Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Did you resolve to lose weight in 2009?

Plenty of people did, and that's probably a good thing - but not for me. My resolution is to gain a few pounds.

But... I did resolve to take some pounds off my pooches.

For a while this early winter I tried getting outside and making them exercise more every day - which meant going for a walk myself. I devised a plan to let them get way ahead of me, then call them back for a minute, then let them get ahead again...

But that only lasted until the snow got deep and the road got slick. Now their activity is limited to going between the house and the shop with my husband or going out with me to feed the horse. Even their usual mad dash down the hill to the creek is curtailed by snow too deep for running. A change in weather could give it a crust and then they'll be off and running again.

Meanwhile, ever since last fall I've been trying to cut back on the food, but I'm not seeing much progress. Guess I need to switch to some low calorie food and/or cut the portions back a bit more.

We never had a doggie weight problem here until Pepper came to live with us. I always left the bowl full and they ate what they needed. But under the influence of a dog who had been starved, things changed.I'm convinced that starving for a while turns a dog - or a horse - into an eating machine. Somewhere in the back of his mind he remembers a time when he was hungry, so eats all he can when he gets the chance.

The exception is Old Roy dog biscuits. When we go to the bank the drive-through teller always gives the dogs biscuits, and Pepper always buries his in the blanket on the seat. No way is he going to eat that.

Anyway... knowing that overweight is no better for dogs than for humans, I'm determined to get some pounds off these pups. If your dog is overweight, you should probably do the same.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Keep Your Dogs & Cats Safe On New Year's Eve

Having a party this New Year's?

Take some precautions with your pets - both dogs and cats.

If they're excitable and apt to become upset by noise, confusion, and strange people acting silly, put them in a separate room and go in now and then to check on them and assure them that all is well.

Most cats will simply go hide when things get confusing - make sure your cat has a safe place to go where you can check up on him or her later.

Even if your dogs love guests and won't be bothered, keep them locked up during those times when the most guests are arriving or departing. If they're like most dogs, they Will be excited by having company, and excited dogs can get out the door in a flash. If you aren't standing right there to notice and bring them back inside, they could get lost in the confusion.

Meanwhile, during the party: Stress to your guests that the critters aren't allowed human treats. Even if you usually share, letting everyone share could lead to a stomach upset, or worse. Remember that chocolate and raisins can be deadly to dogs!

Remember that your dog needs his/her normal routine even if you're having fun with guests. So if you feed your dogs in the evening, keep to schedule. And remember to let them outside for a potty break on schedule too!

After the party, when you're cleaning up, be sure to pick up stray goodies - including leftover alcoholic drinks. Some dogs and cats think alcohol tastes pretty good, and you don't need a drunken dog!

Some communities shoot fireworks on New Year's Eve - if yours does, be sure to bring your dogs inside and away from the noise. Frightened dogs can sometimes scale the highest fence in their effort to run away from loud noises!

If you're going to a large party somewhere else, leave your dogs at home - even if they've been invited. Under calmer circumstances taking them along can be fun, but many dogs become stressed in strange surroundings - and when there's plenty of noise and confusion.

Our rescue group spent weeks hunting for a dog who had gone along to a party and had been tied outside the front door. We don't know if he got bored or frightened and decided to get himself loose - or if some prankster untied the leash. But we never did locate that lost dog.

Keep your best friends safe - so you really will get your new year off to a happy start.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

If you also love cats...

If you love cats as well as dogs, Conrad Strays urgently needs your help. If you have cat loving friends in the Napa, Idaho area, please pass this message along in hopes of finding foster homes...

Here's the heart rending message I got from Teresa:

There are approximately 50 abandoned cats on a property in Nampa. The owners moved and left the cats to fend for themselves. The majority of them are super sweet and extremely adoptable. We only have a few weeks to get them out before the place is auctioned. None of the shelters have space to take in this many. If we don’t get people to help, the majority of them will have to be humanely euthanized or cats already at the shelters will have to be euthanized to make room for them. We took in 7 on Christmas Eve, and they are in warm loving foster homes. Most of these cats are very healthy and very people friendly. Earlier in the week a few other people had taken in some of them.

We need financial donations to pay for spay/neuter, testing, vaccines, and antibiotics if needed. Each cat will cost a minimum of $61.00 ( x 50) IF HEALTHY! NONE ARE SPAYED/NEUTERED! Donations can be sent to our po box, online from our website or paid directl to our veterinary account.

One older cat, a chocolate pointed tabby, is likely the mother of most of them. She will get tested and have senior blood work done on Saturday. She will also need a dental! Her teeth are very bad. She's a purring sweetheart.

We need foster homes! If you have an extra bedroom, bathroom, pantry, or laundry room. Please sacrifice a few weeks of your life to foster one or two of these awesome cats/kittens.

Food donations will help out a lot! These can be dropped off at the Orchard Animal Clinic.

We need safe outdoor and/or barn homes for the skittish and/or wild kitties (other wise they may be euthanized at the shelter). We have no places like this at this time.

We need to know if you can help or these cats will most likely not make it.

Thank you to the people who have been helping feed, care for, and search for help for these cats.
Please pass on this email to others who may be able to help. Please let us know by email if you can help in some way.
Thank you and Merry Christmas!

Teresa Conrad and Cats
Conrad Strays Cat Rescue and Adoption
PO Box 84
Middleton, Idaho 83644
(208) 585-9665

"Making a difference, one cat at a time"

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Freckles: A new family member

Well, kind of anyway. My neighbor invited me to go along with him to the animal shelter to get his new puppy yesterday, and now she calls me Aunt Marte. (Of course she does!)

What a doll! I got to snuggle her on my lap and help her play with her new toys on the way home - she misses the toy occasionally, so I also got to find out what sharp teeth puppies have!

All shelter pups should be as lucky as this one. After we picked her up we shopped for a bed, toys, treats, and the best puppy food the pet supply store could provide.

Today I learned that she already knows her name and comes on the run when called - a smart little twerp!

Next step: to get my dogs and my husband's dog to treat her with a bit more tolerance. They kind of frown on that puppy jumping around stuff.

December is Home for the Holidays Month at animal shelters across the world - so give someone you love a gift certificate to your nearest shelter. Then, as soon as the Christmas noise quiets down, go with them to choose their new companion.

OR... Give yourself the gift of a new friend.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Want to write a book about your dogs?

If your dogs are as much fun as mine, you may have entertained the idea of writing a book about them - kind of on the lines of Marley and Me.

But you may have thought you wouldn't have a clue how to start. Well, that excuse just went out the window - seriously!

There's a guy named Steve Manning who has got it down to a science - how to write a book in 14 days, guaranteed. I've got his manuscript and I know that all I'd need to do is take a half hour or so a day and I'd have a book. The tips and tricks he uses to organize thoughts, get your creative juices flowing, and words coming from your fingertips are nothing short of amazing.

Unfortunately, I seem to be hung up on writing short articles instead, but that's another story.

If you're thinking along these lines, go and get his free report - you have nothing to lose, and possibly a book (with royalties, fame, and fortune) to gain!

Don't worry if you can't spell - that's what proofreaders are for. Just write the book.

Promise me one thing (please.)

If you get his materials and put them to use, please write and tell me so I can give your new book a great big plug right here on the Doggie Blog!

To success!


Some dogs love the snow

Ralph likes to keep a close eye on the neighborhood - and when there's something going on down the valley, the best spot is in the middle of the pasture below the house.

If we'd go for it, he'd lay outside and let himself be covered in snow as long as the temperatures don't fall below about 20 degrees. When it gets colder than that, he joins our short haired dogs in making quick trips in and out!

But... Although he seems to think snow and cold in moderation are just fine, when he comes in he needs that snow and ice removed from his "feathers" and between his toes. We trimmed those feathers this year, just to keep the snowballs from annoying him so much.

City dogs need more than snow and ice removal - if you've been out on sidewalks where de-icer has been used, your dogs need their feet washed with soapy water, rinsed, and dried.

The salt and toxic chemicals that make walking easy for you are NOT good for your dog's feet - and are even worse for his tummy when he starts licking it off. If I lived in the city, I think I would invest in doggie booties.

I've posted a whole article on cold-weather dog care at my Do You Love Dogs site, so if you aren't sure what to do, give it a read.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Just found a new contest for rescues

Tonight's mail held a notice from Care2 about a $10,000 contest for animal rescues. I've posted the link to the site in the sidebar - so go vote for your favorite rescue!

Today we visited a brand new shelter - and of course I felt saddened by the number of dogs and cats confined there. Especially the dogs in their brand new "cells." They were soooo small. I hope when our local rescue finally has the funds for a better facility the kennels will be a bit larger.

The cats had it a little better - good sized rooms filled with beds and climbing toys - each room housing 6 or 8 cats. All they were missing was human laps to curl up on.

One bright spot! They were all warm and fed - and this is a no-kill shelter. So hopefully their confinement will lead to a good life in a loving home.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Too cold for dogs and cats

For the past several days we've been busy keeping warm! Hauling in more wood than usual to keep the fire burning brightly when the high for the day is a blistering twelve. Overnight low was minus 12.

But - we're OK. No ice storms, no roofs caved in, no power outages. Other people are having a tough time - we're just chilly if we go out.

The dogs, who generally want to go out and spend 20 minutes 2 or 3 times during the evening, now rush out, do what they need to do, and come barking at the door. Even the Tiger - that big yellow ball of feline fur - wants back in almost as soon as he goes out.

Since my house has lots of glass, and since the cold has done something funky to my sliding door - the one right next to my desk - I used push pins to hang a comforter over the door. Looks pretty low-rent, but helps keep the cold out and the warm in.

Today I heard one of the pins pop out - which isn't too strange since they don't push in very far. Then in a minute, another one popped, so I turned to look and saw the comforter moving around. In the next instant the whole thing came down - right on top of a Pepper dog who then could not figure out which way was out of there!

Since the sun was shining at that moment I didn't hurry to put it back up - and in a few minutes, there was Pepper, comfortably curled on top of his "new bed." Hmmm... did he deliberately take that down so he could have a comfy spot near my desk? You never know with a Pepper dog. He does like to be comfortable.

Unfortunately, not all dogs have such privileges. I heard about one yesterday who is living in a van because his people moved in to town and the landlord doesn't allow dogs. They're going out into the country once a day to feed him. I wonder if they're remembering warm water. Once a day isn't sufficient, but is definitely better than the poor thing trying to hydrate his body with snow.

I hope he's the same dog I got an email about this afternoon - one who is now living in a foster home and looking for a permanent home.

When we had a dog whose bathroom habits dictated that she live outdoors, we had a heated water bowl that sat next to her dog house with its heated bed. I just wish all dogs could be so loved.

Cats need water too - so if you have outdoor cats (or dogs,) remember to set a bowl of warm water out a few times a day- or get a heated bowl and keep it full. And remember to thump the hood of your car every time before starting it. Many a cat has lost life or limb from crawling up in the engine compartment to get warm. We rescued one once who had just a bloody stump for a tail...

A friend of mine has an outdoor cat that isn't really much of a "people kitty." But she managed to get her into the laundry room night before last. Turns out that cat preferred the cold to the house - she was NOT happy. And my friend wasn't happy with the mess she made. So her sheltered bed is filled with woolen blankets to cozy down into.

Stay warm...

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

An Unprecedented Act of Dog Obedience

I could hardly believe what happened a couple of nights ago.

We had company, which always gets the dogs a bit wound up. Then the cat came in and started pestering them. After he got tired of the game he bounded off down the stairs and they all ran after him... until I said "No."

So all 3 laid down at the top of the stairs to watch and wait... maybe that Tiger would be coming back?

Our company thought that was so cute that she pulled out her camera, so I did the same. But what was amazing was when I decided to go down the stairs and get a picture from below. I told them all to stay put and not move - and they actually did it!

I don't think I've ever had a dog or a cat sit still and stay put when I deliberately went after a camera.

This trio finally gave up and went back to visiting with our company after I told them it was OK to move - and the cat never did come back. Guess he decided it was bedtime even though the rest of us had no sense.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Should you give a puppy as a Christmas gift?

Yes, absolutely. And No, absolutely not.

How's that for a definitive answer?

The real answer is this: Giving a puppy to someone who really wants one is a fine idea, but you should not give the puppy as a surprise, nor should you give it during the hubub of opening gifts.

The best plan is to give a stuffed puppy, with a gift certificate for the real thing attached to its collar.

For one thing, choosing a puppy isn't really something you can do for someone else. No one knows what invisible energy passes between human and dog that makes them both think "You're for me!" but there definitely is a "something" that shouldn't be ignored. Therefore, your gift recipient should be the one to do the choosing.

Second, the time to introduce that pup to his or her new home is when things are calm and quiet. Definitely not when people are rushing around, laughing, talking, tearing gifts open, eating, etc.

Think how you'd feel if you were suddenly thrust into a room full of people acting like goofs. And think how you'd feel if hoards of them descended on you- grabbing, poking, petting, and sticking their faces into yours to say "Oh, aren't you just the cutest thing!"

Talk about terrifying!

If your gift recipient has definitely decided on a favored breed, and if you've been able to locate a reputable breeder, arrange a time to take him or her to view the puppies and make a choice.

If the goal is a puppy - any puppy - then find out which shelters have pups and arrange a time to go see them.

Whatever you do, don't buy a puppy from someone parked alongside the road - or from a pet store. Those puppies come from puppy mills and there are very good reasons not to buy them.

First, they are usually unhealthy - which means you could lose that new pup within a matter of weeks.

Second, every time you buy a puppy mill pup you encourage those sub-human creatures to breed more. And the parent dogs are suffering horribly to produce those cuddly bundles of fur.

I know it's tempting to take one - just to save it from going back into an overcrowded, filthy kennel at a puppy mill. But don't do it. They'll just produce ten more to take its place.

Definitely give a dog lover a puppy - but do it in the best way for the puppy.

Merry Christmas season...

The size of the dog in the fight?

This came in my email tonight and I had to share. Talk about knowing the value of intimidation!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Unnecessary dog adoption heartache

Today's newspaper told a sad story - and it's a story that was entirely preventable.

It seems a little dog wandered out of his yard and got lost. His humans looked high and low, posted signs with his picture everywhere, contacted all the surrounding animal shelters, and even posted his picture on all the websites that list lost dogs and ran ads in the local newspapers - with his photo.

One of those shelters and websites they contacted was the one where he was brought when he was "found" nearly 2 weeks later.

The day after he was found, a gentleman came to the shelter and asked to adopt him. So when the requisite 72 hours had elapsed, he went to his new home. A month later, by chance, his original family learned where he was and tried to get him back. No dice. The man said he adopted him fair and square and that was that.

This case has already been to court once and is going back again. The question seems to be where the dog was found - in the city or the county. The answer to that will determine whether the shelter had authority to take him in and adopt him out.

This is sad for the dog's original owners - and for the new person.

What should have happened when that dog came in was a cross-check with the lost dog reports - and the shelter's own website. Had they looked, they'd have seen his photo, made a call, and helped him get back home.

It's also sad for animal shelters. Many depend upon public support for funding, so a mistake like this could cost dearly. Who wants to support a rescue group that won't even check the lost dog reports before sending a dog off to a new home? Sounds like a pretty sloppy and uncaring organization.

And, people being human, they're apt to paint all shelters with the same brush.

All rescue workers have too much to do - so often volunteers are not trained well. I don't know if that's what happened in this case, but it is a shame that so many people are hurting - and spending big $$ on attorneys - when the whole situation should never have happened.

My heart goes out to these humans - and to the poor little dog who now has two homes and can only live in one.

Maybe, before you adopt a dog, you should ask:
  • Has this dog been checked for a microchip?
  • Have you checked your lost dog reports to make sure no one is searching for this dog?
That way you could possibly avoid the heartache that these folks are facing.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

That Mothering Instinct

Sometimes humans just don't give animals enough credit. And sometimes I think our 4 legged friends, or our feathered friends, are a lot better people than people. I think Andy Rooney said that, and I agree.

When I was a kid we had a mutt - D.D. was a black dog who looked kind of like a Cocker Spaniel but had a beautiful flowing feathered tail. For about 2 or 3 years there was a barn cat who had her kittens in a manger in the barn, and D.D. guarded them so well that sometimes mama had trouble getting in. You can bet that the other dogs around did NOT get near those babies.

We hear stories all the time about different species caring for young of other species - like the one that 's been around the internet for a while about the giant turtle and the baby hippo.

Well, today a friend sent me another one, and although it has nothing to do with dogs, it was so heart warming that I posted it on a page on my "Do you love dogs" site.

If you love more animals than just dogs, go here to have a look.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Setting Training Limits for Your Dog

  1. The dog is not allowed in the house
  2. OK, he can come in, but only in the kitchen
  3. Well, he can be in the living room, but he has to stay off the furniture
  4. The dog can only get on the old couch, not the new chair
  5. Fine, OK. The dog can sleep on the living room furniture, but not on the beds.
  6. The dog can be on the bed, but only when I say so.
  7. The dog can sleep on the bed any time, but not under the covers
  8. The dog can sleep under the covers by invitation only
  9. Fine then. The dog can sleep under the covers every night
  10. If it's OK with the dog, the humans can sleep under the covers too.
I thought this was cute, but it really doesn't address a couple of problems: Such as the dog being a bed-hog. Sometimes I can't understand how such a small critter can spread out over an entire bed.