Friday, February 28, 2014

Famous movie dogs - Beethoven

Image from
Beethoven is a lovable St Bernard featured in a number of movies. The actor portraying him in the first and second movie was a dog named Chris, trained by Karl Lewis Miller who also worked with animals for films such as Babe and Cujo.

Chris passed away after the second movie, and the character has been played by a number of other dogs. The movie, "Beethoven's Big Break" required three different dogs. Benz performed tricks, Dolly took care of scenes with puppies, and Boomer had a talent for drooling.

St Bernards are giant dogs with an average weight of between 140 and 264 lbs, and they're known for being working dogs from the Swiss Alps. The most famous St Bernard was Barry who allegedly saved around 100 people lost in the snow.

The original St Bernards look different from the breed today. They were nearly extinct in the early 19th century and were cross-bred with Newfoundlands gaining the long coat they have today.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Dogs are sensitive to emotion in human voices

Image from
Most dog owners assume Fido knows what we mean when we use a certain type of voice. Non dog owners might think it's silly, but now it is scientifically proven. Dogs might not be able to discuss with us - yet - but they understand emotion in human voices.

A group of Hungarian scientists have trained 11 dogs to stay motionless in a MRI brain scanner making it possible to run the same neuroimaging experiments on dogs and humans. Then, they captured and compared dogs' and humans' brain activity while listening to 200 dog and human sounds ranging from crying to laughing.

Dog brains have voice-sensitive regions that resemble those of humans, and the group noted striking similarities in the ways the dog and human brains process emotionally loaded sounds.

Read more about this exciting research on science and

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Extra large doors for extra large dogs

Hercules, the 2010 heaviest dog in the world, is an
English Mastiff weighing in at 282 lbs.
Image from
Many dog breeds grow to imposing sizes, like the Great Dane, St Bernard, Irish Wolfhound, and Newfoundland, to name a few. Many of these dogs can exceed 200 lbs and have a shoulder height of three feet or more. 

Traditionally, these dogs have been confined to waiting until their human has the time to open the front door.

It has been nearly impossible to find a pet door big enough to accommodate the extra large dog breeds, and to complicate things, the sheer power with which these dogs hit a door when they come running can tear a traditional pet door apart.

The PlexiDor extra large is designed to take a beating. All PlexiDor pet door frames are engineered with hardened aluminum that won't bend, rust, crack, or warp. The saloon style panels are made of a hardened, shatter-resistant acrylic and seals to the frame with industrial grade weather stripping.

On the extra large door, the panels are equipped with factory installed aluminum trim to protect them from chewing and to provide added strength to the entire door.

The doors can be mounted in a standard household door or through a wall, and they are available in three colors: silver, white, or bronze. Every door comes with lock, key, and a steel security plate.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Dogs and cats might be able to see in ultraviolet

Comparison of what bees and humans see
Light is made up by a wide spectrum of colors. The visible light humans can see goes from red to violet. Other animals see other wavelengths, and we know bees, birds, fish, some reptiles, mice, and bats can see ultraviolet light.

Why does it differ between the species? Well, as you can see from the illustration to the right, bees can pick up a lot of wavelengths that we can't see. They use it to see colors or patterns on plants that can lead them to nectar. It is believed that reindeer use ultraviolet light to see polar bears and other arctic threats that otherwise blend in with the snow.

Our eyes block it to improve visual acuity. That means, we have higher resolution vision and we are better at seeing details. The downside is that we don't see well in the dark.

A group of researchers at City University of London have compared sights of a large number of mammals, and found that hedgehogs, dogs, cats, and ferrets all see a wider spectrum of ultraviolet wavelengths than we do.

So, maybe when a dog or cat goes crazy over nothing, they see something that's not visible to us. Spooky thought, isn't it?

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Monday, February 24, 2014

Rare Breed Monday: Chinese Crested

Image from
The Chinese Crested has become the most popular dog amongst the hairless breeds, but it is still considered rare. They allegedly accompanied Chinese sailors, hunting vermin, and can still be found in port cities all around the world.

The Chinese Crested are believed to have evolved from African hairless dogs, and the Chinese selectively bred them to a smaller size. They appear in history as early as the 1500s and explorers encountered them in Central and South America as well as Africa and Asia.

Since they don't have the coat of a "regular" breed, Chinese Crested are more prone to allergies and sunburn than most other dogs. There is actually a variety covered with a double, soft, straight coat called a Powderpuff, and the two types often come from the same litter, but the Powderpuff is genetically recessive.

Most Chinese Crested are very gentle with children, but parents should consider that these dogs don't have a protective coat and get injured easily, so the children must be taught to return the gentleness.

These dogs are alert, charming, agile, and affectionate. They are also intelligent and good at performing tricks. They do not like to be alone, and they need to be a part of the family.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Friday, February 21, 2014

Famous movie dogs - Petey

The original Petey was an American Pit Bull Terrier named "Pal the Wonder Dog." He was famous for his role in the Little Rascals, and the trademark ring around his eye was natural almost all the way around.

Pal's career began in a silent movie in 1925, and he played Petey in The Little Rascals until he died in 1930. He was the second highest paid actor on the set. Sadly, he was only five years old when he died - he was poisoned, allegedly by someone with a grudge against his trainer.

Pal's son Pete shouldered the responsibility of The Little Rascals. He was the first dog to have dual registration. He was registered as Lucenay's Peter as a Staffordshire Terrier with the AKC, and as Purple Ribbon Peter as an American Pit Bull Terrier with the UKC.

Since then, there has been re-makes of The Little Rascals, but the ring around Petey's eye remains.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Thursday, February 20, 2014

A legislation win for animal rights

Image from
Little enrages animal lovers as much as dog fights and the events around them. The entire chain of events with dogs being trained to fight, pets being stolen for use as bait dogs, children watching the violence, and the abuse many of these dogs suffer make animal lovers' blood boil. 

While authorities agree with the public opinion - animal fighting should be stopped - it has been difficult to do anything about it, and few arrangers of dog fighting have been caught and convicted. 

Up until now it has been illegal to host dog fights, cock fights, or any other cruel pitting of beast against beast. Problem was that the arrangers would slip into the crowd and disappear at first sight of a raid. 

It is now illegal to even attend an event like this.

This is included in the Farm Bill, recently signed by President Obama. It is now a federal crime to attend and/or bring a child to any animal fighting event. 

Up until now, spectator admission fees and gambling dollars have financed the spectacles of unnecessary violence, but if the profit disappears the events will hopefully dwindle and die off as well.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Ancient dog burial site found in Mexico

Last week, archaeologists announced the discovery of an exceptional old burial site under an apartment building in Mexico City. It contains the remains of twelve dogs. 

The dog had a major religious significance to the Aztec people of central Mexico. They believed dogs could guide human souls into a new life after death on earth, and that they could guard pyramids and other monuments even after death.

Previously, dog remains have been found accompanying humans, but this is the first time a group of dogs have been found buried together at one site.

Michael E. Smith is an anthropology professor from Arizona State University, and he says the discovery is important, because it is the first time a number of animals have been buried together in a cemetery setting.

During the coming days, the team working the site will dig deeper to see if there are other items that can help them figure out why the animals are buried here, and possibly even the breed of the dogs.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Police detective adopts five deaf dogs

A Virginia Detective, Mac Adams, has been involved with rescuing deaf dogs since 2010 when he adopted his dog Pickles from the Richmond Animal Care and Control. Since then, he has gotten four more; Nea, Piglet, Opal, and Mortimer.

Detective Mac Adams with his five deaf dogs.
Photo from Facebook
Adams says there are 56 breeds of dogs prone to deafness. The puppies are born deaf and don't know they're supposed to hear, but it can be an obstacle in first figuring out a means of communication. Once the connection is made he thinks they pay a lot more attention to their person than hearing dogs, and might even be easier to train because they're not distracted by sounds around them.

Four of the deaf dogs in the Adams' household are Pitbulls, and he works on educating people about the breed. He says they are a great breed, generally gentle, calm, and good natured, but used for nefarious purposes by a small potion of the population.

Read more about Mac Adams and his dogs in this article on

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Monday, February 17, 2014

Rare Breed Monday: Fila Brasileiro

Fila Brasileiro image from
The Fila Brasileiro is also known as the Brasilian Mastiff. This is a large working breed of dog from Brazil, and the breed is probably most known for its absolute dislike of strangers.

These dogs are loyal to their family and dedicated to their main handler. They are extremely patient with children within the family, and will also bond with other pets in the home. The family is truly their whole world, and they will go to any lengths to protect that world.

In order to get a well-balanced dog, socialization during the puppy's first few months is imperative. If they are exposed to a lot of people in a positive manner as young, they can be trained to be okay with new people later in life. Lack of socialization can result in a dog outright aggressive to strangers. All dogs become what their owners make of them, but this is doubly true when it comes to the Fila.

Besides working as guard dogs, they are great trackers, hunters, and herders. They are sturdy and intelligent, and the Brazilian army uses them for work in the jungle, because of their strength, resilience, and intelligence. In the past, they've been used for everything from hunting jaguars to guarding gold mines.

The Fila is believed to have originated from a mix of English Mastiffs, Ancient Bulldogs, and Blood hounds.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Friday, February 14, 2014

Pet Theft Awareness Day

Today, February 14th, is the annual pet theft awareness day. Pets are stolen every day around the year, but there are some easy safety measures to take that will reduce the risk, and some tips that might help with retrieving a lost pet.

  1. Make sure that your pet is microchipped and that your information is updated. This will aid in returning a lost or stolen pet to you.
  2. Never leave your pet unattended in a yard, car, or public area.
  3. Keep an accurate identification file for your pet. This should include a detailed description and several photos.
If your pet is lost or stolen
  1. Visit your local animal shelters at once, and keep checking back with them every day. It is also a good idea to visit veterinarians in the area, contact animal services, and the police.
  2. Search everywhere. Pets can hide in strange places.
  3. Use the power of social media. Post pictures on your Facebook page and ask people to share.
  4. Distribute flyers, talk to neighbors, and chat with delivery men, postal workers, and others that move around your area on a daily basis.
~ Maria Sadowski ~

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Famous movie dogs - Lassie

A good movie or TV show can only get better by adding a dog, right?

Lassie might be the most recognized movie dog through history, loved by people all over the world. The story was originally based on a book called "Lassie Come Home" written by Eric Knight. This book from 1938 tells the story of Lassie, who is sold when her family needs money for food, runs away from her new owners, and travels all the way from the north of Scotland to Yorkshire in England.

The first Lassie movie was released in 1943 and was followed by movies and TV-shows all the way to present time.

Lassie is supposed to be a female dog, but she has always been played by a male, and many dogs have portrayed her. A dog named Pal became the "official" Lassie and starred in the role from 1943 to 1951. His appearance became the official Lassie look, and since then, every collie starring has had the same markings.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Dogs at sea

Venus the bulldog steering the HMS Vansittart. Image source:
Cats at sea might not come as a big surprise - they are excellent hunters and good at keeping pest populations at bay. Dogs have also been popular, and many four-legged marines have served in the United States sea services.

The dogs build morale and provide relief from the monotony of being at sea for months at a time. They have also served a practical function through warning for dangers, and leading patrols onto foreign shores.

On the image to the right, Venus, the naval mascot of British Destroyer Vansittart sets the course. The photo is from 1941.

In the US, the English Bulldog has been a mascot of the marines since the first world war. It was unofficial until 1922, when a dog named Jiggs got the official duty. 

Nowadays, the mascot is called Chesty. It is always a pure bred English bulldog. The name stays the same for generations, and a long line of Chestys have gotten their name from legendary Lt Gen Lewis B 'Chesty' Puller Jr who served in World War II and the Korean War. He is thus far the only Marine to be awarded five Navy Crosses.

If you want to see more dogs at sea, the US Naval Institute has an excellent collection of old images here.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Most popular puppy names of 2013

About a month ago, we posted the most popular kitten names during 2013 according to Naturally, everyone has waited on the edge of their seats for the corresponding list of puppy names. Right?

Two of the top names for girl puppies - Bella and Lucy - are also in the top for kittens. Amongst the names for boys, Max and Charlie made the top five in both cats and dogs.

Do you have a dog with any of these names?

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Monday, February 10, 2014

Rare Breed Monday: Norwegian Buhund

Image from
The Norwegian Buhund is a Spitz type dog. They are known for being energetic working dogs and were originally bred for herding livestock and guarding home and family. Today, many work with as guide dogs or police dogs. They also excel at obedience and agility. 

The name comes from the Norwegian word "bu." In older days, many Scandinavian farms had a small summer farm where someone from the family would live with the farm animals so they could graze and have an ample supply of food. Whatever grew at the main homestead was to be saved for the long and cold winter.

This summer farm was called a bu in Norwegian (fäbod in Swedish). A dog was invaluable to whomever ended up alone in the small cottage, surrounded by forest and wild animals. Surely scary at times! The dogs helped keep track of cows, sheep, and goats, protected the herd and people, and at times even hunted bears and wolves.  In remote areas of Norway, the Buhund is still used for their original purpose.

Dogs similar to the Buhund has been found in a Viking grave in Norway, and the breed is believed to be at least 1,000 years old.

Due to their past, Buhunds make excellent watch dogs, and they are wonderful companions for active families. They require an ample amount of exercise and they have an independent streak, but they are also considered one of the Spitz breeds easiest to train.

A typical Buhund is self confident, affectionate, and loves children.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Friday, February 7, 2014

Frequently asked questions about PlexiDor pet doors

If you need a pet door, the PlexiDor is definitely a good choice. It is a high quality door that will last for many years, allowing pets to go in and out as they please while keeping weather where it belongs; outside. To make it even better, it is made in the USA, and you never need replacement flaps.

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about the PlexiDor dog doors and cat door. If you have other questions or need an installer, don't hesitate to give us a call at 1-800-749-9609, or comment on this post.

Is it difficult to train my pet to use a pet door?

No. It is usually a quick and easy process. Most cats and dogs learn to use a pet door in 5 seconds to 5 days. Do not push the pet through the door. Start with propping a panel open and coaxing the pet with a treat.

Can my cat use a dog door?

Yes, most cats will use up to a large PlexiDor. You may need to go up in size to keep the top of the pet door high enough for the dog – shoulder height – and the bottom low enough for the cat (approximately 5”).

What size door do I need?

Take a look at this handy size chart. If you still have questions, call customer service at 1-800-749-9609. They will help you find the best door for you and your pets.

Do you have a pet door that will let my dog out and keep the cats in?

The PlexiDor electronic pet door opens only for pets with a key. There is, however, no guarantee that a cat won’t run out together with the dog. We cannot promise that our pet door will let the dog out and keep the cats in.

Can I paint my PlexiDor?

Yes. Just prime and paint the pet door.

What kind of warranty does PlexiDor come with?

PlexiDor pet doors come with a 5 year warranty and a 90 day money back guarantee. If you aren’t completely satisfied with your purchase, return it and we will refund the purchase price.

Will I ever need to replace anything on a PlexiDor pet door?

About every 5 to 8 years the industrial weather seal will need to be replaced. One kit will cover both saloon style panels, and it is easy to install. PlexiDor is manufactured in Bradenton, FL, and if you ever have a problem with the door, it is easy to obtain replacement parts.

Where can I install a PlexiDor pet door?

PlexiDor pet doors can be installed in doors, walls, or a sliding glass patio panel. Wall units can be installed in a wall up to 12 inches thick and come with an aluminum tunnel kit that connects the interior and exterior frame. Chances are if you already own another brand of pet door, the existing cut opening can be used to install a PlexiDor with only minor modification.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Thursday, February 6, 2014

A happy ASPCA commercial!

TV commercials about shelter pets make me cry. My husband has figured this out, and whenever he sees one come on, he changes the channel. They are so well crafted with sad music, a pleading celebrity, and adorable faces of dogs and cats.

The interesting question is, do the commercials work? I guess since they're still running on TV. Anything that helps spread awareness is a good thing, and playing on people's emotions is probably effective.

This ad is a completely different matter. Does it make me want to run to the shelter and pick up all the cats and dogs? Oh yes. Does it make me cry? Maybe, but for a different reason than weeping over people's cruelty.

Wake County ASPCA did a great job!

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Dog of the Month: St Bernard

The St Bernard is a very large breed of working dog, originally intended for rescue missions. It is considered a giant dog with an average weight between 140 to 264 lbs or more. The earliest written records of the St Bernard breed are dated back to 1707, but there are even older paintings depicting the dog.

In the early 19th century, the breed was nearly extinct, and in an effort to save it, dogs were cross bred with Newfoundlands. This gave them a much longer coat than they originally had.

The name St Bernard comes from a hospice in the St Bernard Pass in the alps between Switzerland and Italy. The dogs are known to be loyal and very friendly, but with this enormous size, training is vital. An unruly 260 lb dog can pose a problem for the strongest of men.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

February is Pet Dental Health Month!

While most people are good at caring for their own teeth it's easy to forget about Fido's. Cats and dogs shouldn't really need tooth brushing, right? Wrong. February is national pet dental health month; the American Veterinary Medical Association's annual effort to remind pet owners to care for their pet's teeth. 

Periodontal infections have been linked to several major disorders such as diabetes, heart attacks, strokes, and kidney disease. It is leo the most common health problem veterinarians find in pets. By the age of two, an estimated 80 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats already have some form of periodontal disease.

There are many good chews and products that help keep teeth clean, but it's still best to brush pet's teeth every day. The pets should also have regular cleanings by a veterinarian.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Monday, February 3, 2014

Rare Breed Monday: Telomian

The Telomian is a rare dog breed native to Malaysia. Historically, they have filled an important task in their home country; their owners used to live in huts only reached by ladder, and the dogs needed to be able to climb and kill any rats and snakes that might enter the homes. Besides climbing and hunting on land they are also skilled at fishing from nearby streams. 

The first Telomian entered the US in 1963 and they have been bred here ever since, but gained little interest. They're not currently recognized by any major kennel clubs in the USA.

Telomians are alert and make great watch dogs. Their short coat requires little care and they get by on moderate exercise. They're known for being intelligent, alert, and obedient, and they can use their paws to hold toys and open doors.

Fun fact: the Telomian has a blue tongue.

~ Maria Sadowski ~