Happy Birthday, Kitty!

Kitty just showed up on our front porch one day, demanding attention, so my humans have no idea when her true birthday is.  She was a lanky, almost grownup kitten, and the veterinarian estimated that her birthday was in November.  This November she turned 7.

Happy Birthday, Kitty!

Some Good and Bad News

Getting warm under blankets this weekend

On the weekend I felt sick, and my humans noticed that my gums and lips were swollen and bloody.  They also noted that I wasn’t eating.  Today, I got to go to the vet so he could check me out.  The bad news is, I have a gum and ear infection.  I got a shot for the gum infection and drops for the ear one.  The shot should stop the bleeding in a couple of days, and hopefully eating will be less painful then too.

Sissy eating wet dog food

The good news is that I get to eat wet dog food and soft, bacon-flavored treats until my gum infection heals.  I haven’t been enjoying the food as much as I should, though, because eating is very uncomfortable.  When my mouth is less sore I can really dig in!  Also, my weight has gone down to 11 pounds, and my humans want to get it back up to my normal 13.  Maybe all of this yummy food will help me gain some.  Hooray for wet dog food!

Rosie is jealous because I get wet dog food, and she still has to eat dry.  My humans reminded her, however, of the time when she ate wet dog food because of her stomach surgery.  I was very jealous then, and now it’s Rosie’s turn to be so.

4 Brain Games For Your Dog

A Basic “Magic” Trick

This “brain game” has your dog use his eyes and nose to find the hidden treat.  Get 2 or more plastic or paper cups, place them upside down on the floor, and show your dog that you’re hiding a treat under one of them.  Then, encourage your dog to tip the cup over with his nose or paw to get the snack.  Up the difficulty by hiding a treat and then scooting all of the cups around on the floor, mixing them up.  You can also make it even more difficult by adding more cups.

Hide and Seek

This game isn’t just for kids!  For the first game, hide behind something where you’re very visible, like a chair, with your dog watching.  Then, call him and, when he “finds” you, give him a treat.  If you have another person available, you can have the other hide while you hold or distract your dog.  Next, give your dog the command “Find!” before the other person calls him.  You can up the difficulty by only giving your dog the command to find a person with no further hints and by hiding behind larger objects.

“I found you!”

Frozen Food/Toy Fun

Dogs love to exercise their brains by working to get something, and freezing toys or food does just that.  Get a cup or bowl (ice cube trays work also), fill it with water, and put treats (dog kibble works great!) and/or toys into it.  Once it’s frozen solid, pop it out by running some warm water on the bottom of the cup or bowl.  Give it to your dog outdoors for him to lick and gnaw at to get at the treats and toys.  This can keep your dog busy for a long time and is a great way to cool off as the days get hotter!

Teach New Tricks

Of course, a great way of exercising your dog’s brain is to teach him new tricks.  Visit the Tricks Page to learn more!

Balto, a Dog Hero

Balto with Kaasen

Nome’s youth was starting to catch Diphtheria in January, 1925, and the serum that would cure it was in Anchorage.  That was 500 miles away, so they prepared to have the only available plane make the long journey, but it wouldn’t start.  The serum would have to be fetched by a dogsled relay before the epidemic spread and infected all of the children.  Twenty mushers volunteered, and the relay began.  The next to last team of the relay was Gunner Kaasen.  The dog who led his sled was Balto, a three-year-old dog without much experience.  Balto, however, proved his skill despite being an amateur.  Even when Kaasen could barely see his hand when held up to his face, Balto went on.  Crazy winds swept the sled and dogs off of the ground, but Balto went on, staying on course.  Finally, they came to where the last team was.  Now the dogs could rest, and Kaasen could warm his frigid hands.  However, the other musher was asleep, and Kaasen decided to keep going.  The serum just had to get to Nome in time.  Their team arrived at Nome on February 2nd, which ended the “Great Race of Mercy” in five days.  Kaasen was a hero, and everyone wanted to thank him.  He reminded them, however, that Balto was also a lifesaver, as he had faithfully stayed on course despite far below zero temperatures and strong winds. Balto died at the age of fourteen in 1933.  There is a statue in Central Park in New York City of the famous dog, and a plaque nearby reads: “Dedicated to the indomitable spirit of the sled dogs that relayed antitoxin six hundred miles over rough ice, across treacherous waters, through Arctic blizzards from Nenana to the relief of the stricken Nome in the winter of 1925. Endurance ~ Fidelity ~ Intelligence.”

Babies and Dogs

Oftentimes, you’ll see a video on the internet of a dog being extremely gentle with a little baby.  Other times, however, you’ll read news stories about a baby getting bit by a dog.  Should you be concerned when your baby and dog are together?

Supervision is Vital

No matter how sweet and gentle your dog is, never leave him (or her) unsupervised with a baby!  Even a typically good-natured dog could lash out if he feels threatened, and babies are famous for pulling ears and tails, both of which could easily irritate a dog.  With these things in mind, highly supervise interactions between your baby and dog.

Teach Your Baby How to Treat Your Dog

Again, babies are famous for pulling ears and tails.  Also, they pet dogs roughly, treat them as ponies, and even try to taste them!  While none of these things is Baby’s fault, he (or she) must be shown how to properly treat dogs.  When you sit down to pet your dog while Baby is watching, do extremely soft strokes and be very gentle.  If Baby is old enough to understand, explain what you’re doing, and, hopefully, your baby will follow your example.  Also, make sure that you never roughhouse with your dog when Baby is present.  No tug of war, no rolling around on the floor with your dog, no friendly slaps on your dog’s back.  Baby is watching, and Baby will mimic you.

Take Safety Precautions

Even with gentle dogs, take safety precautions by keeping your dog out of Baby’s room either by closing the door or putting up a baby gate.  Also, if your dog is highly food driven, put your dog in his cage or outside when Baby eats so your pet doesn’t attempt to steal food or beg.

4 Spring Activities to Do With Your Dog

Water Fun

While water outdoors may be too chilly for you yet, dog’s aren’t so sensitive.  Fill a kiddie pool with water, toss in some treats, and watch your dog have a blast.  Other water activities are letting your dog swim in a pool, lake, or ocean, turning on the water sprinklers, or holding a water hose and encouraging your dog to chase after the jetting water.  Always supervise your dog in possibly dangerous water activities and discourage drinking it by putting out a bowl of clean water.

Do a Sport

Does your dog like to run?  Is he a digger?  Or, would he prefer to sniff around and find stuff?  There’s a sport to fit almost any dog, some of which are agility, lure coursing, herding, obedience, earth dog, and tracking.  Not only does training strengthen the bond between you and your pet, it also boosts your dog’s confidence and helps reduce behavior issues resulting from boredom.

Take a Hike

When the weekend rolls around, make it a point to take your dog on a hike.  It’s a fun adventure and is good exercise for you both.

Walk Your Dog Daily

If you don’t already, give your dog a walk every day now that the weather is warmer.  As you probably know, dogs are happier and healthier when exercised regularly.  Behavior problems such as digging, barking, or being destructive result from boredom and excess energy, so a walk could very well save the leg of your table from being chewed to bits.

Happy Easter!


Please remember that chocolate is poison to dogs and that candy upsets our tummies.  Also, pick up any candy wrappers on the floor as your dog could get choked or injured (foil wrappers act as a knife when swallowed).

Have a blessed Easter!

Proper Etiquette For When Your Dog Visits

It’s fun and exciting to bring your dog to a friend’s house, but, for certain owners, it may seem that your dog is far too hyper, awkward, and/or uncontrollable.  If this is your situation, perhaps it is time to teach your dog some polite manners and make yourself aware of what is proper for your dog when he goes places.

A Polite Greeting

In the case of an excitable dog, call your friends before you arrive and tell them that your dog is hyper and still learning manners.  Ask them not to pet your dog until he sits.  Until then, they must turn their backs and ignore him.  Before you leave your house, arm yourself with treats that your dog values.  Keep your dog’s leash on until all greetings are done and your pet appears calm enough to be polite.  Enter, say hello, and stand around, having your hosts not mention your dog’s name or making eye contact with him.  You will probably be pretty busy holding onto your dog as he lunges and wiggles towards the guests, but remain in place.  Don’t let your dog advance, as this would only be rewarding him for rowdy behavior.  Also, don’t admonish your dog.  That could cause him to think that he isn’t supposed to like new people, and he thinks that this is the proper way to greet guests.  Stay positive and teach your dog the right way.  Show your dog that you have a treat and ask for a sit.  If he refuses to, remain calm and ask your hosts to ignore your dog by turning their backs.  When your dog sits, give your dog a treat and let the hosts (calmly) come and pet your dog.  It might be hard to keep your dog sitting when he starts to get petted, so a better position for you might be to stand directly behind your dog, as close as possible, with your hand on his chest.

No Messes, Please

Sometimes, new places excite or frighten dogs, causing them to go potty in the host’s house.  This can be very embarrassing for you as an owner and irritating for hosts, so make sure your dog goes potty before you leave the house.  If you live a while away from your destination, stop at a grassy area a few minutes before you arrive and let your dog relieve himself.  In the case of a nervous dog going potty in the house, he is most likely doing an act of submission in front of the other humans.  First of all, make sure your dog relieves himself before you leave your house.  When you enter the host’s house with your leashed dog, have the hosts totally ignore him until he becomes comfortable in his new surroundings.  Once he calms down, the hosts can give an extremely calm greeting.

Visiting a House With Other Dogs

Before taking your dog to someone’s house where other dogs are present, call to see if your host’s dogs are friendly towards strange canines.  If they are not (or if your dog is not) accepting of other pets, be considerate and safe and leave your dog at home.

Even if your and their dog is canine-friendly, you should take a few precautions to keep both dogs safe and happy, which are listed below:

  • For first few meetings between two (or more) dogs, have both canines leashed and under control so no dog feels threatened.
  • If one dog gets tired, irritated, or plays too rough, distract or separate the dogs.
  • Please don’t leave the dogs unsupervised!
  • Do not allow rough play such as biting, excessive growling, humping, or aggressive barking.  Naturally, dogs do nip, growl, and bark when at play, but it should not be frightening or dominating.
  • A lot of dogs don’t like sharing, so bring your dog’s own toys for him to play with.
  • If your dog attends dinner at the host’s house, make sure that both dogs are fed in separate rooms.  Even dogs who are usually willing to share can be provoked if a certain dog tries to steal their food.

Visiting the Very Young or Elderly

If your dog is especially rambunctious and hyper, don’t let him visit babies, young children, or the elderly until he has fully mastered greeting older kids and adults.  A jumping or wiggling dog could easily knock down a child or senior.

Even if your dog is typically calm around very young or elderly people, keep him leashed for the beginning of the visit to further encourage it and give him a chance to take in the situation.  Some dogs are very tuned in to peoples’ age and are very polite and have a soothing effect on children and the elderly.  If your dog does, why not consider certifying him to be a therapy dog so he can bring joy to children in schools or hospitals and seniors in nursing homes?