Friday, May 29, 2015

Does your pet door need an awning?

The PlexiDor awning is easy to install and creates a roof for your cat door or dog door, helping to keep weather where it belongs: outside.

The awnings are made from aluminum with a baked-on finish in white or bronze. They are durable and will last for many years. They are available in three sizes:
  • The small awning is 12" wide and 8" deep. 
  • The medium awning is 16" wide and 12" deep. 
  • The large/extra large awning is 23 1/4" wide and 16 5/8" deep. 
  Click here to see more.

Do you have a pet door? What kind? Would you put up an awning?

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Thursday, May 28, 2015

A dog can help a person with PTSD

PTSD is an acronym for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. While PTSD might be most associated with military veterans, it can affect anyone who faces a situation larger than themselves. A few examples are car accidents, death of a loved one, robbery, home invasion, working in any type of emergency or medical field, natural disaster... These situation don't have to lead to PTSD, but they can.

They symptoms of PTSD are as varied as the situations that trigger it, but some of the most common include recurring memories, nightmares, sleeplessness, feeling numb, anger, irritability, fear of crowds, a sense of never being safe... Needless to say, this affects both the person afflicted with PTSD, and people around him or her.

Around 7.8% of Americans will experience PTSD at some point in their lives. When it comes to military veterans, around 29% of veterans treated at VA medical centers have a diagnosis of PTSD.

To many of these people, dogs have proven invaluable. Dogs pick up on cues humans wouldn't notice, and they're good at sensing when they're needed.

Image from
The dogs can be trained to provide assistance, for example fetching things for persons with physical disabilities. They can also be trained to provide personal space for a person who feels uncomfortable in a crowd. The dogs are taught to "cover and block," that is, to stand between their human and approaching people. points out that some people who don't feel comfortable in crowds might be able to trust their dog; dogs are great observers of their environment and normally perceive tangible danger before people. If the dog with its keen senses is relaxed, the danger might not be there.

People come in all shapes and sizes, and the service dogs do too. A tall person uncomfortable in crowds might need a taller service dog than a shorter person. Some dogs might be trained differently than others. It's important to match the right dog with the right human!

PTSD might not be visible, but it is real. It's not about what's wrong with a person; it's about what happened to a person. If you want to learn more, I recommend A Spouse's Story on Facebook. This is a great community with information, opportunities to discuss, and practical advice. Bec who runs the page is a dog trainer, and writes many useful posts and notes about service dogs and PTSD.

Here are some more good pages:

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Dogs with PTSD

We recently celebrated Memorial Day here in the USA, and many spend a little extra time thinking about the men and women who are enlisted in military service. While Post Traumatic Stress Disorder isn't a problem that only affects military personnel, it is often associated with veterans, because they are more likely to experience events that can trigger PTSD.

It is important to know that PTSD can be triggered by any event bigger than oneself - it can be triggered by a natural disaster, a car accident, robbery, or any physical or emotional trauma that causes extreme stress.

What you might not know, is that PTSD doesn't only affect humans. Dogs can show symptoms too. Nearly five percent of deployed military dogs display symptoms of PTSD - they have been subjected to difficult situations, and react like humans do.

Military veterinarians say it can show through dogs becoming clingy or aggressive, they might refuse to enter areas where they used to be comfortable, or become hyper-vigilent and set off alarms whether there's something to worry about or not.

Dogs affected should be given lots of exercise, play time, and gentle obedience training. Not all dogs that go through a stressful event develop PTSD, but some do, and knowing what's wrong is the first step towards helping.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Dog breed spotlight: Viszla

The Viszla comes from Hungary, and the breed is also called Hungarian Pointer. The dogs are known for being loyal and athletic.

If you want a natural hunter that learns easily and has a great nose, the Viszla might be the dog for you. They are energetic and can be fearless when the occasion calls for it, but in normal situations they're gentle and affectionate to the point where many consider them velcro dogs. They like to be right by their human's side at all times.

The ancestors of the Vizsla are assumed to have been hunters accompanying Magyars to central Europe over a thousand years ago. The breed is depicted in etchings that date back to the 10th century, and manuscripts from the 14th century.

A Vizsla thrives on attention, exercise, and interaction. They are often vocal. They sing along with the radio, and cry when they feel neglected.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial day with pets

While Memorial Day certainly has a serious meaning, it's also a chance to fire up the barbecue and light up fireworks. Here are some things to think about when it comes to throwing a party and having pets.

Fireworks cause panic and anxiety in many pets. Many dogs panic, and can display an amazing talent at getting out of yards that hold them just fine on non-holidays. It's a good idea to keep your pet indoors.

During daytime, it is important to know that people-friendly sunscreen and insect repellants aren't necessarily good for dogs. If you feel the need to apply sunscreen and/or insect repellant, find a kind that is made for pets. Human sunscreen can cause vomiting, excessive thirst, lethargy, and other bad things. Many human insecticides contain DEET, which can cause neurological problems in pets.

Speaking of insect repellants, Citronella-based insect repellants such as oils and candles can be dangerous to pets just by inhaling. The citronella can cause pneumonia and other illnesses.

Many humans like to share a beer with their dog. Don't. Alcohol is dangerous to pets, much more so than it is to humans. Even a small amount of alcohol can cause a dog to go in a coma or even die. Furthermore, their liver and kidneys aren't equipped to handle alcohol.

When it comes to the grill, most people know not to give their dogs excessive table scraps. Did you know that some matches can be dangerous to dogs? They are also tempting, because they're made of wood. Certain types of matches contain chlorates that can cause kidney disease and damage to blood cells.

And, needless to say, don't leave your pet in the car.

Are you celebrating? Will your pets participate?

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Friday, May 22, 2015

Dogs have a teenage phase too

Anyone who remembers their teens will know that being a teenager isn't always easy. Did you know dogs have a teenage phase too? This is the period in a dog's life when it is most likely to be surrendered to a shelter; it has grown out of the super-cute puppy stage and looks like an adult, but it's not able to act like an adult.

The teenage stage usually happens somewhere between nine and eighteen months of age, depending on the breed. Some breeds have an even longer adolescence. Families unprepared for a teenage dog often give up - the dog is super curious and super energetic, prone to digging, chewing, running away, jumping, and challenging authority.

Provide plenty of exercise and something to do, and if your dog has destructive tendencies, consider crate training him or her so you can look away without having to worry. Keep training your dog, and remember that an adolescent dog is likely to have a short attention span. That means, make sure training is fun.

Games involving thinking wear dogs out more efficiently than physical exercise. And remember, this is a phase, and your dog will grow out of it.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Assistance dogs

There are many different types of working dogs, doing everything from finding explosives to providing emotional support. Assistance dogs is a special group of working dogs that help perform tasks their human would have problems doing on their own.

Assistance dogs are divided into three categories:

Guide dogs help the blind and visually impaired. These dogs help humans through guiding their handler past obstacles, stopping at stabs and curbs, and negotiating traffic. The handler gives commands, but it is the dog’s responsibility to ensure the team’s safety.

This type of job can be difficult and requires a lot from the dog, because doing the job to keep the handler safe can require disobeying direct commands.

Hearing dogs help the deaf and heard of hearing. They assist through alerting their handlers to sound, and are trained to make physical contact with their handler, leading them to the source of the sound. These dogs are commonly trained to react to doorbells, alarm clocks, telephones, crying babies, and similar.

Service dogs help people with other types of disabilities. Some are trained to work with wheelchairs, some are medical alert dogs, others help children with autism. There is a wide range of task performed by service dogs and they are often trained to open and close doors, turn on lights, bring objects, provide balance, and many other things.

Assistance groups are recognized by the Americans with Disabilities Act. Their handler have the right to bring them to any place that is open to the public. Many wear a vest or other identification, but they don't have to.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Important difference between cats and dogs

Cats and dogs are similar in one sense; they're our beloved pets and friends. They have many differences too, and as a pet owner it is important to understand the differences.

Dogs are omnivores, which means they are physically able to et and digest many types of food. There are many philosophical discussions about what dogs should eat, but their being omnivores regards their physical abilities to digest food. A dog can digest carbohydrates, and survive on plant based foods if need be.

Cats are carnivores. That doesn't mean that they like to eat meat - it means they cannot live without eating meat.

There are several vitamins and amino acids that cats can't produce on their own - they have to get them from someone who already converted these substances. This is one of the reasons carnivores don't normally eat other carnivores: they can't survive without eating animals who live off plants.

For a pet owner, this means that dogs can eat cat food, but cats should not eat dog food.

As an example, dogs have the ability to break down organic pigments from plants called carotenoids and convert them into active Vitamin A. Cats have to get Vitamin A already converted by some other animal.

Arginine is another good example. This is a building block for proteins that cats need to get with every meal. A dog can produce an enzyme that helps the body produce Arginine, but a cat cannot.

There are more examples of substances cats must get through their food, such as taurine, niacin and arachidonic acid.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Five Fun Dog Facts

Dogs share our lives and are close to us in many ways, but they're different from humans too. Here are five fun dog facts, did you know them?

1. The Greyhound is generally considered the fastest dog on Earth. It can run 45 miles per hour for short distances.

2. 45 percent of American dogs sleep in their owners' bed.

3. 70 percent of Americans admit to signing their dog's name on greeting cards.

4. Many believe hyenas are dogs, but they're actually closer related to cats.

5. In today's world, spiked dog collars are a fashion statement. They were originally invented as a means to protect dog's throats from attacks.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Monday, May 18, 2015

Breed spotlight: Karelian Bear

Image from
The Karelian Bear is a Finnish breed of dog, also called Karelsk Bj√∂rnhund in the Swedish speaking parts of Finland, or Karjalankarhukoira in Finnish. 

This is a tenacious hunter with quick reflexes and fearless nature. The breed earned its name from its ability to hunt and protect against bears. It's primarily used as a hunting breed, but also for search and rescue, and for obedience trials.

Although not commonly seen in the US, the breed has been used for non lethal bear control by the Washington department of fish and wildlife. The department's webpage says, "Just as a Border Collie has an instinct for moving sheep, out of each litter some Karelian Bear Dogs enter the world with an instinct for handling bears safely."

They are popular in their home country; according to the AKC the breed is one of the top 10 most common dogs in Finland today.

The Karelian Bear prefers to be outside, and needs plenty of space to run. This is an intelligent and independent working breed, which means they also get bored easily and need mental stimulation.

They generally love people and children, but must be socialized at an early age to enjoy the company of other types of dogs. Their extremely social nature make them prone to separation anxiety. They want to be with their human, not alone.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Friday, May 15, 2015

Toothy fun

An adult dog has 42 teeth.
Teeth are important, for humans, cats, dogs, and everyone else. Cleaning a pet's teeth can be a little more difficult than brushing our own, but there are pet toothbrushes, chews, dental sprays, and dental wipes that can make the process easier.

Besides using teeth and cleaning teeth, most of us don't know all that much about animal teeth. Here are some fun facts:

Human children have 20 baby teeth that fall out. Human adults have 32 teeth. Puppies have 28 teeth and adult dogs have 42.

42 teeth sounds like a lot, but it’s nothing compared to some other animals. A white shark has about 24 exposed teeth on their top and lower jaws respectively, but behind these 48, a white shark can have five more rows of developing teeth. When the shark loses one of the main teeth, a developing tooth rotates in and replaces it.

Alligators have a similar system. An alligator has an average of 80 teeth in the mouth at any one time, and when one falls out another takes its place.

Dolphins also have a surprising amount of teeth. An Atlantic bottlenose dolphin has between 80 and 100 teeth. The short-beaked common dolphin has around 240.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Hero dog receives medal for his efforts

Image from
June 2014 was not a good month for Joseph Phillips-Garcia. The 16 year old went out on a trip with his aunt, cousin, a friend, and his dog Sako to fish and enjoy Canadian nature. On the way back their car dropped down a steep hill more than a 100 yards into the forest. 

The tragedy killed everyone except Sako, a King-Shepherd who has been with the family since he was a puppy, and Phillips-Garcia. Without the dog things would have been even worse.

The teen was in bad shape with broken bones, and Sako kept him warm through the night.

Then, the dog helped him drag himself to a creek to get water - and fought off a pack of coyotes. Faithful Sako stayed with his human until a search team found them forty hours later, and without him, Phillips-Garcia would hardly be alive today.

Sako's faithfulness and heroism was recently awarded by a medal, and he has been inducted in the Hall of Fame.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Violent weather season is here. Are you prepared?

Summer is here, and large parts of the USA hunker down, expecting violent weather. While we want summer, the hurricanes,  tornadoes, wildfires, and other natural disasters are unwelcome visitors, but they still show up. Each year, pets are separated from their humans, but many of these losses can be prevented.

Here are some tips on preparing for natural disaster. Go through the list and make sure you're prepared before disaster strikes, because when it comes to this, things happen fast. Hurricanes are polite enough to be spotted early on radar, but that' s not true for everything that happens in nature.

Regardless of the type of natural disaster, there are things we can do to prepare:
  1. Put together a disaster kit with basic supplies and medications. It should contain enough to get by for three days. 
  2. For smaller cats and dogs, keep a carrier available. Put the pets in the carrier when the weather starts to look bad. It's better to have them in the carrier and not need to leave than to run around the home looking for them when disaster is on top of the house.
  3. Take dogs to the tornado/hurricane shelter on a regular basis. Being used to the area around and environment inside the storm shelter will lessen stress when they have to be there.
  4. If you have to head for the shelter and have time to bring something, favorite treats, toys, and bedding can ease the pets' stress.
  5. Make sure your pets wear a collar and/or harness with current tags and identifying information. If you live in an area prone to disastrous weather, it's more important than ever to have pets microchipped.
It is naturally also important to make a pet-friendly emergency plan. You don't want to make your way to a shelter just to find that pets can't enter.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Children are more likely to confide in pets than in humans

Children are more likely to confide in their
pets than in any person. This relation is true
between all children and pets, but particularly
between girls and dogs.
Pet lovers will probably agree that pets can play an important role in the lives of children. There are many positive aspects to having pets, such as learning responsibility, learning to respect others, company, protection against allergies, and much more. While we may know instinctively that pets are good for children, there are few studies showing how good.

Matt Cassels at Cambridge University just finished research based on a ten year study of 100 families in the United Kingdom, and his research has a unique angle: he has looked at the connection between pets and young people's emotions.

According to Cassels, we underestimate the importance of pets in young person's lives. Children who face any form of emotional difficulty are likely to confide in their pet and turn to the pet for support. They rely more on the pet than on their siblings, friends, or any other person. This relationship is valid for all children and pets, but even more so between girls and dogs.

The study also shows that children in the USA are more likely to live with a pet than with their natural father. About two thirds of children live with their dad, but four fifths have a pet.

Learn more about this study on BBC's website.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Monday, May 11, 2015

Dog breed spotlight: Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriver

The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriver – or Toller – is a Canadian dog breed believed to stem from a cross of Golden Retrievers, Chesapeake Bay Retrievers, Labradors, Flat-Coated Retrievers, and farm Collies. There might be a sprinkle of Cocker Spaniel and Irish Setter in the mix too.

This is an athletic and highly intelligent breed with an abundance of energy. Most working dogs are always ready for action, and the Toller is not an exception. They need physical and mental stimulation to be happy.

Not surprisingly, they do great in many sports and often compete in agility, dock diving, and obedience. Many also work as search and rescue dogs; the combination of intelligence, working drive, excellent sense of smell, and small size make them ideal for the job.

The breed was originally used for retrieving from icy waters, and they have webbed feet and a water-repellent outer coat. A Toller requires little grooming; an occasional brushing and bath will do the trick.

The average Toller is loving and affectionate to the family and patient with children. They weigh between 37 and 51 lbs.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Friday, May 8, 2015

Are there hypoallergenic dog breeds?

Hypoallergenic means that something has a smaller incidence of causing allergic reactions. It doesn't mean that the food, pet, rug, or whatever it might be never causes allergies. The word hypo means lower than normal.

So, are there hypoallergenic dog breeds?

Not really. There are hairless dogs and dogs that shed very little, but allergies aren't necessarily connected to the pet's coat.

Most allergies are caused by proteins in a pet's saliva and dander.

A study at the Henry Ford Hospital has analyzed dust samples collected from almost 200 homes. Sixty dog breeds were involved in the study, and eleven of the breeds are considered hypoallergenic.

The conclusion? There is no significant difference between breeds in how much allergens are produced. There can, however, be a difference between individuals of the same breed. Thus, a person with allergies can be able to have one specific pet, even if they're allergic to other individuals of the same breed.

Most dog lovers will argue that pets are good for children. This is true when it comes to allergies as well; exposure to a dog early in life will provide a certain protection against developing dog allergies. Recent studies even show that having a dog in the same home as a baby can protect against developing asthma.

Some tips to battle allergies:
  • Bathe the pet often. This reduces the amounts of allergen related proteins on both the dog itself and in the air. If a person in the household is allergic, bathing the pet at least twice a week can minimize the allergic reaction.
  • Clean and vacuum often. Use air filters, and consider constricting the pet to certain rooms, so the allergic person can have a safe haven.
  • Smaller dogs might produce less allergens than larger dogs.

To read more about this subject, check out these links:

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Do you know who invented the pet door?

Cats and dogs have accompanied humans for millennia. Dog fossil records go back around 40 million years, and cat fossils around 12 million years. This is a long time walking side by side, and our ancestors very likely wanted to accommodate their furry friends, just like we do.

In the beginning, the cat door was a hole in the wall meant to invite feral cats to come in and hunt rodents. We know the people of Cyprus had pet cats 9,500 years ago. They might very well have had cat holes too.

In more recent history, 14th century writer Geoffrey Chaucer described a cat hole in his Canterbury Tales, where a servant knocks on a door, no one answers, and he peeks in through the cat hole.

Nowadays, Sir Isaac Newton is most often accredited with inventing the pet door. According to legend, Newton covered the cat's hole in the wall with felt to keep excess light from coming in and disturbing his experiments. This would have been a predecessor to the modern cat flap.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Sunshine story: Cat assumed dead returns home thanks to microchip

RJ the cat disappeared from his home in Albuquerque over a year ago, and after searching both in the neighborhood and online for months, his owners finally gave up. 

They didn't know a neighbor just a few blocks away just started feeding a stray cat. The neighbor finally decided to take the cat to the humane society to check if he was neutered, so he wouldn't father any more stray cats.

When the facility made the routine scan for a microchip, the cat had one, and RJ's information came up, including his address.

Moral of the story - make sure you pet has tags and is microchipped, and that the information in the microchip database is up to date. It can help you even when you least expect it.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

In the news: dog owner punches bear to save dog

Image from
Wildlife and humans don't always go together. Wildlife and domesticated animals don't always go together. And when 73 year old Carl Moore found a black bear trying to slip under a gate to get access to the porch with Moore's beloved Chihuahua Lacy, they definitely didn't go together.

These stories often end badly, with a dead dog, a shot bear, or an injured human. This particular story is different.

Carl Moore punched the bear in the face, and the bear chose to run instead of take the fight. Might be hard to believe, but there are witnesses to the incident, and seeing how he holds Lacy in the video, it's probably true. His friends say he's a former First Recon Marine, and he has worked as a bouncer, so he has probably seen his share. Odds are, this is still his first fight with a bear.

If the bear returns, Moore has promised to call the authorities instead of punching first.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Monday, May 4, 2015

Breed spotlight: American Cocker Spaniel

The American Cocker Spaniel is one of the most popular breeds in North America, and the earliest ancestors are believed to have arrived on the Mayflower in 1620. The American branch of the Cocker Spaniel has developed independently of the European relatives, and is a specific breed.

Many spaniels have a strong hunting instinct, but this isn't typical for the American Cocker Spaniel. They adapt well and are happy to live in the countryside or in a city, provided they get sufficient exercise.

This breed has a lot of hair, and the dogs require regular grooming. Their coat must be brushed and washed, and maybe even given a haircut. Their ears should be checked regularly as well.

The average American Cocker Spaniel is sturdy, good-natured, intelligent, and well balanced. They're known for being happy, smart, and gentle, and they possess remarkable speed and endurance. However, they do not like to be alone, and they need to be with the family.

A typical American Cocker Spaniel weighs between 24 and 30 lbs, and this is a lot of dog in a fairly small package.

~ Maria Sadowski ~

Friday, May 1, 2015

Would your dog be a perfect therapy dog in a nursing home?

The Volpino Italiano needs a medium Plexidor dog door
A nursing home is a place for a person who needs more care around the clock than can't be reasonably given at home, but who doesn't need to be in a hospital. Many nursing homes strive for a home-like environment. Some allow residents to bring their pets, but this isn't always possible, and many nursing homes around the USA have opened their doors to therapy dogs who come visit on a regular basis. 

Dogs have an instinctive way of knowing when they are needed, and a visit from a dog can calm and soothe someone, or lift the spirits of a person who is sad and lonely. The dogs provide a physical touch and many love the feeling of soft fur. They also bring warmth, joy, and a patient ear that will always listen.

Some believe only a certain breed can become a therapy dog, or that they are raised for this purpose as puppies. Therapy dogs come in all breeds and sizes, and many are rescue dogs.

If you're interested in doing therapy work with your dog, start by training some basic obedience, and bring your dog to many different environments so he or she gets used to noises and people. Then, find a therapy-dog organization in your area. Many states have animal-assisted therapy organizations that offer training programs.

To become a certified therapy dog, a trainer will evaluate you and your dog and suggest courses to take. Then, you're ready to volunteer. Many organizations will help you find volunteer opportunities. Here is a list that can help you get started.

~ Maria Sadowski ~