While researching information for my Waterside Kennels series, I’ve learned a lot about dogs in general and about the people associated with breeding and training dogs. Sadly, some of these people are all too often motivated by profit. This has given rise to a veritable cottage industry populated by backyard breeders, puppy mills, and stores who may sell puppies (for hundreds of dollars–or more) from people who have limited or no knowledge of bloodlines, standards, or even breed-specific temperament.
In contrast, responsible breeders work diligently to maintain clean, well-managed facilities, follow industry standards for healthy breeding stock, and work hard to preserve breed characteristics. If you’re interested in finding a responsible breeder, the American Kennel Club (AKC) offers a list of breeders as well as tips to help you make an informed decision.
If you’re not sure which breed might be best for you, you can compare breeds, talk to breeders and owners, and watch the dog in action.
For an example of a purpose-bred dog, check out this story of a coon hound that demonstrated her ability to apply tracking skills in a totally unexpected situation.
Whatever holidays or special events you celebrate as the year draws to a close, take time to remind yourself what’s safe–and what’s not–for your dogs. Here’s “must know” info straight from writer Mary Keal, whose articles have appeared on the American Kennel Club’s website.
It’s not just humans that overeat at the holidays. Some of us may also be a bit indulgent with our dogs. But it doesn’t have to be the turkey bones or other not-so-great items from the Thanksgiving or Christmas menu. There are healthier choices to share with your dog. From green beans to sweet potatoes, plenty of fall favorites can be tasty (and safe) options for your dog to share in small portions during holiday festivities.
It may be tempting to offer up the turkey bones to include your dog in your family’s celebratory feast. But, because they can potentially cause damage to your pet’s digestive tract, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) recommends keeping them out of reach. However, though turkey bones are off the table, there’s no need for your pet to feel left out.
Safe and satisfying foods that you can share with your dog this holiday season are discussed by Gary Richter, MS, DVM author of The Ultimate Pet Health Guide: Breakthrough Nutrition and Integrative Care for Dogs and Cats and Veterinary Health Expert with Rover, Sara Ochoa, DVM and small animal and exotic veterinarian in Texas, and the American Kennel Club’s Jerry Klein, CVO and emergency and critical care veterinarian who has been a valued member of the Chicago veterinary community for over 35 years.
Here’s a quick look at “safe” foods your dog can enjoy. Note: read details and disclaimers in the full article online.
Turkey meat (no bones & no skin)
Peas (plain, not creamed)
Pumpkin (plain, not pre-spiced)
Continuing from the article, Dr. Richter, Dr. Ochoa, Dr. Klein, and the AVMA caution the following foods should NOT be served to dogs:
This week, Sasha went to the groomer for the usual shampoo, trim, and tidy work in addition to a long-overdue blowout. Considering how much hair was left on the groomer’s table and floor, I’m grateful Sasha doesn’t have the super-thick coat commonly seen on Shelties.
The additional time required for a proper blowout meant that Sasha was out of the house much longer than usual, and her absence–and the resulting silence–affected all of us. (If you’ve ever spent time with a Sheltie, you’ll know that silence is rare.) Perhaps most affected, though, was Buddy The Wonder Cat, who frets whenever his dog is away from home. He prowled and yowled his way through the house, refusing to settle until Sasha was once again safe at home.
Whether he’s supervising the Muffin Tin Game, overseeing meal time, or just hanging out in the backyard, I can always count on Buddy The Wonder Cat taking care of his dog.
Today we celebrate the Autumnal Equinox (known as the Fall Festival to some and Mabon to others). I’ve been wondering if/how the season’s change might affect the four-legged family members, and found some answers while wandering through the Internet.
Writing for Romper.com in 2018, Beagle owner Abi Berwager Schreier had apparently wondered much the same. Here’s an excerpt from that article:
So am I a crazy dog lady? Perhaps. But I asked Russell Hartstein, a Los Angeles-based certified dog and cat behaviorist and trainer if the fall equinox affects your dog, secretly hoping I’m really not the crazy dog lady who imagines things about her pups. And it turns out, I’m not super wacky. “Dogs are affected by light cycles more than the position of the sun in the sky. Being crepuscular animals (most active during dusk and dawn), the times of a dog’s increased activities somewhat fluctuate with the amount of daylight,” he explains in an email interview with Romper. So that makes sense why they seem so much more active even at 5 a.m. once the equinox has occurred.
Now, what to do with all that energy? Author Leah Ingram suggests five ways to enjoy the season with your dogs. While you’re online, check out this slideshow of happy dogs compiled by dogtime.com. And finally, keep these Fall grooming tips (courtesy of AKC) in mind.
Earlier this week, folks celebrated National Dog Day. In our household, we celebrate dogs–and cats–every day of the year, which might explain how I managed to overlook this one-day salute to canines. In case you thought this was just a day to post photos of your pooch on social media, you might be surprised to know there’s a deeper meaning behind National Dog Day. Here’s what holidayscalendar.com has to say:
Celebrated annually every August 26th, National Dog Day is a day for people to recognize the importance of dogs and how they impact their lives on a daily basis. It is also a day to recognize how hard service dogs work on our behalf and also to draw attention to the plight of abused and abandoned dogs.
This day was founded by author and animal behaviorist, Colleen Paige in 2004. She invented this observational holiday to not only show appreciation for dogs, but to bring attention to the plight of abused dogs, to end puppy mills and to bring an end to breed-specific legislation that regulates, or outright bans, certain breeds in the hope of minimizing dog attacks.
There are a number of different ways to celebrate this day. Some people choose to use this day to spend more time with their dog and to buy him/her new toys or sweaters. Other people take time during this day to volunteer their time and money to various dog welfare organizations.
This day is the perfect time to not only reconnect with your furry family member, but also to consider how you can help society realize the importance of dogs and how their treatment should become more humane.
I can’t bring myself to post images of abused dogs, puppy mills, or abandoned dogs. Instead, I’ll do my part to promote awareness of service dogs. Did you know, for example, that service dogs can be trained to assist individuals with invisible disabilities? Here’s a recorded presentation that can help us all better understand the important kinds of support service dogs can provide:
I hope you found this as informative and beneficial as I did!
Check the Old Farmers Almanac and you’ll see we’re in the middle of what’s known as the Dog Days of Summer. The term was coined long before the Almanac was first published in 1792. Some credit Greek mythology while others track the term back to the ancient Romans. Whatever its source, you might find it a struggle to stay cool in the sweltering heat. And just imagine how your dog feels! Here are a few simple strategies that can help you and your dog enjoy your summer adventures:
Walk early in the day. Our summertime strategy is to walk Sasha in the morning before the temps rise. Even then, she tends to move from one spot of shade to another, and she’s not shy about stopping when she’s had enough.
An important reminder: pavement will always be much hotter than the air temperature. Press your palm against the pavements for 10 seconds. If it’s too hot to hold your hand there, it’s too hot for your dog’s paws. Here’s a helpful infographic from the Grand Strand Humane Society:
Carry water with you. You don’t need anything fancy–just something you can easily carry. I keep two squeeze bottles on hand for Sasha that clip on my belt. When she wants a drink, she will plop down on the grass and wait for me to flip the bottle and squeeze water into the drinking tray.
Grab the hose. Drag a small wading pool to a shady spot and add a toy or two to entertain the pups while they cool off. Your pups might also enjoy lawn sprinklers. In our house, Buddy The Wonder Cat (who loves any kind of moving water) introduced Sasha to the fine art of chasing the in-ground sprinklers, which helps them cool off while giving them plenty of exercise. We keep a supply of old towels on the patio and enjoy their silly antics. We usually all end up needing a bath, but it’s worth it to keep them cool and happy!
In AKC time, Sasha is five years old today! We chose July 4th for her “official” birthday in declaration of her independence from the old and in celebration of her new life. She’s now formally recognized by the AKC as Ozark Summer Highlands Sasha.
For those new to the story, here’s a quick recap of how her AKC name came to be:
We chose Ozark for our locale and Highlands for her heritage; we’re actually in the Ozark Highlands, so it’s a double play on that last word. We included Summer because she has a warm, sunny spirit. And I wanted her call name included because she came to us with that, so including Sasha gave us a bridge between her past and present.
As I write this, Sasha is sprawled beneath my desk, taking refuge from the incessant bang of fireworks. In previous years, we resorted to noisy fans and cheerful music to block out the fireworks. This year, other than sticking close to me (which, let’s face it, is basically a habit of hers), Sasha seems unconcerned. Progress!
As a child, the public library introduced me to the world of possibilities. As an adult, my career obligations sent me to many new towns, new countries. No matter where I was, stepping into the library was, for me, coming home.
Whatever their size, wherever their location, libraries are truly mystical, magical places. Over the years, librarians have found a way to make books available to the public. At the start of the 20th century, for example, Washington County Maryland launched what’s believed to be the first bookmobile using a horse-drawn carriage:
While urban areas transitioned from wagons to gasoline-fueled vehicles, people living in isolated rural communities in the Appalachian Mountains were served by the Pack Horse Library Project:
Meanwhile, county libraries in many states incorporated book wagons of their own:
Many early libraries depended on the generosity of philanthropists such as the industrialist Andrew Carnegie. Here’s one reputed to be the earliest Carnegie Library in Wisconsin:
This quote by the gifted Ray Bradbury sums it up perfectly:
Years ago, I was traveling with a group and we’d checked into a pet-friendly hotel. I left my spaniel, Alix, in the room while I retrieved the rest of the luggage. One member of the group–one of the few traveling without dogs of her own–wasn’t paying attention and left the door open. My dog decided she didn’t want to stay in a strange place unless I was with her so she slipped out of the open door and set off to find me. By the time I tracked her down, she’d charmed everyone she’d met and the front desk clerk was sharing her lunch. “She looked hungry,” the clerk explained. Fortunately, both staff and guests were amused by my dog’s antics and quick to accept my profuse apologies for an unleashed, unsupervised dog in the hotel.
I learned a lot from that experience, and I’m happy to report that Alix went on to become a wonderful travel companion. Far better, in fact, than I suspect my Sheltie will ever be. If Sasha ever got loose in a strange place, I seriously doubt I could catch her. Beyond our yard and whatever the destination might be, Sasha is always leashed and properly secured.
If you’re traveling this summer by vehicle or planes or even on foot, there are some basic practices that can make the adventure an enjoyable and safe experience for everyone.
The American Kennel Club staff present some great suggestions that can help you plan for your trip. You’ll find excellent information about health, safety, crates, and best practices in the article titled The Complete Guide to Travelling With Your Dog.
Jenna Stregowski, RVT has a thoughtful article titled How to Travel With Your Dog that addresses different types of travel accommodations. The article also includes a handy “what to pack” checklist.
If you’re planning to travel on foot with your dog, The American Hiking Society has great information online at the site Places to Hike With Your Dog.
Although fractured bones have kept me off the trail for the past several months, reading about a hike with a dog is almost as good as the real thing–especially when the writer is as gifted as Jim Warnock. If you’ve never hiked with a canine partner, check out the 12 qualities of a good trail partner. And for more great reading, check out his blog post Just Perfect.
Wherever your travels take you, I hope the information included in the links above will help you enjoy a peaceful–and safe–adventure!
p.s. If you’re looking for a pet-friendly hotel, these resources might help:
Writers, readers, and dog lovers of all kinds will appreciate today’s post, brought to us by the award-winning author Juliet Mariller.
According to her website, Juliet was born in Dunedin, New Zealand – the most Scottish city outside Scotland itself – and now lives in Western Australia and writes historical fantasy. A former music teacher and public servant, Juliet now focuses on writing novels that combine historical fiction, folkloric fantasy, romance and family drama. The strong elements of history and folklore in her work reflect her lifelong interest in both fields. Above all, you’ll find a focus on human relationships and the personal journeys of the characters.
The writer’s dog is a multi-talented individual. He or she carries out a support role essential to the creative process. The writer’s dog is companion, confidante, inspiration, distraction, time keeper, and monitor of all matters health-related: nutrition, exercise, stress, sleep. His or her job includes keeping the writer mostly sane, reasonably fit, and for the most part on task.
I speak from personal experience here. For a long while I’ve worn two hats: writer and crazy dog lady. I spent some years as a foster carer for a canine rescue group, specialising in old and frail dogs, and I have seen quite a few little ones come and go from the household. These days I am down to three permanent dogs, two of whom were ‘foster fails’, that is, animals with whom the foster carer falls in love and cannot bear to part. It is perhaps no surprise that I’ve written so many dog characters into my novels, or that I love reading stories with great dog characters in them, including a few by WU’s own Barbara O’Neal.
I write full time from a home office. My dogs have my working day well under control, with suitable breaks for walks, snacks, and administration of their various medications, of which there are many. If I sit at my desk for longer than an hour and a half at a stretch, they have several techniques for drawing my attention. One, come and sit by my feet, gazing up piteously until I respond. Two, run to the front door barking wildly. Sometimes this means a real person is at the door, sometimes it’s only someone walking up the road (person with dog or dogs gets an extra loud bark), and sometimes it is solely an attention-grabbing ploy. It always works. Fergal may be very small but he has a mighty voice. Three involves tipping over the kitchen bin and scattering the contents on the floor. Four is to sit alone in a distant part of the house and wail as if the end of the world is coming.
The correct response to all of these is to get my eyes off the screen, stand up and take a break. Such breaks must include cuddles. They should involve moving out of the office to an area where at least one dog can get on my knee, and the dispensing of snacks for all.
Dogs love naps. They especially enjoy taking naps with their writers. I take a break from work in order to do this most days, and stay up later to compensate. The dogs give me the sign when it’s time, more or less herding me into the appropriate area and settling around me.
Dogs don’t like deadlines. When a deadline is looming, writers don’t stick to the sensible program the dog expects of them. They sit at the desk far longer than they should, they forget the established protocols and they miss the very clear signs that it’s time to take a break. At such times the writer can be tense and cranky. They may even shout and throw random objects. Basically, they are not a lot of fun to be around. Dogs will make their displeasure clear. We should try to take notice. A quick walk reduces tension. Dogs know this.
However long a writer has dogs, there’s always something new to be learned from them. Today I learned that the most unlikely canine can be an emotional support animal.
It’s easy to feel amused at stories of travellers taking their emotional support peacocks or guinea pigs on a plane to alleviate their anxiety. Travel is not a huge source of stress for me, but I don’t love the publicity that goes with being an author, and I particularly dislike having my photo taken. I have a set of studio photos that were taken with my dogs, and I use those as my official author shots. However, a new publisher needed a standard author ‘head shot’ – just me without a dog. The photographer did the shoot at my house, with Fergal, Reggie and Pip running around at foot level. When I explained how hard I find it to relax in photos, and how having the dogs in the pictures had made my previous shoot easier, he suggested I sit and hold Fergal on my knee while he did the head and shoulders shots. So all those pictures that don’t show a dog actually do have a dog in them, sort of. And they have a much more relaxed-looking writer. (Actually we did sneak in one or two with Fergal visible – he had been such a good boy.) Did I mention that Fergal is a wispy little one-eyed dog with Addison’s disease and glaucoma? His name means ‘valorous’ and in his own way he truly lives up to it.
Last but not least, the writer’s dog takes his human through highs and lows of emotion. I’ve written before about the traumatic loss of a beloved dog to an unprovoked attack. We lost another dear old man about two weeks ago, this time from a mystery illness which, compounded by his severe heart murmur, meant it was time to let him go. Zen came from a situation of neglect, and proved to be the gentlest, sweetest dog I’ve ever known, spreading peace and calm wherever he went. He especially loved babies and small children. It was sad to say goodbye. I write this with tears in my eyes, but such a shining example of goodness can only be remembered, in the end, with joy.
A writer learns many things from a dog. A dog allows us to set free emotions we might not express in front of another human. A dog can show us qualities we may not find in another human. Dogs teach us wisdom that feeds into our creative work, not only when we write about animals, but when we write about life. They teach us sorrow, they teach us hope, they teach us utter joy and blissful contentment. They teach us unconditional love and deep forgiveness. In the end, they teach us pain and they teach us acceptance. I say thank you to each and every one of them, the easy and the challenging. But especially to you, Zen. You sure lived up to the name I gave you.
While enjoying her website, I learned this new-to-me author has written twenty novels for adults and young adults as well as a collection of short fiction. Her works of historical fantasy have been published around the world, and have won numerous awards. She’s currently working on a new fantasy trilogy for adult readers, Warrior Bards, of which the first book, The Harp of Kings, will be published in September 2019. Her short novel Beautiful, based on the fairy tale East of the Sun and West of the Moon, comes out as an Audible Original on May 30.
When not writing, Juliet is kept busy by her small tribe of elderly rescue dogs. You can learn more about Juliet and her work on her website at http://www.julietmarillier.com/.