Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Tara & Bella - The Odd Couple of Animal Kingdom!


Hello my friends!

It has been a rough day yesterday. My human said that my toys are dirty and stinky and she gathered them up and put them in the big, noisy box that she calls washing machine. Well, I only had the toys left that I don't really like. But after a few hours, I got all my toys back and they smelled a lot better. And now the bad part, my reindeer that used to sing "Santa Claus is coming to town" did no longer sing. My human cut open its tummy and took a box out and sewed it up again. It's not fun without the music. My koala bear that laughs when I squeeze it, no longer laughs. But the worst, my favorite toy, the frog that goes "ribbit, ribbit" when squeezed, started to ribbit on its own and would not stop. I got really worried and tried to push it around the living room, hoping it would stop but it didn't. I cried because I was so worried that I had done something wrong while playing with it. So my human got out the scissors again and performed surgery on my favorite toy. Again, she sewed it up and gave it back to me but it was silent and that scared me even more. I worked on it all evening long but it remained silent. When it came time to go to bed, I tried again to make it go "ribbit" but only silence. It worried me so much that I crawled under the bed. I usually only do that when there is a thunderstorm or fireworks. My human got me out from under the bed and I fell asleep with my toy in my mouth. This morning I put it out in the back yard where it is sunny. That must have helped. When my human came home from work and let me in the back yard, my favorite toy looked like new, all clean, smelled fresh and was doing the "ribbit, ribbit" thing again. I was so happy and have been playing with it for hours. And that shows you that us animals have emotions too.

Scientists have been studying for years and years on this issue. Some say yes and some say no. Some scientists call it anthropomorphism, that means "the ascribing of human characteristics or behaviors to animals". Others claim that animals only have primal emotions such as joy, grief, and empathy. There was an article once in a scientific journal that stated that rats can feel joy, elephants grief when they have a loss, and mice feel empathy for their cage mates. Scientists at the University of Vienna went even further and discovered that animals are capable of secondary emotions such as jealousy and guilt. They had two dogs that had to "shake". One of the dogs was rewarded with snacks every time he gave his paw and the other one did not get a snack but watched the first dog get his rewards. He then stopped giving his paw and turned away from the handler and also nipped the other dog in the ear. That sounds much like jealousy to me.

Now, if you ask the humans that live with pets, they will tell you that their pets are very much capable of emotions. My human says that she is around me so much and that she knows my facial expressions and my body language and she can tell when I look happy or sad. She also claims that when I do something bad, I look guilty even before she reprimands me and at times I have a mischievous look on my face.

Some people say it takes a certain amount of intelligence in order to feel emotions. Well, let me tell you, I am a very smart cookie. I know that when my human says "sit", that means my rear end has to go down to the ground. When she says "stay", I'd better not come running after her. And when she says "come", I get to run to her and she calls me a good boy. Now, most of my doggy friends know the same words and do what they are supposed to do. My vocabulary however, is much bigger. I know exactly that when my human uses the word "walk", that means I get to go outside and explore. I even know what "dog park" means. I run straight for the car because we have to drive to the dog park and I know the way there too because I usually have my head out of the car window the entire way there. I also get very excited when my human tells me "lets go see the ladies". That means I get to go to the nursing home and I get lots of back rubs and dog snacks. When my human tells me to "get a toy", I will get one and bring it to her because she will throw it for me so I can fetch it again and that is a lot of fun. I also know that "NO, NO, NO! #@%&*$#$@&!!!!" means I am in a lot of trouble like the time when I dug a hole under the fence, fell in the neighbors pool that hasn't been used in five years, the neighbor had to use a net to fish me out and shove me through the hole again, and my human yelled "that is not my dog, I don't own a green and slimy dog!". And also the time when instead of running straight to the car, I ran up the hill by my house and didn't listen to my human calling me back and when I came back I was covered from nose to tail in stickers and mud and it took my human over an hour to take all the stickers out, give me a bath and dry my fur.

So, I know what all these words mean and I can often tell by the tone of voice if I am in trouble or if I make my human happy. I have also learned to mimic my human. She presses her mouth on my forehead a lot when I come to her. So I do the same to her, I press my mouth against her arm or leg and she gets very happy. I have watched her put her foot on my toy and it makes a noise, so I do that now too. I can make my toy make noises with my paw. When my human is happy, her mouth is slightly open and I can see her teeth. I do the same when I look at her and she gets happy every time.

Well, my friends, I can tell you that I do get sad when I am alone all day and I get excited when I get to go for a walk or to the dog park. I feel jealous when my human cuddles with the kitty and not with me. I felt guilty when I thought I broke my toy and I am happy that it makes a noise again. I found this video that shows you how much us animals can feel and I hope you enjoy it. Oh well, I am having trouble attaching the video. You just have to go to the next blog and watch it. Sorry about that.
Till next time, yours truly,

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The beautiful Lara

Hello my friends, I have a very special surprise for you, an interview with the very beautiful Lara.

Tiny: Hello pretty lady! What is your breed?

Lara: Hello Tiny. My name is Lara and my breed is Borzoi. However, I have been referred to as a "Russian Wolfhound".

Tiny: A Russian Wolfhound, that is very exciting. Can you tell us more about this breed?

Lara: Gladly. The Borzoi are a sight hound, which means we hunt by sight rather than scent. We have this in common with other sight hounds like the Greyhounds, Salaukis, Afghan Hounds, Irish Wolf Hounds, etc. My breed dates back as far as the 12th century when Europe was overrun by wolfs. More recently we were kept by the Russian Czars and nobility prior to the revolution. It was common back then for these nobility to go on great hunts together. Because we can run faster than horses, it was the role of us Borzoi to go out in packs ahead of the hunt to catch the wolf and hold it down until the Hunt Master caught up.

On occasion some of my breed would be gifted out to nobility in other countries who kept their own kennels. There are some very famous Borzoi kennels in Europe. It was because of this that my breed survived after the revolution because the Bolsheviks did not take too kindly to us because of our association with the nobility.

Tiny: Your breed has a very interesting history my dear Lara. What do you like to do for fun?

Lara: I enjoy going on walks and to the dog park. For the last two years I was also in the party scene of the Stapelton Ballet's Nutcracker. But mostly I love people and giving them love. That is why I am involved with the SHARE program.

Tiny: That sounds like a lot of fun. Can you tell me a little about the SHARE Program you are involved with?

Lara: The SHARE program is offered through the Marin Humane Society. SHARE stands for Special Human Animal Relations. Under that SHARE umbrella there are several services offered. The one I have been involved in for the past five years involves going to Assisted Living and Convalescent Centers and visiting residents there. Some of the other dogs go to oncology units and other area of acute care hospitals. I visit the Aldersly in San Rafael. I also visit the Redwoods in Mill Valley and Marin Convalescent in Tiburon with my cat pal Bocelli. We are really good pals and when Bocelli is sitting on a resident's lap I go up and lick his ears. This is guaranteed to bring smiles all around.

I am also trained in the SHARE A BOOK program. Dogs are used in this program to listen to children who have issues with reading while they read a book out loud. This helps build the children's confidence in reading, and it is fun to listen to their stories.

Tiny: That is a wonderful job you do there! And I am glad you have a cat pal just like I do. Tell me more about the felines you live with.

Lara: I share the house and my people with six felines. Some of them don't care that much for me. Prior to my arrival in the household my people were showing Balinese cats. Currently there are still four retired Bali's living with us. They are kind of older and not so playful anymore. So just over two years ago they adopted Bocelli a red-point, blue eyed rescue. He was in rescue with several dogs so had no problem with me and we became good friends from the start. Since the older cats were not too inclined to play with him, the people adopted another rescue, Bojangles. He is a green eyed white kitty. The rescue lady was afraid she wouldn't be able to find him a home because he is blind in one eye. But he gets around with no problems and is doing well here. He and Bocelli have great times romping through the house. He hasn't quite taken to me yet but I keep trying.

Tiny: Wow, that sounds like a wonderful household and you are a lovely lady. Thank you so much for the interview. It was very interesting and I am honored to have had you as my guest today.

Well my friends, that is what I love about my job, I get to talk to lovely ladies.

Be well! Until the next time. Yours truly,


Friday, August 13, 2010

Obesity in pets.

Hi my peeps! Hope you survived Friday the 13th well. Today I want to talk about obesity in pets, to be exact - in felines and canines.

Obesity is the most common nutritional disorder in pets. 25% of the pet population is obese. A pet that weighs 15% above the optimal body weight is considered obese. The best way to figure out what the optimal body weight for your pet is, is to consult your veterinarian. Below is a chart that shows what a normal weight, over weight, and obese cat and dog looks like.
Obesity, due to several causes, can lead to many illnesses but can also be prevented or eliminated.

Obesity can be caused by many things. Lets talk about what can cause obesity.

Breed: Certain breeds are more prone to be overweight than others. In cats it's mostly the mixed breeds that draw the short stick. In dogs it's often breeds such as Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, Beagles, Bassets, and I hate to say it, Cocker Spaniels.

Life style: In nature, animals hunt for their food. Our pets get their food served to them and really don't have to do much in order to fill their tummies. Many pets have become couch potatoes. Their exercise routine is less than the calorie intake.

Feeding: In nature, animals only eat what they need. Pets often get portions that are bigger than they need. Other times, the food we feed is not appropriate for the age or life style of the pet.

Spaying and neutering: Spaying and neutering is absolutely necessary to keep the pet population under control and is very important but it does result in a decrease of the metabolism and thus, can cause a pet to become overweight.

Diseases: Some diseases such as Hypothyroidism or Cushing's disease can cause a pet to gain a lot of weight. Luckily, they occur in small percentages only and can be controlled by medications.

Medications: There are many medications that can lead to weight gain. For example, Corticosteroids, Anticonvulsants and Appetite Stimulants are just a few of them. Talk to your veterinarian about the side effects of the medications your pet takes.

Obesity can also cause many unwanted diseases. Here is a list of just a few.

  • Arthritis
  • Heart Disease
  • Diabetes
  • Bladder Cancer
  • Fatty Liver (Hepatic Lipidosis)
  • Respiratory Issues

These are all serious health issues that are a result of obesity and can be prevented. There are simple ways that can prevent your pet from gaining unwanted weight. It is always a good idea to ask your veterinarian what his suggestions are to prevent a weight gain. In general, it's best not to feed table scraps to your pet. Multiple small feedings are better than one large feeding. Measuring the food in exact amounts is very helpful. Make sure your pet is not eating too fast. And most of all, add in lots of exercise on a daily basis.

Well, that all sounds great but sometimes the best intentions can fail and your pet still ends up being overweight. All hope is not lost! There are things that can be done to shed those unwanted pounds. Importantly, talk to your veterinarian about the issue. The goal should be a 1% weight loss per week. Don't over-do it and starve your pet. That could lead to other health issues all together. The way to lose weight is through diet and exercise. Let's talk about the diet first.

Diet: We should feed a low calorie diet. Almost every brand sells a Low Calorie food and it is usually marked on the package or can as such. Most foods also have a chart on the package that tells you how much to feed. If you can't figure it out, ask your veterinarian for the correct amount you should feed your pet. Read the package. The food should have a slightly higher amount of protein, a low amount of carbohydrates, and a low to moderate amount of fat. And we all know that all good pets deserve a treat now and then. Well, veggies such as carrots and fruits such as apples make excellent low calorie treats.

Exercise: A diet doesn't do much if your pet is lounging around all day. So, get your pets enough exercise on a daily basis. Cats exercise differently than dogs. It's easier with a dog. You can take your dog for long walks, play fetch the ball, or let your dog swim. There are also many interactive toys such as Kongs where the dog has to work on getting that carrot treat out of the Kong. They also make interactive toys for cats now where the kitty can chase a toy mouse in a circle or other varieties. You can throw a toy mouse to the top of the stairs so the kitty has to run up and down stairs to fetch the mouse or simply wave a wand with a feather on the end to get kitty running and jumping. You can serve the food on top of a cat tree so kitty will have to do some climbing exercise to get to the food.

Once we have our pet down to an ideal weight, we have to make sure to maintain the weight. The best way to do this is to switch the food gradually to a maintenance diet and to continue with the exercise routine. Also, check the weight on a regular basis. You can do that with kitties or small dogs by holding them and stepping on your bathroom scale. Then weigh yourself without the pet. Subtract the last number from the first and you have your pet's weight. With larger dogs you might have to coax them to sit on the scale. Good luck!

So, as you can see, there are many things you can do to prevent and eliminate obesity before it leads to unwanted health issues. Just remember - keeping your pet healthy and in good shape is rewarding in so many ways.

Alrighty then, lets strap on the sweat bands and nibble on carrots. Till next time. Yours truly,


Monday, August 9, 2010

My human's worst night mare had a happy ending.

Hello everybody!
I would like to tell you about my human's worst night mare. As you all know, she takes care of all kinds of critters when their humans are on vacation. Well, she came to a place on the first day of a 10 day long assignment and there was no key at the spot were it usually is. HORROR! She got a really bad feeling in her stomach. When she tried to reach the owner of the two kitties, the phone said: "The person you are trying to reach is out of reach, call back later". She left a note on the neighbor's door, hoping she would have a key but the neighbor didn't call her. So, the only thing she could do was to call a locksmith. Many hours later and $250.00 later, the locksmith was able to open the door and replace the lock. HALLELUJAH!
Everybody was fine and there was still a little food and water in the dish but it was a very scary situation for my human.
This story inspired me to give you all some guide lines how to make my human's life much easier. So, here we go:
If you go away, please let my human know at least three or four days in advance unless it is an emergency. And by the way, a good deal on a trip to Cabo is not an emergency!
If you leave a day later or come back a day earlier or later, let my human know. There is nothing worst than walking in on someone taking a shower.
If you told my human that you would leave a key at a certain spot, please leave it there. Don't change the location at the last minute without telling my human about it. Also don't forget to leave it! Otherwise, your vacation might cost a lot more than you expected (see above about the cost of a locksmith). And most importantly, make sure it's the right key and it works properly. I hate for my human to get arrested for breaking and entering.
Please leave a payment on the counter so my human can pay her bills and buy me new toys. She remembers to show up, so please, remember to pay her. If you forget anyway, try to mail it to her as soon as you get back. Don't wait a month or two because we have to pay our bills and if we can't pay our bills, my human has to get another job and can't take care of your babies anymore.
Make sure you have enough food, litter and if needed, medication on hand to cover the entire time you are gone plus a little extra in case you can't make it back on time. That includes bird, fish, hamster and any other critter food as well. My human hates to go shopping and besides, it cuts my walking time short.
Let my human know if there are any changes in your pets health, behavior, food, medication, walking schedule, your contact information or anything else that is important. She needs to know that in order to do her job properly.
And since we are talking about health, inform her of any contagious diseases such as ringworm, kennel cough, FIV and anything else that can be carried over to the next place. It's not fair to hide that and put the next kitty or doggy in danger of getting the same disease.
If anybody else is coming to the house while you are gone, let my human know because it scares the living daylight out of her when someone is in the house that she didn't know would be there.
Make sure your neighbor's know that my human is coming to visit your pets. I don't want them to call the police on her because they think she is a burglar.
Please don't be upset when my human does not want to let your kitties outside. There is a reason for it and that is how she is running her business. She is not telling you how to do your business, so don't tell her how to do her's. Kitties can be attacked by other kitties, by dogs, can get hit by cars, and can encounter many other dangers on the street. If they come back injured, my human might not be around and bring them to the veterinarian right away. A lot can happen in 24 hours. By the time of her next visit, your kitty could be very ill. So, please don't fight with my human about that. She does not want to be difficult but only cares about your pet's well being.
Let my human know if your doggy doesn't like other doggies or people. That is a very important thing to know when taking your pooch for a walk. We don't want any surprise attacks.
Well, I think that'll cover about everything. If you keep those things in mind, it will make my human very happy. And if my human is happy, I am happy too!
So, until next time, yours truly,