance to lick their feet they might ingest salt and other dangerous chemicals.

Good to know: Dogs are susceptible to both frostbite and hypothermia. Use common sense and watch out for the dog shivering, appearing anxious, or moving slowly.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Happy dog!

Dogs know how to live life.
Seeing this video makes me want to jump around too!
Happy dog!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Cats at sea

Cats and humans have walked side by side on land for thousands of years. It is less known that cats have shared the seas with us. They have a great ability to adapt to their surroundings, and thrive on ships.

In today's society many people consider black cats bad luck. At sea, it was the complete opposite. Cats, particularly black cats, were believed to protect ships from dangerous weather, and fishermen's wives would keep black cats at home, hoping they would protect the men at sea.

The US Naval Institute writes, "It is likely that the ancient Egyptians were the first seafarers to realize the true value of having cats as shipmates." The kitties protected the ships from rats and mice, served as company, and could to some extent warn for foul weather. Cats have sensitive inner ears, and low atmospheric pressure often make them nervous and restless.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Read more at: 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Velcro dogs

Most dogs want to be with their person, and some are virtually glued to their human. We tend to give human traits to those around us, but it is important to understand that a dog following their person around isn't necessarily a sign of separation anxiety. It can be, but it doesn't have to be.

Our American Eskimo would follow me to the bathroom if I let him. He usually waits right outside the door, with his nose an inch or so away from the annoying barrier that separates him from me. He's okay with me leaving the house without him, he's not anxious, but he prefers to be by my side.

Humans are social beings, but dogs are much more so. We tend to balance our social lives with solitude for peace and quiet. Dogs have no concept of "alone time." Dogs want to be with their pack, which in modern society equals their human.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Monday, January 27, 2014

Rare Breed Monday: New Guinea Singing Dog

Image from
The New Guinea singing dog has been called a living, breathing, four-legged fossil. It is one of the rarest breeds in the world, if not even the rarest. According to New Guinea Singing Dog International, the breed has inhabited the island of New Guinea since the stone age. The breed was local to New Guinea until 1957, when the first singing dogs left the island.

The breed is named from its distinctive and melodious howl, and their dramatic ability to vary the pitch. They don't bark much, but they are vocal in other ways.

New Guinea Singing Dogs are agile and graceful, active, lively, and alert. They're known to be clever and curious, but they also have a strong hunting drive. The website states that while these dogs are gentle and affectionate with people they know, they tend to be aloof with strangers. They're hardy with a life expectancy of 15-20 years, but require large amounts of exercise.

New Guinea Singing Dog International has a great guide to the breed. These dogs are still close to the wild and not common as pets, but can be great for the right family. The guide emphasizes that these dogs have a strong hunting drive, they're excellent escape artists, they're not interested in entertaining humans through doing tricks, and they are extremely intelligent.


~ Maria Sadowski ~

Friday, January 24, 2014

Dogs might understand others' point of view

Many dog owners think their pooch is smart, and that the dog understands humans. Dr Juliane Kaminski of the University of Portsmouth has worked to prove dogs' ability to take people into account.

Kaminski says, "Humans constantly attribute certain qualities and emotions to other living things. We know that our own dog is clever or sensitive, but that's us thinking, not them."

Not surprising to pet parents, her studies suggest humans might be right: dogs might have a flexible understanding of the mind and others' minds. Up until now scientists have assumed only humans and possibly chimpanzees had this ability.

The test included 84 dogs - 24 females and 24 males - and studied dogs' strategies on whether to steal food. The participants were four times more likely to disobey in a dark room than in a lit room, suggesting they take into account what their human can or cannot see.

The tests were complex and involved many variables, and results were conclusive: in a dark room, the dogs would take more food, and take it more quickly.

Do your dogs steal food?

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Read more about this:
Science Daily
Dogs steal in the dark by Juliane Kaminski

Thursday, January 23, 2014

How much does a cat sleep?

Cats are experts at enjoying life. They make stretching out in a ray of sunshine for a nap seem like the epitome of joy. The average cat sleeps fifteen hours a day, and some sleep as much as twenty.

The website says the only well known animals that sleep more than cats are bats and opposum.

Why do they sleep so much? has the answer. Cats are born hunters, and all that creeping about in the shadows and pouncing on prey - real or imagined - uses up enormous amounts of energy. The large amounts of sleep is reserve energy for running, climbing, and creeping.

Cats are most active during the twilight hours between dawn and dusk, which is inconvenient for cat lovers who want their kitties to play and be awake during daytime. Luckily cats are both sociable and adaptable, and quite able to adjust their sleeping habits to be awake when their human is. Not to mention to be awake when there's food!

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Dogs and humans might have evolved together.

A 2013 study hints at dogs being domesticated far earlier in time than we have previously thought. The study also indicates that dogs and humans might have evolved together for thousands of years.

DNA analysis on a canine skull found in Siberia in 2013 shows a closer relation to dogs than to wolves, and the skull has been dated 33,000 years in the past. Another possible domestic dog fossil, around 36,000 years old, has been found in Belgium.

Research from 2014 says dogs might have descended from a type of wolf that is now extinct. The original, ancient wolf separated into dogs and today's wolves.

Since then, dogs' evolution has been gradual, and comparing corresponding genes in dogs and humans shows both species underwent similar changes in digestion and metabolism at the same time. This could be due to a dramatic change in the proportions of animal vs plant-based foods. Maybe dogs were with us when we settled down and learned how to grow crops!

Breeds that lack a close connection to agrarian societies, such as Siberian Huskies, do not have the same genes. They never had to adapt to breaking down starch and other components of a plant-based diet, because their humans didn't make the switch.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Do you sleep with your dog?

I have four dogs in the house, but only one sleeps in bed. Bonnie is my princess, and she has important duties. Like, keeping my legs warm.

I believe most dog owners have a mental image of how cozy it will be. The imaginary mutual snuggle is idyllic and peaceful.

Reality is generally completely different, and the perfect snuggle-moment happens a few times each year. Pets excel at bed hogging, cover stealing, snoring, and kicking.

It doesn't matter. The American Pet Products Association made a study of American sleeping habits, and nearly half of the dogs sleep in their owner's beds. 62% of small dogs, 41% of medium sized dogs, and 32% of large dogs sleep with their owners.

When it comes to cats, 62% of cats sleep with their adult owners, and an additional 13% of cats sleep with children.

Is it healthy to sleep with your pets?

On, Derek Damin of Kentuckiana Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology in Louisville, Ky., says people who suffer from pet allergies or asthma should not sleep with their dog or cat. His recommendation is to use a HEPA filter and keep them out of the bedroom. He also acknowledges that most pet lovers won't kick their darling out of bed, even if they cause allergy problems.

He is right. Humans know what's good for us, and we happily ignore it. I'm a little allergic to dogs. That doesn't change the fact that I can't sleep without my Bonnie. Hearing her steady and soft snore puts me to sleep. She's rather big, and she makes me feel safe and snug, even if she hogs the covers.

Victoria Stilwell, internationally renowned dog trainer, says on that dogs only sleep with people or dogs they trust. From the dog's standpoint, being allowed on the bed is a compliment.

Do you sleep with your pets? Does it work well?

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Monday, January 20, 2014

Rare Breed monday: Bedlington Terrier

Image from
The Bedlington Terrier is an English breed, developed in the early 19th century. The name comes from the Bedlington Mining Shire, where the dogs were used to dispatch of vermin. 

These dogs are known to be mild and gentle with their family, and they generally make good playmates for children. They are extremely fast runners, and need to be taught a good recall. It is not a good idea to let them off leash unless in an enclosed area.

Bedlington Terriers can get along fine with cats and other household animals if taught at a young age. Just be aware that they were once bred to be hunters, and this instinct remains. They are small dogs, usually between 18 and 23 pounds, but has been used to hunt both badgers and foxes.

When it comes to grooming, the Bedlington Terrier sheds little to no hair, but requires trimming every six weeks. They can suffer from hereditary diseases, especially a liver problem known as Copper Storage Disease, but their average life expectancy is still around 17 years.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Sources: Akc and Dogbreedinfo

Friday, January 17, 2014

The PlexiDor awning will soon be available in more sizes

The easy to install PlexiDor awning prevents rain, sun, and snow from entering through a pet door. Up until now the awning has been one size fits all, but for 2014 there will be more options.

These perfect companions to the PlexiDor are made from durable aluminum with a baked-on finish that will last for many years. They are available in white or bronze, and within the next few days they will come in sizes that perfectly match the PlexiDor pet doors.

The small awning is 12" wide and 8" deep.
The medium awning is 16" wide and 12" deep.
The large awning is 23 1/4" wide and 16 5/8" deep.

Prices will start at an affordable $79.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Thursday, January 16, 2014

New book on cats and cat behavior

Dr John Bradshaw is a biologist at the University of Bristol in England. He has studied animal behavior for thirty years, and he recently released a book called Cat Sense, subtitled "How the new feline science can make you a better friend to your pet."

The general idea is that dogs were domesticated by humans for a specific purpose, while cats domesticated themselves. They were good at catching mice and moved into a win-win partnership with humans; we harvested grains which attracted mice. Humans enjoyed cats getting rid of the pests, and cats enjoyed an abundance of food.

This means that cats have stayed pretty much the same during the ages. In addition to the wild history, Dr Bradshaw thinks 85% of all cat matings in the US are arranged by cats themselves. (That is, they involve a feral cat.) If this is correct we can't expect kitties to grow any more domesticated any time soon. For better and for worse.

The author also suggests that cats regard their owners as mother-substitutes. We are in effect large, hairless, non-hostile cats.

Cat Sense is available as e-book, hardcover, or audio book. If you're interested in the book, the New York Times has published a review.


Cats have been popular household pets for thousands of years, and their numbers only continue to rise. Today there are three cats for every dog on the planet, and yet cats remain more mysterious, even to their most adoring owners.

Unlike dogs, cats evolved as solitary hunters, and, while many have learned to live alongside humans and even feel affection for us, they still don’t quite "get us" the way dogs do, and perhaps they never will. But cats have rich emotional lives that we need to respect and understand if they are to thrive in our company.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Dog translator coming soon?

No More Woof is a Nordic organization aiming to translate animal thoughts into human language. Impossible? Maybe. Or, maybe not.

The company strives to develop a "small gadget that uses the latest technology in micro computing and EEG to analyze animal thought patterns." Dogs think in different ways than humans, but every mammal creates and transports throughs in the same way; as a swarm of electrical signals. These signals can be analyzed and measured.

The technology is still in its infancy, but they have found EEG patterns corresponding to, "I'm tired," "I'm excited," "I'm hungry," and "Who are you?"

Today, the device is a headset worn by the dog. That might seem cumbersome, but working dogs wear vests and other equipment, and many dogs learn to enjoy clothing. Also, the gadget will surely become smaller and easier to use as the development progresses.

For more information, check out the No More Woof website. The page is quite extensive, and you need to browse far down to see it all.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Dogs suffer from stereotypes, just as people.

I recently read a blog post about seven dog breeds that don't deserve their stereotypes. It's a great post, well worth checking out. It reminded me of a few situations where people with breeds with bad reputation might have misinterpreted my behavior. I might have hurt people's feelings without thinking about it.

Staffordshire Terrier
I particularly remember one time at a dog event. I had brought my foster dog at the time, and the founder of the rescue made a point of telling me that he could be dominant, and that I needed to keep an eye on him around other dogs. (That is always sound advice, by the way.)

A couple with a large terrier type of dog walked past the tent where I sat with my foster. He wanted to creep closer, and I pulled him to me and told him to sit and stay. The woman gave me a hurt look, and I didn't understand until days later that she probably thought I assumed their extremely well behaved dog would do something to mine. The truth was the complete opposite; I asked my foster to sit and stay because I didn't want him to go start something.

In retrospect I feel awful about it. If I had been more aware I would have said something along the lines of, "I don't know if I can trust this guy, so it might be better if they don't meet."

When I'm not distracted by a four-legged companion of my own, I tell everyone I meet with a dog, "That's a beautiful dog." They all are, and who knows, it might make someone's day.

Anyway, the article on dog breeds that don't deserve their stereotypes is written by Carol Bryant for She emphasizes - and I agree completely - that dogs aren't born dangerous by default. They are individuals, and behavior is influenced by many factors. All dogs need training!

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Monday, January 13, 2014

Rare Breed Monday: Black Mouth Cur

Image from
The Black Mouth Cur is a hunting and cattle dog from the USA. Some believe the breed originated in the mountains of Tennessee, and others claim the breed comes from Mississippi. Either way, the dogs were used by early American settlers as all-round working dogs.

They are known for being tenacious and courageous with a strong desire to work. This is a intelligent breed who shows great loyalty to their family. Given proper training they can herd animals, track game, work in search and rescue, and excel in all sorts of dog sports.

Being an intelligent working dog, they require exercise and something to do. A long run or brisk walk once a day is not enough to keep them occupied. They do very well in active homes where they are allowed to participate in the family's activities.

The Black Mouth Cur can be territorial - it is bred to be a homestead dog that would protect home and family from intruders - and it should be socialized from an early age. They thrive on love, encouragement, and attention.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Friday, January 10, 2014

Most searched dog breeds of 2013

There are all sorts of lists of most popular dog breeds in different countries, cities, and so on. Google has put a new twist on the list. Here is their top ten count of most searched dog breeds in the US during 2013.

The Bulldog was the most search for breed during
2013 on Google in the US.
1. Bulldog
2. Chihuahua
3. Poodle
4. Golden Retriever
5. Pug
6. Pomeranian
7. Shih Tzu
8. Collie
9. Beagle
10. Maltese

The bulldog was also the fifth most popular dog breed in America in 2012, according to the American Kennel Club's list. It will be interesting to see if it has gained positions during 2013. Numbers on that aren't out yet.

In 2012, the Beagle was number four on AKC's popularity list, Golden Retriever number three, German Shepherd number two, and Labrador Retriever number one. If the Labrador keeps its ranking, it will have been the nation's most popular dog for 23 years in a row.

If you're curious to see where your dog breed ranks, AKC has a complete list here, with comparisons ten years back in time.

Do you have one of these dogs? Did you search it?

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Dogs are sensitive to the Earth's magnetic field

Supercomputer model of the
Earth's magnetic field. Source:
The Earth has a magnetic field. Many people only come in contact with it through the use of a compass, but it has great importance for every living being on the planet. Amongst other things, it shields us from solar radiation.

In theory, the field is straight and neat with a magnetic north pole close to the geographic north pole, and a magnetic south pole close to the geographic south pole. In reality, it's a bit more complicated, but for the sake of discussion, north and south are quite sufficient.

So, what does this have to do with pets?

Good question. Scientists at the Czech University of Life Sciences along with the zoology department at the University of Duisburg-Essen in Germany have studied dogs doing the "potty dance" and found that dogs prefer to align their body axis with the planet's magnetic field. They prefer the North-South direction, and avoid the East-West direction.

While the reason for the magnetic preference remains unknown, this is the first time magnetic sensitivity has been proven in dogs. It is also the first time a mammal has been unambiguously proven to be sensitive to small changes in magnetic polarity.

The scientists believe there might a biological explanation to the phenomenon. Birds are thought to navigate with assistance of the magnetic field, and dogs might also have a "magnetic map" aiding them with their sense of direction. This could explain how some dogs are able to hike home across the country after being separated from their owners, or after a move.

70 dogs from 37 different breeds participated in the experiment, and their habits were studied over a period of two years. You can read more here, and see the report here.

If you're interested in learning more about the Earth's magnetic field, this Introduction to Geomag can be a good starting point, along with this article on Nasa's website.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Surfing dog!

Image from
Ricochet is a registered and certified therapy dog who surfs with special needs children and people with disabilities. The Golden Retriever also surfs for fun, in contests, with other animals, and raises money for charity.

She has surfed since she was 8 weeks old - it started in a kiddie pool - and she is featured in a large number of books and movies. She also participated in the world record of most dogs on a surfboard.

If you've never visited Ricochet's website,, I warmly recommend it. It's packed with information and contains everything from PTSD service dogs to coloring pages that can be printed out and entertain children.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Decoding your dog - new book on doggie behavior

Decoding your dog is a new book that strives to set the record straight about dog behavior. Debunking some myths might very well allow humans and dogs to coexist in a happier and more peaceful manner.

Dog owners face an explosion of trainers offering a bewildering variety of advice. Some are proponents of rewards-based training, and others suggest dominance and shock collars. There's a plethora of theories on all sorts of media, but few scientifically proven answers.

This book is written by 21 contributing authors from American College of Veterinary Behaviorists, and it is edited by Debra Horwitz, John Ciribassi, and Steve Dale. The group of writers normally present their work in scientific journals, and this is the first time veterinary behaviorists have written a book for the general public.

Decoding your dog deals with all sorts of problems, from jumping to greet guests to lunging at other dogs on walks, and starts with teaching owners how to "speak dog".

According to an article in USA Today, behavior might be the biggest reason dogs end up in shelters and eventually die. The authors of Decoding your dog hope that avoiding behavior problems along with giving humans the tools necessary to deal with them will save the lives of many pets.

The book is available as e-book as well as print.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Monday, January 6, 2014

Dog of the month: Barbet

Image from
The Barbet is a medium-sized French water dog. It's an active breed that enjoys work and play, and Barbets often excel at sports. They're known for being affectionate and devoted to their owners, and many Barbet are "velcro-dogs" glued to their human's side.

Researches agree on the breed stretching back into antiquity, but there are two main theories to its history.

Some believe the Barbet descends from herding dogs originating in North Africa. They were allegedly brought to Europe with the Moors as they occupied the Iberian Peninsula during the 7th and 8th centuries. From there, they would have followed crusaders over the Pyrenees to France and central Europe.

Another theory states the Barbet originated in Asia and found its way to Europe over land. It's difficult to prove either theory, and the truth might very well be a mix of the two.

The first written reference to the breed has been found in a book from 1387, and the first attempt at categorizing the Barbet was made in 1570 with "De Canibus Britannicus."

These dogs are often described as joyful and goofy. They are intelligent and quick to learn, and as all intelligent breeds they need stimulation. Barbet are generally great with other pets as well as children, and they love to accompany their humans while hiking, swimming, and traveling.

According to the Barbet club of America, Barbet have hair and not fur, and don't shed in the same way as most other breeds. They need to be combed and trimmed.

Average weight ranges from 35 to 60 lbs.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

For further information on the Barbet and its history, please visit: 

Friday, January 3, 2014

Play a little every day!

For us humans it's easy to get caught up in everyday life. I think dogs do too, to a certain extent. If we're at work, they're likely to spend the day sleeping, but if there's a holiday, they're active with us.

Being active, playing, and having fun is such an important part of life. I got this video in an e-mail during the holidays, and it's worth sharing!

(We are not in any way affiliated with Beneful, nor do we express an opinion on their products.)

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Dog of the Month: Australian Shepherd

The Australian Shepherd, or Aussie, is a breed of herding dog. Some say the Aussies come from farms in western United States, others say they come from the Pyrenees Mountains between Spain and France. One thing is certain; they do not come from Australia. They got the name from herding Australian sheep.

Like all working breeds, the Aussies have a lot of energy and need a job to do. These dogs excel at agility, flyball, and frisbee. They are also used as search-and-rescue dogs, disaster dogs, guide-, service-, and therapy dogs.