Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween! We hope you have a great time trick and treating. While you do, here are some tips to keep your pets safe.

Pets should not eat human candy

Chocolate is toxic to dogs, and can in a worst case scenario lead to death. Xylitol is also toxic to dogs (often found in sugar-free candies and chewing gum). Not even natural treats are safe; dogs should not eat raisins. Make sure children don't get the idea to share candy with the pets.

Some dogs are known for chewing down tin foil and cellophane, so make sure all candy wrappers are disposed of at once.

Keep your pets inside or at least under supervision at all times

There are several reasons for this. Many pets are scared by strangers showing up in unusual costumes, screaming for candy. Some pets get anxious and defensive, others might run away. On that note, makes sure your dog has an ID tag on the collar, just in case.

Pets left outdoors can encounter tricksters. It's hard to believe for a pet lover, but according to PetMD some people think it's fun to tease, injure, steal, and even kill pets as Halloween pranks. This is especially bad for black cats, and in order to keep them safe, they should stay inside the entire week. (Many shelters won't even adopt out black cats during October.)

Even if visitors mean well, they might give a pet candy. Avoid a trip to the emergency room, and keep them in a safe place or well supervised.

Plan your doggie-walk

On Halloween, it might be wise to re-schedule the dog walk. Go for a walk before witches, fairies, Iron Man, and pirates appear. If you take another walk late in the evening, keep an eye on the ground so your dog doesn't eat dropped candy or wrappers.

Other good ideas for the evening walk is to carry a flashlight and use a reflective leash/harness. There are dog flashlights, and collars/leashes that light up as well. When lots of people are out and about, make sure they see your dog, for everyone's safety.

Use common sense

If a pumpkin is lit up by a candle, place it out of reach for pets. If a pumpkin is lit up by a glow stick, make sure the dog doesn't eat it. (Sounds far-fetched, but some dogs are veritable vacuum cleaners.) If you want your pet to use a costume, try it on a couple of days before Halloween and make sure it's comfortable. Some pets love wearing costumes and the extra attention that comes with it, others not so much.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Hero dogs: Hurricane and Jordan protects the White House

In the past, it has been difficult to prevent fence jumpers to reach the White House without shooting them. It's just a little over a month ago a fence jumper managed to get all the way inside. That won't happen when Hurricane and Jordan are on the job.

Hurricane and Jordan are Secret Service officers of the four-footed kind - Belgian Malinois to be exact - and they are both fast and efficient. A few days ago they caught an intruder within seconds and held him down until human agents could catch up and detain the man.

The intruder tried to punch and kick the dogs, and attempting to injure law enforcement animals is a really bad idea. Had he submitted he would only have been prosecuted for illegally entering the White House grounds. Now he can also be prosecuted under the Federal Law Enforcement Animal Protection Act that makes it illegal to even try to inflict injury on dogs and horses used by federal law enforcement.

So, what about these great dogs? They're both Belgian Malinois. Hurricane is six years old and likes playing with his Kong toy. Jordan is five years old and likes to go for walks around the White House.

~ Maria Sadowski ~ 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Happy cat day!

Today is national cat day. The holiday was first celebrated in 2005 to encourage cat lovers to celebrate the love and companionship we receive from cats, and to inform about all the cats that need to be rescued.

Cats are amongst the most common pets, and probably amongst the most misunderstood, at least by dog people. They're furry, irresistible, and act nothing like dogs.

Dogs are pack animals with high emotional intelligence that have learned the meaning of many human behaviors. Cats developed as solitary hunters that rarely need social cues. Other cats are less friends than competition.

Cats don't understand if humans yell at them to stop scratching at the couch or squirt water to make them stop doing something. To a cat, our behavior often comes across as a crazy primate acting out for no reason.

This doesn't mean that cats are untrainable; you just need a different approach than with a dog.

Train cats through environment and let the environment be the bad guy while you're the good guy. For example, if kitty scratches the couch and it drives you crazy, put some two-sided tape or tinfoil on that area, and place an attractive alternative close by. Once your cat does what you want it to - that is, scratches the scratching post instead of the sofa - give a treat or show affection.

Body language is another point where dog people run into trouble with cats. A dog might show its tummy to show submission, but in a friendly family setting odds are doggy wants a tummy rub. Cats generally don't want their bellies rubbed. Exposing the tummy means the cat wants to show you're trusted, and it's not an invitation to put your hand there.

So, how do you know where to pet? If kitty rubs any part of the body against you it's an invitation to pet that spot.

If you have a cat, spend some extra time together today. If you've been thinking of getting a cat, today is a great opportunity.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Hypoallergenic cat breeds

While there aren't any non-allergenic cats, some cat breeds are considered hypoallergenic. This means there's a smaller risk of them triggering allergies than other breeds. Surprisingly enough, several of these breeds have a long coat.

Cat allergies generally aren't connected to the cat's hair - most people are allergic to proteins from the cat's saliva and skin oils. These proteins are distributed on the coat when the cat washes itself, and then spread around the house when the cat sheds.

Some cat breeds produce less of these proteins than other breeds do, and these breeds are gentler on people with allergies than other types of cats.

The Balinese, Russian Blue, and Siberian all produce little of the allergy causing protein.

Bengals produce as much of the protein as most other cats, but they also have a very fine coat, which means they don't groom themselves as much as other cats. Thus their hair carries less allergens. Bengals also shed very little.

The Cornish Rex only has an undercoat. Less hair means less shedding, and less causing of allergies.

The Sphynx cat is completely hairless. That means any allergy-causing substances stick to the cat instead of being spread around the house.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Monday, October 27, 2014

Rare Breed Monday: Danish Swedish Farmdog

The Danish Swedish Farmdog originated in southern Sweden and Denmark, and the dogs historically lived and worked on farms in the area. They caught vermin, hunted, and protected the farms and animals from predators.

Danish Swedish Farmdogs are known for being soft, gentle, and easygoing. They make great companions and are generally good with children.

These dogs have a lot of energy and love having a job to do. They do very well in flyball, agility, and lure coursing. Many mistake them for terriers, but they are quite different dogs than terriers. 

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Friday, October 24, 2014

Walking 35 dogs at a time?

Most of us have our hands full walking one or two dogs at a time. Imagine walking 35!

To be fair, this kind of dog walking isn't an everyday task even to Joseph Orsino, the world record holder for most dogs walked simultaneously, but he has done it, and has a spot in the Guinness book or world records to prove it.

The walk took place in Pittsburgh in 2011 and benefited the Lupus Foundation. Mr Orsino had 20 dogs in front of him and 15 smaller dogs behind him in a straight line, and they walked over 1 km like this.

Image from

How many dogs have you walked at once? Do you use any special equipment besides the regular collar and leash?

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Thursday, October 23, 2014

World's largest living cat

The Guinness book of world records hold many fascinating animals. One of them is Hercules - the largest living cat.

Hercules is a Liger, which means that his father was a lion and his mother a tiger. He lives at Myrtle Beach Safari - a wildlife sanctuary in South Carolina.

Hercules is:

  • 131 inches long (3.33 m)
  • 49 inches tall at the shoulder (1.25 m)
  • and weighs 922 lbs (418 kg)

Image from:

In comparison to Hercules, house cats seem tiny, but the world's longest domestic cat is also pretty big. He is a Maine Cool named Mymains Stewart Gilligan, and he is 48.5 inches long (123 m). He has held this record since August 2010.

Another interesting cat record is held by Sophie Smith, a kitty with the longest fur on a cat. Her fur is 10.11 inches (25.68 cm). Smokey the cat also holds an interesting record - he is the loudest purrer at 67.7 dB, 14 times louder than an average cat.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

No, that's not for eating!

While many dogs never get into trouble, others chew on everything from dirty laundry to rocks. If your furry friend belongs to the latter category, odds are a lot of things not meant for eating ends up in the stomach.

If you have a chewer/eater, the first thing to do is dog-proof your home. Make sure everything toxic is locked up where your dog can't get to it, and keep chewable objects out of reach. It's bad enough if your dog chews things to pieces, but the habit can become fatal if they eat the pieces.

Common signs that your dog ate something they shouldn't have include:
  • Vomiting
  • Gagging
  • Abdominal pains
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Change in bowels
  • Change in behavior

If you think your dog ate something they shouldn't have, call the vet. If your regular vet is closed, call the nearest pet emergency clinic. It can be tempting to wait and see what happens, hoping for the best, but many objects can cause great damage. If you wait, your dog might need surgery, which will be much more expensive than going to the vet at once.

What is the strangest thing your dog has chewed up?

~ Maria Sadowski ~ 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Volunteer with your dog

It feels good to do good, and volunteering with your dog has the added benefit of being together. Volunteering dogs of all breeds and sizes make a big difference for people and pets in their communities. 

If you would like to do something but don't know where to start, here are some ideas for volunteering with your dog.

Go on a charity walk

Many charity runs and walks allow dogs, and there are events of this type for all sorts of good causes. You get to show support, your dog gets a fun day, and you both get exercise. Just make sure when you sign up that dogs are allowed.

Donate pet blood

Many humans donate blood to blood banks to help those in need of a transfusion. Did you know there are veterinary blood banks too? Many pets need transfusions because of injuries or sickness, and most adult dogs can donate as long as they're in good health. If this is sounds like a good cause for you and your dog, talk to your veterinarian to see if your dog would be a good donor.

Foster a pet

Rescues and shelters all around the country need fosters for cats and dogs. They can only take in so many dogs and cats, and foster homes play an important part in saving as many as possible. You can foster whether you have a pet already or not. If you have a cat or dog, your pet can help a shelter pet become comfortable with being around other animals. To get started, contact a local shelter or rescue.

Sign up for therapy work

If your dog is well behaved and likes people, many sick and elderly people in hospitals and nursing homes love getting visits from a pet. Meeting a dog can help the healing process, build morale, and brighten someone's day. Many dogs and cats also help children to read. You can start by contacting a local hospital or senior citizen's home to get more information, or visit

Do you do some form of volunteer work with your pet? Tell us about it!

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Monday, October 20, 2014

Rare Breed Monday: Kangaroo Dog

Image linked from:

The Kangaroo Dog is an Australian breed created by early settlers to help hunt for food and protect sheep against predators. There isn't a lot of information available about the breed and its history, but the earliest accounts go back to the late 1700s.

The breed is based on a deerhound and greyhound mix, and depending on what was available in the area other breeds such as Borzoi, Saluki, and Irish Wolfhound added qualities to create a running dog able to cope with the rugged and harsh conditions of Australia. The end result became a fast dog with fantastic eyesight, tough feet, and exceptional endurance.

Today the Kangaroo Dog is quite rare, and most of them still live as working dogs. They make good pets, but need something to do. Kangaroo Dogs are generally calm around the house, loyal, intelligent, affectionate, and good with children and other pets. These dogs will protect livestock from predators, but they make bad guard dogs because they really like people.

Kangaroo Dogs have a smooth coat, but there is also a version with rough coat that's called Staghound.  The two breeds are very similar, except for the coat.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Friday, October 17, 2014

Cat personalities

Cats are as individual as we are, and when picking a cat it's a good idea to find one that matches the household. The ASPCA put together a list with nine common cat personalities. This might be more fun than science, of course, but maybe your cat will fit into one of the categories?
1. The Private Investigator
The P.I. cat doesn’t like trouble. It is good at staying hidden. It can vanish without a trace and reappear in the most unexpected places. This type of cat is likely to sleep with one eye open and constantly keep an eye out for danger.
2. I’ll Love You Later
This type of cat will love you from a distance, probably for a really long time, and the bond develops gradually. When the cat decides it’s time you’ll be subjected to intense head butting, purring, and napping on your lap.
3. Cuddle Me Now
These kitties are love bugs. There will be abundant purring, rubbing up against you, and demanding to be petted. If these cats could speak, they would say, “Adore me.”
4. The CEO
The CEO thrives on routine and order, and almost live on a schedule. He or she will put you on the to-do list, but you’ll have to wait your turn.
5. The Side-Kick 
The Side-Kitty-Cat loves to be with you and makes a great constant companion, but can also enjoy some “me-time”. If you want someone to share adventures with, this is a perfect choice.
6. The Helper
These cats love to be around their human, and live to help with the strangest things. If you’re cooking, the cat will be right there. If you want to use the computer, you’ll find the helper sleeping on the keyboard. The Helper generally feels that personal space is overrated.
7. The Golden Cat
Team player that pulls its own weight in whatever it perceives needs to be done. The Golden Cat is likely to do what you expect from it, and it likes to be pampered at the end of a long day of doing the right thing.
8. Wild Thang
These cats have a wild streak, and they’re pretty much the opposite of the Golden Cat. If you want a companion that’s always up to playing, breaking rules, and challenging limits, this is the kitty for you.  Having a Wild Thang can be exhausting, but also infinitely rewarding.
9. The Commander
The Commander Cat has a very clear perception of who’s the boss, and it loves to lead. It is super confident and demands respect and admiration. It will make time for you, but it will also make sure you know who’s in control.
What do you think - do the cat personalities make sense? Have you known a cat that's the personification of one of them?
~ Maria Sadowski ~

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Five high energy dog breeds

Getting a dog is fun and exciting, but before deciding which to get it's important to consider the breed along with the family's habits. While breed determines the dog's looks, it also determines a big portion of a dog's behavior.

A family that spends a lot of time away or sitting in the sofa will run into trouble with a high energy dog, because the dog's needs clashes with the family's. An active family that spends a lot of time hiking, running, biking, or wants to compete with the dog might be disappointed if the dog isn't up to following their pace.

Mixed breeds are often more low key, and even if they have traits from a specific breed, they're generally less extreme than purebred dogs created to fill a certain task.

Working breeds are generally energetic. They need a lot of activity, exercise, and mental challenges. Many working breeds are created to think independently, act on their own, and to run non-stop for hours.

If you're considering an active breed you have to be able to handle a dog with endless energy that's rarely tired. You also need to decide if you want an independent thinker that can draw conclusions, or a dog that will do what you tell it. Another important matter is that many intelligent breed mature slower than other dogs - they're teenagers longer and the "terrible teens" can last for a couple of years.

Here is a list with five of the most energetic breeds. They're all gorgeous, fun to be around, and make great friends for the family, but they all ned mental stimulation and exercise. If their needs aren't filled they're likely to invent a fun task, like reshaping furniture or taking a look under the floor boards to see what's there.

5. Jack Russell Terrier

This small and charming dog is surprisingly active and very intelligent. They were bred to work and love to be a part of daily activities, train for some doggy sport, and compete. They're fabulous diggers and with too much time on their hands (paws) they're likely to excavate your garden.

4. Dalmatian

This breed has gotten into trouble in the past through Disney movies elevating it to star status and people buying Dalmatians without knowing what they're getting into. The Dalmatian was originally created to run with coaches and horses all day long - a job that requires a lot of energy and stamina. A Dalmatian can be a wonderful dog - loyal, intelligent, friendly, and playful - but without ample exercise and continuous mental stimulation they might decide to see how your sofa is constructed.

3. Australian Cattle Dog

The Australian Cattle Dog is often called a Blue Heeler or Red Heeler depending on the color of the coat. Herding cattle is not a job to be taken lightly, and these dogs are tough with impressive stamina and endurance. They do very well in most forms of dog sports, they're great running buddies, and naturally wonderful workers.

2. Australian Shepherd

Despite the name, this isn't an Australian breed - they get the name from herding Australian sheep. Bright, devoted, and energetic the Aussies do great in competitions and with active families, but grow bored quickly if there isn't something to do. If you're looking for a friend who will stay by your side through the day, go hiking, and follow you for adventures, an Aussie might be perfect.

1. Border Collie

The Border Collie is sometimes called the Einstein of the dog world, and they're often seen in movies and TV commercials. While they are easy to train, they're also masters of independent thinking and can figure out everything from opening doors and windows to learning more human language than you might want a dog to understand. Swedish movie dog Turbo understood Swedish, English, and German! Mix the brains with nearly endless energy - a herding Border Collie that's in shape can run 50 miles in a day - and it's easy to see why a pure bred Border Collie can be a handful. For the right owner, they're the best breed in the world.

The top three breeds on the list are all herding dogs, for a reason. These dogs were created to run through the day, force stubborn sheep or cows into obedience, and protect their herd against predators. Their herding instinct is very strong and they might take upon themselves to herd anything that moves - including small children and cars.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Halloween is close, keep candy out of reach!

Halloween is getting close, and this is truly a candy holiday. While we still have a couple of weeks to go until trick-or-treat time, many have stocked up on candy already, and this is a good time to talk about dogs and treats.

The bottom line is, pets should not eat human candy. According to Pet Poison Hotline, Halloween is their busiest time of the year when calls increase with twelve percent.

As one might suspect, many of the calls are about pets eating human candy, but large numbers of calls also address pets eating decorations. The four most common Halloween hazards are: chocolate, eating too much candy, raisins, and candy wrappers.

Of all the sweets we eat, chocolate is the most dangerous to pets. Dogs are attracted to the scent and taste, and chocolate must be kept out of reach. Baker's chocolate is the most dangerous - a 50 pound dog can become severely sick from eating just one ounce. Milk chocolate is less dangerous, because it contains less actual chocolate, and white chocolate is the least dangerous.

Amongst the other candies, it's worth knowing that Xylitol is very dangerous to pets. Xylitol is commonly found in sugar-free candy and chewing gum.

Raisins look healthy, and they are for people. When it comes to dogs, small amounts of raisins can cause kidney failure. Some dogs have a pretty good resistance to grapes and raisins, but others can ingest just a tiny amount and be poisoned. There's no way of knowing in advance, so don't gamble. Treat raisins as chocolate and keep them out of reach!

When we eat candy, we remove the wrappers. When a dog gets into the stash, he or she doesn't bother with such little details. Eating foil and cellophane can obstruct the bowel and cause a life-threatening condition that requires surgery. Keep candy out of reach, and get rid of all wrappers at once.

~ Maria Sadowski~

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Can I put a PlexiDor dog door through a wall?

PlexiDor with aluminum wall tunnel.
This is a common question, and you most certainly can. Making a hole in the wall might be a bit more intimidating than making a hole in a door, but it looks really nice when the project is finished. 

PlexiDor has wall kits that can be used for stud, brick, block, or cement walls. The wall kit comes with an aluminum tunnel that connects the interior and exterior frames.

The bottom tunnel section is sloped to prevent water from entering. The tunnel won't rust, has no sharp edges, and is easy to keep clean.

When you see photos of the PlexiDor, the side with the lock and key goes on the inside of the house. It's easy to think that it's outside, but you don't want to go out to be able to lock the door.

The PlexiDor as it will look on the
inside of a door or a wall.

There are wall kits available for all size PlexiDors, from the smallest to the electronic. The doors presented on this page all have the silver frame, but they are also available in a durable, baked-on white or bronze finish.

Wall mounted PlexiDor seen from
the outside of the house.

Many worry about safety. The PlexiDor comes with lock and key, and there's a steel security plate that attaches to the frame.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Monday, October 13, 2014

Rare Breed Monday: Bouvier des Flandres

The Bouvier des Flandres is an agile and even tempered farm dog from Belgium. The early breeders were farmers or cattle merchants that wanted help with work.

Because this is a working breed, the early individuals were anything but conform when it comes to size and color. They had just enough in common to be recognized as Bouviers. In the past, the different types had names like Vuilbaard - dirty beard,  Koehond - cow dog, and Toucheur de Boeuf - cattle driver.

The breed was very popular up until World War I, when the areas where the Bouvier was bred were destroyed. Most of the dogs were abandoned and died, but a few households managed to keep their dogs through the war.

This is a steady, fearless, and resolute family friend and guardian that excels at herding, agility, obedience, and tracking. They need ample exercise and love living in the countryside or at least a suburban area with room to move.

In their home country of Belgium, a Bouvier can't win the title of champion unless the dog also has won a prize in a work-related competition. This is often as police dog, army dog, or defense dog.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Friday, October 10, 2014

20 signs that show you're becoming a dog person

Dogs have a way of changing our lives, sometimes in ways no one could anticipate. 

For a while, it's pretty easy to balance one or more furry friends with a "normal" life, but as time passes, the standard for normal slides over a bit on the scale. Like, dog toys becomes the most interesting section in the store.

Here are 20 funny signs you might be turning into a dog person:

  1. Your home is littered with antlers, rawhide toys, squeaky toys, Kongs, stuffed animals, sticks, and ropes.
  2. You're getting used to sleeping on the very edge of the bed, and from time to time the dog almost pushes you down on the floor.
  3. Even if you wash your windows, the smudges reappear within minutes. You're considering giving in and just calling it nose art.
  4. When you walk around the neighborhood you know the names of all the dogs you meet - but you can't name one of your neighbors. 
  5. You bake things for your dog in the shape of bones or paws.
  6. Clothes, furniture, floors, and everything else are covered in hair - and it's okay.
  7. Your pockets, backpack, and purse all contain empty plastic bags. At least once in your life, you've pulled something out of your dog's butt that wouldn't come out on its own.
  8. You know the groomer's first name and might even have taken him or her out to coffee.
  9. Your dog has more expensive toys and a pricier bed than anyone else in the household.
  10. If someone mentions they have a dog, they're instantly attractive.
  11. If someone says they don't like dogs - or your dog doesn't like a person - you can't trust him or her.
  12. You love toll booth workers, drive throughs, and delivery men who acknowledge your dog and offer at treat.
  13. You're not too worried if the humans in a movie will survive, but might not even watch if there's a chance the dog will die.
  14. Seeing other dogs makes you squeal and want to run over to pet them.
  15. You think holidays with fireworks are awful.
  16. On your dog's birthday, you make a special cake, and you wrap Christmas presents for your pooch every year.
  17. On your birthday, you get dog related gifts like sweaters or mugs.
  18. Some words must always be spelled out, whether the dog is present or not. "I need to go O-U-T and W-A-L-K to the neighbors."
  19. If you have to leave for a conference or other reason, you miss your dog more than your family or friends.
  20. You avoid having people over, because the dogs get so dang excited and it's easier not to.
Bonus: You know nothing could ever be as special as your dog, and he or she knows all your secrets.

Are there some quirky things you do for your dogs? Did we miss anything on the list, or is there something you think is particularly crazy?

~ Maria Sadowski 

Thursday, October 9, 2014

A dog's nose and sense of smell

What's that smell?
A dog's sense of smell is nothing short of amazing. Dogs can find hidden objects, hidden people, and even detect cancer on a person's breath. But how good is it really?

Compared to a human, a dog's sense of smell is 10,000 to 100,000 times better. They have up to 300 million receptors in their noses, while a human has around six million. Proportionally speaking, the area of a dog's brain dedicated to analyzing smell is around 40 times larger than ours.

A dog's nose also works in a different way than ours. When a human inhales, we smell and breathe through the same airway. That is, the air we smell goes in and out with the air we breathe, because it is the air we breathe. A dog's nose is constructed to separate smelling and breathing. A portion of air takes a detour dedicated to smell, and the rest goes into the lungs.

When a human exhales, the spent air goes out the nose the same way new air comes in. When a dog exhales the spent air goes out through the slits in the sides of the nose, helping new odors to enter. This also lets them sniff continuously.

While a human can wriggle the nose, a dog can wriggle each nostril independently, and a dog can determine which nostril caught a scent. This is how they can located the source of smells.

On top of all this, dogs have an organ humans lack. It is called the vomeronasal organ and sits at the bottom of the nasal passage. It picks up pheromones, and has a part of the brain dedicated just to this purpose.

So, what does all this mean in terms a human brain can comprehend?

A dog could detect one teaspoon of sugar dumped into a million gallons of water, or detect one rotten apple in two million barrels.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

How different are a cat's senses?

Cats and humans are clearly different, but have you ever wondered how different?


A cat sees differently than a human. While cats see colors they are muted, and this allows the cat to focus on movement without distractions. Cats also have the ability to see in low-light conditions that would appear completely dark to a human.

Cats can't focus on anything close to their face, and they use their whiskers for feeling out objects nearby.


The difference between cats and humans are bigger than the obvious four legs instead of two. Cats have a unique skeletal structure and a posture that allows them to sneak silently as well as absorb the shock of jumping or falling from heights. They can scale vertical walls, balance on the top of a door or a fence, and have a great ability to land on their feet. As if that wasn't enough, their back legs work like springs, propelling them forward or upward at great speed.


Some humans can wiggle their ears a little. A cat can rotate their ears independently and zoom in on interesting noises. They also hear a wider range of sounds than we do - a human with normal hearing can detect 9 octaves. A cat can detect 11, and this is even more than a dog. These perfect hunters also have a large number of neurons between the ear and the brain, allowing them to decipher all this aural information quickly.


A dog's sense of smell is thousands of times better than a human's. The cat doesn't quite reach that, but they still have a sense of smell at least 100 times better than a human's. They can distinguish between thousands of scents, and they have a secondary organ above the roof of the mouth that helps detect odor.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Cat determined to find owner

Cleo at the nursing home. Image from 
From time to time there are stories about dogs or cats walking extreme distances to reach a place they used to live. British cat Cleo took the search for home one step further: when her owner moved into a nursing home and Cleo ended up with the neighbors, she was determined to find her human.

Mrs Nancy Cowen in Westcott, England, needed to move into a nursing home, and made plans for her beloved Cleo. The neighbors would care for the cat, and Mrs Cowen probably didn't think she'd see her Cleo again.

The cat did not agree with this. It only took a couple of weeks from Mrs Cowen moved into the facility until the staff noticed a friendly cat hanging around the building. The cat slept on the benches outside the facility and seemed very tame. They still assumed she was a stray begging for food.

After a couple of weeks, one of the carers picked up the cat and Mrs Cowen saw it. She said, "That looks like my cat."

Her Cleo had lost part of her tail in a traffic accident - and this cat missed a part of her tail too. Mrs Cowen's sister confirmed that this was Cleo, who somehow had managed to track down her human.

Since then, Cleo has been welcomed into the nursing home, and the staff promises to provide her with a loving home for as long as she needs it.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Monday, October 6, 2014

Rare Breed Monday: Boerboel

The Boerboel is a South African breed, and the name means "Farm Dog." It is a loyal family dog and capable working dog known for being intelligent, hardy, protective, and willing to please. 

Boerboels stem back to the 17th century when survival was of utmost importance. Settlers brought dogs from their home countries, but there were no veterinarians or dog medicines available, so the dogs had to be tough and able to look out for themselves. Only the biggest and strongest would survive, and this resulted in a versatile and hardy dog that would be a friend, babysitter, worker, and protector against predators.

Speaking of predators, today, docking dogs' tails is a practice banned in many countries. When it comes to the Boerboel, docking was originally done to protect the dogs from marauding baboons. If the dog didn't have a tail, the baboon couldn't grab it.

These dogs are generally calm, confident, and devoted to the family. As all working dogs, the Boerboel is intelligent and versatile. They do best with experienced owners that will provide training, socialization, exercise, and something to do.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Friday, October 3, 2014

Surf Dog Ricochet Paws it Forward

Dogs surfing isn't really new - there are videos from the 1930's showing Hawaiian dogs hit the waves - but Surf Dog Ricochet might be unique in the way she paws it forward. Thanks to Ricochet, countless people have overcome enormous obstacles.

Ricochet is a Golden Retriever who started out being trained as a service dog. She also learned to surf, from the tender age of 8 weeks. The service dog thing didn't work out, but it was all for the best.

Today, Ricochet surfs with kids with special needs, encourages people with disabilities, raises money for charities, and raises awareness for PTSD.

She is also very active in anti-bullying campaigns, has taken part in a victim/witness support program helping abused children testify in court, and even learned to take cues from the synthesized voice of an iPad to work with persons who can't speak.

Visit her website to read more about her work, the PTSD initiative, and tips on teaching a dog to surf.

There is also a book about Ricochet, and on the cover, she surfs with her friend West. He is a boy with autism who found his voice thanks to Ricochet. West is sometimes bullied in school, and Ricochet raises support for him on her Facebook page.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Can cats improve the news?

Many people in Japan are fascinated with cats, and the country is home to innumerable cat cafes where people can watch and interact with cats. Seen from that perspective, it makes sense that a cat would help with the newscasts as well. American  shorthair cat Maago might not read the news or actively comment on events, but the mere presence of the kitty lightens up the news.

Image from

Shuukan News Shinsho is a weekly show that coves serious issues such as trade, wars, and politics. Guests are remarkably unfazed by Maago licking the desk or tasting their tea.

While some viewers surely tune in to spot the cat - he sometimes wanders off camera and reappears much later - he also fills an important function, making difficult news easier to bear. Everything is better with a cat.

To read more about Maago and see more images, visit

Would you watch a news program with a cat? Do you think a cat is the ideal TV show companion, or can you think of an even better pet?

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Dog of the Month: Norrbottenspets

The Norrbottenspets is an ancient Swedish breed whose original purpose was as farm and hunting dog. It's also known under the name Nordic Spitz. The oldest known documentation of the breed is from the 17th century, but it's likely they were around even earlier.

This breed stems from northern Sweden and Finland, and the countries sometimes argue about the true origin. The Nordic Spitz has spend ample time in both countries, and to make it more complicated, the borders have changed many times in the past.

By the end of the first World War, the breed was nearly extinct. Only a few dogs remained, and enthusiasts started a breeding program to save them. Since the gene pool was so small, breeding is highly controlled and to this day great care is taken to only breed healthy individuals that can't be closely related.

The Nordic Spitz is still a rare breed. There are around 1,200 individuals in Finland, around 1,000 in Sweden, and a few hundred in Canada and the USa.

They are popular for hunting grouse and fox, but some dogs will tousle with animals as large as moose and bear. The Norrbottenspets is known to be intelligent, strong, and fast. They are active and like to have something to do, and many excel in sports.

This is a very healthy breed. Of the 100 most popular breeds in Sweden, the Nordic Spitz is statistically the healthiest, and they generally live well into their teens.

~ Maria Sadowski ~